Evolution Of Home Car Care – 5 Must-Haves For A Safe Clean
The sight of a neighbour out with their bucket and sponge on a Sunday morning is still a common one and the practice of cleaning a car will probably never go out of fashion. But, over time, methods and products have evolved significantly to ensure the car’s best interests are kept right at heart to avoid any unnecessary damage during the cleaning process and for home car care enthusiasts, the exposure to the very latest techniques and products are now readily available on social media (and the internet in general). Your weekend enthusiast is very much so getting ‘up to speed’ on how best to look after their pride and joy, safely.
But, maybe you’re just getting into car care? Perhaps you are reactivating after a long period out of the game? Or maybe you’re keen for a refresher after using the same routine since, well since as long as you can remember! In this blog we take a look at five of the fundamentals which make up a solid home car care routine today, plus a mention to some of the methods and products which are now deemed surplus to requirements.
Where do you start when attacking a dirty vehicle? Easy enough you’d think, grab a bucket, fill it with water, add the shampoo and dunk your sponge, ready to pass over the car. Well, if you want the best for your car’s surfaces – keeping it a swirl and scratch free zone – it’s time to think again.
Looking back at older ‘tried and tested’ techniques, it’s fair to say that a car would be cleaned with products and methods using what’s very much so a ‘one for all purposes’ type of approach. Dirt is dirt and as long as you can shift it quickly enough, what’s there to worry about? Fast forward to the present day and there is far greater emphasis on understanding the importance of the type of contaminants that lie ahead on your vehicle, which products are best suited to tackle them and what methods should be used.
1. Degreasers & All Purpose Cleaners (APC)
With today’s roads a gathering ground for oil-based contamination, a car will soon pick its fair share of the muck up as it gets splattered up on to the vehicle – even more so when in rainy conditions. Oils, diesel, petrol all combine with grit and dirt on the road to form an abrasive grimy paste which sticks to the surfaces of cars. Using a degreaser dissolves the bond between the contaminants, paintwork, glass and wheels allowing them to be safely rinsed away with a hose or pressure washer.
These products are typically called Degreasers or All Purpose Cleaners (APC) and can be water or solvent based. Leading the way, Bilt-Hamber’s Surfex HD has become the ‘Swiss-Army Knife’ for detailers in many ways, thanks to its fantastic versatility. The product is non-toxic and water based, so it means application is safe for use on all areas of the vehicle including paintwork, glass, britework, plastics leather and fabrics. Fine to use neat from the bottle it comes in or if using professionally, often diluted down to required ratios to make it go a whole lot further.
2. Iron Fallout Removers
We always maintain that the wheels should be the first focus (ahead of bodywork) as they are generally going to be the dirtiest part of the vehicle (they are hard working after all), so tackling these first ensures you won’t splatter dirt from them up onto the freshly cleaned bodywork.
Iron and other metal particles are mainly derived from brake dust, meaning they will be hot and end up embedded into paintwork once cooled. As these particles harden onto surfaces, they can cause lasting damage if left for too long. Our first tailor made product for the job is known as ‘iron contamination remover’, or ‘fallout remover’.
The spray-on solution shrinks any of the metal particle debris in place, loosening the bond with the surface for a safe removal when rinsed away. The majority of these iron treatment products include a pink or purple colour change function (including a rather forgettable odour quite often) enabling the user to physically see how it’s actively working on decontaminating surfaces.
Theses products can be applied liberally to a vehicle’s bodywork as well as the wheels in order to ensure any other iron or fallout is taken out early on. UF’s in-house developed Iron + Fallout Remover is frequently the product of choice at our Brands Hatch Studio – pH balanced, it’s safely removes contaminants and will not remove existing wax or sealant layers (smells a little nicer than the rest too!).
3. Pre-Cleaning With Snow Foam
You may have noticed that prior to the main wash, there is an ongoing theme in these early stages and that is the consistent presence of non-contact cleaning methods. Pretty simple really – if you’re not touching the car, you’re not inflicting swirls or scratches!
There are plenty of home car care enthusiasts who will skip points 1 and 2 to begin with Snow Foam – this pre-washing phase involves using a high foaming product which is essential for maintaining the health of your paintwork. The glistening thick snow foam is designed to loosen larger dirt particles and grit from paintwork surfaces so they can then be rinsed away safely. By employing this type of non-contact pre-wash, you will once again minimise the chances of introducing scratches and swirls at the wash stage.
You can think of this as a bit like washing some dirty dishes at home – you wouldn’t take a plate that is heavily congealed in food, then attempt to clean it first off with a sponge or brush, you’re much more likely to have success (without causing damage) by thoroughly soaking it in the soapy solution first in order to loosen the debris attached.
Snow foams rely on pressure to generate their thick, clinging foam and the higher the pressure, the thicker the foam will be to help lift all the dirt and grit. You’ll need a pressure washer and a snow foam lance in order to produce sufficient power to blast the foam onto your car, but it’s certainly worth the investment. There is plenty of satisfaction to be gained from physically seeing the solution seep into areas of the vehicle you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to target, not to mention the pure white foam slowly falling down a panel as it takes the dark dirt away with it!
Depending on your needs, snow foams generally come in two forms, for a less aggressive treatment, UF Ultimate Snow Foam is ideal if you have an existing wax or sealant on the vehicle which you are keen to protect, not remove. Alternatively, if you require a little more bite, using a snow foam such as SANSOM’s White Out is recommended. It is still completely safe to use on all surfaces of course, but is specially designed to strip heavily soiled vehicles or any existing sealants previously applied.
4. Washing With The Two Bucket Method, Grit Guards & Wash Mitts
The trusty old bucket and sponge have all but gone and for those that are serious about their car’s cosmetic appearance, they’ve replaced it with the Two Bucket Method. Why two you say? One is for washing, one is for rinsing and both contain a grit guard at the bottom. With the sponge now kicked into touch, the weapon of choice are wash mitts made of the softest natural lambs wool or the deepest, plushest microfibre. Much gentler on paintwork, they can absorb and retain water better than a sponge, plus there’s the added advantage of comfort of use – no more chance of dropping it like a sponge when you have the option of wearing it snugly on your hand!
We continue to focus on minimising any chance of swirl mark infliction or light scratching and in separating the ‘wash’ water from the ‘rinse’ water it provides the foundations of the ideal preventative. Placing a Grit Guard into the bottom of the buckets means the wash mitt being used can rub against the grit guard, releasing any particles of dirt that were collected from the vehicle. The dirt then sits at the bottom of the bucket, safely underneath the grit guard, with no chance of it re-entering the wash mitt.
Washing your vehicle regularly is an essential part of caring for the visual appearance of your car, but it’s also the most likely time to accidentally inflict swirls into the paintwork. Safe washing techniques like this all assist in the avoidance of accidental swirling and micro-scratches, which can quickly accumulate over time and before too long, paintwork can look irretrievably dull or tired. As well as being disappointing for the home car care owner, dull paintwork is likely to significantly reduce the resale value of any car.
5. Drying Aids – Faster & Safer
We round up with what is the final stage of this mini wash process overview with our attention turning to drying. To prevent water marks being deposited and etched into a car’s paintwork, it is essential to dry the car immediately after rinsing – there are two main recommended methods for today’s home car care enthusiast.
The traditional chamois leather has all but bitten the dust now thanks to the introduction of microfibre and waffle weave drying towels. They’re ultra-soft, hugely water absorbent and a whole lot easier to look after compared to the chamois. But most importantly (and hopefully you’ve guessed it by now), they are much safer to use.
As good as the influx of super-plush drying towels are, the real drying aid to make a name for itself here comes courtesy of Automotive Touchless Car Dryer producers, BigBoi. Offering a range of products specially developed to cater for budding home car care enthusiasts, right up the scale to professional detailers, their powerful hot air blowing dryers have certainly proved to be game changers.
For those that may be sceptical – ‘how is this revolutionary when you could use a cheap garden leaf blower to do the same job?’ – these are tools that have been built with the home car care enthusiast in mind. The hoses and nozzles are super-soft and will not damage paintwork, wheels or any other part of your car if you accidentally brush against it. The air being pushed out is both warm and filtered, meaning there is no chance of any debris being spat out on to paintwork.
With the top of the range BlowR Pro’s twin-motor power using this warm filtered air to blast all the standing water away, you can expect to have your vehicle ‘bone dry’ up to 80 times faster than that of conventional drying methods. Wave goodbye to the days of sneaky bits of moisture making an appearance when you are polishing or protecting – BigBoi’s products specialise in eradicating them from behind filler flaps, lights, badges, grills, spokes and glass, plus with everything dried to perfection, it goes some way to help fight potential corrosion issues.
All the Extra Effort Worth it? Yes!
It’s all food for thought when comparing with the £10 hand car wash at your local supermarket. Yes they’re quick and they’re cheap, but at what price to paintwork and wheels? Harsh chemicals are sprayed quickly to strip away dirt and traffic film; chemicals that leach the natural oils from the paintwork and react with the lacquer on the wheels (and may eventually cause the lacquer to peel and the wheels to therefore discolour).
Then there’s the tools – the same washing tools are used on the myriad of cars that pass through; they collect dirt and grit and without a proper method for removing unwanted contamination, these particles are rubbed repeatedly back and forth over every car in the production line. The sponges may get rinsed and rung out, but the emphasis here is on speed. With as many cars passing through as possible, not much time is taken to ensure all the tools are in the best condition. The drying cloths too, are subject to the same issues, often flung on to tables or into buckets they undoubtedly collect contamination which then is rubbed over the car during the drying stage.
UF has been supplying car care products to enthusiasts worldwide since 1999. Some bring their vehicles to the UF Detailing Studio when they’re brand new, to receive New Car Protection. Some enthusiasts have had their car for some time but have noticed the paintwork is looking swirled and tired. A significant portion of customers want to look after their cars at home and whether they’re in it for practicality or for a love of the process, for them, washing the car at home is not just a whimsical fashion – it’s a heartfelt passion which from our experience shows no sign of slowing down thanks to its continual evolution.
Bilt-Hamber Surfex HD From £10.95
- Biodegradable, non-toxic cleaner
- Removes tough grease and oil-based contamination
- Can be used neat for harder grime or diluted for lighter cleaning duties
UF Iron + Fallout Remover £13
- Quickly & safely removes contaminants
- Will not remove existing wax or sealant layers
- Colour change function demonstrates product is working
UF Ultimate Snow Foam £15.95
- Pre-wash non-contact cleaner
- Designed & tested by professional detailers
- Ultra foaming properties for maximum effect
- Helps keep clear coat swirl-free
UF Wash & Rinse Bucket Set With Grit Guards £28.95
- Helps keep your paintwork scratch-free
- Grit Guards act as a barrier, trapping dirt particles at the bottom of the bucket and preventing them from being reintroduced to the wash mitt
- Bucket capacity: 2 x 20 Litres
BigBoi BlowR Pro Touchless Car Dryer £329.00
- Touchless drying keeps paintwork safe from scratches & swirls
- Powerful twin motors blast water out of traps & away from surfaces
- Dries vehicles up to 80 times faster than traditional drying methods
- Great for drying around filler caps, wheel spokes, calipers & nuts
Want your vehicle’s appearance cosmetically enhanced or protected? To discuss the most appropriate detailing treatment call 01474 360 360 or complete the online enquiry form here. We provide a bespoke, no-obligation quote via email.
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