Top 10 Car Cleaning Mistakes

Top 10 Car Cleaning Mistakes

Hey guys, ChrisFix here Here are my top 10 mistakes people make while cleaning their car. These are my top 10 mistakes, and I don’t cover them all, so I want to hear what mistakes you have so after the video’s over leave a comment in the comments section below. Mistake #1: Taking your car to a car wash. These car washes are guaranteed to scratch your finish. Even if the car wash says it [has] soft bristles, and soft cloth, dirt gets trapped in the cloth, and ends up getting scratched against your paint. Car washes are aggressive, even the touchless type, where powerful jets of water slam your paint’s surface to remove the dirt. The water pressure can be too high, and even if the water pressure isn’t too high, the water will push dirt against the paint, thereby scratching it. Now don’t get me wrong — car washes are good for cars where you don’t really care about the little scratches in the paint. For example, I bring my van or my truck to a car wash because the paint is already beat up a little bit. But I would never take my Corvette or a new car to a car wash. Mistake #2: People clean their car in direct sunlight and when it’s really hot. I try to wait until the sun is just about setting and then you get this really good shine on the car so you can see where all the dirt is. The reason why you don’t clean your car in the sun is because the car’s surface will be so hot that the water you’re cleaning with will evaporate and leave water marks on your paint. Another problem is that these chemicals and cleaners that you’re using aren’t made to be put on hot surfaces which is why it says in the directions to park the car in the shade. This time of the day where it’s cooler, and the sun isn’t as strong, is perfect it’ll allow your car to stay cool and this water won’t evaporate very quickly. Mistake #3: Using Dawn or some type of kitchen soap or degreaser, to clean your car. These products are bad for your paint and will strip your protective wax coating. So all that hard work waxing goes to waste. Also, these products are not always pH-balanced so you can be damaging your clearcoat. You do not want to use a degreaser What you want to use is an automotive soap. This stuff is specifically formulated to clean your car’s paint so it won’t strip the wax and it’s pH-balanced. It also foams up really well. So it provides good lubrication while you use your towel against your paint. You can even see it on here: it says it won’t strip wax like some dish soaps. Here’s a quick car washing top tip: make sure you always clean out your bucket. So that you get all the dirt in your bucket out so when you put your towel in here you don’t pick up the dirt and rub it right into your paint and scratch your paint. Now we can get some soap in here. Mistake #4 that I see all the time: is people don’t use lubrication when they’re cleaning their car. You could use some type of spray wax if your car finish is completely dry for example, if you have some bird poop on your car never wipe this off with just a towel. Always spray some lubricant and then this will come right off. Just like so. After you wipe one way fold your towel over and wipe it the other way to clean it off. Do get that bird poop off that car right away because bird poop has acid in it and the acid will break down your paint and your clearcoat and leave a nasty mark there. But make sure when you take it off use some type of lubricant or just make sure your car is soaking wet and you have a towel that is completely covered in soap and water so you won’t scratch your car. Black is one of the most difficult colors to clean. And the reason why black is so difficult to clean is because you have to be extra careful: black shows scratches really easily going along with #4 make sure you get the car soaking wet. And when you’re getting the car wet make sure you’re not using a power washer and if you are, make sure you can put your hand in front of it and it doesn’t hurt your hand. If it hurts your hand, that’s too much pressure for your car. Mistake #5: You do not ever want to use a paper towel on your paint you don’t ever want to use an old T-shirt on your paint, you never want to use a sponge, or the rough end of a sponge on your paint, and you never want to use one of these bathing towels or whatever kind of towel you want to call this on your paint. The only thing that should touch your paint is a nice and soft microfiber towel or something with a similar softness. Mistake #6: not cleaning from the top of the car to the bottom of the car. You always want to start cleaning your car at the top, and then finish cleaning at the bottom. The one exception is [that] you can start with cleaning your rims. When cleaning your rims the same rules for cleaning your car’s paint apply: use a microfiber towel and some type of lubricant. In this case, water and a wheel cleaner. And make sure you don’t use the same towel for the rims as for the paint. You should have two different towels because rim dust is acidic and gritty. I’m not using a paper towel on the rims because the rims are actually clearcoated, to protect the aluminum finish, and paper towels are just going to scratch your clearcoat just like it’s going to scratch the clearcoat of your paint so that’s why you don’t want to use it on your paint. And you never want to keep this stuff on your rims, so make sure you clean it off. So now that we did all four tires, now’s a good time to start cleaning from the top to the bottom, and I’ll show you what I mean right now. We start at the top because on all cars, the bottom is gonna be a lot dirtier compared to the top of the car. You can see the bottom is way dirtier than the top, primarily because the bottom of the car is close to the dirty road. All the road grime and dust and mud kick up on the bottom of the car but rarely make it to the top of the car. To prevent all this dirt from getting on our towel, and scratching the whole car, we start at the top of the car and leave the bottom until the end. I like to split the car in half so right at that yellow turn light here all the way across. That’s what I consider the top half and then down below that is the bottom half so we’ll start cleaning the top half first. Here’s a top tip for you: when you just start using a towel, always snap it out to get any loose rocks or dust or whatever that could scratch the car try to get it off. Every little bit helps. One thing that you should notice while I’m cleaning: I’m moving the towel in one direction from the front of the car to the rear of the car. And that brings me to Mistake #7: cleaning in a swirling motion. Pick a direction and clean in that direction. If you do it in a swirling motion, you’re more likely to see scratches at different angles. When you’re cleaning your car, go in one direction Pick a direction. I like going from front to back. From the front of the car to the rear of the car. And that’s the direction I stick to. Mistake #8, that people make constantly, is using only one bucket. You can see here I have two buckets: one bucket, which is this one right here, is just for the soapy water. This is a clean bucket. The other bucket that I just filled is your rinse bucket. You want to fill your rinse bucket all the way to the top with plain water, and that’ll allow all the particulates and everything that are in your dirty towel to fall to the bottom. And it won’t [contaminate] the nice clean, soapy water. So I have my dirty towel, I dunk it in the rinse, I wring it out, and this will get most of the big particles off, that’s the goal: they’ll all sink to the bottom of that bucket. You can see it looks pretty clean now and then I dunk it in my soap and I go back and clean the car. So finally, after you’re done cleaning everything, rinse off all the soap, and again, you do not use a sponge, you do not use a bath towel, you do not use a T-shirt, and you do not use a paper towel when you dry off your car. You want to use a good microfiber cloth that absorbs water really well. Just like cleaning your car, we’re gonna dry it in one direction You don’t want to add a lot of pressure this’ll prevent scratches. And then after a few dries, use a new part of the towel. And you also dry the car from top to bottom. Same as cleaning. Good. Now look at that shine. Nice and clean, and dry. Mistake #9 that I see all the time is people drop their towel on the ground and they pick it right back up. And use it on their car. When you drop your towel on the ground, it picks up all types of debris including little rocks, like that right there, which’ll put a nice scratch in your car’s paint it’ll pick up little leaves and stuff so once you drop this on the ground this is done. You can’t use this. So once this touches the ground keep it there. And the final mistake — mistake #10: I always see people put Armor-All or some type of leather and vinyl cleaner on their steering wheel and on the brake and the gas pedals. I always see people put it on the shifter, which is never good. All these things you need to grip onto. Whether it’s with your hands or with your feet. You never want to put any chemicals on your steering wheel brake pedal, or gear knob that are gonna make it slippery. This just makes driving dangerous. And you could potentially cause an accident and hurt yourself or hurt somebody else. And the final top tip: if you’re going to use some type of leather or vinyl protectant, make sure that you spray it on a paper towel and not directly on the leather or vinyl. This’ll prevent it from getting all over your windows and things you don’t want it on. Hopefully this video gave you new insight for when you’re cleaning your car! If you like this video, give it a thumbs-up! Also consider subscribing — I publish how-to videos weekly, and I answer all the questions and comments you guys leave in the comments section below. Up on the screen is going to be a link to another top 10 video that I did that video is the Top 10 Mistakes Car Owners Make and I’ll go through different things that people do with their cars that shouldn’t be done. To get to that video, you can click on the screen or you can find a link to that video in [the] description below. Also in the description below are links to the ChrisFix Twitter and Facebook pages. If you use Facebook or Twitter, check it out! And finally I want to hear from you guys I obviously didn’t cover everything: if you have any mistakes you know of that people do all the time, leave it in the comments section below!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Self service carwashes and Touchless Automatic Carwashes are great. It all depends on the operation and the quality of the chemicals that are used. The Carwash industry has evolved, you can do a much better job at a professional Carwash than any one can do in a driveway.

  2. You recommend using a microfiber cloth to wash my car. Do you also recommend a microfiber wash mitt as well, such as one I can purchase at Walmart?

  3. Use a grit guard in both buckets. Put water in bucket first then specific car detergent and swirl around. Saves ur soap from running out of the bucket. More soap left for more lubrication. Great video.

  4. @3:26 I call B.S. about dont use an old T- shirt. I use them that are only 100% cotton and I cut off all the buttons off of the shirt too. I also wash them in the washer after they get used a few times.

    @6:42 I use a leaf blower to dry anything I'm washing off. Take that chris fix.

  5. So thankful for your show, Chris. I am learning the most basics about cars and your videos are so appreciated.

  6. my mom forgets to clean inside the gas cap door, and she forgets the door jams.

  7. Love this guys energy. He got the tude of a 90s training video. “Love that philly cheese sandwich? Don’t do that, you’ll scratch up your paint”

  8. A better solution to worrying about buckets is to just use a professional soap foamer like the IK products

  9. Hey Chris you should check out The king's gun playlist on my channel. My air powered pressure washer would be ideal for you and your content, and my leaf blower upgrade/innovation will allow you to throw away your drying towels. I'm not kidding both are DIY projects, and please let me know if you feature either in a future video😎👍👊

  10. Chris – I like point #4. You should always rinse off the car (from top to bottom) with cool clean water under moderate spray pressure. Always get off any dust, sand, and small particles as best as you can this way first.

  11. Ive seen couple people washing their cars in the hot sun i wait till the sun goes down I take 2 hours or more just to clean it

  12. What about those big sponges that specifically say is for the purpose to wash your car? Are those not good to use?

  13. Thanks man i got a sentra 2019 super black and omg bro its all scrathced even tho i clean it myself so never again black cars

  14. what about the other side of the windshield thats still dirty still, what about vinegar baking soda and water and dish soap all mixed in a sprayer for the greasy film on inside, vinegar is the key to cut greasy film, your vid is half the job

  15. BIG mistake I notice is EVERYONE wants to Top off gas, especially when they find a good price. This damages Evap canister and can be a nightmare repairing

  16. At the 4:37 mark. You shouldn't have rubbed your finger over the dirt. Could scratch the surface. Just sayin'. Lol! Great Video! Make more!!!

  17. A dawn job before waxing is actually a good thing. And their degreasing ability is much too weak to damage clear coat. Especially if you’re conservative with your dawn to water ratios. They’re excellent for removing old wax too. I’ve got a 30 year old Vette that was raised on the stuff. Paint is damn near showroom. Not trying to be a know it all but want to share my experience so others can make their own decisions. Also I think it’s important to note that I only use it for washes when I know im going to wax because it really does give you a clean slate for the new wax. So maybe 3 times a year.

  18. Top tip: take a wire rack from an old toaster oven (or something similar) and bend it into a soft "C" shape and put it in the bottom of your bucket when you wash your car so the "sponge" cannot settle back into the grit on the bottom of the bucket and pick it back up…

  19. Tip- buy a car that you dont give af if it gets scratched. Still cant go to a carwash cause it would knock all the rust off and my car would fall apart.

  20. Make sure you use filtered, and UV treated water, regular water has calcium deposits that can scratch the paint on your car.

  21. Don't wear a belt with a metal buckle. You'll lean against the car and dent it! At the least, rotate the buckle position, or untuck your shirt.

  22. #1 Washing your car when you don't have a car washing degree. Not only do I have scratches but I also bought microfiber towels, bug sponges, and bug cleaning spray and still can't get the bugs off. Maybe an automatic car wash isn't so bad?

    I also use 1 bucket and a million towels because I never reuse them until after they've been washed, and I still have scratches.

  23. If you use a hose to spray water on your car an easy way to reduce drying time is to take the nozzle off and just run water over the car without it. This makes the water sheet off much more frequently so there will be less standing or beading on the car.

  24. Best tip, throw that Armor-All protectant in the trash. Get a separate interior cleaner and conditioner. If you use that protectant and don't clean the leather or vinyl you're sealing that shit in! Think logically.

  25. 🔪another tip is if you see a Prius just burn it there's no need to clean
    it will look the same as it did from the factory :)🔪

  26. Dry off windows first before anything to prevent dirt from body of car to get on glass which is what most people notice on cars first smudgy windows

  27. Can you make a video about waxing you car? what to use and how thanks your videos are great ive learned alot

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