How To Wash a Wrapped Car Properly in 9 Steps


Few things make a car look as good as Vinyl Car Wraps. Whether it’s a matte black wrap or a carbon fiber wrap, it simply looks amazing. But how do you keep it looking good? You have to wash it properly!

Many people think that washing a wrapped car is the same as washing a regular car, but there are actually some important differences. If you don’t wash your wrapped car properly, you could damage the wrap or even ruin it completely.

So how do you wash a wrapped car properly? Here are nine easy steps to follow:

Step 1. Get the right tools.

If you’re gonna be doing any car washing, you must have the right tools. For a wrapped car, you’ll need:

  • A bucket
  • A hose
  • A pressure washer (optional)
  • A soft sponge or wash mitt
  • A microfiber towel
  • Soap designed for car washing

Before you even start washing, make sure you have all of these things. If you don’t have a pressure washer, that’s fine – you can still wash your car without one. But it will make the job a lot easier.

Gather all of your supplies and bring them out to the car. You don’t want to be running back and forth to the garage every few minutes! Know more about car wraps with What is a car wrap? The definitive guide

Step 2. Do the washing in the shade.

Location is important for two reasons. First, washing in direct sunlight can cause soap streaks. Second, it’s just too hot to be standing in the sun scrubbing your car!

Find a spot in the shade to do the wash.

If you don’t have a driveway or garage, you can park under a tree. Just make sure that there aren’t any sap or leaves falling from the tree – that stuff will ruin your car wrap!

Choose a spot that’s out of the way of any foot traffic, too. You don’t want anyone accidentally kicking up dirt onto your wet car. 

Step 3. Rinse off the car.

Before you start washing, you need to rinse off the car. This will remove any dirt or debris that could scratch the car during washing.

Attach your hose to the spigot and turn on the water. Hold the hose about a foot away from the car and move it back and forth, rinsing off the entire car.

Wrapped cars are especially susceptible to scratches, so be sure to rinse off any areas that look particularly dirty.

If you’re using a pressure washer, you can hold it further away from the car. Just be careful not to use too much pressure – you don’t want to damage the wrap! Check out Everything to Know About Caring for a Vinyl-Wrapped Car to learn more. 

Step 4. Fill your bucket with soapy water.

Now it’s time to get the car soap and water ready. Add the car soap to your bucket of water and mix it around until it’s nice and sudsy.

You don’t need to use a lot of soap – just enough to create some suds. If you use too much, it will be hard to rinse off the car, and you’ll be left with soap streaks. Avoid that by being conservative with the soap.

A rule of thumb is to add about 1/2 cup of soap for every 5 gallons of water. This is just a general guideline, though – feel free to adjust as needed. Wrapped cars are more likely to show soap streaks, so err on the side of using less soap.

Step 5. Wash the car one section at a time.

Be mindful of the wrap as you wash the car. You don’t want to scrub too hard or use too much pressure, as this could damage the wrap.

Wash the car one section at a time, using your sponge or wash mitt. Use circular motions as you wash to loosen any dirt or grime.

Pay special attention to areas that tend to get dirty, such as the wheels and tires. These areas can be cleaned with a brush designed for car washing.

Wash the car from the top down.

While it’s important to always start at the top of the car and work your way down, this is especially true when washing a wrapped car.

If you start at the bottom, any dirt or debris that falls off will just end up getting caught under the wrap. This could cause scratches or even tears in the wrap.

So, start at the top and work your way down. This way, any dirt that falls off will be caught by the sponge or wash mitt before it has a chance to get under the wrap.

Step 6. Rinse off the car.

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After you’ve washed the entire car, it’s time to rinse it off. This will remove all of the soap and dirt from the car.

Attach your hose to the spigot and turn on the water. Hold the hose about a foot away from the car and move it back and forth, rinsing off the entire car.

Remember to go over the car a few times to make sure you’ve rinsed it completely. Like with the soap, you don’t want any streaks left behind!

Step 7. Dry the car.

Once the car is rinsed off, it’s time to dry it. Because wrapped cars are more susceptible to scratches, you’ll want to take extra care when drying.

The best way to dry a car is with a microfiber towel. Microfiber towels are soft and gentle, so they won’t scratch the car.

If you don’t have a microfiber towel, you can use a regular towel. Just be sure to be gentle – you don’t want to scratch the car!

Begin by blotting the car with the towel. Once you’ve removed most of the water, you can start wiping the car in a back-and-forth motion.

Be sure to dry off any areas that tend to hold water, such as the wheels and tires. These areas can be dried with a separate towel to avoid scratching the car.

If you’re in a hurry, you can also use a leaf blower to dry the car. As long as the leaf blower is set to the lowest setting, it shouldn’t damage the car.

Step 8. Inspect the car for any missed spots.

Once you’ve dried off the car, take a step back and have a look. Are there any areas that you missed? Any water streaks or soap streaks?

Look closely at the car to make sure you didn’t miss any spots. If you did, simply go back and wash or rinse those areas. It’s better to take the time to do it right than to have a spotty car!

Step 9. Apply a sealant or wax (optional).

You already have a wrapped car, so you might be thinking, “Do I really need to wax or seal it?”

The answer is that it depends. If you want your car to have extra protection against the elements, then applying a sealant or wax is a good idea. Sealants and waxes create a barrier between the car and the outside world, which can help to extend the life of your car wrap.

But if you don’t want to apply a sealant or wax, that’s perfectly fine. Your car will still be protected by the wrap.

Sealants and waxes can be applied by hand or with a machine. If you’re going to apply it by hand, be sure to use a microfiber towel or applicator.


Wrapped cars are a great way to protect your car’s paint job. But because they’re more susceptible to scratches, you need to take extra care when washing them.

By following these simple steps, you can wash your wrapped car without damaging it. Just take your time and be gentle, and you’ll have a clean car in no time!

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