How To Wash Your Car – A Basic Safe Wash Guide

How to wash your car effectively and safely – a basic safe wash guide to help you maintain your car’s finish.

Hand Wash Only - Ultimate Finish

Cars get particularly dirty at this time of year. Road grime, environmental pollution in the rain, salt and grit on the roads – your cars bodywork and wheels take a real hammering. Washing and drying your car is where the majority of damage to your paintwork can occur, increased road contaminants make it easier than ever to inflict swirl marks and fine surface scratches. So, it’s even more important to get the washing process correct!

Step 1 – Using a Pre-Wash Cleaner

Firstly, Ensure your car is out of direct sunlight (if you’re lucky enough to have any!). This will prevent the soapy water from drying prematurely on the vehicle causing water spot marks which can be very difficult to remove. If you have a pressure washer, then an  Ultimate Snow Foam & Lance Kit is a brilliant idea for loosening and removing large particles of dirt. During the worst of the weather the Ultimate Snow Foam system can prove invaluable, particularly for darker coloured paintwork which is prone to showing up scratches and swirls more than lighter colours. The Snow Foam lance attaches to the most popular pressure washers, a little of the Ultimate Snow Foam goes into the 1 litre reservoir bottle and when the pressure washer is turned on the water and the Ultimate Snow Foam combine and shoot a thick, foamy solution all over the vehicle. The bubbles lift larger particles of dirt and grime away from the surface of the paintwork allowing it to be freely rinsed away. With the larger particles removed and the underlying particles loosened washing the vehicle will be much safer for the paintwork and much easier for you!

Spray the Snow Foam directly on to the vehicle without pre-rinsing it – Snow Foam works best when used on a dry surface. Spray it all over the vehicle bodywork and allow it to dwell for about 3-4 minutes – you will see the foam start to change colour as the dirt is lifted away from the surface of the paintwork. Rinse the foam off using clean water from a pressure washer, not forgetting to clean under the wheel arches.

Ultimate Snow Foam

Step 2 – Wheel Cleaning

Many wheel cleaners are either acid or alkaline based cleaners which strip off any wax protection, degrade sealants and in the worst case scenario, strip the lacquer off the wheel face! It’s important then to choose a gentle wheel cleaner to prevent this from happening. Ideally, thoroughly clean each wheel using a pH Neutral Wheel Cleaner, a microfibre wash mitt and a long handled wheel brush to safely clean hard to reach areas. Rinse well using a pressure washer or strong jet of water. Pay particular attention to ensure crevices are thoroughly cleaned, as they can trap brake dust potentially causing pitting if left for long periods of time.

Non-Caustic Wheel Cleaners from Ultimate Finish

Step 3 – Choose Your Shampoo 

There are many car shampoos on the market containing harsh chemicals designed to quickly break the bond between dirt and paintwork. Unfortunately many of these act to degrade any wax or sealant protection applied on the paintwork. It is therefore essential to opt for a wax / sealant friendly shampoo to ensure you get the best longevity from your protective layers. Some shampoos even contain wax-grade carnauba and these are great for giving existing wax layers a boost each time you wash.

pH Neutral Car Shampoo from Ultimate Finish

Step 4 – Wash Mitt or Wash Pad

If using a wash mitt opt for a lambs or merino wool version or a long pile microfibre. The softness of the wool and the long pile of the microfibre will lift dirt particles away from the paintwork and trap it in the pile, minimising the risk of scratching – Beware the cheaper, open cell sponge which will take a hold of dirt particles and trap them on the surface ready to be scraped over your paintwork!

Wash Mitts & Wash Pads from Ultimate Finish

Step 5 – The Wash Process

The Two Bucket method is a great way to prevent recontaminating of paintwork. The wash bucket contains warm soapy water, the rinse bucket contains clean water. Both buckets should have a Grit Guard in the bottom. Put a good quality wash mitt or wash pad into the wash bucket to load up with soapy water, wash a section of the vehicle, then place the dirty wash mitt /wash pad into the rinse bucket, rubbing it over the Grit Guard at the bottom to release the dirt particles from the fibres. With the wash mitt / wash pad safely rinsed, dunk it back into the wash bucket and repeat! Washing in this way helps to keep the dirt particles in the bottom of the buckets under the Grit Guards.

Start at the top of the car and work towards the bottom. Use a lambswool wash mitt with horizontal movements when washing rather than circular, as circular motions could make any swirls worse. Once the car has been shampooed, rinse it off with a free-running hose making sure the suds are completely washed away – pay attention to door and boot shuts, around badges and window seals.

Ultimate Finish Two Bucket Set With Scratch Shields

Step 6 – Choice of Drying Towels or De-Ionising Water Filters

Natural Chamois leather can be difficult to look after and will remove wax layers quite easily. Therefore a soft, absorbent waffle-weave or microfibre drying towel, or a synthetic chamois leather are the professional’s choice. Waffle-weave drying towels have absorption pockets to soak up huge amounts of water and don’t leave lint on the paintwork. Microfibre drying towels tend to feel softer to the touch but may take a couple of washes before the linting stops. Synthetic Chamois usually are supplied with their own storage box to prevent contamination whilst being stored in the garage.

Drying Towels from Ultimate Finish

The Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter is a wonderful alternative for those who either don’t have time to dry their cars, or simply would prefer not to! The Aqua Gleam filter connects to your hose pipe and removes the impurities in water which cause the water spot marks. Once the car has been shampooed and rinsed, connect the filter to the hose and give the car a good drenching with purified water. Then walk away and leave the car to dry without having to worry about white spots all over it when you come back to it! It’s the easy, no-fuss solution to drying your car – and it also leaves a significantly enhanced shine behind too!

Step 7 – Admire!

Finally, step back and admire your hard work, before making sure all your equipment is thoroughly rinsed and stored safely.

Make sure you have everything you need to keep your car free from winter pollution by visiting Ultimate Finish providing ‘Legendary Automotive Care’ since 1999.

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