Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to wash and wax your vehicle. Use the wrong products and methods and your vehicle's finish could be damaged. Dish detergent and laundry soap, for example, can remove all the wax from the surface and dull the finish. Using hot water for washing or waxing your car in the sun will also have a detrimental effect.
To wash your vehicle correctly, park the car in a shady place, use plenty of clean, cool water and a car wash agent that is specifically designed to lift dirt off the surface without removing the wax or dulling the paint. Fill a bucket with water and a measured amount of the wash agent. Let it get sudsy. Then, wet the car thouroughly and start washing the vehicle from the top down with a wash mitt. Rinse the mitt in the suds frequently and rinse the car as you wash. When you are finished, use a chamois to dry the car.
For a quality, streak-free shine, you'll need a car wax formulated for the type of paint you have. Most newer vehicle have a clearcoat finish, so make sure the wax you choose is intended for use on clearcoat surfaces. You'll also need a soft applicator pad to apply the wax and a soft, lint free cotton cloth to rub out the wax to a perfect shine. Before you start, make sure the vehicle is clean, dry and parked in the shade. Then, working from the top down, start applying wax in a circular motion to a small area -- say, two feet square. Work the wax into the surface and rub it out before moving on to the next section.