With the arrival of spring, most people are ready to hit the open road for some well-deserved relaxation. For many that may mean a cross country road trip, while others may just want to hit the local park for a cookout. Regardless of where you go and what you do, you definitely want to ensure that your ride looks its best. There are tons of different brands of car washes and waxes on the market, but the key is to buy something you trust and more importantly, that it is used correctly.
Washing a car is pretty simple. You could run it down to the local power wash center and pay a few bucks or you could take some time to have a little family fun and treat your car the way it should be treated – with a home wash. All you need is a bucket, a hose, and a few other bits you probably already have lying around. The best part is that this is a great way to do some family bonding if you have kids. That is certainly what we like to do. So let’s learn how to wash your car at home.
Turtle Wax Oxy Power Out Upholstery Cleaner
The family cruiser, a 1971 Buick GS convertible had unfortunately been soaking up the sun for the last year or so outside, as there were too many other projects inside the garage. This lead to a really dingy vinyl top that was in desperate need of attention. Along with that, the weekly snow storms had deposited a large amount of crusty dirt that made the GS feel neglected. Fortunately, we had some goodies from Turtle Wax to help make things all better.
The top was in such bad shape, there was a very real concern as to whether or not it could be saved. The top has been on the car since 2006, and the years of sitting under trees, bugs, road grime, and all other sorts of nastiness had managed to get a strong foothold in the grain of the top. Other products had been tried, but to no avail. So why not try the new Turtle Wax Power Out upholstery cleaner with OXY – it was worth a shot. Much to my surprise, it deep cleaned the vinyl to a level that has not been seen in years. These words are not spoken lightly, it really did an amazing job that no other cleaner has done. We used the built-in scrubber at first, but then switched to a large hand brush because the area we were cleaning was so large, but the can-topper brush worked just fine. The trick is to not let it dry, it needs to be rinsed quickly or the stains will sink back to the surface.
Turtle Wax Zip Car Wash
Next, we got out the wash buckets and gear. You can use regular sponges or wash cloths, but we keep a set just for cars that have a soft wash surface and a scrubby microfiber surface for bugs bits and road grime. We poured some Turtle Wax Zip Wax Wash & Wax into the bucket and filled with water. Then, the car was rinsed off with a high-pressure water hose. This is a key step. The pre-rinse gets most of the dirt off the body, so that it doesn’t get scratched into the paint while applying the soap. Always work from the top down.
Just like a baby, you work from the clean parts to the dirty parts, which follows the “TTB” axiom – Top To Bottom. You don’t want to clean the wheels and tires before scrubbing the hood. Even though the sponges get rinsed, it is just a risky move that could lead to a scratched up hood. We use two sponges – one with a microfiber scrubber and a plain soft sponge. Every panel was lathered up and scrubbed 2-3 times each to make sure it was clean. Don’t forget all the nooks and crannies!
Rinsing the soap away is more of the same – TTB. The suds will get washed up onto the higher parts of the body, but that’s fine, a few more sprays of high-pressure water send them down the road.
The last part of the basic wash job is drying. You could just let it sit and air dry, but that leaves water spots. Regular towels soak up water fast and then just move it around, taking a lot of towels to get it done. The best solution is a chamois, either natural or synthetic. A chamois soaks up water quickly and holds it away from the surface, so it actually continues to dry even though it has absorbed a lot of water. The GS was dried with a single chamois in less than 10 minutes with only three ring-outs.
The beauty of Turtle Wax Zip Wax Car Wash is that it contains a carnauba wax that shines up on the paint during the drying process. The buffing action of drying the car brings out the shine. It really does work well, no paste wax required.
Turtle Wax Super Hard Shell Paste Wax
Should you find some deep scratches or just want to add a hard waxing to the mix, then the classic Turtle Wax Super Hard Shell Paste Wax works great. We found a few scuffs on the passenger side fender that need some attention. We used the Turtle Wax on the top of the fender to see if it would take care of them. Again, following instructions is key.
First – if you are going to be waxing the entire car, do not do it in direct sunlight. The sun will hasten the drying of the wax and can damage the finish. Work only one panel at a time. The paste gets worked into the paint in small circles until the entire panel is covered. Typically the wax will become hazy by the time you finish the application. Once the entire panel is hazy, the wax is buffed off with clean terry cloth or microfiber towel until the hazy is gone and the surface is bright and shiny. Do not let the wax sit on the paint for long periods of time, it will be very difficult to remove with just a towel, and can damage the finish. If the paint is sun damaged, with a hazy, dull milky finish, regular wax may make it worse, so be warned.
Turtle Wax F-21 Tire Foam ‘N’ Shine
Our last step is to spray the tires with Turtle Wax Tire Foam & Shine. This is a one-step tire dressing that goes on foamy and dries to a clean semi-gloss finish. This stuff does not require any scrubbing, rinsing, or buffing.
You could always pay a building to wash your car for you, but those automated machines never get the job done as well as you could do it yourself, and the extreme pressures used could damage your paint. Besides, who doesn’t like being in control of the water hose and spraying the kids with cold water on warm day?
Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to wash your car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.