So you’re probably thinking that I’m nuts. Everyone knows how to wash and dry their vehicle by hand, it’s not rocket science right? Well ya, you’re right, but the thing is, 9 times out of 10 when I see people washing their cars they’re doing it wrong, and by wrong, I mean that they are leaving their vehicles paint very susceptible to being scratched. So first, let me go over the Do’s and Don’ts of washing your car.
- Have a clean bucket that you can put carwash soap and water into
- Have a proper carwash mitt, or soft bristle brush
- Have a chamois, and a second microfibre towel
- Have a separate brush for your rims
- Have a separate cloth for drying your rims
- Wash your car in the shade
- Use a dirty/contaminated bucket. This dirt and contamination will spread onto your washing utensils and could possibly scratch your paint.
- Use a mitt or brush that is coming apart
- Re-use a towel that you have dropped on the floor, it has picked up tiny particles of dirt that you cannot see and will begin to leave fine scratches in your paint.
- Re-use the same mitt/brush to clean your rims. Brake dust has particles in it that are harmful to the paint and your health, furthermore the brake dust can scratch your paint.
- Wash your car in direct sunlight. I’ve seen windshields crack in extreme heat when cold water has been applied from a hose
So, lets get started. First things first, move your car into a nice shaded area or wait until around sunset. Spray your entire car down with water. You should especially be paying attention to those areas with bird droppings. Try not to brush these areas off, rather, use the water from the hose to spray the droppings off. If the droppings are too hard and you are having a hard time removing them, wet a paper towel and place it onto of the droppings and let it sit for a minute or so.
The reason behind doing this is bird droppings can damage your paint and leave scratches.
Alright, so you got all the bird droppings off off the car, and it has been soaked down. Pour some soap into your bucket and fill it up with water. Begin washing your car from the top down. Roof, windows, then into the panels. Make sure you dunk your mitt/brush into the bucket frequently. I usually dunk mine every half panel/window.
I like to work about 2 sections at a time. I’ll do the roof of my car, then the front windshield and spray it down. I’ll then move on to both side windows, spray it down, do the back window, and trunk, spray it down, etc.
Once you have soaped down and rinsed your entire car, it is time to get into the drying process.
Go back to your garage and get your chamois. Bring it out, and soak it with water. Yes, I said soak it with water. Chamois work best when they are wet, not dry. In case you haven’t used a chamois before what you want to do is lie it down in about the middle point of your panel (similar to laying down a picnic blanket) and drag the chamois towards you. Follow the same pattern you did for washing the car. Work the top down. You’ll likely find that (depending on how much water is on your car) you’ll have to wring the chamois out every 1.5-2 panels.
You’ll find that once you have gone over the big areas of the car with the chamois, there are little spots that still house water. Grab your microfibre towel and finish the job off by wiping down those little spots you missed.
Alright, your car is all dry. Go back to your soapy bucket and use a DIFFERENT brush/mitt for your rims. Wash down each rim following your spoke patterns and rinse each rim as you finish. Once you have finished all 4 rims, go back and get a separate cloth (not your chamois or original microfibre cloth) and dry off each rim in the same order you washed them.
The reason you do not mix cloths is because you do not want any residue from brake dust to get onto your washing/drying cloths and later scratch your paint. Be sure to always keep your cloths separate from each other.
If you follow the above, you will never get swirl marks from washing your car.