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Auto Washing, Detailing & Paint Protection Discuss wax, polish, chamois, microfiber towels, simple cloth towel, scratch repair and paint protection. Use this Forum to discuss your cleaning tricks and techniques.

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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-30-2013 05:04 PM
gsxrboy Here is an excellent article on this subject. Though it is for winter cleaning, it still fine for summer. The video is well done and explains the process.

How to Safely Wash Your Car in the Winter
by Marc Harris & Jacob Bunyan

Trying to keep a driven car clean in the North is impossible. The good news is that by using the right products and techniques, you can periodically have a clean vehicle without stripping your wax or inducing swirls to your finish.

First, let’s examine the two most often used ways of having a clean vehicle in the Winter months. Drive-through “Soft Touch” car washes will leave your vehicle’s finish swirled and dull. In addition, I’d recommend anyone to stay away from places that use questionable mystery products. Touchless car wash bays use harsh products to chemically clean your car without physically touching it. Not only are these products bad for your plastic and rubber over time, they’ll strip off any wax or sealant you still have on your finish. Sacrificing your protection for a few days of having a clean vehicle doesn’t add up in the long run. Both of these types of car wash bays can quickly strip your protection, and both have been known for adding “beading” agents into their rinse water so that owners have the illusion that they still have wax or sealant on their car. I’ve seen how these products work in person: you begin rinsing down a vehicle and there is obvious and prevalent beading, but after a gentle wash and rinse, all water lays flat. The harsh cleaning chemicals keeps owners with dirty cars happy while the illusion of protection keeps more discerning owners thinking they’re good to go.

Luckily there are better and safer methods of Winter car care that you can use during these ugly pre-Spring days. I’ll discuss my favorite method: The Great White Winter Wash. This is a traditional two-bucket wash adapted for Winter use, when most of us can’t use our frozen water sprockets outside of our homes. While most won’t have the time or energy to commit to this type of Winter wash, it is a better and safer alternative that allows owners like me to keep their sanity every now and then by having the cleanest car on the road.

Supplies needed:
(2) Five Gallon buckets
(2) Grit Guard bucket inserts to be used in your buckets.
(1) Car wash shampoo; your favorite kind. I prefer high quality shampoos like Dodo Juice Born To Be Mild or Chemical Guys GlossWorkz.
(1) Wash mitt. Sheep Skin wash mitts are my all time favorites, but this could even be a microfiber towel if you choose. Just make sure it is a paint safe material and clean.
(2) Drying towels. Microfiber waffle weave style are my go-to towels for drying.
(1) Quick Detailer, Spray Wax, or Spray Sealant. My personal favorite is Dodo Juice Red Mist Tropical as it is very slick, glossly, and has given me a month of protection by itself. Optimum Car Wax or Opti-Seal are other great choices and I like.
(2) or (3) High quality microfiber towels to be used with your Quick Detailer, Spray Wax, or Spray sealant of choice. The DI reTHICKulous towels are perfect for this.
(2) or (4) Latex, rubber, or nitrile gloves. You only need two, but I like to have an extra pair handy in the event I get a rip in one or more gloves.
(5) to (10) Dollars in quarters.

Last but not least, you’ll need to search the net for a Gamma Seal bucket lid. These are attachments that fit onto your 5 gallon bucket to give it an air-tight seal.

The Process:
1. After successfully installing your Gamma Lids onto your 5 gallon buckets, place the Grit Guard inserts into the buckets and fill them with the warmest water you can stand in your bath tub or laundry sink. Warmer water breaks down grime easier than cold water, and will help to keep you warmer while you work. One of your buckets will be all water, the other will be your water+shampoo mix. Follow the direction for dilution. Some car wash shampoos dilute 128:1, others such as Dodo Juice’s Born to Be Mild dilute closer to 800:1. Proper dilution saves product and gives you the most effective cleaning power. Close the lids and secure your buckets and supplies into the car (clean plastic bags like shopping bags or garbage bags can be great for transporting your microfiber without contamination).

2. Drive to your nearest Do It Yourself car wash bay. Here in metro-Detroit, they’re often sparsely populated. Most bays don’t want people to bring their own supplies as they don’t know what types of chemical you’ll be pouring into their drains, and they don’t want you to hold up their money making business in the event of a line beginning to form in the event you’re moving slowly. Every bay I’ve been to has the same signs, but I’ve yet to have a problem.

3. Begin with giving your car a thorough rinsing with the DIY bay’s pressure washer first. This should be done using the “Rinse” cycle water.

4. Using your buckets and wash mitt, perform a traditional two-bucket wash on your vehicle. In very cold weather, you’ll likely need to rinse the car once more half way through to avoid significant ice build up.

5. Rinse the vehicle to flush dirty water and shampoo residue off the finish.

6. Lightly but quickly dry the vehicle with your waffle weave towels. Don’t worry about light water residue: your Quick Detailer, Spray Wax, or Spray Sealant will take care of any remaining drips or streaks.

7. Apply your favorite spray protection product. Keep in mind many of these products aren’t designed for such cold climates and will therefor work much slower. Don’t forget your windows, head-lights, and tail-lights!

While your results might not last a long as they do during the warmer months of the year, the few days they last will buy you some time of sanity after seeing your baby trashed for most of the season. Even better, you won’t have a horribly swirled and marred vehicle come Spring! If you want to see an example of how this can be effectively done, please check out the following video I made with the help a highly talented local photographer named Steven Pham. Steven gave me a hand in documenting exactly how I used this exact process to clean my girlfriend’s vehicle (Thanks Jessica for the loaner!). The results speak for themselves:

I hope this helps some of you fellow enthusiasts take better care of your vehicles, and if you have any questions on my method or process, please ask in the comments.
01-30-2013 04:34 PM
Custodian I usually avoid the afternoon heat in the summer... give the wheels a spray with the carwash wheel cleaner... spray down the body with high pressure rinse... pull out to the prep/detail area... wash the body with water/carwash soap & a microfiber from home in a bucket w/ snap on lid... pull into bay for another rinse... then across a grocery store parking lot to their gasoline canopy... it has shaded canopy space at an abandoned tobacco shack... then a wipedown with spray wax & microfiber.

Usually put about 4 coats of various liquid waxes in a year... one for each season.
01-30-2013 02:39 PM
lyonsroar Drive in, allow brakes to cool down a little, spray wheel and tire with wheel cleaner, put my $2 in the machine for 4 minutes, spray car down with soap solution, concentrating on jambs and under area. Time runs out. Grab my own sponge and hand wash with remaining soap solution. Put $2 in the machine for 4 minutes, spray down with high pressure soap solution again. Rinse. Time runs out. Hand dry. Drive home and quick detail the whole car, wipe down windows, etc.

Good wash for $4
01-29-2013 10:27 AM
Elizabeth I can rinse my car off in the indoor heated garage where I park under my apt building.
I will rinse a new car off pretty often. Say the first four years... I rinse, then run a Waterblade over it fast.
After that, depending, i just let it stay dirty.
Though my latest car, being a bright yellow, I probably will rinse it off more often than my last car for the last seven years i owned it (out of 13 years) . Which was washed about once a year, and that only a rinse off.
My last car... usually it would be after raining, and when I pulled in I would wipe it down with a paper towel. Mainly the hood, and doors..
Ratty.. but honest.
01-29-2013 10:27 AM
Now534 To me it doesn't matter as long as it is not in direct sunlight tou should be fine. In the sunlight you will get water spots if it dries to fast before you get a chance to dry it. In the shade or at night it takes a little longer to dry depending on heat

Sent from my SCH-I535 using FF Mobile
01-29-2013 05:34 AM
5characters You bring up another point i wanted to ask is it better to wash your car during the day, or at night? I would say night, but thats just me.
01-29-2013 05:29 AM
Originally Posted by 5characters View Post
How many people use the car wash station instead of home wash? For every one who uses the car wash, what is your technique? I donít have a water outlet, where I am at so I rely on the car wash to spray off the Focus, but it never seems to come quite clean. I have taken my own bucket, cleaning chemicals, micro-clothes ect ectÖand that seems to be the best solution. But if you only have a few minutes and a couple quarters what is your sequence to get the best clean?
I have been up for 29 hours so if I am rambling I apologize.
At my carwash I start on engine/tire cleaner on the wheels (engine too if I clean it). Switch to soap and let the tire cleaner clean out. Spray the roof down towards the bottom of the car. Spray the tops of wheel liners down both sides of it. Clean the top of the tire then down to the wheel. Go all the way around the car working from top to bottom. Rinse from top to bottom. Wax if you use it top to bottom then spot free rinse top to bottom going slow. This way always works best for me. If you go late at night you can also do the wheels soap and rinse method with spot free and then clay bar then deposit more money and final rinse the hand wax. (I've done this at 3am before when no one was there.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using FF Mobile
01-29-2013 05:02 AM
Car Wash

How many people use the car wash station instead of home wash? For every one who uses the car wash, what is your technique? I donít have a water outlet, where I am at so I rely on the car wash to spray off the Focus, but it never seems to come quite clean. I have taken my own bucket, cleaning chemicals, micro-clothes ect ectÖand that seems to be the best solution. But if you only have a few minutes and a couple quarters what is your sequence to get the best clean?
I have been up for 29 hours so if I am rambling I apologize.

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