12005 NE 12th St. Suite 1, Bellevue, WA 98005 425.213.1060 | frontdesk@accutintbellevue.com M-F 8am-6pm

How to Wash a Car

10 Steps to Wash Your Car at Home … The Accutint Bellevue Way!

White Porsche SUV wash and detail

We’ve all been spending a lot of time at home lately. In a world of coronavirus-related closures, the global population is forced to take on a few more do-it-yourself projects than some of us would like. From at-home haircuts to homemade hand sanitizer, we’ve leaned on online tutorials and how-to articles to get us by — and, if you love your car like any of us at Accutint Bellevue do, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to maintain your car without its routine detailing trip.

When we first posted this, our shop doors are closed until Washington’s stay-home order was lifted and the Accutint Bellevue team wanted to offer some additional at-home help for our customers. As it stands now, we are back and open for full detailing services — which, like most professional services, are more effective — but our guide below is fantastic for extending the time between your scheduled detailing trips in the future. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to wash your car at home using the two-bucket approach!

Do-It-Yourself Car Wash Using the Two-Bucket Approach

1. Prepare Buckets

2. Position Car

3. Rinse Car

4. Foam Car Exterior

5. Visualize Car Sections

6. Wash Top Section

7. Wash Middle Section

8. Wash Bottom Section

9. Rinse Car Again

10. Dry Car to Avoid Spotting

For Best Results, You’ll Need the Following Car-Washing Supplies & Equipment:

  • 2 buckets with car wash dirt traps
  • Water via garden hose or pressure washer
  • Foam gun
  • Wash mitt
  • Car wash soap (we recommend Meguiar’s Gold Class)
  • Drying mitt or towel

Step #1 – Prepare Buckets

Grab both of your buckets, each equipped with its own carwash dirt trap. Fill one bucket with car wash soap and water (we’ll call this one “Bucket #1”), and fill the other bucket with clean rinse water (“Bucket #2”).

Step #2 – Position Car

Find keys to your car, get in it, and start your motor. Position the car in the shade with enough room to open all doors.

Step #3 – Rinse Car

Thoroughly rinse the car with a pressure washer or your garden hose. If you use a pressure washer, clean the wheels and wheel wells of excess dirt, mud, debris, etc.

Step #4 – Foam Car Exterior

  • Purchase a foam gun. (Hmmm … perhaps you should have done this before you positioned your car)
  • Patiently wait for the foam gun to arrive.
  • Unbox and prepare new foam gun.
  • Use new foam gun with your choice of car wash soap to apply a thick layer of foam to your car.
  • Let the foam loosen any dirt and grime caked onto your car’s glass, paint, lights, wheels, chrome … well, actually the entire exterior surface. While waiting, take a sip or two of water, listen to music, do stretching exercises, jog in place, check your email/text messages, or lay down in the shade if you’re already worn out.

Step #5 – Visualize Car Sections

Before you begin washing, eyeball your car and visually divide it into 3 horizontal sections …

3 sections for car washing

Top 1/3rd: Roof down to bottom of windows (this will include the trunk and hood)

Middle 1/3rd: Down to about mid-door, top of wheel wells

Bottom 1/3rd: What’s left over toward the bottom, including wheels & bumpers

Step #6 – Wash Top Section

Once you understand each of the sections, dip your wash mitt into Bucket #1 (the one with soapy water) and wash the top section of your car, which includes the roof, windows, pillars, hood, and trunk. Rinse your mitt using the clean water in Bucket #2 (and wring it out) before moving on to the next step.

Step #7 – Wash Middle Section

Repeat the last step, but with the middle section. Don’t forget to rinse and wring the mitt!

Step #8 – Wash Bottom Section

Repeat again, but with the bottom section this time — including car edges and car rockers. (Now you’ve mastered the two-bucket routine!)

Step #9 – Rinse Car Again

Give your car a good healthy rinse.

Step #10 – Dry Car

  • Dry the car thoroughly, removing all water and dampness to avoid water spotting.
  • Get in your car and start it. (Hopefully your keys are where you left them)
  • Go cruising with windows down, turn your radio up, and sport a big, proud smile on your face — we call this “posing!”

Shiny, clean Porsche outside after auto detailing

Extending Time Between Auto Details

We believe detailing should be part of your regular car maintenance schedule, recommending most vehicles to come in for an auto detail every 6 or so months. Especially given the current pandemic, however, we wanted to give our customers the opportunity to keep their car clean for longer. No dirty vehicles on our watch!

For more information on detailing or any of our other services, give us a call at (425) 213-1060 or submit the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • PLEASE NOTE: All price quotes and time estimates for automotive-related services presume vehicles in “average condition”
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