How To Correctly Wash & Dry Your Car

1998 Ferrari F355 F1 GTS

There are few things that rival a Sunday drive in a freshly washed car. We have a relationship with our cars that runs deeper than appearance, but it’s hard to deny the feeling of cruising along the lake with the sun gleaming off of your hood. In some ways, driving a clean car can give us the confidence to actually feel good while driving.

Those driving are not the only ones reaping the benefits of a clean car, but rather importantly, the car is, too. Properly washing and drying your car reduces the appearance of swirl marks and scratches, and is the first step in preventing them. Surface imperfections not only lower the value of a car, but also make it a real eyesore to look at.

Click here for a Pre-Wash secret for a no-scratch car wash!

What Products Are Needed

To provide your vehicle with a proper, safe, and thorough hand wash, there are some items that cannot be left out. If not new, all items you use should be cleaned thoroughly in order to provide the highest quality clean. Here are the essentials and go-to items that are recommend every time your car is being washed:

Car Wash Preparation

2 Buckets and a Ferrari

Using multiple buckets for a car wash may seem excessive, but this basic component is absolutely essential to providing your car with the best possible wash. By having two buckets, one for rinsing and one for washing, it ensures only clean water and soap is in contact with the car at all times. With Grit Guards in place, fill both buckets with water, adding car wash soap to one. The rinse bucket helps to dislodge dirt and debris that will be picked up by a wash pad during the washing procedure, keeping your wash bucket clean and free of possible contaminants.

Note: As far as how much car wash soap is needed, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions as it may vary.

Note: It is also recommended that the car wash be performed in a shaded area so the car’s paint is cool to the touch, as this fights staining and streaking.

Always wash your wheels before washing your car. The idea here is that wheels are typically the dirtiest part of a car, and once washed, we don’t want any harmful over-spray occurring on the cleaned paintwork. Read our how-to on Wheel and Tire Cleaning for more information.

The Correct Hand Car Wash

Pre-Wash Rinsing of FerrariWith your rinse and wash buckets prepared, grab a hose and rinse down the entire car to remove as much debris and dirt as possible. Avoid using a powerful stream if possible, as heavy particles can scratch the paint if put under high pressure – a shower head type can be used for equal and even water distribution.

Once rinsed, use a sectional approach to wash the car from the top down. Washing top down will keep the dirty muck from the bottom of the car from making its way upward. Section sizes will vary depending on the body styling of a given car, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your sections to roughly 4 feet by 4 feet. After each section, always rinse your wash pad in the rinse bucket, thoroughly agitating it against the Grit Guard to remove accumulated debris. Next, use the same technique to re-lather the wash pad and continue on the next section of the car. Once all sections have been cleaned, rinse the car a final time before beginning to dry.

  • On horizontal surfaces – roof, hood, trunk – use front to back motions.
  • On vertical surfaces – doors, quarter panels, rear – use up and down motions

Note: Rinse the car frequently and don’t allow soap to sit on surface for an excessive period of time.

Note: If there is an abundance of dirt on the bottom ¼ of the car, use only a downward motion in that area.

The Correct Drying Procedure

When drying a car, the type of towel you use makes a world of difference. A plush waffle weave microfiber towel is recommended to ensure maximum absorption with the least possible abrasion. When at all possible, fold the towel into a smaller rectangle; this will add more depth and cushion to its feel. Read: Car Drying Tips.

Note: Avoid using cotton towels and old rags at all costs. These are abrasive alternatives that have no place on a car’s paintwork.

Dry the car in a similar way that you washed the car – horizontally and vertically. As the towel becomes damp, flip it over to assure maximum results. Keep folding the towel as you move around the car to keep its integrity. Keep in mind that as you go, you should swap out the saturated microfiber for another waffle weave towel – depending on how many you have. Continue drying until the entire vehicle is dry, clean, and yielding a brilliant shine.


By following the steps and tips given to correctly wash and dry your car, you’ll have a clean, healthy, and happy car. Also, if these techniques are applied repeatedly to your washing regimen, you’ll notice better-looking paint that stays cleaner longer and has little to no imperfections. The most important thing to remember when washing a car is to be gentle and be involved. If you care about your car, and pay it the attention it needs, you’ll notice the results for yourself.1998 Ferrari F355 F1 GTS

Hand Car Wash Slideshow

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