Ultimate Car Wash Guide
The safest practice to a swirl free car wash
At Auto Finesse car care we consider the car washing process is without a doubt one of the most important steps in the detailing process. Not only does it prepare the foundation for all subsequent detailing treatments, but it also allows you to maintain the results of your work for a long time to come, but our car wash guide will also show you step by step how to achieve the ultimate car wash.
This stage of your car care regime is often rushed but it is one of the most important parts of the process for freeing up loose dirt and silt, driving it out of panel gaps so they don't get caught in your wash mitt/sponge and cause marring. If you have access to a pressure washer or hose then work from the top down, rinsing the panels carefully. Pay particular attention to panel gaps and regions which may trap dirt (inside roof rails for example) and rinse these out thoroughly. Expect this stage of the detailing process to take a good quarter of an hour if done correctly you really want to focus on removing as much loose dirt as you can from traps so that it doesn't get caught in your mitt later on.
Often missed out, this detailing stage known as the pre-wash stage can be vital to achieving a swirl free car wash. The idea behind a pre-wash is to remove light contaminates such as road grime, road salts and bug splatter that is on your vehicles paintwork. If this stage is missed, and these contaminants are not lifted from your vehicles paint they can later inflict swirl marks and wash marring. To aid the pre-wash process we created Citrus Power. Citrus Power is a citrus-infused cleaning aid that you simply spray onto the surface and allow to dwell. Most of the light dirt on your paintwork will be on the lower half of your bodywork. This is because your front and rear wheels whilst driving will flick dirt and grime up onto your lower halves. Citrus Power will break down and release light contaminants from your vehicles paintwork. After 5 minutes take a garden hose or pressure washer and re-rinse the surface ready for the two-bucket wash.
During the pre-wash stage, it's also a good time to pay attention to tighter more intricate areas. These include places such as fuel filler caps, door shuts, grills, and window rubbers. To aid this process we turn to another of our detailing products the hog hair detailing brush and Citrus Power. The long soft bristles will help remove grime from the deeper tighter areas. Once the dirt is removed simply wash away with fresh clean water.
Two bucket wash
Often considered the major stage of the wash process the two bucket wash, this is where you physically wash the paintwork using a wash mitt/sponge and car shampoo solution. Fill one bucket with fresh water - this is your rinsing bucket. Fill a second bucket about 3/4 full with water then add Lather car shampoo and stir. Add enough car shampoo to make the mixture feel slick to the touch. Then top up the bucket until full. Start at the top of the car and work your way down. Saturate your wash mitt in Lather car shampoo solution and with only very light pressure, sweep the wash mitt gently from side to side to remove the dirt. Squeeze the water out of the mitt on the paintwork and then wipe backwards and forwards gently ensuring you use plenty of car shampoo solution. Never increase the pressure - stubborn marks may just need extra time. Before putting the wash mitt back into the car shampoo solution, rinse it thoroughly in the rinse bucket. If you are using a lambs wool mitt, run your fingers through the pile of the mitt to release trapped dirt. Once the mitt is thoroughly cleaned, go back to the car shampoo bucket and continue working around the car in this way until complete. Leave the dirtiest areas such as lower parts of doors and the boot-lid and rear bumper until last.
This stage can either be done as you wash (panel per panel, recommended on a hot and sunny day) or after fully washing the whole car. If you're using a pressure washer or a hose, set this to give a steady stream of water. Rinse from the top down using plenty of fresh water allowing it to sheet off of the paintwork. On a car that has been recently detailed and protected with car wax or paint sealant, the rinse water will sheet off the paintwork leaving it looking nearly dry. If this sheeting process slows down after a few weeks, it will be necessary to top up the protection on the paintwork see later section. If you don't have access to a pressure washer or a hose, then you can use a watering can without a rose to rinse the car from the top down as above. Expect to need at least five full watering cans to rinse a small car.
The drying stage is important to take particular care over, as this is where a lot of paint damage can be inflicted. The use of a water blade for example, while effective at drying, can cause scratches in the paintwork if only the smallest piece of grit blow down onto the paint while you are drying! Such damage will require further machine polishing to remove. When drying a car it is best to proceed methodically and gently. Start at the top and work your way down. Using a drying towel or chamois (well cared for!) gently wipe the surface dry using no pressure. You may also wish to pat the surface dry rather than wipe to minimise the chances of inflicting marring. A further option is to spray a quick detailer or detail spray onto the rinsed paintwork, which will add a small amount of lubrication and help prevent the towel from marring the paintwork.
The finished article