Keeping a car clean between waxings is a battle I personally wage with Mother nature, birds, certain trees (they know who they are), acid rain, and the relentless sun that burns through the shrinking ozone layer.
Waxing your car keeps a protective coating on the surface that smooths it out and helps it repel all the nasty things (see my first paragraph) that can harm your paint. A second coat of wax, about 2 weeks to a month after your “base” coat, will give your car extra help in keeping clean and build up some extra protection. All decent auto supply shops (Pep Boys, Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts, Walmart, Sears, etc.) carry a good choice of waxes, and detailing products for your black or chrome trim, tires, and rims. They also have car wash products with wax in them, although they may not be a substitute for a good hand wax on your car. An orbital buffer makes quick work of rubbing the wax off of the hood, roof, and body panels, leaving a nice shine.
In between waxes, you really should keep the car clean. Use only car wash solution, in a bucket with water. I use a long handled dip brush (for my 14 year old minivan), and the action of the brush combined with the car wash loosen and lift dirt and grime off the finish. I sometimes go over the hard spots where bird droppings and tree sap have hardened on the surface – these chemically react with your paint if left on, so the extra work is worth while. This method is also FAST. you cover more ground with a soapy brush than with a rag or sponge. you also have a longer reach. Ask anyone that cleans their boat, it is quick. The mineral content in your water makes it spot, so be prepared to wipe it dry with a soft chamois or super-absorbent cloth. We can’t just drive fast as hell and let the water slide off the car, like in the old days. There is also no shame in going to a local car wash, especially if you have a discount coupon.
If you want extra protection, or put a nice show car shine on the car, there are products for this that are “spray and wipe”. They need a good wax base to work – they are not a substitute for waxing. My Cousin Steve, a “dyed in the wool car guy”, used lemon pledge on his Corvette(s). They always smelled great, and they shine was outstanding! Keep in mind that these show-car top coats do not last a long time, but the do look really good. In my opinion, waxing can be just as quick, and most times more wax does not hurt. Also consider that Pledge is an indoor polish (a form of light oil) that puts a lemon-fresh shine on almost anything. Your results may vary, especially if you don’t pledge your ride like my cousin.
If you can garage your car, the shine will last long because it is protected from the sun and rain. Car covers are useful – but they can become a chore, need to be folded up (not good if you are wearing a suit), and need to be stored (which takes up trunk space. Not to mention they rip and get dirty over time. They work well if you keep your car outside, and are worth the effort if it keeps your car protected.
To recap:Wash the car!
Pay attention to nasty bits from birds or treesWaxWax again in a few weeksUse showtime polish or Lemon PledgeCover, garage, or carport your car (if possible)
Shameless self promotion: I have a pinterest section on cars. Feel free to take a look if you like my point of view.