Ultimate guide to Exterior Car Wash
Washing your car regularly is more important than you think. It makes the car environment more hygienic and provides a better outlook on the long run. Plus, regular exterior car wash can make the car parts last longer than usual and provide extra comfort while driving.

Washing your car regularly is more important than you think. It makes the car environment more hygienic and provides a better outlook on the long run. Plus, regular exterior car wash can make the car parts last longer than usual and provide extra comfort while driving. Getting your car deep cleaning is not a tough task. Just through some simple knowledge, handy tools, and some car wash chemicals you can keep your car fresh and up to the mark. Let’s get some insight on this!

What is Car Detailing?

Car detailing or auto detailing simply refers to the process through which a car is restored to its initial stage. Car wash and detail can include anything from washing, cleaning, polishing to restoring the smaller parts to give an automobile the shine it deserves.

Car wash and detail includes interior and exterior restoration. The process mostly consists of various cleaning methods. There are countless number of methods found online or from auto dealers. Not all of these methods are suitable for your car. As a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast, I’ll talk about the best methods that I found helpful from my personal experience.

Learn more about exterior car wash & auto detailing here.


Most of these methods will demonstrate at home car detailing. Because we genuinely found automatic car wash cost comparatively higher. Although, there are some small sized automatic car wash machine available in the market but industrial sized automatic car wash machine price is quite insane and hard to go for. So we will discuss tools and methods that maximum family can afford and easy to get. Let’s get to it.

Two Major Element of Car Detailing

Ultimate guide to Exterior Car Wash

Proper car detailing includes in and out car wash. To get a professional car detailing and maintain a healthy condition of your car you will need to get both interior and exterior car wash. For full service car wash, even the smallest part of the car matter.

•Exterior Car Wash and detailing

This includes all the exterior parts of the car. From the front hood to the bumper, all the exterior parts need regular maintenance. To keep them in shape and keep the shine on, you need to maintain a healthy and regular maintenance period.

• Interior Car Wash and detailing

Most people spend hours and hours inside their car every day. The interior plays the most important role in times of traffic and long journeys. That’s why you need to keep it fresh and clean. Through some genuine methods, keeping the interior clean can be a pretty easy task.

Why Regular Car Wash Is Important?

  • Washing the exterior and interior will expand the lifecycle of your car
  • It will further upgrade the physical presence through desired appearance
  • Preserve the condition of the car paint
  • Keep your car engine cooler and running at the promised efficiency
  • It will keep the car in shape and improve the chance to get higher resale value

How regular exterior car wash and detailing is beneficial to the owner

  • Improve the experience and keep satisfaction at the highest level
  • Provide better assistance while on the road
  • Keep the riders hygienic and provide comfort to the highest level
  • Save a lot of money in repairs and maintenance
  • Ensure smooth & healthy ride
  • Ensure fresh & premium look everyday

The Two Famous Exterior Car Wash Method

In this section, we will discuss the best hand car wash methods that are widely used around the world. If you are in a place where you can’t find any closest full service car wash service, you can easily apply any of these methods to get your car deep cleaning. Let’s get in to it:

• Two bucket car wash system

The 2 bucket car wash system is the most effective as it provides you enough supplies to make the perfect wash. There’s two part of the 2 bucket method. One bucket is for washing the wheels and smaller parts. The other one is for rinsing and adding the finishing touch for perfect wash quality.

For 2 bucket wash, all you need to perfectly clean your car exterior with this method are- good quality car wash soap, wash pads, some drying towels and two see-through buckets. Note, the buckets should be transparent so you can keep an eye at the wash quality while on the go. Try to use less than 4 gallons of water for each bucket. Use the best quality car soap at the required amount to make a suitable wash mixture.

Remember to use Grit Guards in times of thorough wash. These guards will separate the dirt from the grime. This will make your work much easier. Stay cautious while you clean and clean the dirt and the mitts equally. Don’t get them mixed up as it will create problems for the guards.

In 2 bucket car wash method, your rinse bucket is more important than you think.  The proper rinsing method will give the finishing touch you +need. Take the wash pads and squeeze the leftover dirt from the parts. Don’t be in a rush. Try to rinse the parts twice by changing water before taking it to your car.

• Three bucket car wash system

3 bucket car wash

The 3 bucket car wash system is somewhat similar to that of the 2 bucket method. Instead of finishing the washing part in one single bucket, you would need to use two different buckets in this one. That means, two buckets would go to the washing part and one will take care of the rinsing.

The requirements are the same as the two bucket car wash system. You will need three buckets this time. At first, finish off the initial washing by taking approximately 3 to 4 gallons of water in the bucket. Wash the desired parts thoroughly with Grit Guards at the bottom. Get rid of the dirt and mitts as much as you can.

After the initial washing is done, take the second bucket out and make a suitable water-soap mixture. Spray the mixture on the car parts and get rid of the remaining dirt. Use the third bucket to spray only water and give the wash a nice finishing. Get rid of the soap and carefully clean the parts until you feel it’s ready for your car. That’s how the 3 bucket car wash method is done.

Supplies you will need for exterior car wash & detailing

Below you will find the car wash parts & tools you will need to do full service car wash for exterior parts of your car.

  • Best Car wash shampoo & soaps
  • Best Car wash mitt
  • Buckets (you will need 2 of them)
  • Hose with a good nozzle
  • Drying towel
  • Bug & Tar remover
  • Glass cleaner

Ultimate Guide to Exterior Car Wash & Detailing: Step by Step Guide

Ultimate guide to Exterior Car Wash

• Evaluation

The first step towards car wash and detail is to know what you need to do. Look at the exterior parts very closely. Find out which one’s need extra care and which one’s are good to go. Categorize the parts according to their washing and detailing needs. Don’t mix them up. Wheels need extra care, whereas hoods can be pretty easy to clean and carpets or mats might need special types of car carpet shampoo. Find out what the parts need and make a checklist first. Prioritize from highest care to lowest. Proceed according to the checklist.

• Wash Your Car Perfectly

Car deep cleaning includes several important steps. Combining all the steps will help you to achieve perfect wash for your car. Without any further fuss or delay let’s get into it:

How often you should wash your car?

I would recommend you to wash once in a week or two

Pre wash setup

In order to get your gears ready for the wash, warm them up with some pre wash techniques. It will make loosen up the dirt and help lessen the time required for the wash. To get a successful result from the wash, follow these simple steps at first:

Step 1: Connect the hose with a mineral free water source. Use water purifiers to get rid of minerals to avoid unwanted water spots.

Step 2: Attach the Grit Guard into the selected bucket and make sure it fits perfectly

Step 3: Fill the bucket half way through. Don’t fill the bucket completely as it would create problems for the mixture.

Step 4: Let the parts soak until you are ready to move on with the wash.

Pre wash de-greasing

If you haven’t cleaned up the parts for a while, make sure you degrease the outer layer before getting to the washing part. Grease and different types of contamination build up over time and you need more than regular shampoo to get rid of that. Use a good quality degreaser and soak the parts in it to get rid of the contamination. Let them soak for about 5 minutes before you wash them. If the grease doesn’t get off the first time, repeat the process again. Make sure to loosen up the contamination correctly before applying water.

Two bucket car wash system

The best car wash system used by most car owners is the 2 bucket car wash system. It is the safest method too. Follow these steps to perfectly wash your car parts:

Step 1: Finish the pre wash and take two separate see-through buckets.

Step 2: Fill up the buckets half way through and mix it up with an ounce of shampoo.

Step 3: Soak the desired sponge for a few minutes and gently rub it through the part.

Step 4: Refresh the cleaning sponge and place it over the Grit Guard to get rid of the contamination.

Step 5: Repeat process 3 and 4 until you get satisfactory cleaning results.

Step 6: Use the nozzle to carefully get rid of the water-shampoo mixture. Proceed to dry cleaning once it is done.

Rinseless car washing system

The rinseless car washing system allows cleaning without the need of any hose or nozzle. You will of course need water. But two buckets of water would be enough for the job. But, for this to work, you will need special no rinse shampoo that can act quickly. The process is similar to that of two bucket car wash system. But for this one, use the no rinse media in a small amount and add it to a bucket of water. Use sponges to get rid of the contamination and repeat until the result is satisfactory.

Waterless car wash system

This method is only applicable when there is very light dirt on your vehicle. There are many spray and wipe products that can allow gentle car washing without the need of additional water. Take a fresh towel and the cleaning media. Spray the media over the spots affected and thoroughly clean it with the towel. Repeat the process to get rid of the dirt.

You can apply any of the 3 mentioned exterior car wash system. We have tried all of the method practically and three of them are really effective.

Rinse & Dry

Drying your vehicle is more important and sophisticated than you think. It’s a pretty easy task but needs proper care. It’s better to use blowers to dry the tough spots. Start from the top of the vehicle and run down to the end slowly. Don’t be in a hurry. Dry each panel separately and make sure the part on hand is dry before proceeding to the next one.


  • Why you need to do clay bar?

The contamination that’s left after washing your vehicle can be removed through clay bar. To get a smooth surface finish, you need to use a clay bar.

  • How to clay bar?

To use a clay bar efficiently, follow these steps:

Step 1: After washing and drying your vehicle, get a small piece of the clay bar that you can use it on the desired surface.

Step 2: Gently glide the piece of the clay bar over the surface. Carefully apply the clay bar through upwards, downwards and side-wise motion. Don’t rush through this step as it will determine how clean your car will be.

Step 3: Repeat the claying process until you get rid of the visible contamination.

Step 4: Take a fresh towel and gently rub it over the surface to get rid of any clay leftover.

Step 5: Repeat the above steps to get rid of all the contamination

  • Alternatively use of Pads & Towel

Pads and towels can be used for decontamination also. These pads and towels are specially made to be used as an alternative to clay bars. The best thing about these pads and towels is that they can be used many times. You can just simply wash them and use again. After washing and drying your vehicle, spray the lubricant over the surface equally and gently wipe it with the help of the pads and towels. Use fresh towels or pads for each sections. You can easily wash the towel and use it to wipe while cleaning. Give a final touch and rinse the parts separately for best outcome.

Wipe & Prep

Wiping the vehicle is as important as washing it. You can use microfiber towels to wipe the water on the surface or the clay bar leftovers. Go through each section separately and wipe thoroughly. Use a fresh towel each time so that you don’t add unwanted dirt by mistake. You can also use a single towel multiple times by cleaning it with water. Prepare your vehicle for the next steps and wipe each section gently.

Inspect for further correction or swirl

Just washing, drying, claying and wiping may not get all the decontamination out of the vehicle body. To ensure perfect decontamination, retrace your steps and look for needed correction or swirls. Look at the tough to reach spots at first to ensure if they are done or not. If you find anything, repeat the processes for the spot and make sure it’s ready for polishing.


Polishing is the basic process that makes a lot of difference when it comes to the smooth surface finish you desire. You can get rid of imperfections of the surface through this step. Scratch and dent repair can really give you hard times. And you will be astonished to know car scratch repair cost in some commercial garages and automotive care center. That’s where, polishing comes in handy. You can use buffers to get rid of the unwanted swirls and scratch marks. There are many types of polishers in the market. To ensure proper safety, you need to determine the perfect polisher that is compatible with your exterior material.

After selecting the polisher, apply it gently to the tough spots and scratch marks. Remember, you can’t apply too much pressure on the swirls or scratch marks. Spray the polisher and use microfiber towels to equally apply it throughout the whole area. Make sure you distribute the polishing agent thoroughly. Besides, you can find best wax for black cars with scratches or for any other specific colors in your nearest automotive shop or even online. Car scratch and dent repair is kind of big deals to many users as they don’t like to have their vehicles imperfect. Beside using professional scratch repair kit you can also use home remedy to fix car scratches.

Wax Protection

Car wax and polish can bring out the smooth surface finish that your car needs. Lasting up to 8 weeks, these car wax and polish can protect your car from environmental effects. Keep in mind, some car wax may differ based on the color of your car. Black car wax might not fit for your white car wax. You can find some best car wax for black in your local shop or online. One of the most popular wax materials is the Carnauba Wax. You need to apply the waxes by layers. These are the steps to follow while applying wax to your car exterior:

Step 1: Take a foam pad and get some wax paste on it. Don’t take too much wax at a time as it can harm the material instead of making it smoother.

Step 2: Put light pressure and apply the wax at the desired surface thoroughly.

Step 3: Let the wax get soaked for about 20 minutes and remove excess wax with the help of a microfiber towel.

Step 4: Repeat the above steps until you get the result you desire

Cleaning Wheels

Wheels play an important role in the overall appearance and performance of a car. Excess amount of brake dust can make the wheels look bad and the overall performance may lessen. To get the best results, you need to polish your wheels with the help of car shampoo, water and a wash mitt. These are the steps to follow while cleaning and polishing the wheels:

Step 1: Get a small amount of shampoo on a sponge and evenly distribute it.

Step 2: Put a light amount of pressure and rinse the shampoo over the wheel surface.

Step 3: Increase the pressure at places where the contamination is heavy.

Step 4: Continue the process until the polish glows and gives a milky haze outlook.

Step 5: When you are done with the polish, use a microfiber towel to remove extra polish material.

Step 6: Repeat the steps above until the wheels look smooth enough.

Car Glass & Window Cleaning

Car glass and window cleaning

Vehicle glasses not only add beauty but also provide the see-through option so that drivers can perfectly guide the automobile. Cleaning the front, side and back glass is not so tough. But, it needs time and patience. But first you need to choose the best car window tint. It’s not tough to find the best car tint if you have proper knowledge on the features you should look for in the best car window tint.

Additionally, to clean the glasses, you will need car shampoo, degreaser and some fresh towels. Make a light mixture of the shampoo and apply it gently over the interior and exterior glass surface. Remember to apply the mixture with light pressure and through microfiber towels. Don’t put excess pressure as it might create scratch marks over the surface.

To properly get the contamination off, use a suitable glass cleaner. Glass cleaners come with spray nozzles for reliability. Gently spray the glass cleaner over the surface and wipe it with microfiber towels. Apply light pressure over the surface and keep the surface dry before and immediately after each spray. Repeat the cleaning processes until the glasses are clean and let them dry off overnight.

More Detailing

You can use glaze material to provide extra smoothness to the exterior. This is an optional process. It can add an extra layer of depth to the regular smoothness. It’s not necessary to apply glaze but you can do it if you want an exterior with extra smooth finish. To apply glaze in the perfect way, get the best polish material suitable for your car exterior. Gently apply the polish all over the surface. Apply carefully as this step needs patience. Rushing in may cause scratches and swirls.

How to remove water spots from car

One irony is, the water you use to wash your car can cause water spots on car that can damage your car’s paintwork. Usually two types of hard water spots on car is seen.

  • Type 01: The first kind is just mineral waste that has been left after the water has evaporated
  • Type 02: Another type is when the strong compound on the water engraves the paint work of your car. It mostly happens due to heat or direct sunlight.

To remove hard water spots from car one of the following methods can be applied:

  • Catching early stage water spots on car can easily be eliminated with some simple tools. From our expert opinion, rinsing with distilled water after wash and finally rinsing with your ordinary tap water can remove early stage water spots on car.
  • The vinegar method is one of the widely used DIY homemade methods to remove hard water stains from car. As we know white vinegar is low pH acetic acid which really works well to eliminate high pH minerals like calcium hydroxide found in hard water stains on the car. Mix up 50% of white vinegar with 50% of distilled water and use sponge to apply the mix on the hard water. Finally use clean microfiber towel to soak up the vinegar mixture.

There are some specific water spot removers for cars available in the market. But as we have tested them separately we found the DIY methods discussed above are more efficient to eliminate water spots on car.

Taking care of water stain on car seat is way more different than removing water spots from exterior part of the car. That’s why we will discuss how to remove water stain on car seat on a different article.

Exterior Car Wash & Detailing Mistakes Everyone Should Avoid:

It’s very natural to make mistakes while doing both interior exterior car wash. It’s no big deal to make mistakes. But it’s a big deal to your car because without proper in and out car wash your car might lose the charm. That’s why we accumulated some common mistakes people make during interior and exterior car wash. By avoiding these vital mistakes you will be one step closer towards professional car detailing. Let’s get into it:

  • Don’t use the same sponge or towel over and over. You can use a single sponge or towel multiple times by thoroughly cleaning it before applying again.
  • Do not ever wash your car in direct sunlight. The mediums you use are very sensitive to UV rays and may harm the exterior material if in direct contact with sunlight
  • Don’t be so cheap to use kitchen soap to wash your car. Kitchen soaps are not designed to provide the result required to wash car exterior material
  • Use different buckets for washing and rinsing. Doing these two processes with a single bucket would get the dirt and contamination mixed up. It could add more contamination than removing them.
  • If you decide to wash the wheels at last, you’re not doing it the right way. Proceed with the washing from the top to the bottom of your car.


Cleaning and detailing your car may seem a very tough job as it requires a lot of hard work and patience. But it’s worth every second. After you finish detailing, you will surely see the difference. It will surely be a proud moment for you. Don’t worry if you do not have any knowledge prior to this. Just follow the simple steps as I’ve described above and stick to the plan. Your car will look like it’s just been bought from the dealer if you can detail it perfectly. Start from the top and proceed accordingly. Hope you get the result you want!