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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

Proper Washing Tools:
Wash your vehicle by hand with a good wool or chenille wash mitt or a chenille covered sponge.

Always make sure to use a good quality automotive shampoo/wash and definitely NOT dish soap. I hear people brag about getting a gallon of soap at the local parts store for 2 bucks and it “Cleans the car just as good as anything else…” I have used that soap in the past, before I knew better, and found that it does not offer enough lubrication and has harsh cleaners that will strip the wax off of the paint and leave your car unprotected. So don’t skimp on your car wash solution.

A lot of people use the “two bucket method” of washing. This is when they use two buckets. One bucket filled with water and car shampoo and the other filled with just water. Use the car shampoo bucket to dip your wash mitt into and the water bucket to rinse the mitt out in. Simply dip the wash mitt into the shampoo bucket, making sure the mitt is fully soaked, and wash a panel of the car. When you need more shampoo on the mitt, rinse it out in the water bucket first, before dipping it back into the shampoo bucket. It is also highly recommended that you use a Grit Guard Insert in your buckets. The Grit Guard keeps the wash mitt out of the dirt that settles to the bottom of the bucket.

Something that is often overlooked is the hose nozzle you use. Use a hose nozzle that has a rubber protector around it incase you accidentally smack it against your paint. You want your nozzle to have the option to give you multiple spray patterns as well.

For the initial hose down of your vehicle you might want to consider using a Foam Gun. The Foam Gun will create a nice foamy lather on your vehicle before you start washing. Simply add your favorite car shampoo into the foam gun and spray down the entire car or the panel you are working on. By using the Foam Gun you are creating a nice layer of foam on your vehicle. This foam helps to lift dirt away from your paint and acts as a lubricated layer. Having the dirt lifted away from the paint, and having a nice lubricated surface to start with, helps reduce the amount of marring and scratching that occurs when washing.

Proper Washing Procedure:
Before you wash the exterior surfaces of the car always clean the tires and wheels first. See our Proper Care For Your Wheels and Tires Section. Cleaning the tires and wheels first prevents you from getting tire and wheel cleaner all over your freshly washed car.

Be sure when washing the vehicle you start from the top and work your way down. This procedure keeps your from cleaning a lower panel and then rinsing dirty water onto it when cleaning a higher panel. Using the foam gun cover the roof of the vehicle in a nice foamy lather. Always start at the top of the car using your mitt in a back and forth motion across the paint, not in a circular motion. Make sure that you keep your wash mitt clean and soapy at all times. Once the roof is done rinse it off using a gentle spray. Next, move down and foam the windows and wash them in the same manor as the roof. Rinse the windows off using a gentle spray. Complete the same steps and work down the vehicle until the entire vehicle is cleaned. Once the car has been washed use a steady stream of water from your nozzle or hose and rinse your vehicle off again using no pressure. Start at the top of the vehicle and let the water run over the top and down the car. Continue this step for the entire vehicle. Most of the water will sheath right off of the paint making drying the vehicle easier.

Now it’s time to dry the vehicle. To avoid scratches I recommend using a good quality Waffle Weave Drying Towel. Just like when you washed the vehicle, start at the top and work your way down. I fold the waffle weave in quarters flipping it over to a dry side often. If it gets too wet and is not doing as good of a job of drying, simply grab a dry, clean waffle weave drying towel and continue. If you have water left in nooks and crannies use a Metro Vac N’ Blo or Air Force Blaster to blow the stubborn water out. Once the car is cleaned and dried now it is time to protect the tires (see our Proper Care For Your Wheels and Tires Section ). After you put protectant on the tires then you can go ahead and clean the windows (see our Streak Free Glass Cleaning Section ).

cleaning wheel and tires:
Below are some techniques and steps to take when caring for your wheels and tires.

1.) Clean the wheels before you begin to wash the vehicle. The first thing to do is rinse the wheels off. This helps to cool the wheels some before starting and will knock any heavy dirt off.

*Note: Always clean wheels that are cooled and not wheels that are hot.

2) Use a high quality wheel cleaner and spray that on the wheels and tires making sure to get full coverage.

*Note: Be sure to read and follow the wheel cleaner manufacturer’s instructions and warnings.

3) Take a good tire brush and scrub the tire down. Then, use a good quality wheel brush and brush down the wheel. Be sure to have the proper wheel brushes on hand. Usually you will need one to brush the face of the wheel and another to reach into tight areas.

4) Now rinse the wheels and tires off with a steady stream of water from your hose. Be sure to rinse them good and not to leave any cleaner on the wheels or tires.

5) I always go back over the wheels with a soft towel to dry them when I am all done washing the car. DO NOT use the same towel you use on your painted surfaces on the tires and wheels.

Now your wheels and tires are all clean, time to shine them up!

6) For the tires you have several choices as far as the protectants go. We sell several different Tire Protectants so be sure to check them out and choose the one that best fits your needs. Before applying the protectant, make sure that your tires are clean and dry!

7) For the wheels you can add a coat or two of a wheel wax/sealant. The wheel wax/sealant will not only shine the wheels but will help protect them and make cleaning them MUCH easier. If you put a coat of wheel wax/sealant on you will want to use a diluted amount of wheel cleaner when you wash the wheels.

getting rid of swirls in your paint:

The most asked question that I get is, “How can I get rid of the swirl marks in my paint?” In this article I will do my best to answer that question.

First of all make sure that you are doing everything possible to ensure a swirl free finish. Most swirl marks come from the owner not properly washing their vehicle. To learn how to take steps to ensure a swirl free wash please read the article found in our How-to Section titled Safe Washing Techniques

Now, for those of you that already have swirls and want them gone here are some tips and techniques to help you say goodbye to them and to get your paint looking like my picture above, which is my reflection in the passenger door of my old Honda.

I hear this phrase all of the time, “I waxed my car but the swirls are still there.” This is because wax is designed to protect your vehicles finish, not remove swirl marks and scratches. Some waxes and sealants containing carnauba or fillers can hide some very minor swirls but will not remove them. The best thing to do is remove the swirls and scratches and take the necessary steps to ensure they do not come back.

To get rid of swirls you are going to want to use a compound, polish or swirl remover. They are basically the same product it just depends on what the manufacturer calls theirs. For the purpose of this article I will refer to all of them as polishes. Polishes come in a variety of abrasive levels. Start with the least abrasive first and if that does not remove the swirls go to the next. Never start with the most abrasive and work down. If you are doing this by hand you might want to consider using our Pad and Handle Kit. You want to work the polish into the paint until it almost invisible to see. Polish is not something you smear on the paint, let dry and then wipe off. Polish needs to be worked into the paint so that the abrasives in them can break down. This process is what is actually taking the swirls out. If you have to end up using a fairly abrasive polish to take care of your swirls you will want to go over the areas you did using a lighter abrasive polish to get out any “hazing” that could have been left by the more abrasive polish. Apply a SMALL amount of polish to an applicator pad. Use a foam, wool, terry, or microfiber applicator. Do a small area at a time being sure to work the polish until it is almost invisible to see. Then, using a clean microfiber towel, wipe off any access and move on to the next section. Once your polish job is completely done be sure to get a coat of sealant, wax or both on the paint to protect the finish. Keep in mind that a wax can make your vehicle look a little better but polishing will give you that smooth feel and deep shine. Just remember to really work the product in and use a small amount. Most people use WAY too much polish and it never breaks down all the way causing a hazing effect on the paint, especially noticeable on dark colored vehicles in the sun. If you are trying to remove swirl marks and scratches by hand and are finding it almost impossible, you will want to consider using a good machine polisher such as our Cyclo, Gem, or Porter Cable polishers.

2,186 Posts
A buddy of mine is a clean freak, and he also made a post kinda like this. One thing he did was get a small grill to put on the bottom of the bucket, that way your sponge/wash cloth never sits on the bottom of the bucket. All the dirt drops to the bottom, so that way the rag stays out of the crap.

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