We recently wrote a short article on the biggest mistakes to avoid when cleaning your car, this article is intended to expand on this and give you hints on getting the most out of your cleaning efforts.
Lesson 1 – Sponges and Brushes Are Your Enemy
Sponges and brushes are a cars worst enemy. Dirt, dust and debris get caught on the surface and you’ll end up dragging it across the paintwork as you clean your car. This means you are actually ruining your car each time you clean it as you drag dirt across the surface and scratch it.
In most cases you won’t leave scratches so bad that they are instantly noticeable, the dirt particles are so tiny that they’ll instead create a fine spider-web of tiny scratches that resemble swirl marks in the paintwork. Caught in the sunlight or light of a torch these swirls are easily recognisable.
The sensible alternative is to use lambswool mitt or sheepskin glove, whereby any grit, dirt and debris will sift deep into the core and not remain on the surface as a deadly menace to your paint.
Lesson 2 – The Two Bucket Method
Many professional detailers recommend the use of the so-called 2 bucket method. One bucket is used to shampoo the car, the other bucket is used to rinse the wash mitt. This is a safe method for further reducing the risk of your wash mitt being contaminated with dangerous dust and debris particles.
Lesson 3 – Leave The Washing Up In The Kitchen
Washing up liquid is an aggressive abrasive cleaner that is fantastic for sparkling dishes but strips your paintwork of its protection and dulls the shine. Leave it in the kitchen where it belongs and buy some car cleaning shampoo to get the best shine and rid your car of airborne contaminates.
Lesson 4 – Wax Is More Than Shine
The bodywork of your car is porous in nature. Wax gives more than just a fantastic shine, it fills the tiny gaps you can’t see and protects the paint from the harsh weather and environment. Regular waxing and polishing will actually keep your car cleaner for longer.
Lesson 5 – Clean Tools For a Clean Job
Remember it is important to keep your tools clean while cleaning your car. A dirty microfiber cloth is just as dangerous as a cheap sponge or rough brush. We’d recommend using a different microfiber cloth for each of the following jobs when detailing your car, turning regularly and avoiding dirt particles as much as possible. If you drop a cloth, don’t pick it up and use it on the car. You’ll soon ruin all your hard work. Once your job is finished, wash the cloths at a high temperature and don’t use conditioners or you will ruin their absorbent properties.
The Devil Is In The Detail
Proper detailing keeps your paintwork clean, protected and shiny. Better still, by maintaining the paintwork you’re also maintaining the value of your vehicle. So it’s worth putting the effort in. The following is a step-by-step guide to detailing your car. Remember, detailing is much more than mere washing.
- Rinse the car with a hose to remove loose dirt and dust.
- With two buckets, wash the car using a lambswool mitt or microfiber wash mitt and professional car shampoo. Wash one panel at a time, starting from the top and working downwards. Regularly rinse the mitt using the spare bucket of clean water or the hose.
- Once washed, rinse the car with a hose to remove suds and shampoo.
- Dry using a microfiber towel or specialised drying towel being careful to keep the towel clean.
- Next, is detailing clay. Even after a thorough wash you might think your car is completely clean, but you’d be wrong. Because paintwork is porous, things like bird poo, sap from trees, fumes from other car exhausts all get into the paintwork and deep down into the pores. Using a clay bar pulls the dirt out and allows you to seal the pores with wax and polish, leaving a truly deep shine and protection. Professional detailing clay is applied by hand using a suitable lubricant or detailing spray. Kneed the clay and turn it regularly to keep the clean part touching the surface of the car. You’ll be surprised how much more dirt the clay bar lifts from the car, even when you think it’s clean. White clay bars will soon turn brown. Luckily this is a task that only needs to be performed every 6 months or so, but it makes a world of difference.
- Rinse the car once more and dry it again.
- This next step is important if you want an excellent shine. It is not essential, but it can make a world of difference; turning a magnificent shine into deep mirror reflection. You can purchase show glaze which is commonly used by car enthusiasts to create a magnificent wet-look shine from various retailers online. It is usually colour specific and easy to apply. We recommend using a high-quality microfiber cloth to both apply and buff the glaze. Microfiber cloths are excellent as they keep any dirt you missed away from the paintwork and prevent damage while polishing a brilliant shine. Apply glaze according the instructions, then buff off. Glaze is an excellent way to reduce swirl marks and imperfections in the paint.
- Waxing is the next step. Now you’ve created a brilliant shine it’s important that you protect the paint and prevent the future build-up of contaminants. A high-quality detailing wax should be easy to apply and provide excellent protection. Dodo Juice has a range of waxes for various colours and shades. Apply using a microfiber cloth or application mitt and follow instructions. Most waxes need to be left to cure on the paintwork and can be applied in several layers (either a hour or 24 hours later). Then buff the wax off using a clean microfiber cloth. A properly waxed car is protected and the wax works to seal in the shine left behind the glaze, as well as filling gaps in swirls and light scratches. When properly waxed, rain will bead on the paints surface rather than soaking in; this clearly demonstrates the protective shield the wax provides. Not only does waxing protect your car from the environment but it also helps keep the car cleaner for longer. In future washes, you’ll find the dirt just drops off.
- Now you have created a mirror shine and added a layer of wax protection, it’s important to seal that protection by using a synthetic sealant. This provides a further shield for the car, a liquid coat of armour that protects the wax shield below (Chemical Guys Sealantsare excellent). Apply according to instructions on the tub and buff off with a soft, clean microfiber cloth.
- You’re nearly done, the paintwork looks great but the wheels and tyres really let it down. A fresh bucket of shampoo and a heavy-duty microfiber cloth will make light work of brake dust and dirt on your wheels. Finish off with a wheel sealant that protects your alloy wheels in the same way as the wax and sealant you just applied to your car. Meguairs High Gloss Tyre Gel is an excellent way to return shine to tired, brown tyres leaving a deep black shine that really finishes off your detailing session.
- The final step is getting the glass clean and shiny. A detailing window cleaner will work wonders, there are various products to choose from, but glass microfiber cloths easily remove smudges, smears, oil and dirt; resulting in a magnificent shine that’s so good you might not even notice your windows are open.
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful and remember, detailing your car is not just about keeping it clean, it’s about protecting the paintwork and maintaining the value too.
Stand back and admire your work!