CAR WASHING 101: 7 tips to do on your next wash
In this week's blog post, Chris from Jay's team is going to tackle detailing the Garage shop truck which is a 2018 Ford F-150.
Needless to say, the truck needed some TLC. We figured it would be a great opportunity to show you what it takes to do a complete wash on something that is extremely dirty. You can watch more about it in our most recent Touch-Up Tuesday installment.
In this video we cover some core detailing fundamentals, and we've boiled them down to 7 rules you should always follow when detailing your car or truck. So let's jump right in!
1. Wash in a cool, shaded area
Before you get started, you’ll want to park your car/truck in a shaded area and make sure the surface is cool to the touch. This will help ensure products aren’t drying on the car or truck prior to rinsing them off.
2. Wheels & tires first
First up on the exterior wash "hit list" are the wheels & tires. You'll want to clean these before the paint because they’re typically the dirtiest part of your vehicle. Plus, if you wait to clean them until the end of your wash you'll run the risk of splashing dirt & brake dust back onto the clean paint.
Now is a good time to point out a major detailing fundamental: avoid cross-contamination wherever possible. What we mean by that is we suggest that you use tools & buckets designated for specific sections of the vehicle. Using the wheels & tires as an example, this area is usually full of brake dust & road grime. The last thing you want to do is take the wash mitt you’re going to use for your paint and wipe down your wheels with it. If you did that, your wash mitt would pick up the sharp brake dust particles, trap them in the fibers, and then scratch & swirl your paint when you wash it later in the process.
When cleaning your wheels, it’s important to note that you work one at a time. You never want to apply cleaner to all 4 wheels first, and then start detailing them. While you’re working with the first one, your cleaners will dry on the other three and can potentially harm them.
As far as tools & chemical are concerned, you’ll need the following:
- A bucket dedicated for wheels & tires
- JLG Clean Strip shampoo (It’s got strong cleaning agents blended in to help lift the tough dirt & grime)
- Wheel Cleaner
- All-Purpose Cleaner
- EZ Detail Brush
- Fender Brush
Use your desired Wheel Cleaner for the barrel and face of the wheel. You can use All-Purpose Cleaner for the tires and wheel wells. The nice thing about the EZ Detail brush is it can bend to fit in tighter areas. We like to give it a 90 degree bend to get behind the wheel spokes. While you’re here, make sure you give the wheel wells a good scrub too. Repeat this process on all 4 wheels.
3. Start with a rinse
Once we’re done with the wheels, we’ll focus our attention on the paint. First we’ll rinse everything down to knock as much dirt off as possible. This is an important step - the more dirt and grime we can remove from the vehicle without touching it, the better.
4. Use two buckets for washing
We've already covered the two-bucket wash method. If you're not familiar, and want to learn more, you can click here to read & watch more about it.
Here's the tools & chemicals we used for the paint wash:
- Two buckets (one for rinsing your mitt, the other for soapy water solution)
- Grit Guards in both buckets (we also use a Wash Board in our soap bucket)
- Wash Shampoo
- Wash Mitt
- Step stool
With your rinse & wash buckets prepped & ready to go, grab your wash mitt, load it up with soapy water, then start washing at the top of the vehicle and work your way down. If you're working on a taller vehicle and need some extra height for those hard to reach areas, you can use a step stool.
5. Start at the top
With any car or truck you’re washing, it’s important to start at the top, and then work your way to the lower areas. This serves two purposes: first, the bottom portions of the car or truck are typically the dirtiest, so you want to save them for last. Second, as you begin washing from the top, your soap and water tends to run down to the lower portion of the car effectively “pre-washing” everything as you go along.
We typically follow the same pattern on every wash. Below is the order we normally wash in:
- Start with the roof and glass sections of the vehicle
- Hood and top of the trunk (if applicable)
- Top half of the sides of the vehicle – this is typically just below the windows to just above the rocker panels.
- Front grill and bumper area
- Rear tailgate or bumper area
- We save the lower rocker panels for the very last
Don’t forget to thoroughly rinse your wash mitt between each section, this will help avoid imparting those pesky swirls & scratches. We also suggest rinsing the car or truck between every major section. This will help avoid soap drying on the surface and causing you a bunch of extra work trying to remove it.
Once the vehicle is completely washed, give it a thorough final rinse to make certain all the soap residue is gone. From this point, we’ll focus on drying.
6. Drying aids are your new best friend
There’s a number of ways you can dry a car or truck after the wash – our favorite is to use compressed air for the simple fact that you aren’t touching the paint with anything. The less you touch it, the less chance you have to scratch or swirl it. But we know not everyone has that luxury. The next best option for drying is to use a drying aid along with two microfiber towels.
Drying aids help lubricate your drying towel; they also assist with water-absorption. Most drying aids will also leave a layer of protection behind. We use our Evaporate drying aid – this specific blend leaves behind a synthetic sealant to help shield against the elements.
As far as the process of using a drying aid is concerned, it’s a fairly straight forward process. We use two towels, one is damp, and the other is dry. We like to spray a little Evaporate on the damp towel, and then a few sprays onto the wet panel itself. With the damp towel, start to dry the car or truck one panel at a time. Absorb as much water as you can, and then come back through with your dry towel and buff the surface to a high-gloss shine. Repeat on each panel until you’ve dried the entire vehicle.
7. Finish with dressing
Some like tire dressing, while others don't. In our opinion, dressing your tires is the finishing touch to every wash & detail. There's varying levels of shine you can achieve with different products. Our Tire Shine leaves you with that ultra-wet finish. Where our Tire & Trim Care leaves behind a more subtle, satin finish. Whichever your preference is, taking a couple extra moments to apply a dressing to the tires can really help your car or truck pop!
Dressing application isn't complicated. We like to use an applicator sponge for a couple of different reasons. First, they help ensure even coverage. Second, applying dressing with an applicator sponge will make certain that dressing isn't getting onto sensitive areas like brake drums or rotors.
And there you have it, 7 easy to follow rules that are sure to help make your next detail just little bit easier and worry-free. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. If there are any other detailing topics you'd like us to cover, feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org