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How to Clean a Car’s Exterior

How to Clean a Car’s Exterior


[♪INTRO] Today on How to Adult, we’re going to talk
about how to wash the exterior of your car. Here in Missoula, Montana—and probably many
other places—It only really takes one spring day of parking under a tree to trigger the
sticky pollen-aphid poop-ocalypse. And if you’re extra lucky, the birds will
have also generously fertilized your windshield, or maybe a massive forest fire contributed
to a chunky layer of tree ash onto your auto. But even if you’re driving around in, like,
a pristine beautiful empty world with no birds or plant-life, or forest fires your car is
shedding little bits of itself onto itself in dust-form. There is no way to keep things clean in this
world. We’re just going to have to go around cleaning
and organizing until the heat death of the universe But that’s okay! Because on a hot sunny day, cleaning your
car’s exterior is one of the more entertaining cleaning endeavors to take on. The first choice you’re going to make on
the road to a sparkly-clean car, is whether you’re going to do it yourself, or go to
an automated car wash. An automated car wash is going to be the fastest
route, and the latest car washes are very good at avoiding scratching paint. From an environmental angle, they’re required
to send your oily soapy water to a water treatment facility and they often use less water than
a hand-wash. They’re also kind of magical. Like, if there were some service that dragged
me through a soapy hurricane of white noise every evening, I would consider that. However, there are reasons to hand wash as
well. This video would be awfully short if there
weren’t. Hand washing gives you more control. If you know there’s a sweet decal on the
side of your truck that might come off, you’ve got specific products that you love, or you’re
worried about getting little-swirl marks from a bad automatic car wash, you should consider
hand washing. It’s also a good group activity. If an automatic wash can be a lonely magical
hurricane, a hand wash can be a party! And finally, depending on how often you do
it and how affordable your tastes are, hand-washing can save you money. So assuming you want to hand-wash, first take
care not to let your contaminated water run into storm drains or water sources. It can be easy to take clean drinking water
for granted when it magically appears from the tap, but holy crap is it important that
to protect our water sources if we’re going to survive as a species. Park your car in grass or some gravel away
from any storm drains, and at the end of your wash pour your dirty water from your bucket
into the toilet. Consider buying eco-friendly soap, and a nozzle
to put on your hose to waste less water. You can also kind of go halfsies and go to
a coin-operated car wash. This has the benefit of using the least amount
of water according to a 2002 Report for the International Carwash Association (which is
apparently a thing), and you don’t have to worry about where your water is going. Now, for the actual car washing part, turn
up the tunes and start with the wheels. Fill up one clean bucket with water and either
tire cleaner or a gentle dish soap, or purchase a spray-on wheel cleaner. Fill another clean bucket with water to rinse
with. Grab a tire brush or a cloth dedicated to
tires. Your tires are going to be super dirty, so
you don’t want to use the same cloth on the tires as the body of the car. Then, spray down your first wheel with pressurized
water to rinse off brake dust and grime. Take your brush or cloth and destroy that
dust with your mighty car-washing muscles, take care to rinse off your brush or cloth
in the rinsing bucket when it gets too dirty, and change that rinsing water when that
gets too dirty, ‘cause it’s going to get dirty. Rinse off your soap, and dry with a microfiber
cloth, chamois, or soft terry cloth towel. And repeat until all of your tires are sparkly. Now for the main event: washing the body and
the chrome. Clean out the buckets out that you used for
your tires, and prepare them with car shampoo and water for the wash bucket, and just water
for the rinse bucket. Grab some car mitts, chamois, or microfiber
cloths for washing, and microfiber cloths, chamois, or terry cloth towels for drying. The car is generally dirtier at the bottom—also,
you want the dirt to fall downwards, and so you clean up here, pushing the dirt down—so
start at the top, work your way down. Begin by giving your car a thorough rinse
with water from your hose or coin-op sprayer to get rid of some of that initial loose dirt. You want to eliminate as much of the grittiness
as possible to avoiding scratching your paint. Then use the two bucket technique to soap
up small overlapping sections of the car, taking care to rinse out the dirt out after
each section. Repeat that whole-car rinse to wash off the
soapy mixture. If you’re looking for a particularly deep
clean, maybe you’re about to sell your car, maybe you just want to… impress the world,
you can repeat the soap and rinse steps. Finally, dry off your car. Air drying will result in water spots, so
use a cloth if you want it to look super nice… which I assume you do ‘cause you’re washing
your car. Clean your headlights! If your car is a little older—a little long
in the tooth, a little grayer on the temples, your headlights might not be all that they
used to be. And while cleaning the body of your car feels
nice and looks good, having bright headlights might be the difference between you seeing
or not seeing something in the road. And that’s… important. After you’ve washed and dried them in the
previous step, mask off the surrounding area with masking tape. You’re going to be buffing the headlight
with toothpaste— which is a gritty substance, there’s actually, like, little rocks, tiny,
like, pieces of sand in toothpaste—and we’ve been avoiding rubbing grit on the car in all
of our previous steps. Then add a glob of toothpaste to a damp clean
cloth and buff the plastic in a circular motion until you’ve seen some improvement. Now that your car is a beautiful shining metallic
cuboid on the outside, check out our automotive playlist to learn how to clean the interior
of your car, do some basic maintenance, and many more things auto. Now for the actual washing part, turn up the tunes and start the wheels. Oh. [laughter] Star— Turn up the tunes, and just… drive the car. Into a lake.
[laughing] Grab some car mitts, chamois
[Hank pronounces it: sham-WAH] Chamois
[Hank pronounces it: sham-OICE] I’m not really sure how to say that word. A moist sham-oice. [laughter] There’ something else… there’s something else that— Oh! The sham-wow. Because it’s a sham-wah, and this was the sham-wow. S-H-A-M-W— [Howjsay Speaks:]
“Shammy as in the cloth, sham-WAH as in the animal.” [audible gasps] Did he say shammy!? [off-screen, incredulous]
Yeah [EXPLETIVE BLEEPED] J said shammy. I gotta fix something. [off-screen]
You’ve gotta go back. I said that wrong before. Work it—this—what’s—what’s this called? Again? Sarah? [Sarah]
Down! Yeah, okay. Your headlights might not be wha— Oh pffffttt. [laughter] I felt good about that.

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28 thoughts on “How to Clean a Car’s Exterior

  1. @How to Adult: Could you put the tips somewhere else on the screen? The subtitles and the tips are not really readable, when they are both shown 🙁 (But thanks for adding subtitles anyways! <3)

  2. I'd love to see a video on bicycle care; like maintaining the chain, repairing punctures, etc. Thanks for all the helpful content!

  3. The dirt blows enough where I live that doing more than giving her the old drive through car wash a couple of times a year is basically pointless. I also once continued to drive a car totalled out by hail damage, so maybe my level of give-a-damn about the exterior appearance of my car is not for everyone. 😂

  4. Whatever you do, don't use a brush. I used a brush on my first new car and put little scratches all over it after a few months.

  5. Also check with local schools to see if they're doing a car wash fundraiser. Get your car cleaned and donate to kids.

  6. you should also check if there are specific requirements for the ground your washing your car on.
    In Germany the Ground has to be completely covered with asphalt to ensure that no motor oil or other dangerous chemicals that might come of can seep i to the ground

  7. Pulp Fiction taught me how to clean the interior. And now after watching this video I will be a professional detailer 😎

  8. I like how you mentioned the two bucket system!!
    And if you’re trying to be really careful not to get swirls, try drying in one direction with straight “lines”.

  9. pro tip: if its been more than a year since the last wash- your car will not be spotless and shiny after one wash. There's normally build up on every car, so it's best to try to wash your car every couple weeks even if it's just a quick scrub down. My dad's the one that told me that one. In the end, your car will get cleaner and cleaner with each wash and look brand new in no time.

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