How to Wash a Car by Hand
What Sequence the Pro’s Use
When washing your car, the first step is to use quality detailing products and a trusted water source.
You will need microfiber towels or wash mitts for washing your vehicle and a low-pH car wash shampoo. A low ph. of the shampoo will reduce the risk of scratching or marring the surface of your exterior paint because of its lubrication.
Second, you must decide whether to tackle soiled areas such as the underside of wheels first or after the bodywork. This will be the dirtiest part of the wash, so clean soiled areas first.
There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer here. It comes down to personal preference.
With care, cleaning soiled areas after the bodywork is possible but not recommended.
First, the disadvantage of washing soiled areas is the possibility of contaminating washing equipment. Sand, gravel, or grease stick to wash mitts, microfiber towels, or wheel brushes and can damage your vehicle’s clear coat.
To lessen the risk of contamination, use the two-bucket wash method and insert into both wash buckets a bucket dirt lock and side dirt lock that utilizes the motion of your hand to pump and trap debris underneath the screen.
The Dirt Lock has a complex Venturi filtering system that manipulates the flow of water in a downward direction. This allows dirt particles to collect underneath the screen (at the bottom of your bucket) without letting the dirt and grime re-circulate into the cleaner water.
When the decision about the prioritization of soiled areas, the washing order for the bodywork can begin:
- First, clean all door shuts, door jambs, hood, and trunk shut (These will not need a pre-wash but will need to be contact washed); then proceed with washing your vehicle from top to bottom.
- Next, start at the top and wash the roof surface.
- Move to the glass, including any surrounding bodywork, wing mirrors, and trim.
- Then, tackle the remaining horizontal surfaces, such as the hood and trunk panels.
- Next, wash the top half of the offside (the driver’s side of the car stays cleaner than the near side). Many vehicles have a natural mid-point swage line, separating the sides into upper and lower portions, making this easier (if your car doesn’t have this visual clue, then estimate the upper and lower section).
- Then go around the car from the front, cleaning the upper half of the front end (including headlights and grille), following around via the top half of the rear side (passenger side), and then to the upper half of the rear.
- Finish the lower sections, walking around the car from the offside to the rear. This may include the areas under the sills and inside the wheel arches (although note the underside is a separate section due to its much higher contamination levels).
When it comes to achieving a showroom finish, car detailing does take time.
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