How hard can it be? Just through some suds in a bucket and head out to the driveway, right? Unfortunately this is the approach many people take when washing their cars these days. Just drive down your neighborhood on a Saturday morning and you're sure to see a stream of suds and bubbles heading down the drain. Times have changed and so have the techniques used for car washing. In this article we outline how you can get the most out of your weekend ritual.
Seek the Shade
The first step in achieving the best car wash is to park in the shade. Why does this matter you ask? The main reason is that modern car wash products contain cleaning agents known as "surfactants" which need time to effectively work on your car's paint. If you're parked in the hot sunlight there is a much better chance the car wash formula will evaporate on the surface. That's why sometimes after a wash you may see unsightly white streaks down the sides of your vehicle. If you don't have a shaded location nearby, just do your car washing in the morning or evening hours when the sun is at its weakest.
Ditch the Old T-Shirts and Terry Towels
It's not just about the car wash product you choose, but also the towels which play a major role in achieving the best shine. These days microfiber towels are the way to go. You see, if you were to zoom into a microfiber towel you'd see thousands of tiny "scoops" and "hooks" which can safely encapsulate dirt particles into their fibers. Plus, microfiber towels can hold about seven times their weight in water! Sponges, terry towels and old t-shirts were simply never designed to wash cars safely and you'll end up doing more damage to your vehicle.
Consider Going Waterless
Waterless? Yep, that's right. No suds or soapy mess. This method of washing is basically a spray-on car wash which is wiped away with microfiber towels. It's been around for quite some time, but has just gotten popular in the past 5 years or so due to increased water restrictions across the U.S. The first question many people ask is "Is it Safe"? Yes, when done right a Waterless Car Wash is not only safe, but also offers better results than a traditional hose and bucket method. Of course, if you've gone off-roading or your car hasn't been washed in years, you may want to opt for a quick pre-rinse prior to using the waterless method.
Clean Wheels & Tires First
No matter what method of car washing you use, be sure to clean the wheels and tires first. Wheels and tires are typically the dirtiest areas of your vehicle. If you clean them after the car wash, you risk splatter onto the freshly cleaned paint.
Work From the Top of the Vehicle Down
While driving, dirt and debris will gravitate towards the lower body panels for obvious reasons. Make sure you clean from the top of the car down, working in small sections. Create a plan for your car wash, for example: roof, windows, hood, trunk, doors and lower rocker panels. If you're using a traditional hose and bucket method, be sure to frequently rinse out your wash towel or mitt to prevent any potential damage to the vehicle.