Believe it or not, there is a wrong way to wash your car. Washing your car with a sponge and a bucket of car shampoo is asking for trouble!
That lovely car cleaning shampoo is slowly becoming dirty and your sponge is trapping sharp micro dirt particles that are creating the dreaded swirling effect on your beloved car’s paintwork. To finish it off, you pour all the dirt back onto your car!
So how to do wash your car properly? There are various techniques to clean your car and minimise the risk of paint swirling. I’m going to explain the simplest way to do it.
What you will need:
- Bucket x 2
- Half decent shampoo
- Wash mitt
- Drying towel
Ideally your car needs to be out of direct sunlight, as it will prematurely dry the shampoo on your car. If you have no option, wash your car either in stages or rinse a panel soon after you’ve washed it.
First off rinse your car with water. A hose is ideal but even a watering can with a rose attached will do.
Get your car shampoo and fill one bucket with warm water and add the required amount of shampoo. The shampoo I’m using is Auto Finesse’s Lather but any car shampoo apart from the cheapies should do the job well.
Fill another bucket with water. I like the “rinse” bucket to be cold so I know which bucket is which, especially if both buckets have suds on top after washing your car for a bit.
Use a lambs wool/or synthetic wash mitt to clean your car. Mine is a Meguiars wash mitt and it’s nice and soft to touch, even after a year of use. It’s much kinder to your car than a sponge, as it pulls dirt into the pile – not trapping it between its face and the surface of your car like a sponge does.
Start from the top and work your way down and around. I start on my car’s roof, work my way down to the sunroof and to the windscreen. I then move onto the side windows, washing the rear window last.
On to the bonnet, top half of the sides along with the bottom front of the car. I always wash the bottom of the sides and the bottom rear of my car last. With the aerodynamics, dirt piles on most in these areas, certainly at the back.
When washing, rinse your wash mitt after cleaning each panel. Wash parallel in straight lines, not circles and don’t use any pressure, the mitt and shampoo should do most of the work. On stubborn marks you can apply a little pressure to ease them off.
Leave the wheels until last, and wash the back wheels first as generally they’re the least dirtiest. You can use a sponge on the wheels, but a brush is probably better.
Give your car one last rinse, top to bottom.
To dry your car, use at least one thick microfibre towel, or a specialist soft drying towel. Again start from the top and work your way down. Don’t be forceful in drying; the towel should glide as you wipe it. If your towel becomes wet fast, use another towel.
After 30-45 minutes for a small car or 45 minutes – 1 hour for a larger vehicle, you should have a nice, shiny clean car; and feel safe knowing that you’ve reduced the risk of those dreaded swirl marks.
This washing method should – in the end – help your car retain value, sparkling bright paintwork shows the vehicle has been well kept.
- Use two buckets
- Use a wash mitt
- Wash from top to bottom
- Rinse after each panel
- Don’t apply force when washing
- Wash wheels last
- Dry with a drying towel