How do you feel after you’ve just put on a clean, crisp dress shirt? Great, right? You feel like you’re put together and ready to take on all that life throws at you. When you have a clean car, you get a similar feeling. Washing your car on a regular basis can help give you a sense of pride and a feeling of accomplishment during your day. It’s like making your bed every morning. You’ve completed your first task of the day. You’ve been productive.

It's important to keep in mind, however, that not all car washes are created equal. In fact, some may actually do more harm to your vehicle than protect it.

Here are some helpful tips to know about car washes, so you can always protect your car.

Touchless car washes are better to maintain your car’s paint job.

It actually depends. A touchless car wash actually uses chemicals and high-pressure water to clean your car while an automatic car wash utilizes rotating brushes or soft cloths. You may want to reconsider where to take your car to get it washed, depending on how dirty it is. Touchless car washes may not have the power to get it as clean as you think it should be after a car wash. Keep in mind that a car wash that uses worn brushes or dirty cloths can cause damage to the exterior or your vehicle i.e. scratches in the paintjob.

If you typically use touchless car washes to get your car clean, you may want to consider rotating between a touchless car wash and a soft-cloth or hand wash in order to get your car as clean as you want it to be.

An undercarriage wash can prevent rust.

An undercarriage wash will get the underbody of your vehicle hosed down with high-pressure water. This method of cleaning will result in the successful removal or mud, salt, or sand that tends to get packed into hard-to-reach areas. Moisture and corrosive materials like road salt can result in your car rusting. If you consistently drive in cold weather climates with a lot of snow, it’s best to regularly get an undercarriage wash. Do this at least once a season to be safe.

Handwashing your car is better than automatic washes.

If you want your car to look like it belongs in a showroom, then handwashing your car is the way to go. Handwashing allows you to go over every inch of your vehicle. And remember, it sounds silly, but you have eyes, whereas a machine doesn’t. So, unlike a machine, you have the ability to pay extra special attention to every detail of your car. The only con when it comes to handwashing is the amount of time it takes to do it effectively.

You should always buy the most expensive wash.

There are different levels of cleanliness and care that are offered at various car washes. Sure, you could pay for the most expensive option, and your car may look like it’s in pristine shape when all is said and done. But, the truth is, just because you’ve forked up the most amount of money doesn’t necessarily mean that your car has added protection from dust or debris.

Dish Soap is safe to use for washing your car.

This is a common misconception. The truth is that dish soap is best left in the kitchen. It oftentimes contains harsh chemicals that have the ability to strip the protective coating that your paint has in it. Car wash soaps are specially formulated to combat dirt and grime without removing the protective coating from your car’s body.

You should only dry your car with a clean microfiber cloth.

This is true. Your safest way to dry your car without damaging the paint is by using a clean microfiber cloth. Anything else, like a beach or bath towel, can lead to scratches and scrapes. You may think air-drying is fine, and while it won’t lead to any damage to your car, you not be aesthetically pleased by the time your car is dry. Air-drying can leave water spots on the body of your car.

You only need to wax your car once a year.

Truthfully, there is no real answer to when it comes to how many times a year you should wax your car. If you store your car in a garage where it is safe from the elements of nature, you may not need to wax your car at all. Of course, you are still at risk of dust build-up, but that can be taken care of by a simple rinsing. To be safe, consider waxing your car once a season. If your car’s surface doesn’t feel smooth, it may be time for a waxing.

Waxing and polishing are the same thing.

Waxing and polishing are not the same thing. Although these terms are oftentimes used interchangeably, they serve two entirely different purposes. Waxing is meant to enhance and protect your paint surface. Polishing serves to remove minor surface imperfections from your paint. During the process of polishing, a detailer will use an abrasive compound in order to remove scratches, swirl marks and oxidation.

Paste Wax is better than liquid wax.

Traditional paste wax offers a thick, protective coating on top of your car’s paintjob. This type of waxing is usually a longer process because it requires the wax to be buffed in using an applicator pad. Liquid waxes are simply sprayed on your vehicle and wiped off.