How To Wash a Car on a Budget

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Cleaning your car and making it look nice and shiny doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money. Even though car detailing companies promote mainly expensive products (even for DIY), you can get fantastic results with some budget alternatives.

In this post, I’ll show you how you can wash your car at home and spend as little money as possible (while still making sure that you’re using safe and effective products).

Key Takeaways:

  • Buy a budget car detailing kit that contains all the essential tools and products to wash your car.
  • Follow the standard car wash procedures (clean wheels first, then wash from top to bottom, dry the car with a cloth, and then apply quick wax).
  • This way, it will cost you ca. $5 per wash.

How To Wash Your Car on a Budget: The Guide

washing a car on a budget

What you’ll need:

Step 1: Gather Tools and Products and Prepare Hose

You’ll need a hose with a water source, of course, and aside from that, you’re going to need some basic car wash tools such as a car wash bucket, wheel cleaner, car wash soap, quick wax, microfiber cloths, and a few brushes for wheels

You can get all that in a simple, cost-effective car detailing kit that I’ve found on Amazon, which you can check below. 

Car Detailing Kit (18pc) - Car Cleaning Kit - Car Wash Kit - Complete Car Wash Kit with Bucket For...

That’s the best car detailing kit I’ve seen so far, and it’s more than enough to make your car clean and shiny.

Step 2: Wash The Car

Now that you have everything, you should fill the bucket with soap and water, and you can start washing the car. 

Washing the car is pretty simple. Just make sure to follow the proper process:

  • Wash the wheels first. Spray the wheel cleaner on the wheels and let it dwell for a minute or two. After that, agitate the wheels with a wheel brush to loosen all the dirt from them. You can pour the wheel brush into soapy water for added lubrication. After you’re finished, rinse off the wheels.
  • Wash the car from top to bottom. Now, replace the soapy water in your bucket (because it’s dirty from wheels). Then, pre-rinse the whole car with water to get as much dirt off as possible, which prevents scratching. Then, start using your wash mitt poured into soapy water and start cleaning the car from top to bottom. After each car body panel, rinse the mitt with plain water, pour it back into the bucket, and continue with the next car panel.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry The Car

The next step is rinsing all the dirt and soap from the car and drying it so it’s ready for paint protection.

Here are the steps you should take to rinse and dry the car:

  • Rinse the car thoroughly. After washing the car, thoroughly rinse it with lots of water. Also, follow the same „from top to bottom“ principles.
  • Pay specific attention to crevices and wheels, and make sure to wash off all the loosened dirt and soap.
  • Dry with a microfiber towel. Now, take a microfiber towel for drying and gently wipe the car’s surface, allowing the towel to soak all the water from the car’s paint.

Step 4: Apply Spray Wax

The last step is to add some paint protection to the car, which increases the paint shine and hydrophobicity but also adds protection against UV and other harmful factors.

Here’s how to apply spray wax:

  • Shake the bottle of spray wax and spread it all over the car’s paint. Make sure to do this quickly so the product doesn’t dry on the paint.
  • Buff off with a microfiber cloth. Take a microfiber cloth and gently buff off all the wax residue from the car.

And that’s it, your car is now clean and shiny. Most importantly, all this is done within a budget, so you won’t break the bank.

How Much Does It Cost To Wash a Car at Home?

Washing a car at home is the cheapest option, especially when comparing it to the price of professional car detailing services.

With these budget tips that I’ve shared with you, you’ll have the initial cost of ca. $40-50, but then, the cost of washing your car will be ca. $5 per wash (including water and supplies).

If you decide to use more professional tools and products, that cost may increase, but it’s still much cheaper than paying someone to do it for you.

MethodCost per WashInitial CostNotes
DIY Budget Washup to $5LowUses basic supplies and tools.
DIY High-Quality Wash$5 to $10HighUses higher quality tools and products.
Car Wash Service$50 to $100NoneService is performed by a car wash company
Professional Detailing$100 to $300NoneService is performed by professional car detailers.

If you need a thorough guide on how to detail a car like a professional, make sure to check my DIY Car Detailing Guide, where I explain everything in detail (including the equipment needed, etc.).


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