No, not yourself, but your car. Recently I was shocked to find out the amount of damage that can be done to a cars paintwork by following the age-old tradition of plonking a sponge in a bucket of warm water and then dragging it over the body. Or even worse visiting your local Shell garage to pay £5 for that 'ultra clean' look. In reality, this appearance is farcical when examined in the sunlight. The image below shows a typical paint surface, visible on millions of cars because of the wrong technique employed in the washing stage:

 

The surface shows lots of little circles which are referred to as swirls.

 

 Well, the correct process is actually a lot more complex, and to obtain the best results I thought a simple guide might be a good idea just to show the difference following certain steps can make. Okay so it might be more effort than simply driving into a car wash, but one thing is for certain, if you follow these steps, your car will be much more appealing to the next potential buyer!

Start by buying another bucket. This is because the two bucket method will dramatically cut down scratches and swirlmarks on your cars paintwork.

The two bucket method is the process of using one bucket with warm soapy water in to dip in your wash mitt and lather the car, and then rinsing the mitt in the second bucket which has cold clean water in it to minimise the amount of dirt exposed to the cars finish.

If you're feeling particularly flush (considering I've just had to pay £36 for the privilege!), buy two grit guards. What the devil is a grit guard I hear you cry.

Well, imagine it to be similar to a strainer used when cooking. The grit guard sits at the bottom of the bucket and effectively traps the dirt underneath so the next time you dip your wash mitt in the bucket, it does not get contaminated with the same dirt you have just washed off of the car. It's basically the same as giving your car a shower instead of a bath, after all having a bath is surely a wasted effort because you are lying in your own dirty water.

 Notice I mentioned a wash mitt - not sponge. A sponge is basically a waste of time. Because of the flat surfaces, it catches all of the dirt particles and effectively drags them across the top layer of paint, therefore leading to the creation of the swirls seen in the above picture. A wash mitt, preferably genuine lambs wool, catches the dirt and traps it in between the fibres so that it is not exposed.

 Lastly, chamois leathers may be popular, but are a highly ineffectual way of drying your pride and joy. Instead, I suggest using micro-fibre towels or terry towels. These are super-soft and will not scratch your car like a chamois does. This is an obvious point really, considering that a chamois is rough to the touch.

This is just the tip of an inconceivably huge iceberg when it comes to car care and maintenance, but hopefully it might help some of you. I know it definitely has helped me to keep my car presentable. And don't think that only old cars are susceptible to scratches and swirls; I guarantee any brand new car from the dealers will have some form of paint imperfection lurking on it. All can be corrected though, as the detailers on this website show time and time again.

All of these products are available in good motor factors as well as online.

 

Comments

I pay YOU to wash my car, for me :D

Also, where the hell do you find the time to do all of this when we have so much going on?

Second point though, and i'm not sure if you said this already but if you're that bothered about keeping your car clean, throw away the sponge or whatever you use after one use- my dad is obssessed with that. Apparantly it will never be clean and useable again now that you have used it. But that's my dad for you....

You sound as bad as him though Alex to be fair!!

How To Wash Properly