How to properly clean your car + more importantly what not to do!

How to properly clean your car + more importantly what not to do!

Cleaning cars for some is a ritual they do every week, others do it every couple of months and the vast majority of people leave it to a machine or a group of Eastern Europeans in a car park.

Car cleaning is also a great way to earn a decent income (IF YOU PICK THE RIGHT SORT OF CARS/EQUIPMENT).

Why would I bother to clean my own car?

Longterm it’s cheaper. If done correctly it will keep your car looking at its best which in turn will increase the residual value.

What should I never do/use:

  • Never use a sponge – they’re flat surfaces and if when dirt gets attached they can leave awful looking swirls, get a stone caught and you’ve just ruined your paint. Use a wash mitt instead
  • Only using one bucket – You should always use two buckets, one with shampoo/hot water and one with cold water to rinse your dirty wash mitt in
  • Using washing up liquid – Just don’t do it, it contains Sodium Chloride (salt) so can aid corrosion. It is designed to remove grease from plates, instead of car shampoo that is designed to remove salts, tar, pollutants and traffic film without causing damage.
  • Leave the car to dry naturally. It will be covered in water marks especially if you wash in direct sunlight (another no no)
  • Not properly cleaning the wheel arches
  • Not using car wax – It’s a pain we won’t lie but it makes cleaning the car next time easier + it should make your paintwork really shine (ideal when you go to sell it)
  • Letting a non-professional clean your car. Your car is worth £500-£100,000 most likely, it’s most likely the 2nd most expensive thing you own and at some point you will sell it and want the most money you can from it. Do you really want to trust someone that doesn’t give a crap about their job, isn’t insured to actually clean your car or will run away if you question why they’ve scratched your paintwork (happened to a friend of ours).
Examples of Paint Swirl marks from a car that hasn't been cleaned with the two bucket method. Source

Examples of Paint Swirl marks from a car that hasn’t been cleaned with the two bucket method. Source

What gear should I buy?

Video of ChrisFix doing a deep clean on a car

These deep cleans are ideal if you’re selling on your car or want to reduce the amount of deprecation your car experiences.

A snow foam lance is awesome for softening dirt before you wash it off + it looks good ;)

A snow foam lance is awesome for softening dirt before you wash it off + it looks good 😉

What are the actual steps to cleaning the car:

Clean Wheels
Step 1 – Spray with wheel cleaner (inside and out)
Step 2 – Leave on wheels for 5-10 minutes
Step 3 – Whilst waiting clean arches with brush
Step 4 – Soft Brush the outside
Step 5 – Pressure wash wheels

Cleaning Car
Step 1 – Pressure Wash
Step 2 – Foam Wash with Pressure wash attachment
Wait 5 minutes
Pressure wash off
Step 3 – Two Buckets
One with fresh water (replace water when needed)
One with Shampoo (warm/hot)
Wash with wash mitt, when more shampoo needed, rinse to remove most of dirty water, then dip in fresh water first, rinse again & then put in shampoo water
Step 4 – Roof, Windows, Windscreen, Side Panels, Skirts (i.e. from the top down in stages)
Step 5 – Rince off
Step 6 – Dry – Microfibre Drying Towel

Step 1 – Add wax to clean microfibre cloth
Step 2 – Leave for 5 minutes
Step 3 – Wipe off with clean microfibre cloth
or for a more in-depth guide on waxing see

I want to build a business doing this:

Your first issue will be building trust and showing customers that you’re not going to damage their car, do a crap job etc. As a suggestion we would speak to family/friends who might have nice cars, think top/middle of the range Audi/BMW etc and offer to do their cars for free in exchange for some photos (important) + a testimonial etc. Once you have 2-5 of these under your belt people will start to trust you. Grab some leaflets or setup a decent looking website. You will have to hustle to get going but once you get some clients under your belt you should be able to look at getting cleaning ‘rights’ each week/two weeks etc.

How much could I actually charge for this service?

£22 for a decent wash (basic cars) – £30+ for high quality clean etc
£15 for hoovering/interior
£40 for a higher quality wash with Snow Foam + Pressure wash + two bucket technique etc
£100 for above + interior clean ( + wax (


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Important things to remember with everything we post:

  • If you earn over your personal allowance (currently £12,570 a year) HMRC need to get their % cut (even if the money is in cash or from another country)
  • If you’re working for yourself / earning an income on the side you need to let HMRC know – There are numerous benefits but also some drawbacks
  • You need to always ensure whatever you’re doing is legal and not hurting anyone else – be careful and always think twice
  • Some income streams may require you to have DBS check, licence, insurance or qualifications before you can start to profit from it, do your research.
  • Be careful that any additional income doesn’t compromise your studies or main income/job
  • If you work for a company check your contract, if you don’t inform them you’re working on other side projects outside of work they may have grounds to ownership on this work

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