It feels better to drive a beautifully cleaned up rig!
The benefits of a car wash extend far beyond aesthetics. Washing off grime helps to prevent rust, preserving the integrity of your vehicle’s body and suspension. Similarly, a thorough washing of gunk from the windshield, hood, and undercarriage can prevent clogged components in your engine and transmission.
With all that in mind, you’ve wisely decided to wash down your personal or commercial vehicle. How hard can it be to get the job done? It’s just lathering on the soap and water… right?
Risks of an Unprofessional car wash
Contrary to many impressions, there are particular, proper wash techniques to incorporate when washing your vehicle.
To illustrate the importance of a professional car wash, allow us to explain some examples of improper washing that we at Slick Mobile Detail have seen from folks in the past.
One customer came to us with a hood full of scrapes and abrasions. The paint job on this white sedan was effectively ruined! As it turns out, they had long been parked under a ponderosa pine. Wood debris and sap had collected on their hood, almost creating a layer of sandpaper when they went to scrub their car down by hand. Unfortunately, they did not know the proper wash techniques for removing abrasive grime. Quality cleaning solvents, professional grade brushes or sponges, and a regular washing appointment with a detailing service could’ve averted this disaster.
In another instance, we serviced a fresh waxed minivan that hardly seemed in need of a detail. That is until we inspected under the vehicle… Their suspension was starting to rust beyond repair. Over years of washing, they had never once taken to clean the undercarriage of their van. With a quality pressure washer and the right methods, this customer could have sustained their rig for the long haul.
How to Wash Your Vehicle Exterior Like The Pros
Fortunately, Slick Mobile Detail is able to help hundreds of customers refurbish their vehicles every year. Many of our clients are long-time returnees, allowing us to see the results of our work over time.
With all this experience, we’ve learned a thing or two about doing a professional car wash. If you are interested in learning our process, or even tackling a car wash yourself, we’ve collected five of our most essential tips in the article below!
The Five Tips for Washing Your Car Like a Professional:
- The Two Bucket Technique
- Control Your Environment
- Foam Is your Friend
- Carefully Dry Your Vehicle
- Use high-quality scrubbers
#1 The Two Bucket Technique
One might ask, what is the Two Bucket Technique?
This process is used by most professional detailers when washing a vehicle. However, the simple principle behind it can be applied by anybody cleaning their car, truck, or van.
When you wash a vehicle, you need to use two buckets. One bucket is reserved for your soapy solution. The other bucket is for clean water to rinse your scrubbing mitt.
By using separate buckets, you reduce the risk of contaminating your solution with the grime you just scrubbed off your vehicle. Moreover, you extend the use of your mitt, rinsing rather replacing it after each pass over your vehicle.
The Two Bucket Method is a time-efficient, cost-effective, and beautiful way of getting the deepest clean from your car washing regimen.
#2 Control Your Environment
One of the biggest contributors to needing a car wash comes from the environment your vehicle is left in. Especially in a place like Billings, MT, where we often get four seasons in a day, we know the impact weather can have on our vehicles.
Sunlight penetrates paint and wax jobs, causing swirls and discoloration. Snow and rain can dry unevenly on your panels, causing unusual patterns. Salted roads and muddy trails can wreck all sorts of havoc on your rig.
All of these environmental concerns can also apply to your vehicle when you wash it. To get the most of your washing experience, you need to control for environmental factors.
We at Slick Mobile Detail aim to detail vehicles inside of a garage. When this is not possible, such as when our teams travel to a customer’s preferred location, we otherwise shoot for times of day when weather will not be a factor.
A few of the big ones to consider:
- Avoid washing your car when the sun is burning brightest.
- Never do a wash in the rain.
- Make sure your vehicle has plenty of time to dry after you’ve finished.
#3 Foam Is your Friend
Soaps, sprays, and solvents gain only part of their effectiveness from given chemical properties. The main way that cleansers are able to clean a surface comes from their foaming action.
As we all saw as kids in the Scrubbing Bubbles commercials, aerated foams do the heavy lifting of carrying grime away from the source. Ensuring a thorough foam both reduces your labor and improves the caliber of your wash.
Good foam comes from both the solution and the delivery.
Professional detailers bring high quality car shampoos and wheel cleaners to every job, products that bring a powerful cleanse and effectively turn to foam. Moreover, we use various foam cannons that ensure our cleaning solutions are aerated to the most effective extent.
#4 Carefully Dry Your Vehicle
Just as important to washing down your vehicle is drying everything up once the work is done.
Many blemishes on the cars we see come from uneven drying, be it after the latest rainfall or after a homemade wash gone awry. Especially when cleaning solution is dried improperly, the stains can develop into something semi-permanent.
Professional detailers use microfiber towels to buff out any remaining moisture from their wash. Rather than allowing sunlight to do the work, we keep our vehicles shaded and away from abrasive UV rays.
By putting a little extra elbow grease into the drying process, you can enhance the quality of your wash and possibly save on the need to head back into the detail shop when discolorations arise.
#5 Use high-quality scrubbers
Whenever you wash your car, you’ll be doing a load of scrubbing. It is imperative to invest in the proper tools to spread your cleaning solution, rinse it off, and dry the vehicle surface.
Most professional auto detail shops rely on scrubbing mitts, which are basically gloves attached to a microfiber scrubber or sponge. In addition to being easier on the elbows, this ergonomic design is much more seamless to clean with the two-bucket method.
It is also important to find towels, mitts, and sponges that are not abrasive against the surface of your vehicle. By investing a few extra dollars into a quality scrubber, you can avoid the headaches of a costly self-inflicted scratch on your car.
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