How to Wash and Wax a Car? – Quick and Easy Guide

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to wash and wax a car

Regular car washing and waxing are a must in order to keep your car in good condition. There are many options for how to wash and wax a car. Although there are professionals who can do the job for you, DIY is the more practical way.

The best way to wash and wax a car is using the two-bucket method for washing, as it ensures a thorough cleaning that’s safe for your car, and using a liquid or paste wax for waxing, as it lasts longer than the spray wax. Read further to know all about car washing and waxing.

Steps to Washing a Car


What You Need

  • Pressure Washer or Garden Hose
  • Foam Cannon (Optional)

A foam cannon could be used for pre-washing. It would also help in getting rid of contaminants from your car.

  • Snow Foam (Optional)

Snow foam would be the required solution when using a foam cannon.

  • Microfiber Wash Mitt
  • 2 Buckets
  • Grit Guards
  • Car Wash Soap

You should only use soap specifically designed for car washing. Do not use dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, or any other household cleaners, as they can strip off the wax and worse, damage the paintwork.

  • Waffle-Weave Microfiber Towel or Leaf Blower

The use of a waffle-weave microfiber towel can help make the drying faster, as it’s highly absorbent and can soak in a lot of water in a couple of wipes. A leaf blower can also be used, which would make for an even faster drying.

Step 1: Avoid the Heat of the Sun

You must avoid the heat of the sun when you perform a car wash and wax. Both car wash soap and wax would work best when they are applied to paintwork amidst a cool temperature.

Otherwise, they would dry quickly under high heat, and in the case of the soap, can leave streaks and water spots. So set your car washing time either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Or you may also do your car washing on a cloudy day.

Parking in a covered or shaded area can help you avoid the elements when you clean and wax car. This is especially useful when your schedule doesn’t give you much choice.

Step 2: Pre-Rinse the Car

Pre-rinsing off contaminants would help prevent scratches when you wash with a wash mitt. A very effective way to do it would be to blast them away with a pressure washer starting at the roof and working your way down to prevent the contaminants from spreading.

But if you don’t have a pressure washer, a garden hose with an added pressure nozzle would do.

Step 3: Pre-Wash With a Snow Foam (Optional)

It would be a good idea to pre-wash the car by spraying snow foam on it using a foam cannon. Once sprayed on the car, it becomes a thick, foamy substance that would loosen and lift away the contaminants. It also helps to prevent streaks.

Prepare your snow foam in the foam cannon as per the product instructions. Cover the car with snow foam starting from the roof going downwards and leave it on the surface for as long as the instructions say. Then rinse it off with the pressure washer.

Just applying snow foam can also be the actual washing process if your car isn’t too dirty. But make sure you’re using a snow foam that’s also a car washing shampoo. Just rinse the snow foam shampoo after letting it work on the surface and proceed to step five.

Step 4: Wash the Car With the Two-Bucket Method

First, put grit guards at the bottom two buckets. Then, dilute your car wash shampoo with warm water in one bucket as per product instructions. Dip your wash mitt into the solution and then start wiping from the roof going downwards.

Remember to rinse the wash mitt often in the rinsing bucket before dipping it into the soapy water again to ensure you are wiping with a clean mitt. It’s important to be very careful when washing the car or you’ll end up damaging the surface, which may require you to get a car wash polish and wax or otherwise known as paint correction.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry the Car With a Microfiber Towel

Once you’re done with the wiping, rinse the car with clean water.

Afterwards, dry the car after washing it to prevent water spots. A waffle-weave microfiber towel is recommendable for drying, or you can also use a leaf blower for quicker drying.

Steps to Waxing a Car


Using a Spray Wax

What You Need

  • Spray Wax

A spray wax would be the quicker-to-apply option for wax. But it doesn’t last as long as its liquid and paste counterparts and must be applied twice a week according to experts.

  • Microfiber Towels

Step 1: Spray Your Wax Onto the Car

Keep in mind that very cold temperatures can adversely affect the wax application. So when applying wax on a very cold day, it would be best to do it in a garage. At the same time, avoid waxing cars under high heat.

Spray your wax on the paintwork one section at a time. Apply a consistent layer of wax over the surface using straight lines.

Step 2: Rub in the Wax

Dampen a microfiber towel. Then use it to rub the wax into the area you sprayed it onto and to spread it out evenly.

Step 3: Buff Out the Wax

Flip over the microfiber towel you used to rub in the wax. Then use that side to buff out the waxed area. You may repeat the spray waxing as needed.

Using a Liquid or Paste Wax

What You Need

  • Liquid or Paste Wax

Liquid and paste waxes may be more laborious to apply as compared to the spray wax, but they can provide longer-lasting protection for a car. Usually, these types of waxes can be applied every three months, depending on their quality, according to experts.

  • Applicator Pad

An applicator pad would be used for applying liquid or paste wax. Applicator pads are usually round and come in a microfiber or foam material.

  • Microfiber Towel

The liquid or paste wax would be removed and buffed after it has been left to sit on the paintwork, and a microfiber towel would be perfect for those steps.

Step 1: Apply the Wax in Circular Motions

If you’re using liquid wax, put a dime-sized amount of wax on the applicator pad. If you’re using paste wax, swipe the applicator into the container to get the wax.

Apply just a thin layer of the wax evenly on the paintwork in small, circular strokes that overlap each other. Also, apply the wax either in a horizontal or vertical direction and work on one section at a time so that you can make sure that the entire car gets covered with wax.

This also helps prevent the wax from being left on the surface for too long and drying out, which would make it very hard to remove.

Limit your car waxing on the paintwork, and do not apply wax on the plastic accents and headlights. Plastic parts can be damaged by wax, so if you also want to detail them, look up car trim products.

Step 2: Leave the Wax to Sit For a Few Minutes

You can check the wax’s product instructions for how long you should leave it on the surface. You can also tell it’s time to remove it if it starts to look matte and feel chalky.

Step 3: Wipe Off the Wax

Wipe off the wax using a microfiber towel. Apply gentle pressure and work in circular motions. Make sure that you remove all the wax.

Step 4: Buff Out the Wax

Lastly, you can make the paintwork appear more shiny and lustrous by buffing the surface with a microfiber towel. To do so, rub the towel onto the surface using fast, circular motions.


Remember to regularly do the steps above for how to wash and wax a car, and it will always look good. If there’s something on your mind in regards to this topic, you’re more than welcome to write it in the comments. Also, kindly help us spread some car maintenance knowledge by sharing this article.

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