Washing your car at home can not only save you money, it can also give you the freedom to wash your car the way you want to wash it. There are a few different considerations however that you should keep in mind when buying at home car wash products. Knowing what you need, what you can do without, and what is going to make your life easier is a great place to start.
The most basic things you will need are a bucket, sponges or rags, and some sort of soap. Now if you are working on a budget and you are only washing your car at home because you do not have the time or money to go to a carwash, something as simple as dish soap is often thought to work well to wash off grime and dirt. But here’s the truth – dish soap is not for the serious car enthusiast that is going to be washing their car frequently, but is does well in a fix. Because dish soap is designed to attack grime and grease, it can clean most cars. However, it will not do the car’s paint job any favors. Instead, we suggest a cheap car wash soap like Meguiar’s G7164 Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner.
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Your rag or sponge is something that makes a great deal of difference as well. You want to use a sponge if you can as it is going to be softer and safer for your paint job than a rough rag. If you have to use a rag however an old cotton t-shirt that has been cut up is a wonderful option that is going to work to be soft on the paint and to remove dirt as well. Your bucket does not matter much as it is just there to hold the water and provide you a place to rinse your sponge or get more of your washing solution.
Here’s our suggest items for some cheap, basic car wash supplies:
- Viking Car Wash Bucket – 12 Quart
- Meguiar’s G7164 Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner
- Chemical Guys Chenille Microfiber Premium Scratch-Free Wash Mitt
The next thing to consider is of course what special soaps you may need. If you are washing something like road salt off your car you may need a stronger soap than dish soap. If you are washing off bugs you may also need a soap that has special properties that help to remove these nasty little dried on bugs off. You want to make sure the soap you are using is auto safe and that it is not going to peel or damage your paint or your lights. That’s why we recommend the Meguiar’s soap above.
You may also want to consider buying a soap that has a wax built in if you do not intend to hand wax your car after you wash it. For this, we recommend Meguiar’s G17748 Ultimate Wash and Wax for the best cheap car wash soap with wax. Wax helps to keep your car from getting damaged by the elements and can also make washing it a second time easier by creating a barrier between the car and dirt, grime, and bugs. If you are looking for a soap that is just soap, try looking for an auto soap in the car section of your local stores.
If you are looking for a tool that is going to help make your car washing experience easier you may need to consider special tools. Anyone that washes their car at home can tell you that one of the most annoying things about it is water spots. Now water spots can work to fade your paint, can be damaging to your clear coat, and are distracting and annoying when you worked so hard to wash your car.
One way to avoid water spots is to use a specially designed shammy towel that will soak up the water and leave your care with a streak free shine. You can often get these towels in any basic cleaning kit that you might buy. These towels can also help remove water and prevent rusting and pooling water that can damage the body of your car over time.
You might also run into attachments that you add to your garden hose to make washing easier. While this will help make the process faster, it may not offer the type of clean that you want. Often, these are just for applying soap with the scrubbing still being applied by hand. Auto brushes are also a dangerous option as the harder brushes can damage paint and dull your paint job. If you want to use a brush to wash your car look for one that is very soft or that is made of natural fibers to help protect your paint.
Waxes and Second Step Products
The last thing you want to consider are those products that are applied after you wash your car. Second step products are basically what you apply to keep your car clean and protected longer. Waxes, clear coats, and even liquid wax solutions help to create a secondary barrier between your car and the elements to make your car stay cleaner longer. When looking for a wax look for one that is clear and that can be used on more than one car, also, look for waxes that are all weather and that protect your car from a range of elements. Read our guide to the best car wax.
If you are at all unsure about any of these products you can always purchase a basic cleaning kit that will help keep your car shining. These kits generally come with a shammy to dry your car, a soap to wash it, a sponge, perhaps some detailing brushes, and a wax. Some kits may also include things to clean the interior of your car like dash wipes or glass cleaner. These kits are a great place to start.