If you prefer dirty cars and don’t want to spruce up your crust wagon, pay no mind to the following.

Otherwise, stick around. We’ve tapped into the collective brain trust at Mothers because their exceptional products are highly effective at beautifying cars and trucks.

Here are 19 Mothers-approved tips that, if followed, will keep your car or truck exuding maximum awesomeness:

If you’re not like most of us who use silly responsibilities like work and family obligations as excuses for not washing our vehicles weekly, congratulations. Because it’s important.

Hot, soapy water is better than nothing, but specialty car wash cleaners like Mothers California Gold Car Wash are the perfect tool for getting a thorough clean while protecting your vehicle’s wax. This Mothers cleaner is strong enough to remove dirt, bugs, bird droppings, and other gunk, without removing wax or dulling your paint.

Washing tips from Mothers:

  1. Try to avoid washing a vehicle in direct sunlight.
  2. Do not wash a vehicle with a hot surface. If washing in the sun is unavoidable, keep the vehicle cool with regular sprayings.
  3. Wash mitts are better than sponges. Keep wash mitts or sponges regularly soaked, and constantly rinse them out to avoid scrubbing debris from dirty parts of your vehicle into your paint.

According to Mothers, you should always start with the glass when towel drying because dry towels are most effective on windows. It’s important to dry the vehicle immediately after washing. Mothers recommends microfiber drying towels and using one in each hand.

Don’t just use old, beat-up towels to dry your car. Quality towels are important for optimum care. The thicker the towel’s nap, the better the towel is at cushioning dirt and debris. This helps avoid scratching your paint.

Drying tips from Mothers:

  1. Don’t use drying towels to remove dirt you missed during washing as it can scratch the paint.
  2. Don’t use natural or synthetic chamois for everyday drying. The material develops friction when pulled across the paint, and this dragging traction can distort or strip wax and paint.
  3. Avoid squeegees unless you’re dealing with glass. They pick up and drag dirt.
  4. Wash vehicle drying towels with hot water and rinse them with cold water. Afterward, do not use fabric softener to dry them. Fabric softener includes chemicals that can contaminate your vehicle wax.

At the risk of insulting your intelligence, this should be said: Don’t wax your car without thoroughly cleaning it first.

After your next wash, consider prepping your surface with a specialty cleaner like Mothers California Gold Pre-Wax Cleaner. The product is formulated to clear oxidation, remove dirt, salts, airborne pollutants, stains, and much more. This cleaner polishes out minor flaws and smoothes the paint surface for optimum waxing results.

Once you’re sure your vehicle’s paint coat is cleaned properly, waxing can commence. You’ll be happy you took the extra step. And so will your car.

Waxing tips from Mothers:

  1. When applying polishes, sealers, glazes, or waxes, use a clean applicator, which should be a microfiber cloth, 100-percent cotton towel, or foam wax pad.
  2. If you’re using liquid waxes and polishes, they should be poured onto the applicator rather than the vehicle surface. Exceptions to this rule include spray wax, which can be applied directly to the painted surface.
  3. Apply waxes and polishes to just one section of the vehicle at a time. Don’t try to do the entire vehicle at once. It is not important whether you use a straight or circular motion but it does matter how much pressure you apply. Use a soft hand, Mothers says, and let the applicator do the work. Always let the product dry to a haze before rubbing off.

Trim Care
Plastic, rubber, metal, or chrome, your vehicle’s trim should not be overlooked.

Mothers sells a rubber spray-on Protectant that with regular treatments will improve the longevity of your rubber trim, as well as a Plastic Polish that will revitalize oxidized and eroded polymer- and urethane-based trim.

For chrome and metal trims, Mothers Chrome Polish is popular for being both strong enough to clean and polish your chrome, yet gentle enough to not harm neighboring materials.

Trim Care tips from Mothers:

  1. Clean your trim weekly.
  2. Restore plastic trim that has faded to gray with Mothers Back-to-Black. Once plastic trim and moldings have deteriorated to a crispy, cracked, or faded gray, lighter chemicals like Mothers Protectant simply can’t save it.
  3. Keep transparent plastics like headlights and signal lenses looking tip-top with Mothers Plastic Polish.
  4. Don’t be afraid to use Mothers Wheel Mist cleaner on chrome pipes and bumpers. Just be careful not to expose the powerful cleaner to neighboring materials like plastics and paint.

Wheels and Tires
Caring for coated wheels is not all that different from cleaning your vehicle’s body paint. Painted, anodized, and clear-coated aluminum wheels all need to be washed off with soapy water. Mothers Aluminum Wheel Cleaner and FX Wheel Cleaner are both formulated for painted or coated wheels.

If you’re dealing with polished aluminum with no clear coat, or another open metal like magnesium, Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish is a popular choice that has stood the test of time. Mothers suggests not being in a hurry to remove the dark residue that builds up when applying it as it acts as a secondary polishing agent.

Mothers makes a Tire & Rubber Cleaner you can use to clean dirt and other road debris. For heavy debris removal, you should use a firm nylon or natural-bristle brush for thorough cleaning.

Perhaps the most-important thing you can do for your tires is provide routine maintenance for long-term care. Mothers gives you several choices, including Mothers Protectant, Mothers FX Engineered Tire Shine, and Mothers Reflections tire care protectant.

Wheel and Tire tips from Mothers:

  1. When applying wheel cleaners to sensitive coated wheels, keep a hose nearby so you can rinse off the cleaner within a couple of minutes.
  2. If you’re not sure whether your wheels are uncoated aluminum, do a spot test in a low-visibility area with Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish. If it doesn’t turn black, stop immediately because there’s a coating on the wheel and you’ll need to do a little homework and use a different product.
  3. When polishing uncoated wheels, avoid letting the polish dry on the wheel. Be sure to turn your drying towel frequently.
  4. Avoid solvent-based tire and rubber protectants. Mothers suggests checking the bottle for distilled petrochemicals, which can adversely affect your tire’s surface integrity.
  5. It’s typically better to clean your wheels and tires prior to washing your vehicle from the top down. By taking care of the dirtiest areas first, you will avoid splashing wheel well grime on an already-washed surface.

So there you have it—19 ways to keep you car looking nicer than virtually everyone else on the planet. Let them worry about pesky little inconveniences like full-time employment or raising children.

You, our clean car-driving friends, have your priorities in order. And for that, we envy you.

From behind the wheel of our dirty crust wagons.

Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.