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Cost-of-living crisis pushes drivers to clean their own vehicles

Cost-of-living crisis pushes drivers to clean their own vehicles

"Drivers are ditching car washes as the cost-of-living crisis bites" writes the Independent.

A recently commissioned study by online auction site eBay has highlighted that car owners in the UK are washing their own cars due to the current cost of living crisis.

Whilst 14% of those surveyed said they never wash their car, that does leave a sizeable chunk of the nation getting out their DIY wash kits and washing their car at home which we are pleased to hear. Your car is most likely the second most expensive item you purchase after your house, or the most expensive item you own if you live at home, so why wouldn’t you want to look after this sizeable investment to retain the value at the highest amount possible?

Taking the time and care to wash your own car, as opposed to paying a roadside car wash operation to look after it, will not only save you money, but in the long run will also help to maintain the value of your car. We have all seen cars with heavily corroded alloy wheels caused by nasty acidic wheel cleaners that are not only aggressive on dirt but will corrode the alloy and anything else that it gets on. A lot of these car wash locations use the most aggressive cleaning products possible, not only to speed up the cleaning process, but also because they are cheap.

Alloys are not the only parts of the car to suffer, the paintwork on a car that has been consistently put in a garage car wash and any hand car wash using buckets and sponges, will look dull and scratched. Dark colour cars suffer the most and fine scratches known as holograms can ruin the look of a car. It is not only the chemical but also the process that will affect the paintwork. Sponges and cheap cloths are scratchy enough to damage lacquer and paintwork, and shiny trims will be ruined. Who knows how many times these items get dropped on the floor, gathering dirt and stones, adding to the abrasive surface ‘washing’ your car or literally removing the paintwork!

The survey also mentions that many are turning to a squirt of fairy liquid in their bucket. A product that is aggressive enough to remove grease and cooked on dirt has no place in a wash bucket and will only help to ruin that paintwork quicker! Combine that with a scratchy sponge or cloth and you can say goodbye to your smooth, slick finish.

For those on a budget looking for a basic wash kit that will enhance their paint work, add shine, and preserve the value of your vehicle, then a small investment in a bucket with a grit guard will be a good start. A bucket allows you enough water on hand without constantly running a hose which will cost money in wasted water. A grit guard helps to keep dirt below the point where you dip your wash mitt, which is much friendlier for your paintwork than a sponge. Try and work in straight lines along the panel to avoid those horrible swirl marks that help to dull the shine. If you can stretch to two buckets, then one for the wash and one to rinse the wash mitt during the process will help to improve the quality of the clean. A further step would be three buckets - wash, rinse, and wheels!

Using a good car shampoo will not only clean the car but add a layer of protection where you will see water start to bead off your paintwork. Koch Chemie Nano Magic Shampoo is highly concentrated and only 3-5 capfuls in your bucket will offer a high level of cleaning and longer term protection to the surface. CARPRO Reset is available in a smaller 500ml bottle and will work in the same way offering protection and a long lasting shine.


Drying the car is essential to remove any drying watermark runs and limescale, ruining the shine. Avoid using a leather for the drying stage, again these are scratchy and potentially damaging compared to modern super soft microfibre drying towels. We have loads to choose from ranging from just over £4 up to £25 to suit all budgets.

If you can stretch to a polish coat after the wash, then your shine will be enhanced by using a quick detailer. Koch Chemie FSE is one of the most popular ones we sell and removes limescale marks from water runs leaving a high shine. You could try a small bottle of CARPRO Elixir to see just how effective this product is before you buy a larger bottle.

If you fancy having a go at waxing your vehicle then we have loads to choose from to add protection and shine from as little as £10. Paste waxes may be a little more time consuming but many find them therapeutic to work with. Using a soft foam applicator to apply and then buffing off with a soft microfibre cloth, you will see your car at its best and will benefit in the long run from the retained value. If you still want to wax your vehicle but are tighter for time, then a liquid wax or spray wax can help you acheive a protective layer in mere minutes.

Another process that very few roadside car washes will do much justice is glass cleaning. The cloth is absolutely key here, the Slim's Glass Cloth is only just over £3 and will help to achieve a streak free finish with the use of a specialised glass cleaner. Koch Chemie Speed Glass is one of our favourite products and a 750ml bottle will go a long way! CARPRO Clarify is also great value for a 500ml bottle. Always make sure you do the inside as well it will greatly improve your vision!

A small investment now in the right equipment and some cleaning products will pay themselves back in time retaining value in your car and adding pride to owning your vehicle. Depending on how detailed you go then it is only 30-60 minutes out of your day. You can, of course, take much longer and add more processes but the choice is yours completely.

The cost of product will be pennies per wash and will pay back on your investment in no time and you will feel much better and proud of your work driving a clean car!


Liked this blog? Take a look at some of our other cleaning blogs to enhance your detailing game!

Introduction to Detailing

Basic Wash Process Tips

Keeping It Wheel | Cleaning Your Wheels

Car Care for Matt Paints


You can also head to our YouTube page for some how-to videos on some of our top products.

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