View Full Version : How to....safely wash your car

02-04-2009, 09:37 PM
Recently a few customers have asked for tips on general maintenance of their cars after we have been and done our thing, so here goes....:grin:

Washing Technique

The most important thing to remember when washing your pride and joy is that you are working on dirty surfaces. Your choice of products and technique is therefore very important because you want to be able to gently remove dirt and grime without damaging/scratching the paint and without stripping away existing protection. For this reason, we recommend the use of a pressure washer, a lambswool wash mitt instead of a traditional sponge, and the use of a PH balanced shampoo in conjunction with the two bucket method.

Whats wrong with a sponge?
Imagine your cars paint work after you have done a few hundred miles in all weathers covered in dirt, grit and dead flies. Some of these dirt particles are sharp. If you place a sponge down on top of these particles they become trapped between the face of the sponge and the paint, they have no where to go owing to the flat face of the sponge. When you wipe the sponge across the paintwork you wipe the sharp particles across the paint. As they are dragged over the paint the dirt particles leave a thin hairline scratch or swirl marks. These scratches are highly visible in bright light and this is what gives you the dreaded swirl marks that rob your paint of gloss and colour and ruin the car's look.
Lambswool wash mitts have been developed to get around the problems of sponges trapping dirt and grit on the flat face. If you run your fingers through a lambswool mitt you will see that it is deep pile and not flat faced which allows the particles of dirt to be absorbed into the fibres of the mitt and away from the paint surface plus because the fibres of the mitt are loose, particles of dirt can easily be rinsed out.

Why a PH balanced shampoo?
Carnuba waxes can be expensive and the last thing you want to do after building up a few layers of wax is strip it all off using an aggresive shampoo. Fairy Liquid therefore is a big no no for washing cars. You can feel what happens to the skin on your hand if in prolonged contact with harsh detergents, it dries the skin out, it will do similar damage to the paint. As with all detailing products there are many shampoo's on the market to choose from but always try to use one that is PH balanced.

What is the two-bucket method?
As suggested by the name, the two bucket method uses two buckets. One bucket contains your shampoo mix and the second bucket clean fresh water. After rinsing the car off with the pressure washer soak your mitt in the shampoo mix and begin washing the car a panel at a time, then before dunking the wash mitt back into the shampoo mix, rinse it out in the second bucket of fresh water. This rinses out the dirt and grit particles from the wash mitt so that they cannot come into contact with your paint, reducing the number of swirls inflicted. Repeat this process over the whole car starting on the roof and working your way down the car a panel at a time in straight lines in a backwards and forwards motion rather than in a circular motion. If your car is very dirty you will notice that the bucket containing fresh water will start to change colour with the dirt that you have removed from the car as the mitt is rinsed out after every panel. If the rinse water becomes very dirty replace it with clean fresh water not forgetting to rinse out the bucket before re-filling.

It is better to wash your car in the shade if you can to prevent the suds from drying out and leaving water marks. If this is not possible, on really hot days you should begin rinsing off as soon as each panel is washed. When rinsing off we first recommend using the pressure washer followed by a hose with all of the end attachments removed, this encourages the rinse water to sheet off the panels making drying easier.

The next step is to dry all of the exterior surfaces. This is important because leaving your car to dry off naturally can lead to the formation of unsightly water marks which can actually damage painted surfaces. Although you are now working on clean surfaces, you still want to minimise the risk of inflicting swirl marks when drying off. Drying towels or microfibre drying towels are safe to use as long as they are clean.

The final step in the washing process is to pack away all of the tools you have used, making sure everything is clean and ready for the next use. You should thoroughly rinse out your buckets, and then store them upside down until they are next required. Next rinse out the wash mitt and drying towel and wash them in a washing machine at a low temperature using a gentle non-biological detergent before allowing everything to dry out naturally.

02-04-2009, 09:42 PM

Much appreciated.

02-04-2009, 09:51 PM
Great advice Ian:thumbsup: Still no lambswool wash mitt at Halfords though:cry3:

Good advice too about the wash adapter at the end of the lance. Half filled with Mcguire's today & topped up with water - came out a treat

02-04-2009, 10:45 PM
Good advice too about the wash adapter at the end of the lance. Half filled with Mcguire's today & topped up with water - came out a treat

Is this advice available only as part of the "premium" paid-for service? :laugh:
(Or did I miss a post :uhoh:)

BTW: Think these tips posts should be stickied :thumbsup:

02-04-2009, 11:04 PM
I was going to add some tips, but think you have it covered there Ian :grin:

03-04-2009, 07:49 AM

Nice one!

C x

03-04-2009, 10:24 AM
:thumbsup: Great Advice cheers

03-04-2009, 05:05 PM
Great advice Ian:thumbsup: Still no lambswool wash mitt at Halfords though:cry3:....

+1 ... but I can't find that Pistonheads balanced shampoo either :tongue3:

07-04-2009, 11:50 PM
They sell a lambswool wash mitt in my local Halfords!

Paul Ripley
08-04-2009, 10:26 PM
Thanks Ian.

Thats exactly what Dave Z told me and it does work ... and works very very well.

God stuff mate :thumbsup:

12-04-2009, 10:42 AM
They sell a lambswool wash mitt in my local Halfords!

thats the one we use, Halfords Sheepskin/Lambswool Wash Mitt (http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_storeId_10001_catalogId_10151_productId_19 8985_langId_-1_categoryId_165609) it states that its a polishing mitt but we use them just for washing :thumbsup:

Cool As Blu
05-07-2010, 11:11 PM
I've had the car for 2 days now and was wondering whats the best way to wash it when I found this thread.

Great stuff.

Thank you.

22-11-2010, 12:18 AM
I always love to read how people wash their cars. As a regular washing enthusiast of my beloved TT, I like to get my car spangly and sparkly with a clean cotton glass cloth once washed then for a real buff up afterwards a clean microfibre cloth to get rid of any smears. Works wonders and makes it very very shiny esp after a wax also :thumbsup:

10-05-2011, 07:06 PM
Thanks for sharing these nice tips for how to wash your car?? but i always washed mine car from company while service time...

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