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Are you washing your car, or just damaging the paint? Most of the swirl marks that disfigure your vehicle are likely caused by poor washing technique. Thorough weekly washes and careful hand-drying can be the best care you can give your vehicle. Improper techniques will cause unsightly swirls and scratches in the paint requiring compounding or polishing at the very least. You can eliminate these problems and save yourself extra work by following a few simple tips when washing and drying your vehicle.

Car Wash Soap and Washing Tools

You wouldn’t use dish detergent or glass cleaner to launder your clothes, and you should not use them to clean your car either. Those substances will gradually damage your car’s paint, leaving it looking like a washed-out pair of jeans. Instead, use a car wash soap that has lubricants and is specially formulated for cars.

Regular towels and cloths are also too harsh for your vehicle’s surface. They can scratch your car’s paint and damage its protective coating. Use thick microfiber or wool cloths, sponges, or car-washing mitts instead.

Wash When It’s Cool

If you can help it, never wash your car when it is hot, especially after driving or when it’s parked in a sunny spot. Washing a vehicle while it’s hot will only cause the soap to dry faster, making it harder to effectively rinse from the car’s outside surface. Leaving this layer of dry soap on isn’t good for your car and it won’t look very good either.

Always Rinse First

Thoroughly rinse your car to get rid of any loose dirt and dead bugs before washing it. Removing these tiny particles from the surface will help to protect your vehicle’s paint and give it a brighter and cleaner finish. After rinsing, wash your vehicle from top to bottom. By working your way downward from the roof, you can avoid transferring filth and oil from the dirtiest part (the bottom) to other areas. Also, to prevent swirl marks, rinse your cleaning cloth before re-dipping it into the soap while washing your vehicle.

Wash Weekly

Washing your car on a weekly basis helps to preserve its paint job and appearance. Waiting any longer than that to wash your car increases the risk of dead bugs, dirt, grime, and other substances hardening and scratching its exterior. Waiting will also increase the chances of your vehicle needing a paint job early in its automotive lifecycle.


Don’t allow your vehicle to air dry. Doing so will either leave watermarks or cause mineral deposits to eat into your vehicle’s paint. Use soft terry cloths or a chamois to thoroughly dry your car and prevent tiny scratches to its exterior.

Article and Image Source: Project Listen