Useful Tips On the Proper Technique
It’s that time again. The winter is here along with snow and grit. The salt and other thawing agents on the road will damage your car’s paint if you’re not careful. Right now, it is important not to neglect your car and maintain it regularly to protect the bodywork. Summer is just as damaging as the sunlight dries pollen, dust, insects and annoying tree resin, which damages the paint and causes it to corrode (rust) more quickly. The latter two are particularly harmful with their corrosive acids. Therefore, you should wash your car every two to three weeks throughout the year.
If possible, park your car in a garage. While it’s tempting to keep the vehicle cooler, avoid parking under trees in the hot season to avoid tree sap and droppings landing on your vehicle. To permanently protect the paint, it is important to do a regular car wash. Whether you do this yourself or at a professional car wash is up to you. Treating the paint with hard wax prevents damage and provides longer protection. In general, lathering is enough to remove coarse impurities and dust whereas stubborn residue from trees and insects, as well as bird droppings, must be treated separately to be completely eliminated.
Part 1: Preparing to Wash Your Car By Hand
Although washing the car by hand consumes more water than a car wash and is more polluting, it is more thorough if you take the time to do so. You can do this at home or else at a self-service car wash.
- When doing it yourself, wash the car on a cooler day and in the shade. The paint and rims should be cold so that the cleaner can’t dry and leave ugly streaks. However, if you can only wash on a hot day, clean the car in sections from top to bottom.
- Be sure to wear gloves (latex or rubber) and goggles! The care products and cleaners are very aggressive. They not only itch and dry out the skin but can also cause a rash in sensitive people. The longer the glove the better it is.
- Discard the mistaken belief that the sponge is a good cleaning tool. Instead, use long fiber microfiber cloths or microfiber gloves. They have in an open cell structure which absorbs the dirt safely unlike a sponge. This protects the paint, as the dirt is trapped and not rubbed back onto the vehicle. Also, they are easier to rinse and wash.
- Be careful with car wash home remedies! Steer clear of dish soup, household sponges and scouring cream.
What You’ll Need
- Two buckets
- Car cleaning detergent
- Several microfiber clothes
- A brush – a second would also be useful for the rims
- Detailer or detail spray
- Auto detailing putty or clay
Prepare two buckets. One with about 20 liters of water and car shampoo and one with 10 liters of clear water. That’s enough to clean your car and not run the risk of consuming too much water. In general, you can also use conventional cleaners to shampoo the car. Detergent is completely sufficient. Several microfiber clothes and a brush are needed. A hose is useful to rinse your vehicle afterward.
Detailer or detail spray is also necessary once the car is dried to give a shining, professional finish as well. A detailer protects the varnish, seals it and during rain allows the surface to drain faster during winter. It boosts the protection of wax and can also be used to clean glass and chrome. And finally, auto detailing putty or clay can be used to get rid of stubborn marks.
Part 2: How to Wash Your Car
- Start with the rims as these need to soak the longest. They could get other parts of the car dirty if you wash them last. Remove the rims, soap the wheel arches, screw holes and the inner bed thoroughly and rinse off. Use a small round brush on the in-between spaces. Whether you use rim cleaner or conventional cleaning agents, it is important that you foam the product well with a brush, so that the dirt can dissolve by itself. If you have particularly delicate rims, place them in warm water for a while before starting the same washing process.
- When the rims are finished, you can move to the paint. Foam the car either manually or with a foam gun, so that the dirt can be softened. Always start foaming from top to bottom, as this increases the soaking time. When the foam slides down, it removes some of the dirt and dust from the lower sections.
- Rinse with a high-pressure cleaner or a hose.
- Now use a brush to clean hard-to-reach areas of your car. The rubber fins between the windows and doors, openings, moldings and the gaps of the radiator grill always accumulate a lot of dirt. Clean them with a second round of soaping and use a (fresh) brush for frothing and cleaning. Do not forget to rinse off the foam.
- Use the bucket with the shampoo/detergent mixture and the microfiber cloth to wash the car. Start from the top and tackle less dirty areas first. Apply a little pressure so that the fibers can pick up the dirt properly and not spread it around. Rinse the cloth or glove and repeat with the second bucket and then shampoo again.
- Work your way slowly to the trim. The lower part of the car is always dirtiest, so you should use either a second cloth. At the very end, clean the entrances of the doors and the folds of the trunk so that no oil stains your cleaning cloth. It would be a shame to get the car dirty again.
- Rinse the car thoroughly from top to bottom with the high-pressure cleaner or hose. Be careful not to hit the road directly as the jet of water would throw up dust and sand which would love to settle on your car again.
- During the winter, use the hose to spray under the car at various angles to dislodge salt, so that it won’t corrode the underside of your car.
Correctly Drying And Sealing The Body
- Drying the car properly requires as much care as the washing. Again, it is cleverer to use a microfiber cloth. Dry gently and without pressure so that the microfiber won’t be quickly saturated. You have to decide whether you want to dry your car right away with a suitable detailer or apply the detailer after drying.
- When the paint is ready, dry the seams thoroughly so that nothing drips over the body and wrecks your hard work.
- If you discover ingrained dirt, tar marks, and residues, you use a special car paint cleaning putty. Take a slice of the putty and knead it well, so that it becomes soft and supple. Then apply detailer on the dirty spots again to lubricate the surface. Now you move the putty gently back and forth until the impurities have disappeared. Do not press too hard and be careful to leave a generous layer of detailer under the putty so you do not get swirls into your paint. Usually, these are easy to remove with polish, but if you avoid them from the beginning, there is less to do.
- Wipe off the residue of the detailer with the microfiber cloth and polish with a fresh cloth. To know when to polish the car, use your finger to test whether the product has dried out completely and can be rubbed in. If your finger leaves no marks in the detailer and the paint appears shiny and clean underneath, you can start wiping and rubbing.
Tips for Going To A Car Wash
If you decide not to wash your car by hand, then there are three basic rules for using a fully-automated auto wash.
- If possible, go to the car wash on a rainy day. This softens the dirt in advance and the cleaning cloths or brushes are cleaner and not soaked in the dirt from previous vehicles. Not only do dust and pebbles dirty the paint, but they can also scratch it as they can act like sandpaper.
- Search for a washer with a cloth. It is a myth that brushes scratch the paint as this is far too robust nowadays. But often brushes leave a plastic residue or swirls on the surface that makes them look damaged.
- Do not skip the prewash. Heavy grime will be loosened and rinsed away so it won’t be carried into the car wash bay.
So, do not hesitate to take care of your car properly because damaged paintwork is difficult to repair. Chipped and scratched paint not only looks ugly but also encourages rust formation. In addition, an auto wash can reduce the irritating symptoms of hay fever, since the residues of the pollen are eliminated. Use your free weekends to groom your car or drive directly into a car wash and enjoy a well-kept car for a long time.
Passionate about travel, Katie likes to eat her way through as many different countries as possible.