Do you pay to have your car washed? That’s some seriously unnecessary spending—It’s so easy to set up your own car wash at home, right in your own driveway! Washing your car at home is very cost-effective and can even be a satisfying activity. It’s not hard to do, and you’ll likely do a much better job than the car wash or gas station drive-through.

How to get started washing your car at home

1. Get the right gear

Before you start washing your car, gather all the necessary equipment. You’ll need a bucket (or two), car wash soap, a car washing mitt, a hose with adjustable spray nozzle, and a drying towel. Using the right products and tools will make it easy, and will help you get the best results.

2. Choose the right spot

Find a shaded area to wash your car. That way, you can avoid super-annoying water spots that you get when the sun dries the soap before you rinse it off.

3. Use the two-bucket method

If you’ve sprung for two buckets, fill one with soapy water and the other with clean water. Dip the wash mitt into the soapy water and apply it to the car’s surface. After each pass, rinse the sponge in the clean water to remove dirt and debris, then dip it back into the soapy water. This method prevents dirt from being reintroduced to the car’s surface and reduces the risk of scratches.

If you only have one bucket, or the above process just sounds too OCD for you, then you can just dunk your wash mitt in the soap, scrub the car, and repeat.

4. Start from the top

When you’re washing your car, always start from the top and work your way down. Rinse it off from the top, too. This prevents dirty water from running down and potentially causing streaks or water spots on the already cleaned areas.

5. Rinse frequently

Use a hose with an adjustable spray nozzle to rinse off the soap as you go. Rinsing frequently makes sure the soap doesn’t dry on the surface, which reduces the risk of water spots.

6. Dry properly

After washing, use a soft, absorbent drying towel (microfiber is best) to dry the car thoroughly. Drying the car immediately after washing prevents water spots and streaks from forming on the surface.

8. Avoid using household cleaners

While it may be tempting to use household cleaners like dish soap, they can be harsh on your car’s paint and strip away protective wax. Stick to car wash soap, which is specifically formulated to clean your car’s surface without damaging it.

By washing your car at home and following these tips, you can save money while ensuring you’re keeping your vehicle clean and well-maintained. Not only is it a budget-friendly option, but washing your car at home can also be a satisfying and rewarding task that helps you take pride in your vehicle’s appearance. For more ways to save money on car care, check out our article How to budget and save on car maintenance.