Washing your vehicle manually with your own two hands is a satisfying way to carry out a necessary activity, especially if you are very attached to your car. Whether it’s a high-end sports car or just your faithful daily ride, there’s value to be found in washing you care manually rather than going to a car wash centre.

Not to mention, many professional car wash places will use abrasive chemical mixtures that can actually damage your car’s paint job. This is especially true if you have custom decals or paint jobs that need special care.

Normally this process should only take 1-2 hours but this can vary depending on the size of the vehicle and how unclean it is. Let’s take a look at how to clean your car by hand!


  • Park the car in the shade and out of direct sunlight so that your wash does not dry prematurely and leave splotches. Water will evaporate faster on a hot day so leaving your car in the sun isn’t counter-productive when doing an even clean.
  • Make sure all windows are closed and retract antenna. Pull windshield wipers away from window surface until they click into position.
  • Gather cleaning materials and equipment for the job. This includes:
  • Car wash detergent
  • A supply of water
  • 3 buckets, 2 for washing and 1 for rinsing
  • A hose
  • Cloths and towels for drying
  • Fill a bucket with water and detergent and another bucket with just water.


  • Hose off the car with a light jet of water from the hose. Aim the water downwards, washing grime towards the ground rather than up the car.
  • Wash the wheels first as they are often the dirtiest part of the car. Use a long reaching wheel-brush to clean the entire rim area.
  • Wash the main surface of the car with a large mitt or sponge that’s been soaked in soapy water. Using a brush may causes scratches in the paintjob.
  • Begin circling around the car washing each section from the top down. Don’t scrub too much as the soap and water should have loosened most dirt.
  • Scrub off bird excrement and dead bugs but don’t scrub so hard you damage the paint. If possible use a bug and tar remover to get rid of dried on stains.



  • Rinse the entire vehicle while keeping the entire car wet. The whole car should be wet enough that you will need towels in the next stage.

Drying and waxing

  • Use fresh towels to dry the car’s surface, fully wiping down everything. Microfiber towels will work best.
  • Use a brand of car wax thoroughly around the car. Don’t use one with abrasive chemicals as most modern car paints do not need it.