If you want to keep your car in top shape, there are a few things you should know about maintenance. Here we’ll talk about the importance of washing your car regularly, about which products you should never use on your car, and about which products produce the best results.

Regular Car Washes Are Important

Car washes are incredibly important to keeping all of the dirt and grime off of your car. Without regular washes, you’re exposing your vehicle to wear and tear that can eventually require expensive repairs.

If you drive your car, it’s going to get dirty—there’s no way around it. A lot of people wait for the rain to wash it clean, or just use their wiper fluid so they can at least see out of the windshield. Here’s the problem: dirt takes off paint, which can weaken the car’s body. A dirt build-up can act like sandpaper and wear down paint. When dirt mixes with rain, snow, and other elements, that can etch the paint right off. When paint cracks, etches, or chips, it exposes the vehicle’s body to moisture. When moisture attacks the inner workings of a car, rust appears. When rust is left untreated, it weakens the car’s body, creates holes, and exposes vital parts. All in all, dirt hurts.

What Should You Do?

It’s simple: keep it clean. If you notice that your car is getting dirtier, you should take steps to clean it up the right way. There are quite a few misconceptions out there about what to clean with, so we’ve detailed the products you should never use on your car below.

Items You Should Never Use On Your Car

  1. Steel Wool & Brillo Pads

Even if there’s some grime that’s tough to get off, it doesn’t mean you should use abrasive products. When you use steel wool or Brillo pads to scrub at your vehicle, you’re scratching the surface. Even though it’s important to get those salt deposits and caked-on road grime off of your car, you’re just hurting it more when you scratch it.

What to Use Instead: Automobile-Specific Brushes

  1. Dish Soap

When you’re washing your car at home, you may be tempted to use dish soap. However, this is actually completely detrimental to your car. The detergents and degreasers in the common bottle of dish soap will gnaw into your car’s clear coat. This will cause premature fading and corrosion on the body of your vehicle. Next time you clean your car, make sure you use soap made specifically for cleaning cars.

What to Use Instead: Car Soap

  1. Pressure Washer

Do not use a pressure washer on your car. It may be the dirtiest thing out there, you may have just gone off-roading for miles, your engine may be coated in old grease and carbon buildup—but none of that justifies using a pressure washer. Modern engines are full of sensors and electronics that will be damaged quickly if you decide to clean that way. All it takes is a few seconds too long and too close and you’ll have exposed metal staring back at you.

What to Use Instead: Engine Degreaser

  1. One Bucket

Don’t stop and have the cheerleaders wash your car in a parking lot. Chances are that they’re only using one bucket for washing, dunking, and soaping, which means all that grit and grime they think they’re cleaning off is going back onto your car. No matter who’s washing your car, there should never be just one bucket present—instead, there should be a trio.

Your first bucket should be your filthiest container and should have nothing more than rinse water in it. Your second should be for rinsing off pesky particles that could do harm to your vehicle if not taken care of. Finally, your third bucket is your cleanest bucket. This container should be filled with fresh car soap and water. Make sure to dump and refill as much as necessary to ensure cleanliness.

What to Use Instead: Three Buckets

  1. Glass Cleaner

Lots of people will tell you to just use your household glass cleaner to wipe down and bring a shine to your windshield. Don’t listen to them. What they don’t know is that the ammonia in cleaning products can harm the tint of your windshield and windows. These cleaners can leave different stains and discolorations across your windows. Many different window tint films are prone to peeling, bubbling, and fading if you use the wrong sort of cleaner.

What to Use Instead:  Automotive Glass Cleaner

  1. Old Towels & Chamois Cloths

Now that you’ve washed your car, you need to dry it. Don’t let it air dry, don’t use old towels, and don’t use chamois cloths. All of those are hacks that will harm. Old towels allow deeply ingrained grit to scratch at your surface, or they end up leaving fibers on the recently cleaned car.

Chamois cloths, meanwhile, trap impurities on the surface of your car. Not only that, but they’ll also smear these impurities along the body of your car. Microfiber towels will wipe up that leftover grime, leaving a freshly cleaned and wiped-down vehicle.

What to Use Instead: Microfiber Towels

  1. Automatic Car Washes

Take a moment and think about just how filthy drive-thru car washes are. Think about how many nasty cars have passed through before yours. Spending a few minutes sitting in your car as machines wash it sounds preferable to putting in the work of a manual wash, but it’s not worth it. Those bristles and strips of cloth are breeding spots for grime.

What to Use Instead: At-Home Car Wash

ScratchWizard: The One-Stop Shop

Instead of heading out to a gas station’s drive-thru car wash, take the time to care for your vehicle at home. Of course, care goes beyond just washing—which is why ScratchWizard offers professional car detailing products, car touch-up paint kits, and much more. When you need to keep your vehicle pristine, ScratchWizard is the place to go.