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How To Properly Wash Your Car

Hello everyone, Im going to start posting up How-To's on proper car care. Mostly the detailing aspect of care. This first segment is on how to properly wash your car. Washing the car may seem to be the easiest thing to do, but if done wrong, you can swirl and scratch your cars paint to hell and back. Im here to to show you guys how to minimize and prevent swirls and scratches from being inflicted on your cars finish.

Here is what you will need.

2 Buckets
1 Grit guard, (2 if you want)
1 Plush wash mit (NOT A SPONGE)
1 Waffle Weave towel (Not a regular towel)
A good hose attachment,
and finally a good car wash soap,
There are many out there, I prefer to use Meguiars NXT Wash

Now let me explain this technique. There are two buckets, one filled with water and the other one with the Suds. The bucket filled with water is your first stop when washing your mit during the wash because this removes the heavy grit from the mit. The second bucket is your suds bucket. You want to have a ample amount of suds because the suds act as a lubricant which helps transfer the dirt from the car to the mit without scratching the paint.

Having a Grit Guard is important because this is a barrier that prevents your mit being intagneld with the light debry and dirt.

Place the Grit Guard in the bucket with the suds because right after being rinsed, this is the last stop for the mit before it goes onto the paint.

Go ahead and add the soap into the suds bucket and fill it up.

Before washing the car, you want to be parked in a shaded area and to allow the paint to cool down to prevent water spots from form, especially on black cars.

First rinse off the car top to down, you can use a Foam gun or a pressure washer with a wide nozzle. Do not make it a constant stream because it can remove paint. This removes the heavy derby from the car which prevents the mit being containmented with heavy items such as rocks and other hazardous particles.

After that is completed go ahead and get your mit from the suds bucket and start the wash process. Start from the roof and work your way down, panel to panel, rinsing off the soap after each completed panel.

I personally break down each panel into fourths, after each quarter is done, the mit goes into the rinse bucket to remove heavy debry and then to the suds bucket with the grit guard to shake off any lighter particles and to also get more suds. And then rinsing off the panel with water.

Just for fun, I will show you what the mit will pick up just from one panel.

All those black specks are small rock particles, all of them are responsible for swirling up paint

I proceeded to do the a small part of my trunk with the contaminated mit to show you what happens. While the swirls are light, a constant wash like this will cause the car to begin to look like crap, filled with scratches and swirls

After washing the entire car, the next step is drying. Drying can the the easiest while being the hardest at the same time. Do NOT use a regular towel like this.

The fibers of the towel are way to stiff which can just scratch the paints surface horrible. I did not do a experiment on the car because sometimes the scratches can be so severe, a heavy polish will have trouble removing them.

I opted for a waffle weave towel because these towels soak up the water better and do not have the sharp fibers like regulars towels do. Instead of wiping the towel across the paint, blot it. This soaks up the water and prevents any kind of particles on the towel to scratch the paint.

There are other ways of drying your car like flooding each panel with water. This works but only if the car has been waxed in the previous week.

A video of this process.

After the car is done drying, grab a good detail spray and go over each panel just to make sure you didnt miss any dirt, water blobs or water spots.

I used M135 Detail Spray with a Ultimate Touch Microfiber Towel.

470 Posts
Nice how to! One thing that I like about my car port is that I can wash even when the weather's nasty, or the sun is beating down!

Love my commute!
144 Posts
Just a few things to add...

1: There's no need for suds. Fill your buckets with water first, then add THE RECOMMENDED amount of your chosen car wash solution. By using the recommended amount you can wash as a maintenance-detail solution and will be much more gentle on the last-step-product that you used in your last detail. The bubbles do nothing...it's the actual lubricity or slickness of the car wash solution combined with water that picks up dirt and grit and allows it to slide away from your finish instead of rubbing against it.

2: The safest solution to handling your wash mitt is to make one swipe, flip it, swipe again, then rinse. No scrubbing or rubbing. It doesn't take much to get off what you're trying to get off from a wash. Anything else is going to need a claybar or bug/tar remover.

3: Microfiber. Doesn't matter what weave it is, use a microfiber. These towels are the epitome of proper car care. I don't care if you have a thousand small ones or one the size of a bedsheet. Lay it on the wet part and drag it across like you're revealing something from a magic trick. Use two (since you should have time before it evaporates because you should never detail in extreme heat or direct sunlight) and go over the car twice.

4: Taking the spray nozzle off the hose and running an open stream of water works on any surface and leaves the least amount of water behind. If you have the time this should be the final way you rinse off any vehicle you're washing.

Microfibers used to be a rare commodity. However, I've been detailing for two-thirds of my life (started before I could even drive) and have used just about any and everything there is. Any normal person can now find quality microfibers at affordable prices. Believe it or not, the Vroom! brand from Target is just as good as any of my Cobra brand microfibers.

I personally use Meguiar's Gold Class car wash...I've yet to find anything slimier. It's like snot...gotta love it.

Also, to anyone looking to study proper car care and detailing, be certain to visit specific detailing sites like autopia, adam's, griot's, etc. You'll find pros there who have seen and done it all and look forward to sharing with you. Don't just take one person's advice on it.

Remember also that different areas will require different car care tips. You will have to get a "feel" for the water in your area, understand your paint and how it differs from other vehicles (especially if you've had any bodywork done!), and the different problems each area has.

Pollen in the mid-west, love bugs in the Florida area, tree sap and bugs during spring/summer season, extra dirt and dust from harvesting of crops in farm areas, etc. Learn your area's dos and don'ts for detailing and any possible extra steps that will be needed.
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