- Preferably a shaded area
- A pressure washer or water hose spray gun attachment
- Car shampoo
- Microfibre washing mitt
- Bug & tar remover
- Wheel cleaner (preferably a metal fallout removing type)
- 1 Bucket of warm water mixed with car shampoo
- 1 Bucket of warm clean water for rinsing
- Microfibre towel(s)
- Car polish or Wax
- Polish wheel tool (preferably cordless)
Step 1 – Cleaning (Pre-rinse)
If possible, park in a shaded area or wait until the evening. As nice as it is to wash a car out in the hot sun with your shorts and sunnies on, the likelihood of dried soap and water spots forming is very high. Body panels get extremely hot and evaporate shampoo/water in next to no time. This leaves dried water and shampoo spots that are difficult to remove and waste a huge amount of elbow grease that could be spent on time polishing instead. A bright, overcast day is actually the perfect time to wash, wax/polish a car.
The best tool for a pre-rinse is of course a pressure washer. A garden hose with a spray gun attachment is another alternative. Note however that most snow foam products are only designed to lift dirt from the car during a pre-wash, and not to be used as a shampoo also.
If you have a snow-foam attachment for your pressure washer and a snow foam solution, use it now to cover the whole car. Wait 5-10 minutes to allow the foam to work and then rinse starting from the roof and working your way down. While doing this, you can also pressure-wash inside the wheel arches and wheels. If you really want to go all the way, there are even car chassis cleaning attachments available for some pressure washers. These remove all kinds of dirt for underneath the car, including road salt that can heavily cause corrosion.
Step 2 – Wash
If you can, purchase two buckets with pre-fitted grit-guards, they are highly recommended! Grit guards serve the simple purpose of keeping grit particles off of your wash mitt (for obvious reasons). Dirt particles simply fall through a plastic mesh that sits just above the bottom of the bucket, preventing your mitt from going down to the bottom and picking the dirt back up again.
Label one bucket ‘Wash‘ and one bucket ‘Rinse‘ with a marker to get started! Fill the wash bucket with your preferred car shampoo and mix it with warm water, then fill the other with clean warm water.
Now for washing with shampoo, we recommend using the mesh textured ‘bug shifter’ surface that easily helps to remove dried-on bugs and tar.
The Circular Motion Myth
Washing your car this way only serves to help produce swirl marks. The only exception is for polishing. If you think about it, you’re wiping into a dirty area of the car, and by using a circular motion you’re moving the dirt back into where you just wiped clean. The tiny dirt particles picked up from doing this can easily cause circular swirl marks in paintwork, which can be especially noticeable on darker colours cars. Cleaning the car this way completely defies the point of having a grit guarded bucket in the first place. Gently wiping sideways is always the best way to ensure an even and consistent application.
For stubborn stains and dirt such as dried-on bugs and tar residue, use the mesh surface located on the rear of the Kent Microfibre Mitt.
After wiping every few times, keep on dunking your mitt into the rinse bucket before returning to the wash bucket to continue.
Once all of the panels are done, open the car doors. Now is the perfect time to apply some lithium spray grease/WD40 to all of the doors hinges, they are often forgotten about. If you think about it though, how many times do you open a car door? Loads! Even more of a reason to grease up those hinges! Next, carefully wipe down all of the sills and areas that aren’t normally exposed to the elements.
Difficult to get to areas such as manufacturer badges should be cleaned using a soft paintbrush dipped into the shampoo bucket
Next up is to clean your wheels. We recommend using an industrial fallout remover, these products break down the ferrous metal particles that cling onto pretty much all surfaces. Modern technology has now meant these products are now PH neutral formulas, which is nicer than the previous generation that used oxalic acid.
Industrial fallout occurs when small airborne metal particles settle on the surface of your car and bond to it. They can then begin to oxidise and the result is an unsightly image. If left untreated, damage can occur to paintwork and the metals underneath. The product is sprayed on and as it begins to work, the liquid solution begins to change colour (usually to red), the colour change indicates the product has begun to react and lift the fallout from the wheels. Now use an alloy wheel brush to scrub the dirt loose.
Step 3 – Rinse and Dry
Start rinsing with a jet wash/water hose on a light spray setting from the middle of the roof and then work your way down the sides. Once all the shampoo is removed, wait a couple of minutes for excess water to drain and then use a microfibre drying cloth to then dry the car. Don’t leave the car to dry naturally!
Microfibre cloths are far more preferable to leather chamois as they hold a lot more water. If you drop a microfibre cloth onto the tarmac, never use it until it’s been machine washed properly.
Step 4 – Polish
The best process to polish a vehicle is to use a specialised wheel polishing tool. Remove the pad from the polish wheel tool and soak it into a bucket of fresh, clean water. Wring it out so it remains damp, but not soaking wet. It’s critical that this pad must remain damp throughout the polishing process. If it gets too dry, then the wheel will actually start burning off the clear coat! (lacquer).
With the pad damp, apply a moderate amount of polishing compound directly onto it. We don’t recommend placing the compound onto the bodywork first as it will instantly fly off once the wheel is applied. Turn on the polishing wheel and then press it slowly onto the paint of the vehicle.
- Read the instructions on the specific polishing compound you purchased; some require a different technique.
- Once you finish one body panel, move on to the next.
- Don’t continue to polish shiny paint, as you may actually dull the finish.
- For chrome areas, we recommend using a polish called Autosol, it’s simply fantastic!