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How To Wash Your Car Without Leaving Swirl Marks

Date: Wed 8th August 2018   |   Author: L Blake

Cleaning your car can be a chore but there is nothing quite like driving around in a freshly cleaned, shiny motor. Not only will your car look better for it but a clean car means clear visibility, which will keep you safe on the roads too! Whilst cleaning your car yourself will save money, there can be a knack to getting that swirl-free finish. Here are a few car washing tips that will leave your car looking as good as new.

Things you will need

A well-executed DIY car wash doesn’t necessarily mean using expensive products. Whilst the list below is not exhaustive, here are a few things you will need when preparing to wash your car:

  • Two buckets (one filled with plain water for rinsing, another filled with a mixture of warm water and car shampoo).
  • Car shampoo – to clean the body of your car you should use car shampoo. Using a dishwashing soap will leave a streaky, uneven finish.
  • A stiff brush for tyres – whether you choose to clean your tyres first or last, you need to hose them down first. Then you should use a stiff brush to remove the dirt. For those hard to reach places, a toothbrush is ideal.
  • A car sponge or microfibre cloth. Tip: using a microfibre cloth as opposed to a car sponge will protect your paintwork and prevent swirl marks when your car has dried.
  • A microfibre drying towel – once your car is clean, rinse well and dry with a drying towel. Do not let the car air dry or you will get a swirl mark finish.
  • Hose pipe.

Preparing to wash your car

There isn’t much preparation needed when it comes to washing your car but you may want to make sure that you are wearing sensible clothing that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. You will also want to make sure that your windows, doors and sunroof are all firmly closed so that water will not leak into the car whilst you’re washing. It may be a good idea to make sure that all of the equipment you will need is at hand too.

Car cleaning method

Whilst car cleaning is not rocket science, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to make sure that you get that spotless, shiny finish. Here are some of our suggested tips that will leave your car looking as good as new:


The first thing you will want to do is pre-rinse your car. This is a good way to loosen up the dirt from the car’s bodywork, panel gaps, wheels and wheel arches. This will reduce the amount of time and effort needed for the car wash itself.

Car wash

You may wish to begin with your wheels as these can often be the dirtiest part of your car. By cleaning your wheels first you will hopefully prevent any extra dirt splashing the rest of your car. The pre-rinse should have loosened up any dirt trapped in your wheels. Take a stiff brush and give your wheels a good scrub to lift any embedded dirt. For those harder to reach spots, a toothbrush can work wonders.

For the car’s bodywork, you should start with the roof. By starting at the top of the car and working your way down, the dirt will move down the car and won’t be going over freshly cleaned panels. Working in circular motions will reduce the risk of missing any areas.

Tip: Using the two-bucket method, use your car shampoo and water solution to wash the car and when moving onto a new section, rinse your cloth in the bucket of fresh water. This will make sure that any dirt from the car will be rinsed off the cloth and will prevent dirt getting into the soapy solution and then back onto the car.

From there, you should move onto the door panels, windscreens and then the bonnet and boot. For each section of your car, be sure to work your way from top to bottom.

Rinsing and drying

Once your entire car has been cleaned, you will want to take a hose pipe or a bucket of fresh water and rinse your car. Try to rinse the car from top to bottom, again working in sections so that you can dry the area before it air dries.

Leaving your car to air dry will risk the chance of your car having swirl marks or sun-spots. For that shiny, new-car finish, take a microfibre drying towel and dry each area after rinsing, again working from top to bottom in circular motions.

We hope you found our article on car cleaning helpful. For more driving tips and other interesting articles, visit the AutoProtect engage page.

red car being washed