Detailing 111 – Car Wash Basics

 Detailing 111 with CHD Connor Harrison Detailing Cover Photo WRX

 Detailing 111 – Car Wash Basics

by Connor Harrison

You’ve pinched pennies, lived on nothing but Ramen noodles and Eggo waffles, and can now finally afford the car you’ve been dreaming about.  You’re proud of your new ride and want to ensure that it looks its best at all times, so you wash it so much that your neighbors become concerned for your sanity.  But are you washing it the right way?  Bad wash procedure is the primary cause of swirl scratches, which will dull the paint over time.  Most likely there is room for improvement in your car washing process! 

Simply put, washing your car is the single most important aspect in maintaining the look and aesthetic integrity of your vehicle.  While the title of this new segment is detailing 111 you are probably asking “Why is Car Wash Basics a 111 level course?” Well when done improperly you may actually be doing more harm than good through the creation of washing-induced micro-marring of the paint and the issue is MUCH of the world is “doing it wrong”. Over time this wrong doing will dull the surface and make your pride and joy look less than stellar.  Fear not! Through a few simple adjustments you too can safely wash your vehicle at home, just like the pros. The first thing you need to know is when to wash your car.  This is largely common sense, but you wash your car when it is dirty.  This means any bugs that have splattered on the front, brake dust that’s accumulated on the wheels, and any other dirt or grime that’s built up from normal use.  You may not need to wash your car as often as you wash yourself, but for daily driven vehicles it’s not a bad idea to wash weekly.


CHD Connor Harrison Detail Porsche dirty car wash basics
Those spirited evening drives are a perfect opportunity to work on your bug collection.
The bumper area near the exhaust tip can be an especially dirty area for modified vehicles.

Just as with any task, you need the right tools to get the job done the right way.  You know that dirty T-shirt and old bath towel you’ve been using to clean your cars for the past decade?  Burn them and don’t look back.  There are a plethora of online retailers that cater to the detailing market with a variety of different tools to get the job done.  I’ll make the choices simple for you.


CHD Connor Harrison Detailing Car Wash Basic necessities bucket grit guard foam gun tire wheel brush wash drying towel microfiber
The bare necessities include two buckets, grit guards, quality soap, one drying towel, and one washing towel.  A foam gun and soft brushes will make the process even more effective!

The core of proper washing lies with the tried and true method of the two-bucket wash.  All you need are two buckets, some quality car wash soap, a good microfiber wash mitt, and a good microfiber drying towel.  If you really want to push your wash to the next level, consider investing in a pair of grit guards, some soft brushes, and even a foam gun.  

Where you wash your car is just as important as what you wash it with.  Having too much sunlight will cause the soap to dry out on the paint, which can etch the surface.  Washing under a tree offers shade that will help prevent this, but then you have to contend with tree debris falling on the vehicle as you wash.  Washing your car indoors is ideal, but impractical for most people due to drainage concerns.  The best bet is to wash your car early in the morning or late in the evening when the air is cool and the sun is low, away from any overhanging vegetation.


CHD Connor Harrison Detailing 111 car wash basics shade
Outside, clear skies, with a cool evening.  A perfect time to wash!


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