Choosing The Soap
When choosing a car wash soap it is important to chose wisely to ensure proper paint protection is in place. The use of a high quality car wash shampoo will greatly increase the longevity that automotive waxes and sealants will last on your vehicle. A quality soap should also be enriched with a carnauba wax, which will not only improve the shine of your vehicle, but will also maintain and even increase the level of protection that is currently on your vehicle from previous waxes or protective coatings that have been applied.
The trouble is that any wax or sealant you’ve applied to your vehicle contains different forms of conditioning oils that help them adhere to your cars paint. When you use an aggressive soap like dish washing detergent, it strips all of that wax or sealant coating away leaving your paint bare and susceptible the harmful rays of the sun. While not immediately damaging, it can cause premature paint fading over the lifetime of your vehicle. With that being the case, you can see why it’s important to use a soap that is formulated specifically for washing your car.
Generally, there are three qualities of car wash soap you should be considering based on what you’re trying to achieve. Regardless of the task at hand, you’ll want to look for these 3 things from whatever soap you choose:
Lubricity: How slippery the soap is. The slipperier the better!
Amount of suds/foam: Foam is your friend! This will encapsulate & lift dirt away from the painted surface.
PH Balanced: Helps soap rinse away clean without leaving behind any acidic residue.
Biodegradable: Makes sure the soap plays well with the environment once it goes down the drain.
Below are the 3 categories of soap to use based on the task at hand:
Strip shampoo – At certain times, you do want to strip everything from your cars paint. You might need to compound or polish away scratches/imperfections, or maybe you want to apply a brand new coat of wax. Either way, it’s still important to use a soap that is formulated specifically for use on painted surfaces.
General-use shampoo – great for your weekly/monthly maintenance washes. Our Vehicle Wash is an excellent general-use shampoo. It won’t strip away any previous wax and/or sealant applications.
Wash & wax shampoo – This shampoo is great when you want to top-off your wax protection, but don’t want to break out the full Karate Kid process. It’s a convenient way to wash & protect in one step. Our Wash+Wax shampoo is the perfect option.
Hand Wash Tips
2 Bucket Wash Method- This is the hand washing method that ensures a swirl free, scratch free finish on your vehicle. You should have one bucket with a grit guard insert that is strictly for clean soapy water. Your second bucket should also have a grit guard insert and just have clean water with no soap. Each time before you dip your wash mitt back into the soap bucket, you should first dip the wash mitt in the clean water only bucket. When you do this you should also rub the mitt against the grit guard before removing it from the water bucket. By doing this you are removing any dirt or debris that is picked up in the wash mitt from previous panels. By following this process you're preventing yourself from contaminating the soap bucket and also eliminating the risk of transferring dirt/debris to the next vehicle panel you wash.
Use a proper car wash mitt or sponge. I prefer using a microfiber chenille wash mitt or pad. Synthetic wool wash mitts also work well, but they seem to pick up more debris that is hard to remove from the mitt...thus creating higher risk of scratching. Some people also prefer car wash sponges. It is strictly up to your preference and specific washing situation.
Always use proper drying towels. You want to use a car care waffle weave, soft microfiber or chamois towel when drying. NEVER use ordinary bath towels.
Precautions When Washing a Car?
Never wash your car when the body is hot, such as immediately after driving it or after it has been parked in direct sunlight for awhile. Heat speeds the drying of soap and water, making washing more difficult and increasing the chances that spots or deposits will form. Never move the sponge or wash mitt in circles. This can create light, but noticeable scratches called swirl marks. Instead, move the sponge lengthwise across the hood and other body panels. And don't continue using a sponge that's dropped on the ground without thoroughly rinsing it out. The sponge can pick up dirt particles that can scratch the paint.
Always rinse all surfaces thoroughly with water before you begin washing to remove loose dirt and debris that could cause scratching. Once you begin, concentrate on one section at a time, washing and rinsing each area completely before moving on to the next one. This ensures that you have plenty of time to rinse before the soap dries. Start at the top, and then work your way around the car. Always work the car-wash solution into a lather with plenty of suds that provide lots of lubrication on the paint surface. And rinse the sponge often. Using a separate bucket to rinse the sponge keeps dirt from getting mixed into the sudsy wash water. A Bucket Grate is highly recommended here as it allows the sediment to fall to the bottom of the wash bucket and keeps your sponge or mitt a few inches above it all
How Should I Dry my Car?
Never let the car air dry, and don't expect a drive around the block to do an effective job. Typically, it will leave water spots caused by minerals in hard water. Never use an abrasive towel or other material that can leave hairline scratches in the paint (This means old bath or beach towels) Always use a chamois (natural or synthetic). It's best to blot the water up instead of dragging the towel or chamois over the paint. The drying process can be sped up by using a soft squeegee to remove most of the water on the body, but be sure the rubber is pliable and that it doesn't pick up bits of dirt that can cause scratches. Often times I swipe my fingers across the blade of the squeegee to insure it is debris free.