Why Is Your Car Still Dirty After Washing It? TOP 10 Reasons


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why is car still dirty after washing it

My friends often ask me why their car is still dirty, even if they have just washed it. I believe that many of you are wondering the same, and today I’ll show you the top 10 reasons why your car could still be dirty after just washing it. 

I made plenty of these mistakes as a complete beginner, and with time and experience, I learned the proper ways of washing vehicles so that every time I get an immaculate car, without any dirt on it. 

As I always say, detailing vehicles isn’t something hard, but you need to follow some rules and be thorough. That’s the only way you’ll properly clean cars and other types of vehicles. 

Without furder ado, let’s see those reasons you might be doing, so you can avoid them in the future. 

Using a Pressure Washer Only

Using only a pressure washer and plain water to wash the car is a big mistake. Even though I don’t see too many people doing it, someone probably does.

You can’t wash your car by using only water and a pressure washer. The water itself doesn’t have those cleaning agents that’ll lift the dirt from the car’s paint. 

Also, there’s no lubrication if you don’t use a dedicated car wash shampoo, and you could even cause some swirl marks and scratches by washing your car using a pressure washer only. 

Related: Best High-Pressure Washers For Car Detailing in 2021 (Under $200)

When washing vehicles, after the initial pre-rinse with a pressure washer, you should always follow it by snow foam, contact wash, or by using contactless wash products. That way, you’ll get a clean and shiny car.

Water And Other Chemicals Dried On The Car’s Paint

If you’re washing your car in direct sunlight, water, car shampoo, or some other chemicals will likely dry on the car’s paint, making it dirty again.

That’s why you should always try to wash your car in the shade or the garage. If you don’t have a garage, you can also consider buying an auto detailing canopy, which will hide your car from the sun.

Even if you’re not working in direct sunlight, some chemicals and water may still dry on the paint if you wait too long or wash too slowly.

Another possible cause is that you don’t dry the car after washing it, and all the water that sits on the vehicle will dry, causing water spots everywhere, which are very hard to remove afterward. 

Using Low-Quality Car Shampoos

Going to the first supermarket and buying the cheapest car shampoo ever existed isn’t the smartest choice. Extremely cheap car shampoos don’t have excellent cleaning properties, and they also don’t provide enough lubrication for the dirt to quickly come off.

Plenty of auto detailing products may be expensive, but car wash soaps aren’t one of those. They’re usually pretty cheap and give you an excellent bang for your buck. 

One of the best car shampoos I’ve ever used is Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Shampoo (check the price on Amazon now), and I recommend it to everyone. 

To make it clear, being more expensive doesn’t always mean better. That’s why I always recommend you some fantastic products, but still in the “normal” price range. 

Improper Drying Of The Car

Many people dry vehicles incorrectly, and that leads to the dirty car after washing. It’s effortless to dry your vehicle after washing it. You only need to use proven methods and products.

There are two best ways to dry your car after washing it:

  1. By using a drying microfiber towel (check my recommended microfiber towels)
  2. By using an air blower

If you decide to use an air blower, don’t use the one from the garden. It could be dirty. To dry the car, always use the clean air blower, and don’t use it for any other purpose other than car detailing.

Both methods give excellent results. So, whichever you choose to dry your car, it’ll be good enough. The most important thing is to avoid drying your car by driving it or using obsolete products, such as deerskin. 

TIP: Side mirrors tend to keep plenty of water in them, which later when you drive, spread over the car. Always make sure to dry side mirrors and all other apertures thoroughly.

You Don’t Use Microfiber Wash Mitt

Microfiber wash mitts are one of the best inventions in the past 20 years. They’re fantastic products that make each car wash much easier and safer than using obsolete sponges. 

Avoid using sponges or similar products when washing your car. They’re not suitable for lifting the dirt from your vehicle, and they’re also dangerous for the car’s paint since they can easily scratch it. 

Wash mitts have excellent cleaning properties since they successfully trap all the dirt from your car and prevent that dirt from scratching the car’s paint again.

Microfiber wash mitts are products that will last you long, and you shouldn’t buy the cheapest one. It would be best if you always bought proven high-quality wash mitts that are soft and gentle enough for the car’s finish. 

Using One Bucket Only

I know it’s easier and quicker to wash your car by using only one bucket. However, that’s not the right way to wash vehicles. When you use only one car wash bucket, the water in it will get dirty very quickly. If you wash the car like that, you will not be able to wash it well, and after your hard work, it will still be dirty.

I always recommend a 3-bucket method to wash cars. That’s the safest and the best way to clean any vehicle. Using that method, you’ll always work with a clean wash mitt and get fantastic washing results. 

Also, inside your buckets, you should use grit guards too. Grit guards trap all the dirt from your wash mitt, not letting it soak in the wash mitt again. You just put them at the bottom of your buckets, and you’re safe to go.

Washing At Self-Service Car Washes

Sometimes, when I’m out of town, I wash my car at a self-service car wash. I never get good results, but at least I lift some of the dirt from my car. I don’t recommend you do that if you want a perfectly clean vehicle. 

Self-service car washes use recycled water. That way, they reduce water consumption a lot. That’s great for them, but not for you washing your vehicle. 

Recycled water is often still dirty, and you can’t get a flawless car look. Try to avoid them and wash your car at home, where you have clean water. 

Another thing about self-service car washes is that they often use cheap chemicals to increase their revenue. Because of that, you won’t be able to clean all the dirt from your vehicle. 

You’re Using Dirty Wash Mitts and Drying Towels

After each car wash, you should wash all the microfiber products you used to wash the car. That way, they’ll be clean next time you wash your car. 

When you wash and dry your vehicle, microfiber cloths will be dirty, and you shouldn’t use them on another car. Even if it’s obvious, I still see too many people not washing their microfiber products very often.

Wash mitts and drying towels may still look clean, but they’re full of chemicals and dirt. Once they come in contact with water, they’ll release all the dirt and old chemicals, making your car dirty again. 

If you don’t know how to wash microfiber products properly, here are seven mistakes you should avoid when washing them. I also shared the exact tips you should follow for a proper wash. 

Washing In The Rain

Washing in the rain isn’t an intelligent decision. You just can’t fight the dirty rains we have nowadays. If you’re able, postpone the car wash until there’s nice weather again.

Rains are full of dust and dirt particles because of smog and pollution. If you live near some industry, there’s a big chance of having acid rains in your area. Acid rains may cause defects in the car’s paint, and that’s why you should avoid washing in the rain. 

Also, when it’s raining, you won’t be able to apply car waxes on your car since they require dry weather to bond to the paint properly. 

If you live in a rainy area, and the rains are common, I advise you to get an auto detailing canopy (check my recommended sizes). That way, you’ll be able to wash your car during the rains. 

Washing On a Windy Day

It may sound funny, but it’s one of the most common reasons your car ends up dirty after washing it. When the vehicle is wet, it attracts dirt to stick to the paint.

I don’t have to explain to you that wind carries a lot of dust and dirt. Add that to your car, and you have a recipe for dirty paint.

Always try to work when it’s not too windy. Of course, you can’t wholly avoid any wind, but make sure it’s not too lofty a day. If it is, postpone your car wash for another day. 

If you have somewhere to hide from the wind, great, do it. That’s why more and more people decide to work in garages. Garages, when made and prepared for auto detailing, are outstanding. Check my unique ideas for your auto detailing garage here. 

Final Word

I hope that I helped you with some mistakes you’re potentially doing when washing your car. Above are the most common mistakes people are doing, and that’s why I wrote those.

You may need some time to adapt to all the above things, but once you do, you’ll always get perfect cleaning results. Also, don’t forget to follow my step-by-step guide for a proper car wash at home. By following it, your car will look cleaner than ever, and it should never be dirty after the wash.

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