4 Ways To Keep Your Car Sparkling Clean

It's time to wash your car, and you want it show-room ready. Whether it's washing, waxing, or polishing, here are four steps and tips to get your car clean and looking great.

Get your car showroom-ready

Follow this 4-step process

Father and son washing the car together.


Frequent washing is critical to remove surface grit and contaminants that can damage the paint and leave scratches. Be sure to use an automotive wash and never household cleaners or dish soap - they can strip away wax and leave your paint exposed to UV. Work from the top down to ensure that you don't re-contaminate the area you just washed.



Cleaning removes particles that have adhered to the paint, such as tree sap and tar. Start by determining the level of contaminants. Are there a lot of bird droppings? Is your car often parked under a sappy tree? You want your vehicle to have a smooth finish, free of any contaminants. This will help you decide if you need to clean with a certain product, such as clay or a 3 in 1 product.



Polishing gives gloss and richness back to your paint and adding depth. Work a small section at a time, removing polish once it starts to haze up, making sure the polish doesn't dry completely and damage your paint.



Waxing protects the finish and adds gloss. Frequent exposure to the elements means more frequent waxing to maintain that protection. Use a high-quality car wax and apply in overlapping circles before removing.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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