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Old 21-04-2006, 01:07 PM   #1
Dave KG
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Arrow Good Washing Technique

In this thread I hope to explain some good practices for washing a car that help in the prevention of inflicting swirl marks to paint.


Whats Wrong With A Sponge?
Millions of people wash their car using a sponge. But if you read the threads on this forum you will see that hardly any members are washing their cars using a traditional sponge... Why is that? It all comes down to the flat flace of the sponge:



Imagine automotive paintwork with your typical dirt and grit paricles sutck on the top of the paint, that you want to wash off to revela your car's shine. Some of these dirt particles are sharp:



Now, if you place a sponge down ontop of these grit particles as you would do if you were washing your car with a sponge, the grit particles become trapped between the face of the sponge and the paint - they have no where to go owing to the flat face of the sponge:



When you wipe the sponge across the paintwork, you wipe the sharp grit particles straight across the paint. As they move over the paint, the dirt particles leave a thin hairline scratch:



These little scratches are highly visible in bright light because they catch the light, and this is what gives you the dreaded swirl marks that rob yuo paint of gloss and colour and ruin the car's look. A pic of bad swirl marks, the result of sponge washing of a car:




Wash Mitts
Lambswool and Sheepswool wash mitts have been developped to get around the problems of sponges trapping grit particles by the flat face. If you run your fingers through a lambwool mitt, you can see that it is deep pile and not flat faced:



Returning to the grit partciles on paintwork, when the wash mitt is placed onto them, the grit particles are absorbed into the mitt - safely away from paintwork so that they cannot scratch the paint:



Therefore, sweeping the mitt across the paint doesn't sweep the grit over the paint also and so you don't inflict lots of tiny hairline scratches.

Note: While washmitts are considerbaly better than sponges, it is impossible to completely avoid inflicting the odd swirl marks here and there using a wash mitt. What follows in this thread are tips on how to keep these inflicted swirls to an absolute minimum.


Which Wash Mitt?
There are a great number of washmitts on the marked nowadays, ranging from lambswool and sheepswool to cotton chenille to microfibre. In my experience the best mitts are the lambswool and sheepswool. When choosing a mitt, choose one with a soft deep pile that will be kind to paintwork. Two excellent mitts are:

Meguiars Lambswool Wash Mitt
Eurow Sheepskin Wash Mitt

and there are others too.


So Many Shampoos! Which to Choose?
At the end of the day, shampoo choice for your car is going to come down to personal prefernce. But there are so many shampoos on the market its hard to know which ones to go for! A couple of things to look for when choosing a car shampoo:

1. Lubricity in the washing solution - you want a shampoo that makes the washing solution feel nice and lubricated so that dirt particles can be encapsulated by this lubricant and any that aren't absorbed into the wash mitt will slide off the paint without scratching in the rinsing water. Soapy suds are pleasing and can make car washing fun, but lubricated wash solution is more important.

2. A shampoo should contain no harsh detergents if you are washing a car that you have spent many hours polishing, sealing and waxing. Harsh detergents strip wax straight off the paintwork leaving your paint surface dried out and unprotected. Fairy Liquid is therefore a big no no for washing cars. You feel what happens to the sking on your hand if in prolonged contact with harsh detergents, it dires the skin out - it will do similar damage to paint.

With this in mind, there are still a huge number of car shampoos that fit the bill - ones that I have used and rate are the following, so if you're struggling on which to choose, try one of the following:

Meguiars #62 Bodywork Shampoo & Conditioner (my favourite)
Meguiars Gold Class Bodywork Shampoo & Conditioner
Meguiars Hyper Wash (awsome dilution ratio of 400:1 - lasts ages!)
Poorboys Super Slick & Suds
Pinnacle Bodywork Shampoo & Conditioner
Einszett Perls


What is the "Two-Bucket Method"
Again, millions of people use a single bucket of car wash solution to wash their car, but if you read the threads on this site you will find most members wash their cars using the "Two-Bucket Method" - whats that?

As suggested by the name, the two bucket method uses two buckets, not one. In thie first bucket, you have your car wash solution as normal. In the second bucket you have clean fresh water. First off you soak your mitt in the wash solution and begin washing the car (as described below). Then, before dunking the wash mitt back into the wash solution, you rinse it out in the second bucket of fresh water - this rinses out the dirt and grit particles from this mitt so that they cannot come into contact with your paint, reducing the number of swirls inflicted.

A grit-guard is also a very worthwhile investment and sits at the bottom of the bucket (I have two, one in the rinsing bucket and one in the wash solution bucket). When dunking you mitt into the fresh water bucket, rub it across the grit guard to increase the amount of grit particles which are removed from the mitt. Also, it keeps them trapped at the bottom of the bucket so even less chance of the mitt picking them back up and them reaching your paintwork to inflict scratches.
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Old 21-04-2006, 01:07 PM   #2
Dave KG
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Washing
Here I describe the generic technique I use to wash cars...

Wheels, Arches, Door Jambs
Start with these. When washing your wheels using a wheel brush, the shampoo solution (or wheel cleaner solution) can spray up onto paintwork, and if youve just cleaned the paintwork, you'll end up needing to clean it again to remove the dirty spray from wheels! Don't forget to open all doors and boot and clean the doorjambs and the insides of the door (without getting wash solution into the locking mechanisms, I cover these up) - these areas can pick up a lot of dirt as well and it adds something a little extra to open the door and see the jambs as clean as the rest of the car as these areas are often forgotten about.

Pre-Rinsing
This loosens up dirt and wets the paintwork ready for washing. Using a hose pipe, direct a gentle spray of water at the paintwork at a shallow angle. If you blast the paintwork with high pressure at ninety degrees to the paintwork, you'll force grit into the paint and cause scatches. Just a gentle spray of water to wet the paintwork is all that is required. If you don't have access to a hose, use a watering can with the rose fitted to produce a gentle spary of water:



Shampooing
This is the major stage of the washing process, and the time when most scratches can be inflicted if care is not taken. This removes fresh surface contimaniation from paintwork such as dust, grit, mud, road film etc... Add the correct amount of car wash solution (according to the dilution ratio on the bottle) to your bucket and fill with water to produces suds and lubricated wash solution:



The water can be cold, or warm - I prefer warm water as it keeps my hands warm, especially in winter!!

Now, use the two bucket method described above. Use two washmitts - one for the top areas of the car (roof, bonnet, upper sides above the wheel arch line) and one for the lower areas (below the wheel arch line, front and rear bumpers). Use a light parallel motion when washing, with out applying forceful pressure that will inflict scratches.



If a mark is stubborn and wont come off with gentle movement of the wash mitt, it will require a stronger cleaner such as tar remover or clay. Start from the roof and work down, therefore the large quantities of dirt that form on the lower parts of car are not transferred to the traditionally cleaner upper areas of the car. Try to avoid letting the shampoo dry on the paintwork as this will cause streaks and soap spots, for this reason try to avoid washing in direct sunlight. If you are in direct sunlight, it may be neccessary to wash and rinse a panel art a time. Continue until the car is completed.

Rinsing
Once washed, the next step is to rinse away the soap bubbles and film. If using a hose I first of all use a light spary of water to wet the paintwork (using the rose on the watering can), just like the pre-rinsing step. Then follow this up with a flow of water from the hose (rose off the water can this time). Most shampoos are free rinsing and require this flow of water to make the rinsing water "sheet" off of the paintwork. (This sheeting effect will work best on well sealed and waxed paintwork). On a sealed/waxed car, keep rinsing until the water sheets cleanly off the paintwork and leaves behind only water beads and not flat regions of water. This makes the car essentially self drying! Rinse from the top of the car down.

Drying
Another risk stage as far as scrathes are concerned. First off, I find that using a waffleweave drying towel is far safer and more effective than using a chamois leather. A couple of examples of good quality waffleweave drying towels are:

Meguiars Water Magnet Drying Towel
Poorboys Waffleweave

Also Pakshak towels are very very good too! Rather than sweeping the towel across the paintwork to remove the water, I prefer to pat dry the car. The sweeping of the towel has more risk of inflicting scratches as stray grit particles may be picked up and inadvertantly swept across the paint inflicting swirl marks. Instead, pat dry the car by laying the towel down over the wet paintwork. Gently pat the towel, then lift off the paintwork. The towel will absorb the water to dry the paint. A thin flim of water may be left behind but this will quickly evaporate to leave a sparkling, streak free finish.

And there we have it - safe washing technique to avoid inflicting dreaded swirls into paintwork.
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Old 21-04-2006, 01:16 PM   #3
ShineQuest
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now I know what the 2 bucket method is!
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Old 21-04-2006, 02:27 PM   #4
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Hello from Sweden

Concerning pre-rinsing:

In Sweden, in winter-time, we have sand, salt and snow on the roads. Your car feels like a sandpaper when you touch the paintwork. It feels like the sand is glued to the paintwork

It isn´t enough with "gentle rising" cause you will have at lot of grit that will scratch even if you use a mitt.

Here is my procedure

Spray degreaser ( on a dry car) from down and up to the windows. Let the degreaser work for ca 5 min (It must not dry). The degreaser works best on dry surfaces

Then use a jetwash with high-pressure in an angle of ca 45 degrees and a distance of least 30cm, to slice of the grit.

Then spray jetwash-detergent (mixed in water 1:10) as above, and let it work for another 5 minutes. This alkaline detergent works on wet surfaces

Than again use the jetwash as above.

Now you can use a "gentle spay" of water to rinse off any grit that accidently get stuck on the paintwork during the procedure above.

Then you can wash the car as described in the former segment above.

Most of the wax has now disappeard so it is necessary to use a "wax-it-wet" -wax, or similar, regulary (at least every third wash).

If you do like this, you have clean water in the buckets after the wash. This shows that all gritt is removed before you wash with schampo and mitt . It´s only the "traffic-film" that remains.

This is how I try to not get scratches during wintertime. In the summer you can do as Dave

I use this when i spray degreaser and detergent (I have two )





Was my english understandable ?

Do you think this was reasonable ?

Best regards
CPHB

Last edited by CPHB; 21-04-2006 at 05:37 PM. Reason: insert pic
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Old 21-04-2006, 02:30 PM   #5
robertdon777
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Great write up and a must read for any newbie or sponge jockey out there. It really is one of the most important areas in keeping a car perfect and reducing the need to polish defects out so often.
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Old 21-04-2006, 02:57 PM   #6
Dave KG
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CPHB makes excellent points for techniques to wash your car if its badly covered in salt and dirt as described.

English very good by the way, especially considering its you second language (I'm guessing its your second language)!
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Old 21-04-2006, 03:16 PM   #7
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Another great write up, keep 'em coming
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Old 21-04-2006, 03:16 PM   #8
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Hello again


I see no need for claying when using my method. You "lift" the grit from the surface instead of "moving it around". ( I´m a little scared of claying - it´s very easy to make a scratch IMO)

Dave:

Thank you for your judgement
Yes, english is my second language, and it was a long time ago I learned english in school. ( You see, I´m an old man now, passing 50 a couple of years ago)

Best regards
CPHB

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Old 21-04-2006, 03:22 PM   #9
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CPHB, you're English is very impressive! French is my second language, Spanish my third language and I am no where near as fluent in these as you are in English.
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Old 21-04-2006, 03:26 PM   #10
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CPHB, very good point about the salt etc., we suffer the same here in winter and thats why the Snow Foam wash and the Karcher Foam guns have proved to be so popular over the last few months on this forum!.

Any way to lessen the washing inflicted swirls appearing is good in my book

Great English by the way.

Rob
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