How to Wash a Car in 9 Easy Steps

How to Wash a Car in 9 Easy Steps

Updated on June 12 2024

Not everyone has access to enclosed parking garages and steady water connections, but it does not mean you cannot wash your car to keep it looking clean and new. In the first installment of the Mekanik Mo car maintenance series by, we’ll teach how to wash your car quickly with a couple of basic steps.

Disclaimer: When it comes to cleaning cars, you can do it the easy way (which we’re showing here) or the hard way (which we’ll discuss in the next part of our car wash and detailing series). There’s a reason why neighborhood car washes and detailers charge higher prices for auto cleaning services: It takes dedication, patience, the right tools, and careful attention to detail to restore the brand-new look of your vehicle.

How to Quickly Wash Your Car in 9 Easy Steps

If you have an hour to spare this weekend, you might consider washing your car using these few easy steps.

Difficulty factor: Easy

Materials needed:

  1. Vacuum cleaner (wet or dry is fine)
  2. Car shampoo
  3. One medium-sized plastic bucket or pail
  4. Pressure washer (optional) or garden hose with steady water pressure
  5. Wash mitt (optional)
  6. Three microfiber cleaning towels
  7. Tire black or tire dressing

Step 1: Park the vehicle in a safe and level area, preferably in an enclosed garage.

Allow the car to cool before washing, but only if possible. Also, do not wash your car under direct sunlight if you can avoid it. The reason is to prevent the soapy water from streaking the glass and the paint.

Step 2: Vacuum the interior.

Start by grabbing a vacuum cleaner to suck out all loose dirt from the floor mats and carpets. Remove the floor mats if possible, and don’t forget to vacuum those nooks and crannies between the seats and center console.

If your car has cloth seats, you can vacuum it as well. For leather seats, you can safely vacuum to remove standing dirt, but avoid sucking the leather to prevent cracking the material (it happens if you have a strong vacuum).

Step 3: Wipe clean the interior.

Wipe the dashboard, center console, door panels, and door scuff plates with a damp microfiber towel to remove loose dust, dirt, and grime. Give those plastic components a quick perk-me-up by applying an interior detailer like Armor All. Spray and wipe off. Easy.

Step 4: Rinse the vehicle with clean water.

After cleaning the interior, it’s time for the exterior. Give the car a quick rinse using a pressure washer or garden hose to remove all loose dirt, dust, bird poop, and other contaminants from the windows and the paint.

Important tip: Always rinse the car with clean water before washing it with car shampoo. This crucial step will prevent scratches, swirl marks, and other imperfections from ruining your paint before, during, and after washing. Keep this in mind if you have a black or dark-colored car.

Step 5: Wash the exterior using wash mitts and car shampoo.

Wash the vehicle using car shampoo and wash mitts. If you have a foam dispenser, spray the foam all over the car’s exterior. If you don’t have a foam machine, mix two capfuls of car shampoo in a small bucket of clean water. Mix until foamy.

Grab the wash mitt and wash the vehicle from top to bottom. Start with the roof, hood, and trunk before working your way to the fenders and doors.

Important Tip: Washing from top to bottom is cheap insurance against scratching the paint.

Step 6: Clean the wheels and tires.

After washing the body, use the remaining soapy water to clean the wheels and tires. Use a separate wash mitt, cleaning brush, or towel for the wheels and tires.

Step 7: Rinse off.

Rinse the entire car using clean water. Make sure to dissolve all traces of soap and foam while rinsing.

Step 8: Dry the vehicle.

Grab a separate microfiber towel (or drying chamois) to dry the vehicle. Start by wiping the hood, roof, and trunk to prevent scratches.

Step 9: Apply tire black.

Treat the tires with tire black or tire dressing using a sponge applicator. Periodically using tire dressing or tire black prevents tire blooming - it's that nasty, brownish color that appears on tire sidewalls, commonly occurring on muddy, dirty, neglected tires.

Apply the tire black sparingly to achieve a glossy or semi-glossy look.

Important Tip: If you don't have tire black, you can use Armor All instead. Armor All, interior detailer, or any type of dashboard protectant is ideal for plastic and rubber, and it's also good for tires! Spray the solution to a small sponge and wipe sparingly to achieve clean-looking tires.

And that’s it! Step back, admire your work, and give yourself a tap on the shoulder for a job well done.


Remember to wash your vehicle at least twice a month (preferably once a week) to help maintain your car’s paint color and shine. Watch out for the next post as we take a more in-depth look into DIY auto cleaning, detailing, and essential maintenance tips from Mekanik Mo here at!