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Advice - Car Cleaning



AutoMate’s range of premium car care products can transform a mud and bug splattered mess into a shiny gem with pristine paintwork, but no matter how good your car wash products are, it’s still vital that you use them correctly when you wash your car.

The first and most important step to a perfectly detailed car is, of course, the wash. Your car’s exterior takes a constant beating from the elements and collects all sorts of dirt and grime. Some of these contaminants can be quite damaging to your bodywork, so removing these contaminants without hurting your car is dependent on proper technique. Even AutoMate’s high-performance formulas won’t save your paint from careless hands!

So when it comes to washing your car, the first thing to remember is to make sure it’s done on a regular basis. Many contaminants that find their way onto a car’s bodywork (such as bugs and bird droppings) actually damage the surface of your car, and if they aren’t removed promptly, they can wear right through your clearcoat. Even if you don’t have time to give your car the full treatment, your paintwork will benefit from a quick weekly wash with AutoMate Bodywork Shampoo, followed by a quick treatment of AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax.

To give your car the full pampering that it deserves, our team of detailing experts at AutoMate have developed this quick guide for you to wash your car like a pro.

Step One – The pre-rinse

The pre-rinse is one of the most understated steps in the car washing process. Pre-rinsing is important because it removes dirt and grime from your car without allowing it to get trapped in your mitt or sponge, as this can cause scratching and swirling during the washing process.

If one is available, the pre-rise should be done with a pressure washer, but a standard hose pipe or even a watering can will work too.

Be sure not to rush this step. Pay special attention to areas where dirt could get trapped, such as in gaps between body panels and in roof rails. In total, the pre-rinse process should take you at least 15 minutes to complete.

Step Two – Wheels and tyres

There is some debate as to where the wheels and tyres should fall within the car washing process, but we feel tackling them at this stage is better because it makes it easier to rinse off any dirt or cleaning products that may splash onto the bodywork from your wheels.

Your wheels should already be well rinsed, so you can start spraying AutoMate Acid Free Alloy Wheel Cleaner liberally, starting from the bottom and working upwards. You can also use AutoMate Acid Free Alloy Wheel Cleaner on the tyre walls to remove old tyre dressing and prep the tyres for a new coat.

It is important to make sure your wheels are cool to the touch prior to cleaning, as spraying AutoMate Acid Free Alloy Wheel Cleaner on hot wheels can cause the product to evaporate and cause damage.

Once the wheels are thoroughly coated, use a soft brush to scrub the wheel – once again working from the bottom to the top.
When every little nook and cranny of the wheel has been scrubbed, give it a good rinse, including the surrounding bodywork. This ensures that all the AutoMate Acid Free Alloy Wheel Cleaner has been washed away.

If you want your tyre walls to look as good as your sparkling wheels, just apply a little AutoMate Tyre Dressing. First make sure any old tyre dressing has been removed, and give the tyre a wipe with a clean AutoMate Microfibre Cloth until dry. Using an AutoMate Tyre Dressing Applicator Sponge, apply AutoMate Tyre Dressing to your desired level. Using more product (or even applying a second coat) and allowing it to dry will result in a glossy finish, while using less and wiping away excess with an AutoMate Microfibre Cloth will leave your tyres with more of a matt finish. Be sure to allow AutoMate Tyre Dressing ample time to dry before continuing with step 3.

Step 3 – Sponge bath

Now it’s time to get up-close and personal with your car’s bodywork. Depending on the weather, you may want to give your car another quick rinse to re-wet the bodywork before shampooing, but this isn’t always necessary when you live in the UK!
For this step, you’re going to need a sponge/mitt, a bucket filled with clean water, and one mixed with a high-quality car shampoo. This is where your product choice is key.

A good shampoo will remove dirt and contaminants from your paintwork without leaving scratches or swirl marks. You want to use a shampoo that is high in lubricants but doesn’t remove existing wax. AutoMate Bodywork Shampoo ticks all of these boxes, but because AutoMate exclusively sell their products direct to customers, it will save you money over other premium brands.

Once you’re ready to begin washing, dip your sponge or mitt into the bucket containing the AutoMate Bodywork Shampoo, and apply generously using a gentle back-and-forth motion, starting from the top and working your way down. Regularly wash your sponge or mitt in the bucket of clean water to remove any particles that may scratch your vehicle before returning it to the bucket containing AutoMate Bodywork Shampoo.

As you complete each section of the car, give it a good rinse. You may wait until you have cleaned the entire car before rinsing, but this is not recommended in warm weather as the soap and dirt may dry on your car.

Pay particular attention to any dirt trap areas, such as under door handles and behind the fuel filler flap during this step. It is recommended that you clean the areas with the heaviest soiling last, such as the lower panels, front and rear bumpers, and boot lid. This will reduce the risk of your sponge picking up particles of dirt and scratching other areas of your car. If your paintwork has paint swirls and scratches, then we recommend using AutoMate Colour Refresh Polish to bring your bodywork back to life.

Step Four – Final rinse

Once the shampooing is complete, thoroughly rinse the car, again working from top to bottom. Ensure that all soap residue has been washed out of the gaps between body panels, on the grille, behind the wing mirrors and the fuel filler cap.
Step Five – Drying If you followed the first four steps, then your car is now clean, but that doesn’t mean the job is done! Any water residue must be removed from the surface of your car in order to prevent water spots ruining all your hard work.

We recommend using a couple of clean AutoMate Microfibre Cloths for this, but a good quality chamois cloth is also suitable.
To dry the bodywork, simply wipe the AutoMate Microfibre Cloth/chamois over the entire surface of the car, working from the top down. It is important that you use almost no pressure when drying you car, as contaminants may have blown onto your car and could cause scratches.

If you follow these five steps each time you clean your car, your car will maintain a showroom-ready look for years to come. Regular waxing is also required to protect your bodywork, and AutoMate offer two products to shine your car; AutoMate High Gloss Wax and AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax.

For windows and mirrors, use a specialist automotive glass cleaner, such as AutoMate Rainguard Glass Cleaner. Not only does this remove dirt and leave a streak-free shine, but it also leaves a protective coating on the glass that repels dirt, bugs and water.


There are many different types of car waxes on the market, with a spectrum of different prices, ingredients and thicknesses.This quick how-to guide will explain the best method of waxing your car using either a liquid, such as AutoMate High Gloss Wax or a spray, such as AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax.

There are four main types of car waxes on the market today; liquid, paste, spray and wipe-on, walk away sealant. The world of waxes has evolved to become a highly complex (and often debated) topic, but we’re going to focus on spray waxes, such as AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax, and liquid waxes, such as AutoMate High Gloss Wax.

Spray waxes are still working off a bad reputation because up until recently, they were really not very effective. Since the introduction of polymer-based formulas, however, all that has changed. Spray waxes have evolved to offer similar results to some of the best paste and liquid waxes on the market, whilst being significantly easier to apply.

AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax is a perfect example of a polymer-based car wax that delivers the results of some of the best paste waxes available.  Liquid waxes have also evolved to the forefront of the premium wax market. Previously, paste was always considered to be the best waxing treatment available, but today it’s possible to get the same paste formulas in liquid form. 

AutoMate High Gloss Wax is a liquid formula containing both polymers and high-quality carnauba wax to deliver professional results with the convenience of a liquid.

Liquid Waxes

  • To wax your car with a liquid wax like AutoMate High Gloss Wax, you first need to ensure your car is clean, dry and parked in the shade.
  • To remove any paint imperfections and enhance the effectiveness of the wax, you can pre-treat the paint by using AutoMate Colour Refresh Polish.  Follow the directions on the bottle, and allow to fully dry before waxing.
  • To apply AutoMate High Gloss Wax, shake the bottle well, then take a clean AutoMate Microfibre Cloth and pour on a small amount of wax.
  • Apply the wax to one panel at a time, avoiding any glass or plastic trim (these areas can be tackled by AutoMate Rainguard Glass Cleaner or AutoMate Tyre Dressing, respectively). Be sure to apply evenly, working in a circular motion.
  • Allow wax to set to a haze (about 10-15 minutes, depending on temperature). Use a fresh AutoMate Microfibre Cloth to buff off excess to a shine, again working in a circular motion. This should leave you with a perfectly glossy showroom-ready car.

AutoMate High Gloss Wax is also suitable for machine application.

Spray Waxes

  • For spray waxes such as AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax, prepare you car in the same manner as with AutoMate High Gloss Wax – make sure it’s clean, dry, in the shade and pre-treat with AutoMate Colour Refresh Polish if necessary.
  • Apply AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax sparingly, spraying one panel at a time. It should only take 2 or 3 sprays per panel. Use a clean AutoMate Microfibre Cloth to spread evenly over the surface.
  • Once the panel has an even coating, immediately buff to a shine with a second clean AutoMate Microfibre Cloth.

AutoMate Rapid Spray Wax delivers a similar shine to AutoMate High Gloss Wax in significantly less time, but for that little extra pampering when you have the time, AutoMate High Gloss Wax will give your bodywork the full treatment.

For a great kit containing everything you need to keep your car showroom-ready, check out the the AutoMate Wash and Wax Kit.


Although they are now a common sight on most cars, dirty alloys just don’t look good. Having a clean and shiny set of alloys arguably does more to improve the look of your car than cleaning your bodywork, but for your alloys to look right, they must be cleaned right. Not only that, but they must also be cleaned often. Not only do the wheels get dirty quicker than other parts of your car, but they also get quite hot due to the heat from the brakes – especially in the summer months. This can essentially bake the dirt onto your wheels, making them much more difficult to clean and even tarnishing the surface.

The first step when cleaning your wheels is selecting the right product. There are many wheel cleaning solutions on the market in a wide range of formulas, acidities and prices.

The advantage of AutoMate Acid Free Wheel Cleaner is in the name – it’s acid free! Acidic wheel cleaners may be effective at cutting through the baked on dirt and brake dust, but they can also cut through the surface of your alloys! And if your alloys have ever been refurbished or repaired, an acidic wheel cleaner will strip that right off, leaving them looking worse than when they were dirty. If you happen to spill some acid wheel cleaner on your skin, you’ll feel the pain your alloys feel when you spray it on them!

AutoMate Acid Free Wheel Cleaner not only cuts through brake dust, grease, tar, general dirt and grime, it also uses a “corrosion inhibitor system” to protect your alloys and laquer coating.

Once you have your AutoMate Acid Free Wheel Cleaner, the first step to get your rims sparking is to give it a good pre-rinse. Use a pressure washer if you have one, or alternatively just set your hosepipe to its most powerful setting and give them a thorough spraying from all angles to loosen up the dirt and brake dust. Your wheels should be cool before using any product on them, but giving them an extended rinse with a cold hosepipe will help to lower the temperature. Using a mild detergent (such as car shampoo) can also help dislodge some surface grime.

Once your alloys are rinsed and cool enough, remove any excess water with an AutoMate Microfibre Cloth or a sponge, and give them a good spraying with your AutoMate Acid Free Wheel Cleaner, starting from the bottom and working your way up. Make sure you thoroughly coat the face of the wheel, the sides of the spokes, the lug nuts and the wheel lip.

Although AutoMate Acid Free Wheel Cleaner works pretty much immediately, so as soon as your wheels are thoroughly coated, you can proceed to the next step – brushing.

To brush the dirt from your wheels, you can let your creativity roam free when it comes to choosing your brushes; toothbrushes, pipe cleaners, toilet cleaners, shaving brushes – so long as it’s not something that’s going to scratch the surface, use your imagination! You will want to use a few different brushes for different parts of the wheels, allowing you to get inside every nook and cranny to scrub out the dirt and grime.

Once you have scrubbed your wheels thoroughly from all angles, give them a good rinse with a hosepipe, being careful not to splash any wheel cleaner onto your bodywork (especially if you just washed it!).

Following the rinse, inspect your alloy wheels carefully to ensure that no areas have been missed. You may even want to roll your car forward a little so you can rotate the wheel to check the underside. If any parts have been missed, you know what to do! Get the AutoMate Acid Free Wheel Cleaner out again and re-wash the parts you missed.

Once your rims have been cleaned to perfection, dry them with an AutoMate Microfibre Cloth. To complete the look, you should also give your tire walls a good treatment using AutoMate Tyre Dressing and an AutoMate Tyre Dressing Applicator Sponge, using more product for a high shine and less product for a matt look.