Major car-wash DON’Ts that you must avoid

If you happen to care about your car’s paint finish down to the finest detail, you’ll want to be a little more careful next time you go at it with a sponge and bucket. When the sun finally comes out, we’re often quick to start scrubbing at our cars, yet so many of us are making mistakes that will leave our beloved motors with small scratch and swirl marks, rather than the spotless shine we’re all hoping to achieve. Here are some common car-washing mistakes that you certainly should not be making!

Don’t just use one bucket

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One of the first things auto detailers learn is the ‘two bucket’ method, which surprisingly, is exactly what it sounds like. One bucket is filled with soap, the other is filled with clean water. The idea is to never put a dirty sponge into your soap bucket and instead, rinse off the dirt in the bucket with clean water in it.

This will prevent you from washing your car with a dirty sponge, reducing the chances of you dragging a debris-laden sponge across your pool ol’ car’s painted surfaces. If you look closely at your car’s paint, you’ll probably see tiny swirl marks and minute scratches. These marks are likely the product of previous owners or car washes that don’t use the two bucket method, or something similar. When restricting yourself to just one bucket, you’re allowing your sponge to soak up all the dirt particles and tiny debris that you just wiped off of your car, then proceeding to wipe your car with a rough sponge filled with all that debris. Never use one bucket!

Don’t use a dropped cloth or sponge

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If you’re using any kind of wipe, sponge or other tool, dropping it on the floor is often an inevitability. It’s not a question of if you’ll drop the sponge, but rather a question of when you’ll drop it. Once you’ve dropped that sponge, don’t pick it up and keep using it!

Following the same logic of the two bucket method, you should now know that debris and dirt is the enemy of the perfect wash. Even if your dropped sponge appears completely clean, don’t trust it. Either wash it incredibly thoroughly or use a new one. Dirt particulates can be virtually invisible but that doesn’t mean they won’t scratch up your car when using a dirty cleaning tool.

Don’t use a sponge at all!

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You won’t find many professional car detailers using an old fashioned sponge. Instead, a mixture of lambswool/microfibre wash mitts and jet washers are employed. The pros will often use a snow foam to loosen debris and dirt, then follow up with a jet wash to safely remove the dirt, then follow up with a fine wash mitt to clean the remaining dirt off. Using a sponge is not inherently wrong, it’s just riskier as it’s easier for dirt to get trapped and wiped across your vehicle.

For optimum results, you want your cleaning tool, whether it be hand mitt or otherwise, to glide effortlessly across your car’s various surfaces because friction is certainly not a good thing. Wash mitts are worn on your hand making them harder to drop on the floor and easier to use in general. The same goes for pressure washers; you can cover a wider area much quicker and there’s no risk of wiping dirt across your paintwork.

Don’t use an automatic car wash

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If you get lazy and decide one weekend you just can’t be bothered to wash your car yourself (we all do at some point) then just make sure you don’t head on over to one of those dreaded automatic car washes. As is the running theme here, the main problem with these spinning bristles is that they carry loads of dirt and debris from all the other cars that have been washed. The bristles themselves are made to be soft enough to not damage paint, but the paint is still being damaged by all the dirt particulates that are being wiped across your car like sandpaper.

The only acceptable automatic car washes are the ones that use several pressure washer jets in place of the big blue fuzzy corn-on-the-cobs. Hand car washes can be just as bad if the people that wash your car use bad practices and dirty tools, so be careful when choosing a car wash and avoid the auto car wash!

Don’t scrub hard!

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As simple as it sounds, don’t brush off this important tip as it’s probably the worst thing to do out of all of our other no-nos. If you come across a particularly stubborn piece of muck on your car, whether it be week-old bird poop or a hardened sport of mud, whatever you do, don’t scrub at it hard. Here at Motor-Vision we’ve personally made this mistake, leaving us with visible scratches on our beloved autos. Scrubbing harder may help remove the dirt, but at what cost?

Here’s what you do, get some very warm (but not boiling) soapy water and pour it over the muck. Preferably, you should be using a proper car soap that can effectively loosen dirt while not harming the paint. Once you’ve let the soap loosen the dirt, use a jet washer to shoot away the dirt rather than scrubbing it with anything. If you don’t have access to a jet washer, then using a cloth is fine as long as you don’t scrub. Wipe the muck away, one wipe at a time, making sure that you’re folding/replacing your cloth along the way to avoid wiping the dirt back over your car. Wipe in a slow, methodical manner and remove the dirt with each swipe. Don’t press hard and don’t scrub back and forth and you should be fine!

This is a mistake that so many people make and if you scrub too hard, you have a good chance of leaving your car with deep, fine scratch marks which can be a pain to hide!

Wash your car the right way this year! Let us know any other tips you have in the comments.

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