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Home > Auto Detailing Guide > Properly Wash & Dry

Properly Wash & Dry
Click to enlargeProper Washing & Drying

Washing your vehicle weekly is the best way to remove surface contaminants before they do serious damage to your vehicle’s paint finish. Did you also know that most of the swirls, or spider-webs, on your vehicle are caused by washing? It’s true! Each time you wash your car, you could be rubbing grit into the paint. Our washing guide will give you some pointers on how to wash your car without scratching it. A few carefully chosen tools and easy techniques will give you a clean, swirl-free vehicle.

Schedule The Washing Cycle

Washing once a week is the standard for vehicles that are under your general use and wisely so. During the week, your automobile can receive contaminants along your journey to and from work, errands, and anywhere else you travel. Whether your car is dormant in the garage, or tearing asphalt cross-country, it is equally defenseless against the hail of pollutants and damaging particles that seem to meet us at every turn.

Bugs are among the most damaging contaminants your paint can experience. Not only can their hard exoskeletons cause surface scratches; their bodies can break down further to root their remains to the paint surface, sometimes even eating into it with naturally corrosive acids. Another major player in this arena is your own brake pads, whose metal shavings can accumulate on your rims and lower body panels. By washing weekly, you ensure that these collected maladies are taken care of in a timely manner. Allowing contaminants to sit on your vehicle for any period of time is a gamble in itself. Instead of taking the risk, schedule a time each week to properly cleanse your vehicle.

Tools to Use, Tips to Try

In the days prior to your wash, carefully select the tools and processes you wish to use. Speaking to your fellow enthusiasts can always bring you excellent information regarding what sponges and mitts would be best for which vehicles. The key to selecting the proper equipment is achieving a blend of functionality and gentleness. As we said before, improper techniques lead to swirl marks. Wiping down your vehicle with an ordinary towel will do more harm than good. Thankfully, Mother Nature has delivered us car fanatics a perfectly engineered sponge that all but eliminates this risk. Found along the shores of our neighboring Key West, Natural Sea Sponges are gentle on your paint, and tough on debris. The complex fibers found in natural sea sponges allow them to soak up multitudes of water and grit within a network of tiny pores. Make an effort to use the softer side of the sponge, and always remember to wash it thoroughly before and after every use to remove any contaminants.

Pinnacle Cotton Chenille Wash Mitts are another effective solution for swirl-free car washing. The comfortable elastic cuff will keep the product from sliding off, and the mitt design is perfect for the enthusiast that wants to get in there and clean their vehicle’s every streamlined curve. Soft, plush and incredibly absorbent, these mitts make the job fly by in no time flat.

Washing Time

Reinvent the washing experience in new and exciting ways by learning the names of the greatest quality products to apply and the expert tactics that will provide amazing results every time.

1. From the Top to the Bottom. Always be sure to start washing your car from the top. Professionals and hobbyists alike do this to ensure that none of the vehicle is re-contaminated by debris from different areas. Typically, the lowest extremities of your vehicle are the areas covered with the toughest accumulation of grit and grime. By saving this job for last, you are safeguarding the rest of your paint from exposure to brake dust.

2. No Hope with Dish Soap. Save the dish soap for your dishes. These formulas are engineered with harmful compounds that can easily eat away at your paint job. When it comes to treating your trusted transportation with soap, use lush, super-sudsy formulas like Wolfgang Auto Bathe or Optimum Car Wash. These products deliver consistently awe-inspiring jobs that will leave your body shining and scratch-free.

3. High Quality H2O. We all know that clean water is necessary for any car wash, but we sometimes fail to notice when said water becomes contaminated. Every time you dip your sponge or mitt into your water bucket, you are introducing foreign particles like dirt and grime into your previously pure water source. Subsequent dips into the bucket can then collect this dirt and cause you to induce swirls, marring the paint. Using two buckets is clever, but not nearly enough when it comes to protecting your highly adored, prize-winning finish. The only proven method to eliminate this threat is by lining the bottom of your bucket with the unique Grit Guard Insert. It is a type of filtration system that not only cleans dirt off of your sponge, but it also quarantines the removed contaminants in a calm zone at the bottom of the bucket. Especially effective at eliminating the risk of paint swirls, the Grit Guard should be present in every enthusiast’s wash bucket.

4. Tired of Cleaning. Tires, wheels, and fender wells are places of nightmarish buildup. Using your precious microfibers on these areas is like throwing them away, as the tar-like buildup can irrevocably damage them. Therefore, don’t move in without equipping yourself with a quality Montana Original Boar's Hair Wheel Brush to make quick work of any brake dust. Combine this brush with Wolfgang Tire and Wheel Cleaner and you will achieve remarkable, jaw-dropping results with minimal scrubbing.

5. Your Hose Knows Best. Before doing anything, spray your vehicle down to remove loose debris. Pine needles and leaves are both examples of surface elements that can be easily washed off with your average garden hose, and it’s safer for your car to let the water work for you. At the end of your wash process, rinse away suds with free-flowing water. High quality car washes usually create a sheeting or beading effect. Rinsing with free-flowing water will allow most of the water to sheet off the vehicle without leaving water spots.


All water contains microscopic minerals, even the water you clean your car with. When moisture evaporates, the minerals are left behind on your vehicle’s surface where they can etch the finish. Because of this, it is important that you remember to dry your automobile off as soon as you are finished rinsing. When you begin drying, you’ll want to have a set of items available to cut the time down and ensure proper dryness without the threat of scratching. Scratches most commonly occur when substandard towels are used for automotive drying. Avoid using discarded household towels altogether, as they are often not soft any more, and they produce lint. To achieve professional results, arm yourself with the ingenious Shurhold Shur-Dry Flexible Water Blade. If you have ever seen an ordinary squeegee in action, you already know how effective they are at parting water from glass and metal. Pushing the envelope to the technological limits, the Water Blade is composed of a medical grade silicone that guarantees removing 90% of the moisture from your vehicle.

If you are the type of person that insists on lavish towels that provide the perfectionist’s blend of absorption and gentleness, chamois is the word that will make you and your car purr in anticipation. The soft Prince of Wales Chamois is made from 100% leather, and is a real treat for any automobile. This decadent chamois will deliver a royal shine.

The synthetic market is another option that should never be overlooked. Cobra Waffle-Weave Towels are but one of the many microfiber products offered by Cobra, and it delivers consistently heightened results where other towels fail. This product retains all of the exceptional Cobra traits including the wonderful non-linting construction and the trademark softness. What really makes this towel unique is that it can retain seven times its own weight in water. This quality is a big help during the drying process since one towel is all you need. However you choose to proceed, below is a concise set of guidelines that will ensure a safe and dry vehicle.

Drying Tips

1. Spare your microfiber. Avoid sacrificing your microfibers or chamois towels to possibly permanent stains. For particularly grimy areas like doorjambs and engine gutters, use terry cloth towels or all purpose cleansing wipes. This will also prevent cross-contamination of surfaces because your microfiber towels will be reserved exclusively for paint and glass.

2. The Friction Affliction. Any towel, no matter how gentle is still capable of creating swirl marks if used incorrectly. To prevent problems, always use a clean microfiber towel on a clean vehicle. A dirty towel spells danger for automotive paint.

3 The Wheel Deal. Just like washing, you should dry from top to bottom, and when you get to the tires it is recommended that you designate a towel for this specific purpose. This precaution will eliminate the chance of cross contamination.

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Related Items In This Category
Properly Wash & Dry | Foamaster Foam Wash Gun Free Bonus! | Natural Wax vs. Sealants | Car Wax Application Guide | Klasse Application Guide: All-In-One & High Gloss Sealant Glaze | Trim & Molding Care | Glass Cleaning Tips | Tire & Wheel Detailing How To | Cockpit Care | Leather Care | Convertible Top Maintenance | Detailing Clay Guide | Circular Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch Removal | Dual Action Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch Removal | Foam Pad Cleaning | Microfiber Products Care

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