I’m terrible about washing the exterior of my car…terrible…like I never do it. My car is 14 years old and has sustained some bumps and bruises over the years, and she (her name is Loretta) was in desperate need of a shower. One day, I took her to two local car washes, and Loretta was still filthy. The dirt and grime was so caked on; you wouldn’t even know she had been washed recently. At that point I knew, Loretta would need a deep clean at home. On a particularly warm winter day, I decided to undertake an at home car wash with household ingredients.
On a warm day, you can rinse, wash, rinse, dry, and wax your car in one afternoon by yourself. If you have kids, I’m sure they would love to help with some of the scrubbing and rinsing the car (and themselves). Before you start, don’t wash your car when it is warm or is sitting in direct sunlight. Also, make sure you have rags or sponges that won’t damage the paint of your car. Regular bathroom towels are too abrasive for car paint. (This post does contain affiliate links to help support this blog. See our disclosure page for more information.)
Home Car Wash Supplies
Directions for an at Home Car Wash
Step 1: Rinse
Before you get started, take your hose and rinse your car to remove any loose debris.
Step 2: Wash with Baking Soda
Mix a cup of baking soda with a gallon of warm water in a bucket. Baking soda is gentle enough not to damage the paint of your car, but will help clear off grime.
Step 3: Rinse
Rinsing in between washes will help clear any debris that has loosened up.
Step 4: Wash with Vinegar and Shampoo
Dump your baking soda water. Mix 1 cup of vinegar, ¼ cup of gentle shampoo, and a gallon of warm water. A lot of people use dishwashing detergent to wash their car, but this can damage your car’s paint. For an at home car wash, try using shampoo instead. It’s a milder soap for cleaning but will also protect your car’s finish.
Step 5: Check for any trouble spots
Even after two washes, there may be some grime that is still holding on. On my car, I had two spots that needed more attention. I went back to those particular spots, rinsed my rag, and put a little extra baking soda on my rag. With a little bit of elbow grease, those spots came off. Be careful not to wash in a circular pattern- again to protect your paint. Scrub in a horizontal pattern.
Step 6: Rinse
For the last time!
Step 7: Dry
Take a clean cloth towel and wipe your car down to avoid dried water spots.
Step 8: Car Wax (optional)
Even with the dirt removed from my car, Loretta has some dents that will never heal, and the paint has been scratched in a couple of places. To keep those problem areas from getting worse, I invested in some car wax. It’s a pain in the butt, but I believe it’s better than the wax at automatic car washes.
Step 9: Pass Out
If you undertake an at home car wash by yourself, you will probably be exhausted by this point. When I was done, I, literally, just laid down on my porch floor. I went to bed at 9 with my arms and shoulders aching, but it was worth it.
Any tips for an at home car wash? Leave them in the comments below!