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Best Way to Wash a Car Without Scratching It

best car washing technique to avoid swirl marks

Taking your vehicle for a car wash may seem a good way of keeping your car nice and clean but actually it could be causing damage. Every car owner likes to drive a clean car but they don’t wash their cars themselves.

Leaving someone else to do the wash could leave your paintwork in trouble from scratches and swirl marks. These days, you can’t even use the excuse of not having a hose pipe because some of the best waterless car wash formulas do not require water or even wash mitts.

Washing your own car takes little effort with the correct tools. The two main products that you should own is the best car wash soap you can get your hands on and a car pressure washer to remove tough dirt that clings to your car.

Why Are Automated Car Washes Bad?

Automated car washes are of course popular because as the owner, you just need to sit in the car. However, automated car washes can cause more damage than good. Imagine how many cars go through the same automated wash every day before you go through. Your car will be using the same brushes/cloths that pick up dirt and are wiped over your car.

Automated car washes are also quite cheap and the owners will be wanting to make profit. This means they will cut corners when it comes to the products they use such as the car wash liquid. Some cleaners may be too acidic and remove protective wax.

If you cannot wash your car yourself, ensure that you look for a hand washed company. Although this is still not as good as doing it yourself, it is still better than automated washes. Look out for the following when looking for a hand car wash:

  • Washing area is covered by shade
  • Use Two Bucket Method
  • Use Clean Wash Mitts and Chamois
  • Drying Cars does not take place in direct sun

The above will ensure that your paintwork wont receive damage from a poor car wash.

best method to wash your own car

Best Techniques to Wash Your Car Safely

  1. Wash wheels first.
    Your wheels and tires will be the dirtiest part of your car. Therefore, by cleaning these first it will reduce the potential of dirt splashing onto your clean car panels. We highly recommend that you use a safe wheel cleaner for your type of wheels.
  2. Prepare washing equipment.
    Clean the buckets used to wash the wheels and get a completely different wash mitt ready to wash the car. For washing your car, you should always abide by the two bucket method, which is vital to ensuring the least risk of damaging paintwork. Fill both buckets with the recommended solution as per manufacturers guidelines of your preferred car wash.
  3. Pre-wash your car.
    You should never put your soapy wash mitt onto a dry car. This has the effect of rubbing dirt into your bodywork. There are fancy equipment you can use to pre-wash your car such as using a snow foam cannon wish is the best possible way to ensure any loose dirt is removed. However, for the majority of owners, a thorough rinse with the hose on every panel is good enough. I also spray the hose down all water scuttle drains to clear any dirt that may be blocking water.
  4. Start washing the roof first.
    Always wash your roof first because the dirt will move down the car, which you do not want to be on the clean panels.
  5. Wash other panels of the car.
    Continue to wash all other panels of the car and ensure the car is kept wet before applying your soapy wash mitt. When washing the car, always start washing the panel from the top to the bottom. Do not wash the bottom half of the panel (the dirtiest) and moving that dirt back up the panel to wash the top half. Always wash the mitt thoroughly using the two bucket method.
  6. Dry the car.
    Probably the most important part of the car washing process to avoid water spots, which are mineral deposits that etch into the cars paintwork. You can dry the car using many methods such as an auto blower but I prefer using a completely clean microfiber car drying towel.
    Begin by drying the windows and mirrors first then move to the roof as water will most likely drip onto other panels. Dry your car using the least amount of pressure possible and ensuring all water is absorbed. Dry your wheels with a completely different designated chamois.

clean wheels and tyres

Car Wash Scratched My Car What To Do?

Either you have not washed your car for a while or someone else washed your car, you may notice new scratches or swirl marks. Sadly, the more you wash your car, the more risk you put on the paintwork of getting scratched. However following the correct method, the risk is very small.

If you notice scratches or swirl marks you have two options to rectify the defect. The first option is the completely remove the defect using car paint scratch remover or via using various cutting compounds that remove a very fine layer of the clear coat.

How To Keep Your Car Clean?

Your car will always look its best when its clean and there are certain methods to keep it this way. The best way is to use car wax that acts as a protective barrier against all defects. You will be able to tell whether a car has been waxed by waiting for rain or pouring water onto the paintwork. A waxed car will repel any water and has the effect of beading.

Waxing will also make cleaning your car the next time easier and ensures there is no damage to your paintwork from the protective wax layer. We have reviewed the best waxes available on the market today that give the best results.

What is the Two Bucket Car Wash Method?

The two bucket method is washing your car with one bucket filled with a soapy solution and the other with clean water. After rinsing your car to loosen the initial dirt, use the wash mitt with the soapy car wash to wash the car. Once complete, place the wash mitt into the clean water before placing back into the soap solution. This will remove any dirt picked up from washing the car remaining in the wash mitt.

Repeating this process throughout the car wash process will reduce the risk of swirl marks and scratches on your paintwork. You can go one step further by getting yourself grit guard for your bucket that traps the dirt at the bottom of the bucket where your wash mitt can’t go.

procarreviews author

Written By Dan

About the Author

Dan is an automotive journalist and owner of over 10 cars ranging from supercars, tuned cars, classics and your good old beater cars. He always like to get his hands dirty with nut and bolt restorations or detailing sessions using the best products on the market.

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