car washing mistakes

Common Car Washing Mistakes

Spring has sprung, the birds are chirping, the weather is nice, and your car needs a bath. A lot of people take their car to a car wash (one of the many mistakes) or wash their car only to find it not clean. Is there a proper way to wash your car? You bet there is! And while I will share with you in a video how to properly wash your car, today I wanted to share with you common car washing mistakes. If you have a lot of scratches or get frustrated with a not so clean car after a wash, then listen up!

10 Common Car Washing Mistakes

Car washing should be an enjoyable experience because of the results. You should never finish cleaning a car only to find leftover dirt or scratches. You should always finish cleaning a car ready to show it off to the world! So if you are struggling with a clean car, follow my list of common mistakes and fix how you wash a car.

Common Mistake #1: Using A Sponge Or Microfiber Cloth.

I say never use this because sponges and microfiber cloths absorb more dirt and grim than anything else. This will leave you with scratches and frustration. Only use 100% cotton towels and washcloths on your car. You can get away with using a microfiber cloth to clean the windows, but nothing more!! This is a big mistake a lot of people make. Cotton towels only, please.

Common Mistake #2: Reusing A Towel After You’ve Dropped It.

I know you have seen numerous car wash guys drop the towel they were drying your car with and continue using it on your car. BIG mistake here! Every time you drop a drying towel or washcloth you pick up unknown material that will scratch your car. A washcloth is used to get the grime and bugs off but gets rewashed every time you put it in the water. A drying towel only touches a clean car. Therefore, when you drop any towel and just “shake it off”, little scratching materials will stick to the cloth and damage your paint. Trust me on this one. If you drop it don’t reuse it until you have fully washed it.

Common Mistake #3: Using Only One Towel.

You should have at least three towels when cleaning your car. One washcloth to wash your car. One dry towel to graze over the car. A second dry towel to finish drying the car completely. Obviously, it depends on the size of your vehicle, so let’s break it down. Small coupes should only use three towels, mentioned above. Mid-sized cars will probably use four towels, with an extra drying towel. Large cars might use five drying towels. You can still use one washcloth, but if your drying towel is too wet, get a new one. Which leads me to rule number four.

Common Mistake #4: Leaving Your Car To Dry Naturally.

Never, never, ever, ever, leave your car to dry naturally. Watermarks? That would be the cause. Leaving your car to dry naturally just wasted all of your efforts in cleaning your car. Total.waste. of. time. Why even clean your car if you are going to let it sit out and collect watermarks, making it look dirty again? Plus, over time, these watermarks can become permanent. Use two or three drying towels to dry your car completely.

Common Mistake #5: Using Dish Detergent All The Time Instead Of Car Soap.

It is ok to use dish detergent once on your car if you are in a hurry and need something. But dish detergent is super harsh and will chip away at your paint and the gloss you get after waxing. I mean if you think about it, if dish detergent can get rid of grease then why would you think it is safe on your car? Big no-no, but I have seen people do it! And speaking of waxing….

Common Mistake #6: Never Waxing Your Car.

I mean, do you even care about your vehicle? Your car takes you on many great adventures, saves you from accidents, makes your loved ones feel comfortable, and you can’t take the time to wax it? Every person who drives should learn how to wax their car and wax it at least twice a year. If you can’t learn this, then maybe consider a bike. You should wax it once before winter and once before summer. Or if you are a car guru like me, four times a year for the seasons 🙂 Waxing is super important in keeping your paint fresh and can even take out little scratches or stuck on bugs. Please, do your car a favor and wax!

Common Mistake #7: Washing The Wheels Before Everything Else.

Your wheels should be cleaned after everything on your car is cleaned. Period. No further explanation. The wheels are the dirtiest area on your car so why would you head straight for them, collecting gross dirt, tar, and grime, when you have the rest of your car to wash? Leave it for the very last thing and your car will look ten times better.

Common Mistake #8: Not Cleaning The Wheels Or Under The Wheel Arches.

A very similar topic, please clean your wheels. They can collect rust and they get very dirty. Make sure you get in between the wheel arches too. That area collects more tar, rust, and grime than anything else. Just make sure your car is cooled down before washing the wheels because they can get hot!

Common Mistake #9: Drying The Car All At One Time.

So you are an expert at cleaning by now, what about drying? I mentioned above how many towels to use, but do you know the proper way to dry? I go by my dad’s teaching. Use one drying towel to skim over the car surface to pick up any remaining particles that could scratch the car when pressure is added. Then take the second drying towel and finish drying. It might be one more step, but using the same towel to dry your car all at one time is a problem waiting to happen. You want to be able to look at your drying towels and not see any dirt. That means you did a great job cleaning!

Common Mistake #10: Letting Something Else Wash Your Car.

Car washes are the worst. They are so bad for your car it is unbelievable and amazes me how many people use them. I understand if you are in a hurry and your car looks like crap and you want to get it washed. But relying on a machine to wash your car correctly…? Come on.! Do we rely on robots to wash us? Just think of a car wash as a dishwasher. It gets the job done, but in a harsh way. Do you really want to send your beautiful car thru a dishwasher? I don’t think so. They should call car washes ” come here for scratches” or “heck yes I can ding your vehicle”. Do me a favor, and avoid these as much as you can.

There you have it! The 10 most common mistakes you can make when washing your vehicle. I don’t know about you but I love my car. Take care of it, and I bet it will do the same for you.

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Comments 12

  1. I like what you said about not leaving your car to dry naturally since it will get watermarks. My brother has been telling me about how his car has gotten dirty recently, and he’d like to change that. I’ll share this information with him so that he can be sure to get his car dried properly.

  2. Hey Admin
    Chicmoto is literally the BEST community anywhere. I read your blog every day even I bookmarked your blog to get the new information from your Blog and I am also so grateful that I found it.

  3. Hi Marie, I found your washing tips very useful and informative. I liked the fact that you pointed out towards the mistakes made during car wash which are actually very common. Thanks a lot for this!

  4. I love your tip about how the wheels are the dirtiest area of the car. That makes sense considering the tires have direct contact with the ground all day. Not to mention the hub caps have dirt concealed within it.

  5. Thanks for mentioning how a car wash should be washed with multiple towels. I also like how you said that watermarks come when you let your car dry on its own in the outdoor air. My parents are looking for a car wash that will do a good job of washing their Nissan.

  6. Apart from keeping your vehicle looking irie and clean, a regular car wash is an essential part of car aftercare and can protect the paint of your vehicle’s exterior from the damage caused by dirt and debris. While many vehicle owners choose professional car service to keep their vehicle in the pristine order, others may attempt to get the things done on their own using different cleaning products. But when you choose to wash your speculation on your own, the likelihood of exterior paint damage also increases simultaneously. Keeping this in mind you should think whether your attempt is worth taking or not. If not, then I don’t think it will make any sense to save few dollars while damaging the work. Better you should leave the task to the proficient automotive technician who can wash your vehicle effectively without mangling the body and paintwork.

    1. Post

      Hi Kenneth,

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad you found my article useful. I totally agree though; if you do not know how to properly wash your vehicle yourself, you should rely on a trusted car detailing service! Sometimes I use both options depending on what car I need cleaned!


  7. Amazing post! I appreciate your washing tips. Really it such an informative post. I’ve read so many amazing things about your article! I enjoyed reading it. This is the best site I’ve seen! Seriously thank you for all this awesomeness! you have no idea how much hope you gave me !!

    1. Post

      Hi Joshua,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! If you have any other car questions you need answered please let me know and hopefully I can help you out.


  8. Washing the car can be a hug source of enjoyment, pride or even relaxation, but the most common and traditional techniques we have learned as kids are killing the paint. This is mainly dew to the fact that we don’t know the right way to wash the car and we mostly prefer to do it on our own. Thus, I think the best way to avoid these mistakes is to handover this job to a professional, as he is well trained enough to do the job without scratching the car body.

    1. Post

      Hi Marie,

      I totally agree. Most people do not know how to properly wash their cars, thus causing even more damage to the paint. Hopefully, some of my articles will help teach everyone how to properly wash their vehicles and boost their confidence so they do not have to spend the money for a professional wash. But, a professional detailer is always the best way to go if you want a great car wash that makes your paint shine! Thank you for your response and reading my articles 🙂

      Have a great weekend!


  9. Pingback: How To Wash Your Car (The Right Way!) -

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