Whether you want to clean your car to a shiny showroom standard to entice a potential buyer, or simply for personal pride, you can always do it yourself instead of paying for an expensive carwash or professional car groomer. Many would also agree there’s something fulfilling about putting in some elbow grease to get your car sparking clean.

By following the right steps and using the correct products your vehicle will look like it’s come right off the showroom floor once you’re done.

Step 1: Set a clean foundation

Firstly, giving your car a thorough wash is key to achieving a gleaming finished product. In order to get this step right you must choose an ideal time and place to wash your vehicle.

Early morning or late afternoon tends to be the optimal time to complete your base wash. The sun and temperatures are lower at this time at these times of the day, allowing you to wash away cleaning products before they dry on your car and leave unsightly streaks.

You will need two buckets of water, a brush, cloth or towel, and a sponge, ensuring that all of these are soft and clean. Another essential item is a bottle of quality car wash product, which you can find at your local supermarket. You will need to fill one of your buckets with clean water and the other with water mixed with the cleaning product.

Begin the wash by giving your car a rinse with a hose and wiping it down with a soapy sponge using a top to bottom technique. Make sure you regularly clean off your sponge in the bucket of clean water.

Once you have sponged your whole car exterior, grab your cloth or towel, look over your work and then thoroughly wipe off all the water to get the panels gleaming.

Repeating this process regularly will not only make your car look great, it will also preserve its exterior from the long term damage caused by UV rays, bird droppings and dirt.

Step 2: Pay attention to the details

To achieve a high quality clean you can’t ignore the details; this is why it is important you spend a good amount of time on both your wheels and glass.

All you need for brilliant glass is some automotive glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Apply it to your windscreen, windows, and wing mirrors to achieve a polished clean.

Getting your wheels looking good can be a bit more hard work, as they tend to gather built up dirt and brake dust. Take to your wheels with a medium-stiff brush and some automotive cleaner mixed with water to remove any marks and grime. Some marks – such as tar splashes – can be more difficult to remove, so you can use a more heavy duty product, such as a foaming cleaner or solvent, if necessary.

Step 3: Bring on the polish

Now you have a clean foundation you are ready to polish; this is where most of the elbow grease comes in. You will need to use a car polishing product and a soft polishing cloth or an electric polishing tool to apply a shiny finish to your vehicle.

Apply polish to your damp cloth and begin by choosing a section of the car exterior to focus on. Next, you should start to rub the polish in using a circular motion, applying greater pressure in areas that are scratched.

This can be a slow process if you’re polishing by hand, but it is important to work on one small section at a time. Use plenty of polish while making sure your cloth doesn’t dry out. Ensure you have completely rubbed the polish into each section before moving on to the next so you don’t allow any polish to dry on your car. Once you’ve polished the whole exterior repeat the washing process in the first step.

Step 4: Wax for protection and shine

After washing your car post-polish, allow the vehicle to dry completely before applying a coating of wax.

Once your vehicle is dry, begin to apply the wax evenly over the exterior panels in a gentle back and forth motion, moving from one section to another when each is finished. Your chosen car wax may come with an application cloth but if not refer to the specific cleaning instructions for the product.

When you have applied a thin layer of wax, leave it to dry following the instructions of your wax product. Once it has dried, grab a microfiber cloth to buff away the layer of wax.

The wax application provides a protective layer from harmful UV rays and anything which may fall on your car’s paintwork. It also maintains a glossy professional finish that wouldn’t look out of place in a car dealership!