Be Your Own Car Valet | Anyclean

updated: 19/11/2023


“At the car wash… at the car wash, yeah!” It’s a school dance favourite (and, in my opinion, slightly annoying) and is the tune you’re most likely to whistle or hum if you clean your own car. While it’s nice (and very easy) to hire a car valet or even take your car down to the local drive-through car wash, with these days of rising petrol costs, you may want to cut a corner or two and do the job yourself.

What you will need to be your own car valet is a hose, a bucket of soapy water (warm water with any house cleaning detergent works as well as any “special” car wash product and costs much less), a generous amount of rags, polish or wax, a soft brush and a blade wiper for the windows (obviously, you can use the ones attached to your car for the front windscreen, but most other windows don’t have these). To save water, don’t keep the hose turned on the whole time; only turn on the tap when you need it.

You should always wash your car in the shade. This is because direct sunlight can dry the soap you use to wash the car too quickly, leaving smears and streaks behind. No matter what colour your car is, these streaks will show.

First of all, use the hose to get rid of any large and obvious bits of mud. This is especially true in the case of a 4×4 that actually gets used off-road. Pay particular attention to the mud flaps, the wheels and anything behind these that mud flicks up onto. Incidentally, did you know that up to a ton of mud can get onto the bottom of a logging truck?

Once you have hosed off the excess, begin using the soft bristle brush and the soapy water, working systematically from top to bottom, doing one side at a time. It may be best to do the windows first (splosh on some soapy water, scrub off any splattered insects then use the blade to get the water off and prevent streaking), as the water will get dirty. Depending on how big and/or grubby your car is, you may need to change the water.

Once you have soaped and scrubbed the car, hose all the soap off thoroughly. You can leave the job here – your car is presentable – but to protect your paint and to give a really glossy finish, it’s best to wax it.

You will need to dry your car before waxing it. A chamois leather or towel can be used, but it’s much easier to take your car for a quick spin down to the shops to do a few errands (who says that guys can’t multi-task?) and let it air-dry.

When you get back, apply the polish to all paintwork. Once you have applied it, buff it up. It is possible to buy tinted polishes that enhance the colour of your paintwork, or you can just stick to clear/colourless. Some proprietary car washes combine wash and polish/wax all in one.

If you really want to doll your car up, you can blacken the tyres and make them really dark and shiny.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.