Car Wash

Car Wash Prep: What to Do Before Getting Sudsy

Car wash prep probably isn’t the first thing on your mind when you head to the local hand-wash or automated scrubber. Isn’t it enough to just drive in, get hosed down and then drive off? Sure, that works — but preparing before your next car wash will help you get more for your money.

Scrub the Bugs

car wash

If you’re using an automatic car wash, then be aware that it likely won’t do a good job at scrubbing off accumulated road gunk and bugs on your windshield, bumper or grille. If your car or truck is dirtier than usual, good car wash prep means using the squeegee at the gas pump to scrub your windshield and headlights free of bugs before heading into the machine.

For the bumpers, we don’t recommend the squeegee method because it might scratch the paint, but you can pick up some enzyme cleaner that removes bugs and spray it on before heading in. Or try a scrub with spray detailer and a clean cloth to get the worst of it off.

Windows Up

This might seem like an obvious bit of car wash prep, but are you sure your windows are all rolled up? Is your sunroof closed? What about the tailgate, doors and hood? As basic as these things are, you’d be surprised how many people have their days ruined — or at least, moistened — when they forget just how powerful those jets of water can be. Don’t let a moment of brain-freeze see you soaked by surprised.

Declutter Your Interior

Hand wash places are great for your vehicle because you get a personal touch when your car is cleaned and they usually also do interiors. To get the most out of an inside/outside combo include decluttering your interior as part of your car wash prep. Showing up with boxes, bikes, sports equipment or a bunch of old blankets in the trunk, cargo area and back seats will make it that much harder for your vehicle to be cleaned, and could very well lead to skipped steps as they move your car or truck down the line.

If you want to maximize the return on the bucks you spend to get your car as clean as possible, it helps to put in a bit of work beforehand.

For more information on car wash prep, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.

about author

Benjamin Hunting

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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