How to Wash a Car Properly | Inside and Out

              How to Wash a Car Properly

These days, it seems like everyone's first instinct is to head to the nearest car wash when their ride needs a good scrub-down. But the thing is, many car washing services aren’t worth your time or money, and you might not even get as thorough a clean at some of these services compared to if you used your own soaps and elbow grease to get things done.

The truth is, cleaning your car isn’t particularly hard, nor does it have to be time-consuming. In fact, it can be downright easy, provided you have the best car soaps and cleaning products around. 

Today, we’ll break down how to wash your car and show you just how easy it can be with Shine Armor, and our affordable, effective solutions. Read on to learn more in this article of shine armor blog!

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Washing a Car – Things You’ll Need

If you really want to wash your car to the same level as a professional car detailing service, you'll need high-quality cleaning supplies and a few other pieces of equipment. Here's a rundown of the full list:

  • Microfiber cloths – these are much better than conventional towels or other types of cloths since they don’t leave fibers behind and won’t leave smears or scratches on your car’s paint job or windows
  • Foaming wash. You'll need this to accomplish the pre-cleaning segment of the car washing process
  • Soap and water. There are tons of car soap brands you can choose from. Just make sure that you don’t pick a brand that will strip the paint from your car, or the wax. Be sure to get car wash soap, specifically – don’t substitute it with other types of soap, like dish soap
  • A hose – you’ll need plenty of water to rinse your car when all the washing is done. We’d recommend having a pressure nozzle as well since this makes spraying water onto your car a lot easier, and can even result in a better, more satisfying cleaning experience
  • Glass cleaner. Again, a specific type of cleaner should be used to wash your car’s windows instead of regular soap
  • A cleaner for use beneath the hood. This soap specifically needs to get rid of grease and oil, as these two contaminants will be most common in your car’s engine bay
  • Gloves if you don’t want your hands to become pruned or dry
  • Two buckets for filling with soapy water and for depositing dirty water from your rag or cloth

Now that you see all you need, let’s get down to the step-by-step process.

Clean the Outside First!

First things first, clean the outside of your vehicle before moving to the inside. There’s a step-by-step way to do this, as well.

Step 1: Pre-Washing

Start by “pre-washing” your car. Before you start spraying, make sure you have all of your equipment in order and easy to reach. It might be difficult to get back inside without making your floors wet after you’ve already started spraying.

We’d recommend using a foaming soap, or even just a small amount of your regular car soap to wash down the exterior of your vehicle. This part of the process will get rid of the bigger dirt or debris, bugs, grime, and so on without requiring a lot of scrubbing on your part. It also preps the finish for more intense scrubbing. Use a microfiber cloth or mitt for all the scrubbing you’ll do to avoid scratching the paint.

Step 2: Scrubbing

Next, it’s time to start thoroughly washing your car now that the major dirt and debris has been cleared away from the paint. Again, using a microfiber cloth or mitt, and using top to bottom or side-by-side motions, scrub your car everywhere you can see dirt, and even places you can’t! Use plenty of soapy water and don’t hesitate to fill a new bucket.

You’ll also want to get a “dirty water bucket”. With this, you can squeeze all of the dirty water from your microfiber cloth or mitt into that bucket, then re-soak the cloth or mitt in the clean, soapy water bucket for a better job.

What soap should you use? While you can use a dedicated car soap, you can also use a multi-function solution like Shine Armor’s Fortify Quick Coat. This proprietary formula can wash, shine, and apply a protective ceramic coating to your vehicle in a single application. Just combine it with a good microfiber cloth and you're set!

Step 3: Tires

Tires should also be cleaned with soap and water. But you can also use a dedicated tire shine product, like Shine Armor’s Tire Shine Gel. Products like these are water-based polymers infused with silicone that can make your rubber and plastic surfaces shine and stay durable, even after lots of heavy use.

You have to clean your tires thoroughly with regular soap before applying something like this, however. Be sure to replace your soapy water as needed – the tires, especially, can make that water muddy and grimy a lot faster than you might think.

Step 4: Drying

You should hand dry everything on your vehicle to prevent water from smearing or staining the car. Use a clean microfiber cloth for this process, and be sure to get around the edges, too.

Step 5: Degrease the Engine Bay (optional)

If you want to, clean the engine bay of your vehicle. This involves using a special degreasing formula that can clean away oil and dirt from the metallic parts under the hood. This isn’t strictly necessary every time you wash your car, but it can lead to better performance and make it easier to detect any issues with your car’s engine should they crop up in the future.

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  1. Interior car detailing
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Cleaning the Interior

Step 1: The “Hard” Surfaces

Now it’s finally time to start working on the inside of your car. Use a dedicated interior cleaner like Shine Armor’s Interior Cleaner, which is a dust-resistant solution that can get rid of dirt, grime, tons of unwanted odors, and prevent future dust buildup over time.

By using this with a microfiber cloth, you can clean and protect all of the plastic and vinyl surfaces of your vehicle.

Step 2: Seats

The seats in your car should be cleaned next. Use Shine Armor’s Leather Cleaner if you have leather seats, or another cleaning solution if you have fabric. You can even use our interior cleaning formula from above if you have vinyl seats! Whatever the case, make sure that you thoroughly vacuum the inside of your car before scrubbing anything – failing to do so could make the condition of your seats worse by scrubbing dirt and debris into your seats instead of cleaning them out. 

Step 3: Windows

Windows should be the last part of your car-cleaning routine. Use a dedicated car glass window cleaner with a microfiber cloth, and be sure to apply the glass window cleaner solution directly to your cloth instead of spraying it on the window (at least for the interior). This stops you from accidentally spraying the other components inside your car. 

Wipe with side to side and up and down motions to prevent smearing, then wash the outside of your car windows. Don’t forget to roll the windows down to get the edges!

It’s also helpful to use a hydrophobic window coating when you’re done cleaning to help keep those windows clean and water-resistant for longer!


All in all, it’s more than doable to wash your car without taking it to an expensive detailing service or even rolling it up to a regular car washing service. You can save money in the long run and a full car washing routine doesn’t have to take more than an hour. Depending on the car washing service you check out, you might even be done more quickly when accounting for traffic!

Just remember to use top-tier detailing products if you decide to clean your car by hand. They can make all the difference and really help your car shine!


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