How To Safely Wash Your Car

Maintenance Guide: How to Safely Wash Your Car

safely wash your car
safely wash your car

Safely wash your car. The most important maintenance after under going paint correction or any detailing service. We want to reduce swirls, scratches, water etching, and contamination of the finish. Maintenance washes help ensure longevity of a protected surface. The keys to safely washing your vehicle are:

  • 1) use proper clean soft maintenance tools
  • 2) use a two bucket approach with foam or a no rinse waterless wash method
  • 3) lubricate the surface with waterless wash
  • 4) extend the protection on your vehicle


How to Not Safely Wash Your Car

Too often do we see as detailers improper cleaning systems, tools, and techniques. It hurts our souls to perfect a vehicle, then return to repeat the hard work we’ve instilled in a vehicle. What we don’t recommend to safely wash your car:

  • 1. wash in direct sunlight
  • 2. use cheap or dirty wash sponges, mitts, or brushes
  • 3. grind dirt or contamination into your paint
  • 4. wash on an extremely hot surface
  • 5. use cheap drying shammies, water blades, or cotton rags
  • 6. wiping a dirty vehicle causing scratches, swirls, and marring


Safely Wash Your Car: The Equipment

In general, don’t cheap out on quality equipment since the difference between most over the counter items and online choices are vastly different. Please consult Our Recommended Maintenance Chemicals and Tools. Our default choices for any prospective customer are generally cost-effective and used by all ranges of detailers:

Two Buckets – 3 or 5 gallons. You may add grit guards help to remove grit after a pass on your paint. We recommend you purchase simple Lowe’s or Home Depot Buckets.

Natural Sheepskin Wash Mitts are cheap, easy to use, and versatile. They also create a ton of suds to lubricate the surface.

Car Soap – Do not use dawn or any chemically stripping car soaps. We love Optimum Car Wash since it foams like crazy and is highly concentrated.

Great Soft Microfibers: Microfibertech Korean 25×36 Waffle Weave & Korean 16×16 Fluffy Towels. Also read our guide to Rag Company Microfiber

Waterless Wash & Quick Detailer:  Optimum OptiClean & Optimum Instant Detailer & Gloss Enhancer for the drying phase.

Pre-Treatment Chemicals: Optimum Power CleanStoner Tarminator, & 1Z Einszett Insekt are for grime, tar, bugs, and lower sections of a vehicle.

Foaming Tools: A foam gun (or foam lance) can dramatically make your car washing fun and ensure proper lubrication on the surface.

safely wash your car


Safely Wash Your Car: The Process

Start with your Wheels, Consult our Ultimate Wheel Care Guide.

hand car wash

Lubricate, engulf, and gently remove dirt from your vehicle.

Check the sheeting technique by removing the nozzle to funnel water off the vehicle.

You can see the two bucket technique in play, one for rinsing and one for soap as you work in sections

Washing is about prevention of damage to the finish.

Embrace waterless wash and quick detailers during the drying stage to reduce water spotting and lubricate any remaining dirt. Use any quality quick detailer & drying towel.

Using an air compressor or leaf blower dramatically helps.

Use multiple wash mitts, one for top sections of the vehicle, one for lower grimy areas. 

An illustration of using the two bucket system which is key to separating your dirt and soap solution.

Take note you do not need to have the fanciest grit guard or dolly system.

Car Washing Safety

How often should you safely wash your car?

As often as you desire, it all depends on your paint protection, environment, time, weather, amount of contamination, and color. Every 2 weeks for North Carolina is a great timetable.

How long does it take to safely wash your car?

1-3 Hours, even for our abilities wheels take as much time as the body. We go slower on special show vehicles, garage queens, or high-end vehicles.

What’s the most important aspect of safely washing your vehicle?

Frequently separating wash sections for grimy and loose dirt areas, controlling the water evaporation on your vehicle, and being careful to not instill scratches in your finish. Start from the top, work downward and reserve the worst areas (front end, side skirts, rear end) for last.

What do I do about embedded dirt that won’t come off like loose dirt?

Optimum Power CleanStoner Tarminator, & 1Z Einszett Insekt are what you spray before a detail to ensure bugs, tar, embedded dirt or mud are removed. Remember car soap removes light dirt on a vehicle, if you brush harder to remove stuck on grime this can scratch your vehicle.


Further Reads

Absolutely lazy? Want to push the boundaries of washing with an easy to use system?


Optimum No Rinse Guide

Embrace No Rinse Waterless Washing:  Our Optimum NO Rinse Guide

Consult Detailed Image’s Washing & Drying Section


Too lazy and scared that you might scratch your finish? We have Hand Car Washing & Waxing maintenance packages to maintain vehicles that undergo our specialized detailing services.

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