There's no greater feeling in the world than being behind the wheel of a spotless vehicle. And there's no greater satisfaction than making a car spotless on your own. You might have the basics of washing and cleaning your car down pat, but these following tips and tricks can help take your car-cleaning game to the next level.

Adopt the Two-Bucket Wash Method

The whole point of washing your car is to remove the dirt and contaminants littering the surface. Unfortunately, using a single bucket of soapy water is a recipe for swirl marks and scratches. The problem? That soapy wash water is slowly getting contaminated with dirt and grit and with each dunk, your wash mitt's picking up the same grit it's supposed to remove. 

Instead of a single bucket of soapy water, the two-bucket wash method gives you a second bucket of clean water you can use to rinse your mitt. This not only removes contaminants from the mitt itself, but it also keeps the suds bucket from getting contaminated with dirt. In addition to a pair of 5-gallon buckets, each bucket will also need a grit guard and washboard to knock dirt and grime off the wash mitt. The whole idea is to dunk your wash mitt in the rinse bucket after washing a panel or two, and then suds up your now-clean mitt in the suds bucket.  

Use the Right Soap

Ordinary dishwashing soap does a pretty good job of cleaning your pots and pans, but you wouldn't want to use it to wash your car. Although it can cut through all manner of grease, grime and dirt, most household dishwashing liquids can also strip essential oils from your car's paint finish. Make a habit of using dishwashing soap and you'll eventually end up with dull, lifeless paint. To keep that from happening, stick with soaps that are actually formulated specifically for car paint.

Break Out the Clay Bar

Washing removes most surface dirt and grit, but some contaminants are more stubborn than others. These contaminants not only form a thin layer over the surface, but some contaminants can eat through the clear coat and even penetrate the underlying paint. Going over your car with an automotive clay bar can help dislodge and remove these contaminants. Clay barring also leaves behind a smooth surface that's better for wax and other sealants to adhere. 

Using a clay bar is easy. Simply cut the elastic clay into 3 or 4 pieces - this way, you won't have to toss the entire clay bar if you drop it by accident - and then flatten the clay piece until it's large enough to cover 3 fingers. After washing and drying your car as normal, pick a spot and prep it by spraying clay bar lubricant on the surface. Use gentle pressure to glide the clay in a straight line across the surface. Throughout the process, you'll literally hear and feel contaminants being picked up. Check the clay periodically and don't hesitate to flip and fold it over to get a fresh surface.

Start from the Top

Imagine cleaning a portion of your car's interior or exterior, only to get it dirty again while cleaning another section. To avoid the time-consuming frustration of cleaning twice, start at the top and work your way down. For the exterior, that means starting at the roof and working your way downwards, saving the wheels for last. Inside, start with the headliner and upper surfaces, and then work your way down towards the dashboard, center console, seats and door panels. Finally, make the carpets the last portion of the interior to vacuum and shampoo. This way, you won't contaminate any previously cleaned sections with dirt and grime from areas you're currently cleaning.

Don't Forget the Window Edges

Roll down your windows and you'll notice that unsightly line of grime along the top edges - a detail that even the most diligent of DIYers tend to miss. Grab a clean cloth and a bottle of your favorite window cleaner (preferably one specifically formulated for automotive glass) and clean off the top edge of each window. 

Brush Out Those Air Vents

A quality detailing brush or a long-bristled paintbrush can go a long way towards banishing the dust and debris that collects on air vents. Use your brush to sweep dust out of the nooks and crannies of your air vents. You can also use your vacuum at the same time to catch dust particles that would otherwise fly off and dirty the rest of the interior.


Glockner Honda

2867 US Route 23
Directions Portsmouth, OH 45662

  • Sales: (740) 679-6443
  • Service: (740) 351-7008
  • Parts: (740) 351-7008


  • Monday 9:00am - 6:00pm
  • Tuesday 9:00am - 6:00pm
  • Wednesday 9:00am - 6:00pm
  • Thursday 9:00am - 6:00pm
  • Friday 9:00am - 6:00pm
  • Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm
  • Sunday Closed