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Detailed Guide: How to wash your car

8077 Views 16 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  press
This is the reprint from a G35 forum I frequent. I've been using his method for washing my car for years and it really helps cut down on the swirls. Before I paste, I want to summarize the two most important tips in this post (in case you get bored and don't read the whole thing)

1) Use multiple wash mits on different parts of the car (at least one for wheels, rockers, lower trim and anotehr for main body panels) and rinse them in CLEAN water everytime you go back for more soap - that means two buckets, just like your grandma does the dishes.
2) ALWAYS move your wash mit, drying towel, whatever touches your car, in a back and forth motion, from the highest to the lowest point on each panel. Imagine letting a drop of water hit your hood, whatever direction it runs, that's the way you should be wiping - example: up/down on your doors, back/forth on your hood - the idea here is that, no matter how careful you are, you WILL be putting some minor scratches on your car. If you always move your pads in teh same direction, and move them in a way that minimizes the direction sunlight is reflected, your "swirls" will actually be only straight marks and will be MUCH harder to see.

Ok, on to the post. Source: http://g35driver.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141057

OK, so maintenance. Now this is even more important that polishing. Why? Proper maintenance means less polishing is required over the life of the car. You want to wash and seal/wax in ways that DO NOT scratch the car, thus eliminating the need for polishing. So, the most important part of car care: how do I wash?

I wash in two ways, either the regular bucket + hose way, or with a rinseless wash. I will go over both.

First, bucket and hose. OK, products I use:

One or two buckets, both with grit guards. You can get them at CT (red, $15.99)
At *least* 2 sheepskin wash mitts. Why 2 or more? you'll see.
A good automotive soap. What's good? Most are; Meguiars deep crystal is cheap, locally available, and good. JUST DON'T USE TOO MUCH OR IT WILL STRIP WAX. Use the quantity directed, don't just pour a bunch in the bucket. Remember, as nice as suds are, too many = too much detergent.
2-3 good microfiber drying towels.
5+ good microfiber clothes.
A good all purpose cleaner and/or bug remover. I like poorboys apc 2:1 with water or bug squash 3:1 with water.
A wheel cleaner and sealant

So, so let's start:

First, the wheels. I only use a wheel cleaner if there is a significant amount of brake dust. What wheel cleaners do I like? The best, imo, locally available are Eagle One All Wheel & Tire Cleaner (caustic), or for less acidic/caustic, their aluminum wheel cleaner. A lot of you have P21S cleaner; use it when needed, it's great stuff.

Put the car in the shade. This is important. If you're using two buckets, fill one with soap and water and the other with just water.

If the wheels are dirty go to step 1, if not, step 3:
1) Hose wheels off (make sure they are not hot). Spray wheel cleaner on wheels and let dwell. Agitate with a brush (a wheel brush, not a tooth brush or a carpet bursh) or an old wash mitt, or an old mf cloth. Something soft basically.

2) Hose off, if there is still dust repeat. Go to step 4

3) Wash with soap and water (the automotive soap) and an old mitt.

4) If you washed with your bucket water, dump it out and re-pour it. Wheel dust in the water = don't put it on the paint, EVER.

5) Soak one mitt in first bucket with soap. Not all of them.

6) Rinse the car. If it's very dirty/buggy, apply liberal amounts of diluted APC/bug remover to effected areas and let sit.

7) Get the mit and start washing. Use almost nopressure, start at the top and move down. So roof, front and rear window, side windows, upper side panels and fenders, hood, rear deck lid, trunk, lower side panels and fenders, and finally rockers. Why? The lower part of the car is almost always dirtier, you don't want to use the mitt on them then move it to the cleaner areas. Now, don't do this all at once. Do it like this:

8) Wash roof and front and rear window. Put the mitt in the clean water bucket and thoroughly rinse it out. Put it back in the soapy bucket and wash the side windows and upper side panels (doors, fenders), then back into the water only bucket, rinse... see the pattern? Dirt gets rinsed out. As the mitt gets more and more dirty put it aside and USE A NEW ONE. I use 3 per wash almost always. One for roof, windows, upper side panels, one for hood, read decklid and trunk, and one for lower side panels and rockers.

9) if its hot, rinse the car often; keep it wet at all times.

9.5) Put the hose over the roof and let the water flow freely over the car. This will "sheet" water off and make for about 80% less water on the car to dry.

10) Now dry. How to dry? Take one towel and spread it on the roof then slowly move it the same way you washed (top to bottom), DO NOT worry about getting the car dry at this point, you want to remove most of the water but leave it damp.

11) get towel two and finish any areas you missed, then re-dry the entire car to clean up the dampness left behind by towe one. You will be amazed how much easier this makes drying.

12) Now, if your waxing or sealing, do it.

13) Dress trim while wax/sealant is hazing, also dress wheel wells, tires, dry wheels, polish chrome, and clean door jambs.

14) If you're using a spray wax/sealant for maintenance (highly recommended) then go from step 11 to this step and spray seal/wax, then do #13.
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Excellent! Thanks for sharing the info.

I have been washing my cars completely opposite. :eek:hno: I hose it down, apply soapy water with soft carwash brush or sometimes mitts and wash. Even this takes about an hour and thirty mins. I wonder how long you spend on your Acadia using this method.
Coop and Admin and I are Mars vs. Venus when it comes to car maintenance. Burt got his first bath from a touchless car wash this weekend (800 miles). :-[ It took about 5 minutes. I'll get to the interior next month.
I have not taken any of my cars to a carwash in past 4-5 years. Do it at home myself or wife washes one of them when she has time.

I had tried several car washes and didn't like them at all, they always miss little spots like under the side mirrors or front bumper etc.
coop - after getting used to using this wash method enough taht you no longer think of the steps and it just becomes second nature, I can do my G35 in about 40-45 mins (assuming the wheels aren't too dirty - that can add another 10 if they are bad). The Acadia takes a bit longer since it's bigger, but still under an hour.
I'm not morally opposed to a touchless carwash. In fact, if my cars are extremely dirty, I usually start at the one down the street. I run it through there on the cheapest setting (no rain-X, no wax, etc, just a wash and dry) which gets rid of 75% of the dirt and grime. That can speed up the hand cleaning process quite a bit. They just simply don't do a good enough job to stop there, IMO. Especially on dark cars (I have a black G and a Carbon Acadia, the hardest colors to keep clean...)
That's why I love my Blue Gold. I can be a lazy car owner and it still looks clean. This was a BIG factor in my color selection.
:'( i dont have a choice either take it to car wash or it dont get washed. is the white diamond hard to keep clean?
Our current vehicle is white, and it is MUCH easier than a dark color to keep clean, at least to keep the "appearance" of clean.

However, we do a lot of highway driving and white seems to show highway "grime" easier. We ordered our Enclave in Titanium to help hide that a bit more and avoid the "swirling" scratches that are inevitable and more obvious on dark colors.
MsS42 said:
:'( i dont have a choice either take it to car wash or it dont get washed. is the white diamond hard to keep clean?
I have a White Diamond STS and I wash it only 4 or 5 times a year, however I keep the Windshield and Windows clean. If I lived near Dirt Roads, I probably would have to wash it more often. 8)
My wife apparently thinks it's hard to keep clean, she washes it every time it gets more than 10 bug splatters on the grill. ;D ;D She's washed it at least 5 times since we got it.
Do you notice the rear window getting dirty fairly quickly? I noticed on my last two suv/cuv's (GMC Jimmy and
a Pontiac Torrent, both white btw) that while most of the vehicle doesn't look too dirty, the back window seems
to be completely dirty within a couple days of washing it. :banghead:
SUV's create a little calm space by the rear window that allows dirt or road grime to collect on the rear window. We looked into getting an aftermarket airfoil type wing for our Blazer and Suburban when we had them and lived down a dirt road, don't know if these things are still out there or not. They created a downward airflow that was supposed to help blow away some of the grime and dirt before it hit the window and stuck.
Coldtex, You are absolutely right about that and they will work...but below the rear window, I haven't seen anything that will help with that. Take care.
What is CT? (One or two buckets, both with grit guards. You can get them at CT (red, $15.99)

irishqb said:
What is CT? (One or two buckets, both with grit guards. You can get them at CT (red, $15.99)

Since the original poster on the G35 forum is from Toronto, I'm going to assume that CT stands for
Canadian Tire, http://www.canadiantire.ca
If you also want to research some good info on washing your car, wheels, windows, seats, etc. I found great information at Classic Motoring Accessories. Griots also. I found CMA's more detailed and actually worked better. I religiously use their wheel cleaning process. Once you read it, you realize why the methods they propose make sense. I have picked up alot of info from many of these sites. If you get on their email lists, such as CMA's, they send out every once in a while specific tips for cleaning, such as claying, wheels, headlight covers, etc. The problem I find is that after you read these things you can quickly become obsessed with maintaining your car in great condition. Since I have a tendency to keep cars for a while, it works for me.

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