How to Keep Your Car Clean Between Washes

How to Keep Your Car Clean Between Washes

Summer is pretty much In full swing at this point, the sun is out and the air is warm outside and everyone is happy! Summer is probably my favourite time of year overall.

I know in my case when I see the sun shining, it goes hand in hand with me wanting to clean my car. Although I am a bit of a freak comes to cleaning my car throughout the year, I turn into a super freak during the summer months, as I can’t help but want my car to look its best on these hot summer days. ( Especially in Ireland where I live, we don’t often get sunshine! )

One thing that really annoys me Is when I have recently cleaned my car and I come back a day later and there’s a layer of dust all over it. This pisses me off as it can really take away from the shine of the car’s paintwork especially when you have put so much effort into washing and cleaning it in the first place, only for it to be so dusty again so soon after.  – This Can REALLY be a problem for people with a black car, and I have seen the heartache it has caused some of my friends my hand.

Keep Car Clean Between washes

It’s not feasible or practical to wash your car every single day, at least not for normal people who lead busy lives. This is what got me thinking about the topic for today’s post,  which is how to keep your car clean between washes – So let’s take a look below at the options and let’s talk about some tips for preventing the build-up of dirt in the first place.

NoteIf your car is legitimately very dirty, I don’t recommend any of the below methods, and you should carry out a full safe wash on the car to avoid causing any paint damage.

Understanding the Factors That Contribute to a Dirty Car Exterior

Keeping your car clean is more than just about the look; it’s also about understanding the elements and circumstances that conspire to steal away that fresh-washed gleam. Here’s a detailed look at what you’re up against:

Environmental Factors

  1. Dust and Pollen: No matter where you park your car, dust and pollen are unavoidable nuisances. Carried by the wind, these particles settle on your car, dulling its shine and potentially causing minor scratches if not promptly addressed.
  2. Bird Droppings: A bane for car owners, bird droppings are not just unsightly; their acidity can damage your car’s paintwork if left unchecked. This is especially common if you park under trees or in areas with high bird activity.
  3. Tree Sap: If you’ve ever parked under a tree for shade, you may have found a sticky residue on your car. That’s tree sap, which can harden and stick to your car’s surface, causing damage to the paint if not removed promptly.
  4. Insects: Insects are a common problem, especially during warmer months. Dead bugs can stick to your car and their acidic bodies can harm your vehicle’s paint job.
  5. Rainwater: Rain might seem like a natural car wash, but it can leave water spots on your car. Furthermore, if the rain is acidic or picks up pollutants as it falls, it can negatively affect your car’s exterior.

keep car clean between washes

Human-related Factors

  1. Fingerprints and Smudges: Every touch, every lean on your car can potentially leave behind fingerprints or smudges, which can affect the overall cleanliness of your car’s exterior.

How to Keep Your Car Clean Between Washes

There are several ways to keep your car clean between washes and this includes some preventative measures you can take which we will discuss later, but for now, it is looking at the options you have to remove light dust and dirt from your car’s paint before you wash it again.

Use Quick Detailer On Your Cars Exterior

Quick detailers, which are often called a “mist and wipe,” or QD for short, are commonly used by detailers and car enthusiasts alike. Quick Detailer products quickly and easily remove water spots, dust and other light contamination from the surface of your car. Every major detailing brand has Quick Detailer product in their line-up. For most car detailers, mist and wipe products are more than just a convenience, they are a necessity.

quick detailer to keep car clean between washes

If you have read any of my other blog posts you know that I am very reluctant to come in direct contact with the car’s paint without proper lubricant as this can cause swirl marks or scratches in your paint. The Beauty of Quick Detailers is that they provide the lubrication necessary to remove dirt and dust safely. ( I do not recommend using quick detailer on anything but the very lightest of dust or light contamination from the paintwork )

My quick detailer of choice at the moment is CarPro Elixir.

How to Use Quick Detailer

To get started with Quick Detailing you will need two things

  1. A Quality Microfiber Towel
  2. A Good Quick Detailing Spray 
  • Always use a high-quality microfiber buffing towel and fold your towel into quarters.
  • Start at the top and work your way down to the lower surfaces of your car. Holding the Quick Detail Spray 12″ to 15″ away, lightly mist about a 2′ by 2′ area on the surface of your car with the Quick Detail Spray
  • Gently wipe in a straight line back and forth ( not in circles ), then flip the microfiber buffing towel and buff dry.
  • As the surface of the microfiber buffing towel gets dirty, flip it to a clean side.
  • If needed, when all sides of the towel start to look a little dirty, switch to a fresh microfiber buffing towel

carpro elixir review

Pros and Con’s Of Quick Detailer

+Lots of Quick Detailer Products to Choose from

+Can also be used to top up any current layer of protection you have on the car

+Relatively Quick and Painless solution for Keeping Your Car Clean between washes

Con’s Of Quick Detailer

-Can only be used on light dust/contamination

-Can leave streaks on your paint if not applied/removed correctly

A quick detailer is a great tool and one I always have in my detailing bag, but as I have mentioned above it only works and the lightest of contamination. If your car is slightly more soiled I would suggest using something like a waterless wash.

Use A “Waterless Wash” On Your Cars Exterior

A waterless car wash is a high lubricity pre-mixed spray that is used to heavily saturate a panel and then you carefully wipes any dirt or road grime off to a dry shine. What is the difference between a Quick Detailer and a Waterless wash you may ask? Both products clean through a spray-on, wipe off a system so what makes them different?

A good waterless car wash will have higher lubricity, more emulsifiers (cleaning agents) and often synthetic wax protection. These characteristics mean waterless wash products can deal with much dirtier cars than quick detailers (Although if your car is dirty enough, it deserves a proper wash! )

A waterless car wash can also be considered more eco-friendly because no suds are going down the drain and into the sewer. Some countries have a limit on the water that allowed to be used by a household/business, meaning you might not have enough water to wash the car – this is where waterless car washing makes sense.

waterless wash

How to Use a Waterless Car Wash

To get started with Waterless car washing you will need two things, Similar to Using Quick Detailer

  1. A Quality Microfiber Towel
  2. A waterless Car wash 
  • Fold your microfiber towel or cloth so there are 8 usable sides.
  • Starting at the top of the vehicle, spray a panel generously with your waterless wash. The size of the panel depends on how large an area you can spray and wipe dry before it dries on its own. Generally speaking, half the roof or half the hood is a good size section.
  • Wipe lightly in one direction. There’s no need to apply significant pressure and doing so can result in micro scratchesNote: If you wipe in a circular motion, you’re wiping the dirt you’ve just removed back over the section you’ve just cleaned. ( Don’t do that! )
  • As you’re wiping, pay attention to the cleanliness of the towel. When one side becomes soiled, switch to a new side of the towel.
  • Wipe the section completely dry and move on to the next section.

If you have done the above steps correctly you should end up with a car that is looking pretty clean considering you have not done a complete wash with water! This should tide you over until your next full car wash and keep you satisfied in the meantime. 

I have only use the waterless car wash a couple of times, as I am always wary of harming the paint but if you are stuck then I would recommend it.

Use A “Car Duster” On Your Cars Exterior

Another option would be to use a car duster. ( Yes you read that correctly ) I have only heard about these inventions myself this past year and I almost couldn’t believe it when someone told me about them, but yes they are a thing! But that the hell is it?

A car duster is a tool that allows you to clean light dust from the exterior of your car without using water and soap. It looks like a mix between the brush from a brush and dustpan and a mop, with thick fibres hanging where the bristles would be on the brush. – pretty crazy eh? I have never used a car duster, so I cannot comment on their effectiveness. I think I will buy one soon to test it out and I will be sure to leave a review on the site for you to check out. I know of a product called the California Car Duster. I think this is the one I will go for


Car Duster

Hopefully, the tips I have given you above will help you remove dust and keep your car clean between washes. Now let’s have a look below at the methods you can use to prevent dust from building up on your car in the first place so that you have to do less maintenance in between your regular washers. Let’s take a look.

Tips For Keeping Your Car Clean For As Long As Possible

Now lets look at some ways you can keep your car looking cleaner for longer :

Keep Your Cars Paintwork Protected

The most effective way to keep your car clean between your maintenance washes is to have a good layer of protection on the paintwork in the first place. By protection, I mean the use of a good wax or sealant. Not only does a good wax or sealant help repel the dirt away from sticking onto your cars paintwork, but It will also make the dust a lot easier to remove when it does build-up. I find that I can just give the car a quick hose down with some water and a dry off with a microfiber towel and it’s looking good as new again without the need for any quick detailer or waterless wash methods that I have outlined above.

If you want to go all out with the paint protection you can look at the option of having a ceramic coating applied to your car’s paint. If you don’t already know the benefits of ceramic coating, you can check out my blog post on the topic here.

Park Your Car Under Cover

Parking your car in a garage or undercover will reduce the amount of dust that accumulates on it. Also, try to park preferably in the shade. I know not everyone has access to a car garage ( I don’t ), so you can always go to the extreme of getting a dedicated cover for your car if you want to go that far.
keep car clean between washes

Additional Tips and Tricks

Keeping your car clean between washes involves more than just dusting and waxing; it also involves thoughtful parking and regular checks. By avoiding parking under trees or near construction sites, you minimize the risk of bird droppings, sap, and dust accumulation. Regularly checking your car and having a microfiber cloth and quick detailer handy will let you address dirt or stains immediately, particularly crucial after long drives or in harsh weather.

Additionally, stubborn issues like bug splats and tar can be efficiently handled with specialized products. This combination of careful practices and proactive spot cleaning can keep your car looking its best between thorough washes.

Hopefully, the methods that I have outlined above will help keep your car clean, shiny and dust-free in between washes. At the end of the day, we are all fighting a losing battle while trying to keep our car clean all the time,  but the best we can do is try. I’m lucky that I enjoy cleaning my car often, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

I would love to hear if you have your methods for keeping your car clean between washes so please leave a comment in the comment section below, or feel free to share any tips you might have,  I would like to try them out.

About the Author – Darren O Hara

Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is a keen detailing enthusiast living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he is not cleaning his car he is always researching ways he can improve his techniques and enjoys testing out out new products.

Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.

You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork

36 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Car Clean Between Washes

  1. I did not know that regularly applying a quick detailer on a car can help top up any layer of protection on it. Aside from these tips, my suggestion for drivers is to check their cars in for an auto detailing treatment. This will help get rid of dirt from every corner of the car inside and out.

  2. I want to make sure that I take good care of my car. It makes sense that I would want to have it detailed! I’ll make sure that I keep it taken care of between detailings.

  3. That’s a good idea to get a cover for your car to help it look nice. I would think that would help to keep off a lot of the dust that comes from [parking it outside. I’ll have to consider getting a bunch of those after I was the cars if I decide to start a delivery business.

  4. Thanks for the tip to park our car undercover to keep it clean. I want to get a new car soon. Your tips should help me keep it looking good between car washes.

  5. I like your tip about drying off the car with a microfiber towel. That makes sense considering it won’t leave streaks. My car has dirt stains all over considering I was driving in the woods last week. I’ll have to consider taking it into a car wash to get it all off.

  6. Its good to know that a car duster can clean dust and dirt on your car without using water and soap. My wife and I bought a new car recently and we wanted to know of efficient ways of cleaning our car regularly. I’ll be sure to look more into a car duster to clean our car without water and soap.

  7. I liked that you said that one thing to consider when you own a car is to have routine detailing sone on it. I would imagine that this would help your car to remain in good condition. I would be sure to have frequent detailing done on my car in order to avoid major body repairs.

  8. I had no idea that car dusters existed until I read it on this blog. I am looking to keep my car clean all the time to keep it in prime condition for car shows. I will make sure to keep this tip in mind as well as to visit car washers frequently.

  9. I wanted to thank you for the advice for keeping a car clean. It’s nice to know that simply by keeping the paint protected by using a good wax or sealant. I’m interested to learn how often you may need to wax your car to be able to keep it in good condition.

  10. I want to make sure that I keep my car clean. It makes sense that detailing would be a good way to go about that! Maybe I should find a professional to do that for me, since I tend to be busy.

  11. My brother just purchased a pretty nice car but he doesn’t really have a nice covered area to park it. I think it’s a really smart idea to use a car cover when he has to park it somewhere open to the elements. That way he can take care of the pain and have it last a really long time.

  12. Hi Darren, Thank you for these tips of keeping the car clean between the washes. I agree that it annoys to see your car covered with dust just after a car wash! Regarding the use of Quick detailers, how often do you recommend using it? Thank you!

  13. I love how you mentioned the pros and cons of the quick detailer and how it can be used to top up any current layer of protection. My husband loves his 2003 BMW i3 and takes care of it often, but wants to get it detailed professionally. I will pass these tips onto him in addition to finding a professional who can do that for him.

  14. Unfortunately, many operatives don’t know how to keep their vehicle looking fresh and presentable inbetween the trips to the car wash. It is not that herculean job like car detailing. Investing a little time and money can save big bucks down the road. In my opinion, you should park your vehicle insides. This will shield your vehicle from the rust. Do investment in a quality car wash. It is good to have the convertible cleaned and dressed. Include cleaning the vents in the detailing process – it will lessen your job in the time to come.

  15. I liked what you said about how shade can help protect the car and parking in the garage will be able to prevent any dust. My cousin wants to make sure that he takes the best care of his Pontiac possible. He is thinking about getting some extra cleaner that he can spray on it to keep it clean.

  16. Thank you for telling me that I should only apply light pressure using a microfiber towel whenever I’m cleaning my car’s exterior to avoid small scratches. Sometimes I tend to forget that my car needs mild cleaning after a long drive and I leave it with water stains inside the garage. It might also be a good idea to look for nearby shops that offer auto paint repair services just in case an accident happens.

  17. I’m planning on taking my car to a car wash, because it got pretty dirty. It makes sense that I would want to take care of it afterward! I’ll be sure to perform some maintenance on it every once in a while.

  18. Thanks for explaining that keeping our car detailed is a good way to protect its exterior paint. My brother mentioned he wants to use part of his tax return to make a downpayment on a new sports car. I’ll have to show him this info to make sure he uses a local auto detailing service regularly to protect his investment!

  19. I have just found out your great content, so thank you very much for the precious info.

    One thing I have recently tried that works like a charm for removing the fine dust of the paintwork (my car is black, so it’s a constant fight) is to use a car duster, but not like the one you showed. What I tried and strong recommend is using a microfiber dusting pad (like the ones you’d use on a mop for hard floors). The one I’m using is by far the softest microfiber I’ve ever come across and attracts dust like a magnet. I can clean the entire cars in under 5 minutes and I’m not scared of damaging the paint at all, as it is so soft.

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