Washing the Car

Instructions by Gregg Couture

The thing that can give the greatest benefit to your car's finish is to keep the paint and wheels clean! Whether it's an occasional spray with the hose, or an automated car wash - anything that can wash away all the road grime, salt, and residue your car collects will prolong your car's appearance for many years to come.

It's hard to believe, but the type of soap used on your car's finish can make quite a difference! If you're one of those people who does wash your car often, and uses dish washing soap - STOP! Dish washing detergents/soaps are meant for just that - DISH washing. They leave behind a residue which is harmful to your paint, the polish, and can even dull your car's potential luster. There are plenty of soaps on the market, made specifically for car washing, which can leave a better shine, as well as help clean and condition the polish/wax treatment you spent so much time and money to get! So here are the steps involved in properly washing your car:

1)   Get a large bucket which holds at least four gallons of water, and pour in a couple of capfuls of car washing soap, and fill the bucket with luke warm water. The soap container will specify how much water and soap to add – I recommend Mother's® California Gold® car wash soap. It cleans and shines with ultra-sudsy action and has a wax-protecting pH-balanced formula. Some soaps out there can actually strip away wax previously applied due to their low pH.

2)   If possible, park the car in the shade, and on an incline. This will minimize water spotting and streaking. Parking on an incline will help the water run off the car's paint and moldings more easily.

3)   Spray the car with a little water - just enough to get the car wet. Try to avoid using a water temperature that's too cold or too hot. This can cause "thermoshock" which can create tiny hairline cracks in the finish.

4)   Wet a sponge with soapy, lukewarm water, and begin to scrub the top of the car first. I usually start by scrubbing the roof, windows, and trunk first. Then, before the suds dry, spray off all the suds with the hose. Continue with each side from front to back, and then finish up with the hood last. The trick is to not let the suds dry - because you will then have very noticeable, unsightly water spots. End with the hood, because the water tends to settle on top of flat surfaces, rather than running off the sides of the doors or windows. If it settles on the hood for too long, waterspots will occur - and this will only make more work for you when trying to remove them.

5)   Next, scrub the tires and rims/wheels. I recommend using some sort of spray on-wheel cleaner before starting. Armor-All's QuickSilver® is an excellent product. It loosens up all the brake dust, and road grime so you can just spray it away. Then proceed with scrubbing with the soap and give the car one final "hose-down". Try to use free-flowing water straight from the hose instead of spraying it with an adapter. This leaves fewer wet areas to dry.

6)   The final step in washing the car is to dry it. Properly drying the car gets rid of those ugly water spots found on your car such as after it rains. Your car may be clean - but if a drop of water dries on your paint, you're reminded of it with a water spot - so either use a clean towel, or a 'clean' chamois. (The porous chamois can trap particles of dirt which may scratch your finish - so make sure it's CLEAN!). You can find natural or synthetic chamois' in automotive supply stores. They work great!*

*Note that if you intend to continue on to polishing the car…drying the car will not be necessary in my routine. This will save you time, as you may let the car "air-dry" while you do some work in the interior of the car.