Once your car has corrected paint, it is VITAL that you take as best care of it as you can! If you don’t, you will end up with more swirls and scratches.
Your wash should begin with cleaning the wheels. Check out our page dedicated to cleaning wheels for more information on a safe and thorough method.
For vinyl trim, use a non-caustic cleaner like 1z Plastic Deep Cleaner. Spray the cleaner on the wetted vinyl surface and agitate with a soft bristle brush. For very dirty surfaces, you may need to also wipe down the vinyl with a microfiber towel. Multiple treatments may be required. Rinse vinyl and paint surfaces below the vinyl until all residue is removed. It’s important, as with all cleaners on hard surfaces, to not allow the chemical to dry out. You will be left with a film that may be difficult to remove.
Start your wash with a foam pre-treat. I suggest you purchase a foamer lance for your pressure washer. It will allow you to apply a thick foam pre-treat with a degreaser, like p21s total auto wash, liberally with minimal effort. Allow it to sit for a few minutes then simply wash it all off with water. **doing this in direct sunlight on a hot day is not suggested as you may end up with filming/residue**
The gaps between panels and hidden spots like the gas cap area tend to collect grime. Use a pH balanced cleaner like p21s Total Auto Wash and a soft bristle brush to agitate. Rinse after cleaning.
The best wash method that will minimize creating new swirl marks is the two bucket wash method. You will need two clean wash buckets along with grit guards in each bucket. This will keep the dirt in the bottom of the buckets and the mitt above the dirtiest part of the water. One bucket will be used as a shampoo bucket and one as the fresh water bucket. Treat your shampoo bucket as the one you will wash your car from and the fresh water bucket will be the one you clean your wash mitt with AFTER touching the car but BEFORE you dip back into your shampoo bucket. The fresh water bucket will act as a mini-washing machine for your mitt. The idea is that you keep your shampoo water as clean as possible because it’s the one your actually washing your car from.
It can’t hurt to have another bucket and wash mitt for doing the lower panels of the car. Lower sections will inevitably get dirtier than the upper areas. Why intermingle areas that are more prone to heavier filth?
Do not be reluctant to dump the water out of the buckets and refill before you finish your car if the water gets notably dirty.
You will keep a separate bucket for cleaning wheels and tires. There’s far too much risk of contaminating your wash buckets. Never intermix wheel buckets and wash buckets.
Use a quality wash mitt. Sponges are no nos because they trap dirt against the paint. Use something similar to a sheep skin mitt, a quality micro chenille or a microfiber wrapped sponge. You want to keep as deep a nap as you can on your wash media. This enables it to keep the dirt from being trapped between the paint and the wash media.
A good mitt is only so good by itself. A quality shampoo that will lubricate the surface and do a fine job loosening dirt is a requirement. I prefer 1z Einszett Perls Shampoo.
A nice selection of products designed to clean specific trouble areas like bug marks and road tar are good to keep on hand. This will allow you to clean thoroughly without using too much pressure and creating new swirls marks. Tar can be removed with Stoner’s Tarminator.
No Mr. Miyagi wax on, wax off -circular motions allowed while washing. Wash in straight lines as best as you can.
Ideally, washing from the top down is the best. The top portions tend to not be as dirty as lower portions. Working the from the top to bottom lends itself to a more gentle wash.
Following these tips will lead to a thorough wash that is more of a mini-detail than a car wash. You will be cleaning better and safer than any corner car wash shop.
Have any questions about washing? Feel free to post up any questions and I will get back with you as soon as I can.
Check out the Safest Way to Dry Paint page for drying tips!
By Jean-Claude Corcoran