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Proper Washing and Drying

Old 08-01-2005, 12:27 PM
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Default Proper Washing and Drying

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Proper Washing & Drying

Most of the swirl marks that occur on your vehicle are likely caused by regular washing and drying. Though weekly washes and towel-drying are the best care you can give your vehicle, improper techniques will cause unsightly swirls and scratches in the paint that will require compounding or polishing at the very least. You can prevent these problems and save yourself a lot of extra work by following a few simple tips when washing and drying your vehicle.

Why wash weekly?

Weekly washing is optimal because some contaminants can do serious damage to the paint if they are not removed quickly. One such contaminant is bug splatter. Their bodies contain organic acids that break down the carcass, but they also eat into the clear coat if not removed promptly. Weak spots in the clear coat make your vehicle susceptible to corrosion.

Another problem contaminant is brake dust. It contains metal shavings from the rotors and an adhesive used in the production of brake pads. This makes brake dust highly corrosive and very sticky. Washing your vehicle weekly will remove these contaminants before they have the opportunity to do permanent damage.

Wash Tools

It’s very important to choose tools that are gentle on the paint, yet effective at removing contamination. As a rule of thumb, sponges and mitts that are plush or have a deep nap are better than flat weave towels or dense sponges. For example, a Natural Sea Sponge has numerous deep compartments where dirt and debris can accumulate. The natural fibers themselves will not scratch the paint and they will essentially pull contamination into the sponge’s openings, away from the paint. Always use the softer side of the sponge for washing. Rinse new sea sponges thoroughly before use to remove any shell fragments or sand.

Another option is a Sheepskin Wash Mitt. Sheepskin is extremely soft and plush. The fibers are gentle on the paint while the nap is deep enough to accommodate loose dirt and sand so they do not rub against the vehicle. Because sheepskin is natural, it does not last as long as a synthetic microfiber mitt. However, for luxurious softness, you can’t beat the texture of sheepskin.

Microfiber mitts are another paint-safe option. Microfiber’s combination of polyester and polyamide make it capable of scrubbing the paint without scratching or swirling. It traps dirt and grit within the fibers rather than leaving them on the surface of your vehicle. Be sure to rinse the mitt frequently to release these particles.

Cotton chenille pads and mitts are also good choices because they clean easily and they last longer than sheepskin or natural sea sponges.

1. Wash the wheels and tires first. If you splash wheel cleaners or dirt onto your vehicle, you can simply wash it off as you wash. Use a cleaner that is safe for all wheels, like Wolfgang Tire & Wheel Cleaner. It is water-based and has no corrosive chemicals, which is safer for coated wheels and rubber. Agitate with an OXO or New England Wheel Brush to clean wheels without scratching. Wash each wheel and tire one at a time and rinse thoroughly before moving on to the next one.

2. Now you’re ready to wash. It’s important to use a car wash that is rich in lubricants. The purpose of the car wash is to remove contaminants and lubricate them so they do not scratch the paint as they slide off the vehicle. Dish detergents are not ideal because they remove protective coatings. P21S Bodywork Conditioning Shampoo, DP Auto Bath Shampoo and Pinnacle Bodywork Shampoo are all great choices. They will not remove wax and they provide ample lubrication of gritty particles.

3. Here’s a trick to prevent swirl marks: use two buckets. Fill one bucket with soapy water and fill the other with clean water. Each time you need to reload your sponge with soapy water, dip it in the clean water first to rinse out some of the contamination you’ve just removed from your vehicle. Then dip it in the soapy water and continue washing.

Another option is the Grit Guard. This plastic grid sits in the bottom of a 5-gallon wash bucket and stabilizes the water. Contamination settles to the bottom of the bucket and the clean wash water remains at the top.

4. Always rinse your vehicle thoroughly before you begin washing in order to remove loose debris. Then begin washing at the top of the vehicle. Wash down the vehicle as opposed to front to back. Remember that the lower panels are dirtiest. You want to clean the windows and the upper panels before cleaning the lower half of the vehicle so that you don’t transfer grit to the top half of the vehicle. Rinse and reload your sponge often to prevent cross-contamination. Rinse your vehicle frequently as you work, especially in hot weather.

For stubborn spots, like bugs or tar, use the Pinnacle Safe Scrub Bug & Tar Sponge to gently remove sticky contaminants without scratching. To soften the sponge, soak it in warm water for 3 minutes. Always use it with soapy water to lubricate the sponge. If you choose to use a spot cleaner, spray it on before washing and reapply wax to the treated area after you’ve dried the vehicle.

5. When rinsing, you don’t have to blast your car clean with the water hose. Free-flowing water (no nozzle) will allow the water to sheet off of your vehicle for a more thorough rinsing.


Never skip drying! Drying your vehicle after washing is necessary to prevent water spots. Water spots are caused by mineral deposits that etch the outline of a drop of water into your vehicle’s paint. All water has minerals, whether it’s from the hose or the sky. As the water evaporates, the minerals remain on the surface and they will eventually, inevitably create water spots.

You can dry your vehicle in a variety of ways, but you want to make sure you do it quickly. The fastest way to remove excess water is with a California Water Blade or California Dry Blade. These are paint-safe squeegees that pull 80% of the water off the surface of your vehicle. They are made of soft, medical-grade silicone so they will not scratch your paint or glass. Use the blade on the windows first, since water spots are most noticeable there.

Even if you use a Water Blade, you still need to use a towel to remove the rest of the water. The Cobra Waffle-Weave Towel is a large microfiber towel that is manufactured with a waffle-weave texture. This weave increases the surface area so the towel can absorb more water. It can absorb 7 times its own weight in moisture, and it’s completely nonabrasive. Microfiber towels come in a number of sizes and they can be altered for a specific purpose. For example, the Cobra Waffle-Weave Glass Towel will clean and dry glass without streaks. Microfiber is more absorbent than terry cloth or chamois, and it lasts longer.

Terry cloth towels are not recommended because the fibers can become matted and hard after repeated uses. They increase the chance of swirls. Compared to microfiber, they are not as absorbent and they don’t last as long. Never use bath towels that have been discarded from the house. They are probably not soft or paint safe.

You may also use a genuine or synthetic chamois. The Prince of Wales Chamois is 100% leather and it’s extremely soft. Its luxurious texture makes it a pleasure to use, but it will not last as long as a synthetic chamois. Do not continue using it after it becomes hard. The Pittards Dry-Soft Chamois is another option. It is real leather, but it dries soft. Chamois are gentle on paint and they are more absorbent than terry cloth.

Drying Tips

1. Dry windows and mirrors first.

2. Use the large Cobra Supreme Waffle Weave Towel to remove the majority of water from your vehicle. This towel measures 20”x 40” and it absorbs seven times its own weight in moisture. Go back over the vehicle with a smaller towel, like the Cobra Waffle Weave Drying Towel (16”x 24”) to catch any water the large towel may have missed. This quick two-step process will leave your vehicle bone-dry and ready for wax.

3. Once the outside is dry, wipe down all your door jambs and sills. Open the trunk and hood to wipe the jambs.

4. Dry your wheels using a towel or chamois that is designated just for this purpose. Don’t use this towel on your paint to avoid cross-contamination. You may also use this towel to wipe off surfaces under the hood. Wash this towel before you use it again.

The Finishing Touch

Use a quick detail spray like Mothers Showtime Detailer or Wolfgang Instant Detail Spritz to rejuvenate the shine of your existing wax. Skip this step if you are going to apply another coat of wax.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:18 PM
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Default RE: Proper Washing and Drying

Automatice carwashes are for people who dont care about their saab has never been near one...even in winter.
Swirl Marks occur because people do not wash properly. NEVER Start with the wheels and tires! thats a sin. Wheels and tires collect brake dust which an abrasive substance on paint. If you wash that first with the same mitt, sponge, brush....your justasking for unsightly swirl marks. ALWAYS wash from top to bottom....i.e. start where theres less dirt buildup and work down ending with the wheels. Never use a sponge or mitt to wash your car...they almost always leave swirls andalways retain abrasive dirt paritcles. Use a high quality ultra soft car has yet to get a single swirl or scratch from this method.
Rinse your car with a good amount of water pressure to loosen and blast away surface dirt, otherwish you will be scrubbing dirt into the paint. Pay close attention to the lower half of the vehicle.
Thoroughly rinse the bucket you will use and pour in a quality soap..never dish detergent or any other crap. I recommend Zymol Clear which works great and will never speed up your paints aging process like many other soaps.
Gently, very gently work a small section and a time and rinse often. Never wash in direct sunlight because then the water evaporates leaving ugly water stainson paint and glass. freaquently dunk your brush in the bucket to insure proper soap lubrication on the paint.
when your done, take a separate soft brush or sponge and wash your wheels with the same type of soap you used on the finish...wheel cleaners are harsh and can ruin/ dull wheel finishes/ and its not good to get on the paint. My friend ruined his S4 wheels by using wheel cleaner.
drying is very important and can only be done one way. Never pull or rub a towel or leather chamois over the paint. Use a big, soft, clean beach towel, andgently pat the paint dry. It works perfectlyand can't scratchyourpaint.

Top it all off with some armor-all tireshine gel, step back, and enjoy the view
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:37 PM
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Default RE: Proper Washing and Drying

wow ill have to remember that...i try to go to car washes whenever possible though..the touchless ones i hate those old brushes slapping up against the paint
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