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Wash and wax your car
Know your project
Level of difficulty: easy
Time required: 2 hours
Cost: as little as $20
- Stay shady. Park your car in a cool, shady place, ideally between 55 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Why? Wax applied in hot sun can dry too quickly, making it difficult to remove, and a cool surface will help you avoid water spots.
- Keep clean water handy. Rinse the car to remove loose dirt and dust, and then wash it, working from the top down and using two buckets: one with suds from a car-wash solution, one with plain water to rinse the wash mitt before applying more suds.
- Rinse gently. After washing and rinsing, give the car a final low-pressure rinse straight from the hose-with no hose—attachment—so the water just rolls off.
- Dry it off. Dry the car thoroughly with a microfiber towel, and don’t forget the interior doorjambs.
- Do the touch test. Swipe your hand lightly over the paint. If it’s silky smooth, you’re ready to wax. If not, prep the surface to remove contaminants and defects—anything from tree sap and bird droppings to paint swirls and surface scratches.
- Apply a cleaner. Use a surface-smoothening clay kit to remove contaminants, or apply a mildly abrasive car cleaner in small, circular strokes. Don’t apply too much pressure.
- Wipe it off. Remove cleaner using a microfiber towel. Work in small sections, roughly half of one panel at a time.
- Apply the wax. Apply a thin coat of wax in small, overlapping circular strokes. Apply light but firm pressure, working on one small section of the car at a time.
- Let it sit. Swipe a clean index finger across the surface. If the surface below is glossy, the wax is dry. If it’s smeared and streaky, wait a bit longer.
- Buff for a shine. Wait 5 to 15 minutes (read instructions), and then remove the wax with a clean microfiber towel, again using small overlapping strokes. When the towel begins to drag on the surface, flip it over and keep buffing to a final shine.
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