To get started, you must have the right supplies for the job:
* finish-safe wheel cleaner;
* a soft brush;
* a 3- to 5-gallon bucket;
* liquid car-washing detergent;
* a hose with pistol-grip nozzle, if possible;
* car-washing mitts or soft all-cotton towels;
* several all-cotton towels or synthetic chamois for drying.
Give the car a good rinsing from top to bottom, including the wheels and inside the fenders. Always clean the tires and wheels before washing the body, and don't use the same mitt for both. This way you'll avoid contaminating the vehicle's paint with debris from the wheels and tires.
Use a good tire cleaner with a stiff brush to improve the appearance of your tires. Next, clean the wheels with a wheel cleaner that removes the brake dust, which often blackens the front wheels.
To wash the body, use a product sold specifically for automobiles; household cleaners can strip the wax from the paint and damage the finish. Starting at the top, wash one section at a time, thoroughly rinsing away the soap before moving on to the next section. Work your way down toward the front, sides and rear of the vehicle.
To rinse, start at the top, and let the water cascade down the surfaces of the vehicle. To avoid water spotting, dry with a chamois or similar product.
Then follow up by waxing, which not only protects the finish but also makes subsequent washing easier. Before proceeding, use a car cleaner to remove contaminants embedded in the paint.
Once the surface is clean, apply the wax, following the manufacturer's instructions.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.
For more information, visit www.carcare.org.