Top 20 Car Cleaning Tips: Ultimate Guide!

car cleaning tips - ultimate guide

Summer is just around the corner, and whether you’re using your car or not, now’s a great time to make your car sparkle with some car cleaning tips!


Nothing to do this weekend?

Car cleaning is a rather rewarding process and can be very therapeutic for you and your mind!

Not only this, there’s something I think you’ll get out of cleaning your car.

Whether you’re new to car cleaning, or are a car cleaning veteran in this field – you will be sure to learn a few new tips and tricks in this tips blog post!

1: Don’t Clean Your Car In The Direct Sunlight!

cleaning a car in direct sunlight

Okay, I get it…

The allure of a sunny summer’s day often sparks the desire to give your car a thorough cleaning, but there’s a crucial factor to consider – the direct sunlight. While the sun brings warmth and energy, it can be a formidable adversary when it comes to achieving that perfect, spotless finish on your freshly cleaned car. The reason is quite simple yet often underestimated – cleaning your car in direct sunlight allows the water from your wash to dry too quickly, leaving behind unsightly spots and streaks.

Picture this scenario: you’re armed with a bucket, sponge, and all your car cleaning supplies, ready to give your vehicle the attention it deserves. The sun is high in the sky, casting a radiant glow on your car’s surface. However, what may seem like an ideal setting quickly turns into a challenge as you commence the car wash.

As you apply water and soap, the relentless sun begins to play its part. The water evaporates rapidly, leaving behind spots and streaks before you can even get around to drying the other side. The frustrating result is a car that appears unevenly cleaned, with visible blemishes marring the polished finish you were aiming for.

I’ve been there, and I understand the struggle. Attempting to pressure wash your car in the glaring sunlight becomes an uphill battle, with the drying process outpacing your efforts to maintain a uniform finish. The lesson learned is clear – cleaning your car in direct sunlight is a recipe for disappointment.

So, what’s the solution? The golden rule is to choose the right time for your car-cleaning endeavor. Opt for the early morning or late evening when the sun sits at its lowest in the sky. During these periods, the sunlight is less intense, allowing you to wash and rinse your car without the rapid drying that occurs under the harsh midday sun.

By aligning your car-cleaning sessions with the optimal times of the day, you not only avoid the frustration of battling stubborn spots and streaks but also ensure a smoother and more enjoyable cleaning experience. The end result will be a gleaming car, free from the imperfections that can arise when the sun becomes an unwitting adversary in your pursuit of automotive perfection. So, seize the right light, and let your car shine without the interference of the blazing sun.

You’ll thank me later!

2: Use A Pressure Washer For Car Cleaning

use a pressure washer

You don’t own a pressure washer do you?

If not – now’s the time to invest in one! Cleaning your car with a pressure washer will make car cleaning so much easier!

You might not be interested in car detailing…

Or might not even have a hose pipe / water tap to be able to clean your car, but if you do…

Get a pressure washer, they’re great for quickly cleaning your car and getting stubborn dirt and road salt off of your paintwork!

Especially the wheels – who wants to get dirt all over them whilst cleaning a car? I know I don’t and I’m sure you don’t too right?

You can clean your car from a distance!

Pressure Washing and Paintwork

A common question asked with using a pressure washer to wash your car is whether it’ll strip the paint from the car!

Personally – I’ve never stripped paint from my car and don’t know someone that has!

As long as you don’t use the strongest setting and are continuously moving a few feet from the paintwork then you’ll be fine.

In addition – please, a little common sense if you’re going to use a pressure washer…

They’re dangerous and shouldn’t be used by younger children.

3: Remove Car Grime BEFORE Washing

wash car grime

Car grime is that horrible dirt that gets really, really stuck onto your car’s paintwork!

It’s a pain, and is hard to remove without special chemicals from companies like Demon – which may I add are really good, I’ve personally used these products and they’re great.

You could use a wash mitt to clean your car and scrub off the grime…

Unfortunately, the grime and road salt will be harder to remove than you might think!

For instance, you can buy some products from Demon such as Demon Machine which will allow you to remove grime from your car with ease.

4: Car Cleaning With The Two Bucket Method

You might think I’ve just made this up, but it’s an extra step to car cleaning which will improve the end result – you’ll look back on it and think Wow!

In order to use the two bucket method, you will need to make sure that you’ve – yeah, you guessed it, have got two buckets.

They need to be clean buckets.

Give them a rinse with some warm water prior to filling them with soap warm water to clean your car.

What Does The Two Bucket Method Achieve?

When you wash your car with a single bucket you’ll dunk your wash mitt back into that same bucket that contains all of the dirt and contaminants from your car!

And what happens next?

You go straight back onto your car with a dirty wash mitt!

It really, really goes through me! I can’t stand NOT using this method – and you should too!

5: Don’t Forget The Wheels And Wheel Arches

clean car wheels

Car cleaning isn’t just about cleaning the exterior of your car and that’s all!

It’s also about cleaning your car’s wheels.

Think about it for a second…

Your car’s wheels come into contact with the road surface all of the time, whether your car is parked or on the move.

It’s collecting dirt and attracting road salt which in turn ends up on the underside of your car’s wheel arches.

If you’ve got a pressure washer, use a slightly stronger setting here to give them a deep clear – but don’t over do it!

I’d also suggest not applying too many chemicals to this area – especially if your car is an older car, there could be some cables in need of repair here.

Cleaning The Wheels

After cleaning the wheel arches, you can then move on to tackle the wheels.

Your car’s wheels are likely to be quite robust and giving them a deep clean shouldn’t be a problem here.

Use a strong wheel cleaner – Wonder Wheels are a great company for providing car cleaning chemicals for wheels.

6: Use A Clay Bar On Your Car’s Paintwork

A clay bar huh?

You might have no idea what I’m talking about!

And that’s okay!

A clay bar is essentially what it says – it’s a small credit/debit card sized block of clay, it’s slightly squashy.

The purpose of a clay bar is to allow the dirt and grime deep down into the car’s paint to stick to the clay allowing you to restore the reflection in your car!

Who doesn’t love car cleaning when the end result is shiny!

Clay bars come in all different sizes – they tend to be quite expensive for the amount of clay you get in the box.

How To Use A Clay Bar With Car Cleaning

If you’re wondering how to use a clay bar – don’t panic!

I’m going to give you a few steps to get started:

  1. Spray your car with some water to aid with lubrication.
  1. With your clay bar held on the paintwork, use single line motions on one section at a time.
  1. Finally, after completing a single section, remould the clay to get a clean part.

7: Invest In A Depth Gauge

You’re serious about car cleaning and car detailing right?

I was when I got my first car – I’ve always been a car lover, it takes me at least 4 hours to clean my car and for some…

That sounds like a long time!

If you’re a serious car detailer, you’ll want to invest in a proper depth gauge.

A depth gauge will allow you to gauge the imperfections in your car’s paintwork and allow you to pay particular attention to specific sections.

Do you get me?

It will allow you to go down the roots of machine polishing!

8: Clean Your Car Mats

Cleaning your car is more than just car cleaning right?

It’s also about keeping your car’s interior looking good which in turn makes you feel good!

Despite keeping the car’s exterior clean, we often neglect our car’s interior – especially car mats.

When I clean my car mats it takes a while…

And when I say a while I’m talking at least a few hours over a single weekend.

The best time to clean your car mats as part of the car cleaning process is to do them at the very end!


Because if you clean them towards the start, they’ll likely get dirty as your cleaning the rest of your car’s interior!

Top Tip: Cleaning Car Mats

If you’re going to clean your car mats, take them out at the very start, give them time to air out and shake them out!

It’ll make vacuuming them so much easier for you!

9: Remove Swirl Marks With Polish – Don’t Use Wax

If you’re trying to remove stubborn swirl marks from your car you’ll need to use a good quality car polish.

So how did they get there in the first place?

Swirl marks appear on your car’s paintwork when a poor quality sponge or cloth is used!

They’re superfine scratches that are left behind after using these poor quality items and can be really hard to remove!

If you try to use wax to remove swirl marks, you’re going to make it worse – so please don’t use wax.

10: Use A Plastic Bag When Car Cleaning To Check Your Car’s Paintwork

A plastic bag…

You might think that I’ve gone insane, but I really haven’t!

Much like using a clay bar on your car’s paintwork to remove deeply ingrained dirt, you can “feel” how clean your car actually is with a plastic bag.

Why is this important?

After you’ve cleaned your car, you’re going to want to apply some wax.

Wax will help to seal the paintwork and allow water droplets to run off your paintwork in beads.

But you don’t want to seal your car’s paintwork if it’s not totally clean!

Simply grab a plastic bag, any bag will do, as long as it’s clean and not too large – then, run over a few sections of your paintwork and feel for how “smooth” the paintwork is.

Did you find that it felt a bit rough or what it actually smooth?

My Car’s Paint Feels Rough

If your paintwork feels rough, you’re going to need to use a clay bar on that section that felt a bit rough.

It will take you some time, but you’ve got this!

11: Use The Correct Type Of Cloth

Whether you’re cleaning your car’s exterior or interior, you will need to use a cloth.

A cloth will be used to wipe, dry and get into some of the harder to reach areas that a wash mitt can’t get to.

A wash mitt is worn on your hand, they’re big and bulky.

Using a cloth is great, but you don’t want to use any type of cloth.

Use a microfiber cloth to clean and wipe the door handles and the handles on the inside of the car.

You’ll also need to use a microfiber cloth to wipe any residual polish or wax left over from when you applied polish on the car.

12: Car Cleaning At The Right Time Of Day

If you’re planning on cleaning your car, you want to do it at the right time of the day.

This doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, or overcast, the same applies for both.

Car cleaning is best done either in the early morning or late evening.

The Best Time To Clean Your Car

  • Between 6am and 9am in the mornings.
  • Between 4pm and 9pm in the evenings.

13: Cleaning The Glass

One of the most important parts of car cleaning that you need to know is cleaning the glass.

Especially your car’s windscreen.

Your car’s windscreen is really the only part of your car allowing you to safely see what’s on the road ahead of you!

If your car’s windscreen isn’t kept clean, it will put extra strain on your car’s wiper blades meaning they’ll need to be replaced sooner!

I recommend not over complicating cleaning the glass on your car, a simple glass cleaner from a supermarket for cars should be ideal for car glass cleaning.

It’s like the old saying…

Just because it’s more expensive, it doesn’t always mean that it’s better!

14: Car Waxing

Cleaning your car is a rather rewarding process.

So why spend all that time cleaning your loved car and not protect your car’s paintwork afterwards?

This is where car wax can be really good.

Buy some car wax from a well known brand such as Meguiars, you don’t want to cheap out on car wax like with glass cleaner as you’ll really notice a difference in the long run!

Why Wax A Car?

Waxing a car, put simply will protect your car’s paint from the elements such as rain, salt and other elements our world throws at us.

Waxing a car won’t keep your car protected forever, but it will last potentially a few weeks compared to a few days without waxing.

If you’re a car detailer and detail your own car, you might find that you’ll find that your car is going to be worth more in the long run as a bi-product of car waxing.

15: Car Cleaning Also Involves Vacuuming

So far I’ve covered a lot of car cleaning tips to make cleaning your car a breeze and enjoyable for summer.

Now it’s time to tackle the interior of your car and give it a good vacuum.

Ask yourself…

When did you last go through a car drive-thru or how about eating those crisps whilst you were at a service station on some road trip.

You probably didn’t pay much attention at the time to the carpets and seats of your car, well now…

It’s time to tackle the vacuuming and vacuum all of those crumbs and dirt!

It will be more inviting for your passengers and yourself on the daily commute to and from work.

You’ll feel proud and satisfied.

I recommend starting from the rear of your car – that’s in your car’s boot and move forwards.

Don’t forget the cracks and areas where you might not usually use them.

16: Tackle The Air Vents

Is your car smelling badly on the inside?

Even whilst driving?

Dust is prone to collecting inside of your car’s air vents – and you need to tackle this problem because of your health and allergies right?

And no…

It’s not a good prank idea to put flour in your air vents when your best friend is sitting in the passenger seat and you set the blowers to full speed!

You can use a soft brush to clean inside of your air vents – you’re just trying to remove the dust and get it out of there.

Be careful – air vents on cars have small pieces of plastic in them making them difficult to clean, you could break some plastic and that won’t be good.

Especially if your car is on finance.

17: Line Cup Holders With Cake Liners – It Really Does Work!

Lining your cup holders with cake liners really does work…

Cup holders tend to collect stains and little bits of dirt in them that can be hard to remove even for the experienced car detailers amongst us.

That’s why a cake liner is great, because it allows you to get the stains out.

18: Take Care Of Battery Corrosion

Your car’s battery is one of the most important car components that keeps your car running!

It provides the electrical power to start your car and to power your car’s headlights at night.


Over time, car batteries develop corrosion on the battery terminals.

As part of your regular car cleaning routine you’ll want to check that there’s no corrosion build up on the battery terminals.

How To Check For Battery Corrosion

To check your battery for corrosion, follow these simple steps:

  1. Find your car’s bonnet release switch or lever.
  1. Release the bonnet.
  1. Find the latch under the bonnet to open it.
  1. Locate your car’s battery (it might be covered in a insulating cover)

Once you’ve located your car’s battery you can use a cloth or a brush to give it a clean.

Just be careful not to get any water onto the terminals or you risk getting an electric shock!

19: Look Out For Car Cleaning Offers

A quick car cleaning tip here is to look out for offers on popular online shopping websites such as Amazon!

Car cleaning products can be quite expensive, and they might not last a long time.

For example…

I bought a £7 bottle of Wonder Wheels, and used half of it to clean 4 wheels – okay, so I’m a keen car cleaner myself in my free time and like to take extra detail to cleaning my car’s wheels.

For you, it will likely last longer and you won’t use a lot.

I’ve got 22 inch wheels on my current car – larger wheels are likely to attract more dirt and thus need a deeper clean.

20: Clean Your Car Regularly

The simplest car cleaning tip that I can give you is simple…

Stay on top of your car cleaning because it can get really dirty, really quickly!

Who doesn’t love a clean, shiny car right?

I try to clean my car at least every few weeks during the summer.

Sometimes I’ll do it every week, and you should too!

Not only this, but cleaning your car is beneficial for your health – you might be aching the next day, but this is a good sign that you’ve done a good job with your car cleaning.

Top Car Cleaning Tips

I’ve covered a lot of cleaning tips in this blog post, and thought you’d appreciate a quick run down, a simple, bulleted list of tips to keep your car clean!

If you enjoy them and find them helpful, feel free to share with friends and family

  1. Don’t clean your car in direct sunlight.
  2. Don’t use poor quality products.
  3. Do use a pressure washer.
  4. Do use a wash mitt to wash your car.
  5. Use a Clay Bar to clean deep into your car’s paint.
  6. Do wash your car regularly.
  7. Don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk.
  8. Don’t clean your car at midday.
  9. Do look after your car’s wheels.
  10. Do tackle your car’s air vents.

Once you’ve cleaned your car, you might want to consider putting a nice air freshener into your car to keep it smelling good!