Taking your vehicle through the car wash is a great feeling. The rush of water, the soap running down your windshield, the swoosh of drying air… and the $10+ price tag. Well, the last thing isn’t so great. This cost can really add up after a while. Luckily, with a little elbow grease, you can get that just-went-through-the-car-wash shine, while still saving money. Here are a few tips to wash your car like a pro from the comfort of your own driveway.


Only use products meant for vehicles.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever used dishwashing soap to wash a car. A lot of us have done this, but it just isn’t a good idea. Household cleaning agents aren’t formulated for auto paint, and worse, they contain harsh materials that can strip the finish! Cleaning products specifically made for vehicles are milder and will preserve the paint.


Your cleaning tool matters—so does where you use it.

Your washing tool of choice should be a natural sponge or lamb’s wool glove. Use a separate sponge on the wheels and tires, as they often have more abrasive dirt and grime that you don’t want to rub into the body paint. Your wheels and tires may also require a stronger soap to cut through the grime; check the label of the cleaner to make sure it’s safe to use on wheels.


Stay away from circles.

It’s natural to clean things in a circular motion, but try to avoid doing this while washing your car. It can leave noticeable swirling marks on the body paint. Instead, wash lengthwise in large, sweeping strokes.


Suds it up.

Get that soapy water nice and sudsy. Soap allows the sponge to glide more easily over the car. Also be sure to keep two buckets—one with soapy water and the other with plain water to wash the sponge before each soapy water plunge.


Rinse well, before and after.

Make sure your car is absolutely dripping both before and after soaping it up. Before soap, it removes dirt particles that could scratch the finish. A post-suds rinse removes all soap residue and remaining grime.


Say “no” to air-drying.

Sure, air-drying your car is easier. But five extra minutes of time and a few soft towels ensure a spot-free and watermark-free finish. This is especially important if you live in an area with hard water.


Add wax for extra protection.

Popular Mechanics refers to wax as “sunscreen for your car.” And it’s right—wax adds a protecting layer against the elements that fade your body paint over time, such as sun, rain, snow, sleet, and more. Make sure your vehicle is totally dry and in the shade. Apply the wax in a very thin layer, buff with a microfiber towel, and enjoy your shiny vehicle!


Go green.

Do your part to help the environment by using green cleaning products whenever possible and preserving water with a hose nozzle.


April is a great time to get outside and “spring clean” your vehicle. While you’re at it, stop in to Rolf’s Import Auto. Tell us your favorite flower and you’ll receive $50 off any new service!

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