Entry 1.1 - How NOT to Wash Your Vehicle
Before we get to the proper method to cleaning your vehicle, let’s look at some of the methods that you should do your best to absolutely avoid.
Yes, there are right and wrong methods in washing your vehicle. Ultimately, this just means there are better practices that are inevitably safer for your vehicle's painted surfaces.
There are a few items, tools and methods that will guarantee eventual scratches in your vehicle’s paint. People with dark coloured vehicles (black especially!) take note…
1. Too Small of a Bucket - Over the duration of your car wash, the dirt from your vehicle is coming into this bucket. Not all dirt will remain in the bucket, I assure you. As you go on cleaning, the water level will most likely drop, providing a higher concentration of dirt left in your remaining water. You will most likely be bringing dirt from the bucket back to the vehicle.
2. Dish soap - A trick passed down for a few generations now. Dad’s quick and dirty ways of washing a vehicle do not apply any longer. Yes, some sources will claim that DAWN is gentle enough. I’m still not having it. Generally speaking, most dish detergents are too abrasive (translation: swirl marks), and further, their ingredients typically will strip any wax or other protectant that you may have applied or paid a service such as Fresh Auto Detailing to apply.
3. Plain Wash cloth - This will not lift and trap dirt efficiently enough. In all likelihood you will be simply smearing the dirt across the paint. A very quick way to scratches.
4. Wool Mitt - Or as I like to call it, the dirt catcher. Perhaps a step above the wash cloth. It is natural, durable… and abrasive. Grease (and dirt) tend to cling onto this type of mitt. This is trouble for your paint, especially if you don't launder your mitt each time after you’ve washed your vehicle. Another older school method that needs to go.
5. Wash Brooms - Well, they have there place. Perhaps for the trailer or motorhome. But not for your vehicle. One wrong move and you may easily gouge your paint. The worse I have seen are deep symmetrical scratches across the bottom of the liftgate of an SUV where you can imagine someone ran the broom across the bumper.
6. Scrubbing Hard - I’ve seen a few all-in-one mitts with a variety of different surfaces all intended for specific tasks. Plushy side for the vehicle, a smooth side for the wheels, and a rough honeycomb patch intended to scrub down any stubborn spots you may come across. Regardless of the mitt, you should never aim to scrubb harder to remove something. You are better off coming at it multiple times in a more gentle manner. If it truly wont come out by gentle means, please invest in a suitable cleaner for the task.
7. Improper Cleaners - We talked about using a proper car wash soap, but what about other cleaners for the exterior of your car. Yes, they are available. Don’t go to town on something with just your wash soap when it could be remedied much easier, quicker and safer with the right product. Bug, tar, iron and salt removers are a few that come to mind. All have their own specific chemistry to tackle each problem.
8. Infrequency - If you neglect washing your vehicle, you’re gonna have a bad time. With weather (heat and cold), the vehicle gets wet, dries, gets wet again, and so on. This process begins to embed dirt and contaminants into your paint and other surfaces. The goal here is to prevent this from happening as much as possible as prolonged duration between washes will make matters worse eventually causes scratches and oxidation.
Stay tuned for the next entry > “1.2 - Proper Tools for Washing Your Vehicle.”