Car cleaning: Pre-Wash and Contact wash.
Ok so your wheels are now clean and presentable.
It's time to begin the pre wash stages.
These ensure minimal dirt and grit is pushed around the vehicles paint work and glass and avoiding the dreaded swirl marks and scratches.
With a soiled/traffic film covered vehicle this is the perfect time to soften that dirt with either a Citrus Pre-Wash or Traffic Film Remover. These have 1 job. Soften and break down the dirt to be pressure washed away (for the most part)
SnowFoam: we all love the look, and the comments from the neighbours. But in reality this is a vital step to further avoid swirls and cross contamination.
Utilised after the pre wash if the vehicle is exceptionally dirty these are shampoo/strong detergent based and further break down dirt and film whilst drawing it away from the paint and onto the floor safely.
Don't be afraid to get close. You will do no damage being 12 inches from the panel unless you've had the world's worst respray.
Wheel arches, panel gaps, panels, door shuts can all be flushed out with adequate and accurate pressure.
Contact Washing: I tend to apply another layer of foam prior to diving into my buckets. This aids with lowering panel temperature, providing a slicker area to wash safely and further ensuring full coverage.
The safest order to wash:
Roof, glass, bonnet, wings, doors, bumpers, sills and lower sections.
This stops you dragging dirt from the bottom to the top and potentially ruining paint and glass with grit.
Wash mitts, wash pads, some sponges are absolutely perfect for this. Combined with 2 buckets of water - 1 containing your shampoo and 1 clear to rinse after each panel. This is again so you're not dragging loose dirt from panel to panel.
Brushes, rags, dish cloths, pan scourers ARE NOT SUITABLE. Please stop reaching under the sink....
Fallout removers: I personally use these after all washing and rinsing.
Fallout is bonded in/on the paint and therefore needs all the loose dirt removed and rinsed prior to use.
Firing this expensive product at dirt that can be washed with a cheaper one is absolutely pointless.
Please check with the manufacturer that it is not solely a stronger wheel specific product but most Fallout removers are not exclusively for wheels!
Tar Removal: As with fallout this is best removed after a wash. You need a clean panel to soak the tar remover and then with a damp cloth sprayed with the same product you can safely wipe away the softended tar.
Avoid direct sunlight aswell as leaving tar or fallout remover on for more than a couple of minutes.
Door shuts and panel gaps.
These can all be pressure and hand washed just like bodywork and are dried in the same way. Just be accurate not to fill the car itself with water and it will further ensure a fully clean car once done.
Time to dry.
The above picture is of tall water beads on a ceramic coated panel. Minimal, easy to dry and very satisfying.
If you're not drying a coated vehicle don't worry. Many suppliers have spray on drying aids, water based sealants, quick waxes etc that can be applied when wet to help break up larger sheets of water into small beads to aid quicker drying.
Drying towels are the way forward. The chamois is no longer the only option you have.
These large plush towels are designed to softly soak up all the water in minimal time
My number 1 top tip is to not use these bone dry but instead straight from an rinse and fast spin in the washing machine. They will be 10% damp, primed and ready to use quickly and effectively.
Always try and dry the glass first. This avoids water stains as glass heats up quicker on a hot day and can cause etching/water spots.
Work top to bottom again and dry thoroughly.
And there you go. Pre-wash, foam, wash, fallout remover, tar remover, rinsing and drying. The basics of a clean car either ready to drive or ready to move onto the next level....Clay - Polish - Seal - Wax or Coat.
See you next time.
Damien @ 3D+ Detail.