Clean cars are good. Dirty cars are bad. Seems simple enough, right?


Even if you’re washing your vehicle regularly, you may be doing more harm than good. For instance, did you know the time of day in which you decide to wash your car can impact the result? Cleaning your car in direct sunlight will cause it to dry way faster. This means major water spots! Washing a car is far different from washing your dishes, or yourself in the shower. With delicate parts and a paint job to worry about, it couldn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with a few car wash fails, so you can avoid these pitfalls in the future. Here are a few common car wash mistakes many of us make when trying to get our vehicles nice and clean.

Using the Wrong Soap

If you’re like most of us, you reach for the dishwashing soap, bucket and a towel when you’re gearing up to wash your ride. Unfortunately, this isn’t best practice, and is one of the most common car wash mistakes. Dish soap contains too many harsh chemicals, which can damage your car’s paint job. Instead, opt for a special car washing soap, which can be purchased for under $5 in most places. Furthermore, different parts of your car require different cleaners. Those made for tires will help cut down on dirt and grime, while other cleaners, like for your dashboard, are more gentle. Choose wisely!

Using the Wrong Cloths

It may come as no surprise that not all car washing cloths are created equal. If you’ve been using any basic cloth to get the job done, it may be time to reevaluate. Towels can easily scratch the surface of your car, while chamois don’t pick up dirt quite as well as they should. You should also avoid paper towels, which can leave lint behind. And don’t forget newspaper, which will leave streaks. Microfiber is by far your best bet for a streak-free dry that won’t damage your vehicle.


You’ve heard that too much of a good thing can be bad. This is true in regard to car washing. Washing your vehicle too often, even if you’re using all the right tools, can spell danger for your car’s precious paint job. Avoid overwashing to keep your car looking sleek and shiny for as long as possible.


Got more questions? We’ve got answers! Check out our Ed Payne service blog for car maintenance tips and so much more. Or if you’re searching for a new vehicle, visit one of our valleywide Ed Payne dealerships.