We all want our ride to looks its best. One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is by washing your vehicle on a consistent basis. Keeping your car clean helps to keep the finish looking new, and that helps to prevent damage from the elements. We'll outline how washing your car the right way makes life a little easier, giving you tips and tricks along the way.
Why Washing Your Car the Right Way is Important
Washing your car the right way is key to preventing swirl marks and extending the life of your paint. Those unsightly swirls are primarily left behind from grit embedding itself in the wash mitt or sponge during the washing process. The key here will be having an additional bucket filled with clean water, you’ll use this to rinse out your mitt before resudsing (a word we just made up).
Now that you know why you should wash your car the right way, let’s look at some easy steps to get that sucker clean and looking good on the road.
Set Up Your Vehicle to Be Washed
Find a cool/shady spot to wash your car. This will keep your car wash solution from drying car before it is rinsed off the car. Also, it is best to wash your vehicle on a calm day. Wind can stir up dust and grit that is attracted to wet surfaces, causing light scratches in the paint.
Begin the car wash process with two buckets. One is for your shampoo solution and the other is clean water to rinse your wash mitt. The majority to swirl marks are caused from grit (sand, dust, particles) embedded in the wash mitt . . . that’s why you’ll be rocking the second, clean bucket of water.
Use high quality car shampoos and wash mitts, your vehicle will thank you!
Fill a 5-gallon bucket ½ full with water. Add the correct amount of wash soap based upon label recommendations. Fill the bucket the rest of the way, agitating the water to fully activate suds. The second bucket will be filled with clean water for rinsing your wash mitt.
Pro Tip: Throw a Grit Guard into each bucket. This will allow the grit to settle on the bottom of the bucket, and not return to your wash mitt.
Cool down the exterior of your vehicle by thoroughly rinsing the surface. This helps to remove the loose dirt and grime prior to washing.
Pro Tip: Use a high-pressure hose nozzle, or a pressure washer, to loosen and remove dirt from the wheels, wheel-wells, and undercarriage.
Begin the washing process by cleaning the wheels, along with the wheel wells. This is because you should be using a wheel cleaner/degreaser, and want to be able to wash off any overspray that gets on the paint. It’s good to have a dedicated bucket, sponge, and brush for cleaning the wheels and surrounding area.
Rinse the wheel area. Spray on cleaner/degreaser to the rims and undercarriage. Agitate the areas with a wash mitt/soft brush. Then rinse off. Follow-up with rinsing the tire, applying cleaner to the tire, scrub/agitate with tire brush, and thoroughly rinse off.
Do one wheel at a time. You don’t want the soaps and chemicals to dry on to your rims during the process.
Pro Tip: Use a pump sprayer to easily apply the wheel cleaner/degreaser.
Washing your Vehicle
Now you are ready to wash your car! Load up that wash mitt with some car shampoo (from the sudsy bucket), and wring it out over the surface you are about to wash. This will loosen up the dirt on the surface, and act as a slick barrier to wash off the grime without scratching the paint.
Go small. Keeping the wash areas small allows you to rinse out the wash mitt frequently (in the clean bucket). Plus, it lessens the chance that the soap will dry prior to being rinsed off. After you have washed an area, give it a quick rinse to get rid of the left-over suds.
Always wash your vehicle from top to bottom (except for the wheels). The law of gravity says that the dirtiest areas of your vehicle will be those that are closest to the ground. You don’t want to compromise and scratch the rest of your paint by getting all that grit in your wash mitt.
Circles are out, straight lines are in. Wash in straight, overlapping lines. Remember to use both sides of your wash mitt.
When you get to the bumpers and rocker panels, inspect for bug and road splatter. Use a bug sponge and appropriate cleaner to remove any accumulated junk.
Pro Tip: Foam gun!
Open up the hose nozzle completely, allowing the water to thoroughly rinse off all the suds. You should have gotten most of the suds off during some of the smaller rinses, but this allows for a final check to make sure you washed everything.
Pro Tip: Let the water sheet off the vehicle, which leaves less water drops behind, allowing the drying process to go quicker. Plus, this lessens the chance of water spots.
Drying Your Car
Start with a high-quality chamois. Gently dry the surface with straight, overlapping swipes. There is no need to apply a lot of pressure, you’re just taking off the majority of the water.
Pro Tip: Use a high quality, micro-fiber towel to remove any remaining droplets or streaks, completely drying the surface to avoid any water marks.
Sometimes you run into some seriously nasty grime that doesn’t seem to want to dome off. Here are a few of the most common issues, and how to deal with them like a pro.
Heavy Bug Splat, Bird Droppings, and Tree Sap
Cool and rinse the surface with water.
Apply a bug remover or cleaner.
Agitate with a bug or big boss scrub pad.
Pro Tip: Clay Magic works wonders with fresh tree sap. Older, hardened tree sap can be removed with isopropyl alcohol.
Tar Deposits & Overspray on Fender Wells, Rocker Panels, and Wheels
First, remove dirt and any debris.
Apply an ample amount of solvent to the affected area.
Solvent cannot be shipped, but it is fairly inexpensive at a local hardware store.
Agitate area with a short brush or do-all scrubber.
Rinse and repeat as needed.
Pro Tip: Solvents work best on dry areas. Use a towel or fan to completely dry the area before applying.
Heavy Water Spots
Wash vehicle thoroughly.
Spray on water spot remover.
The majority of water spot removers are acid based, meaning they cannot be shipped.
Agitate with a do-all scrubber.
Re-wash vehicle with soap.
Pro Tip: Clay Magic works wonders on water spots, and removes the need to work with acid based chemicals.