How to perform a safe wash
After your car has been detailed and protected - whether it's with a ceramic coating, paint protection film or a wax, how you wash your car will determine how well the paint protection will perform.
Did you know that washing a car incorrectly can create fine scratches to the paintwork with every wash?
Over time these scratches (also known as swirls) build to a point where the paint becomes dull and loses its clarity. You won't see these scratches in the shade, but when the sun (or a bright light) is shone onto the paint it shows them. These scratches look like fine circular lines (almost like cobwebs) radiating around the light source.
At Knight Detailing, we wash cars in a way which safely and effectively removes dirt from your car while minimising the chance of causing fine scratches and here, we will show you how to wash your car in the same way.
If you follow this process everytime you wash your car, then the protective coating will work to its full potential and as the months and years go on, your car will stay really shiny, have less paint defects and will look better than most other cars on the road.
While car paint appears hard, it can actually mark easily. Once you understand what causes scratches and marks on your paint, it becomes much easier to avoid.
When your car gets dirty, there can be all kinds of particles and grit within that dirt. Fine scratches (as shown in the photo above) get caused when these particles are rubbed across the paints surface. The aim of a safe wash is to remove as much of the dirt from the car as possible before you physically wash it by hand and to reduce the chance of creating these marks at every stage of the wash.
If you follow the guide below, on every wash you will be reducing the chance of creating swirls and scratches, while maintaining your cars paint in the best possible way. The products and processes described below are what we use to perform safe washes on our customers cars.
Snow foam lance
3x 20L buckets with grit guards
Microfibre wash mitt
Wheel wash mitt
Assorted brushes for wheels/grills/trims
Drying towel and/or car blow dryer
Deionised water for final rinse
(all are Garage Therapy products and can be bought from Knight Detailing)
One: Snow foam
One: car shampoo
One: wheel shampoo
One: Tyre serum
Two: Quick detailer
Before you begin...
IMPORTANT! Whatever equipment and products you use, always follow the manufacurers instructions and use the correct dilution ratios. You should wash your car out of direct sunlight, when the panels and wheels are cool and never let any chemicals dry on your car.
Set up: Before starting to wash the car, make sure your pressure washer is set up, your buckets with grit guards have been filled: one with car shampoo (foamed up using your pressure washer) one with plain water for rinsing and one with wheel shampoo (also faomed up) to be used on the wheels and arches. Ensure your snow foam lance is ready and all products you need are at hand before starting.
When you use high quality products, they do the job of breaking down the dirt, so you should never need to "scrub" the dirt off. Always keep the pressure washer approximately 1M from the car, it is used to efficiently rinse dirt off, not to "blast" dirt off the car.
Step 1: Pre-wash.
This is an essential step in your safe wash process. Doing a pre-wash breaks down and liquifies dirt, safely lifting it from the surface of the car and being rinsed away before you hand wash the car. This really helps with reducing the chance of creating swirls when washing.
Use your snow foam lance and snow foam to spray a layer of foam over the entire car, including the wheels and arches. The snow foam should cling to the car for up to 5 minutes before running off the car. You should see the dirt breaking up and dripping to the floor in muddy, foamy puddles.
Use your pressure washer to rinse off all the foam, taking care to pressure wash each panel and section of the car. (If the car has excessive dirt, you may want to pressure wash off the thicker dirt prior to snow-foaming the car)
Step 2: Wheels, arches and door shuts.
Working one wheel at a time, use your wheel mitt and assorted brushes to clean the wheel faces, inside the barrels and arches of the car, rinsing thoroughly before moving to the next wheel.
If you are planning on washing the door shuts, inner sills, hinges, boot compartment and fuel cap then use a shampoo mix in a spray bottle with a soft brush to clean these sections. You can carefully use a hosepipe on low pressure or watering can to rinse these sections without water getting inside the car.
Step 3: Hand wash.
When hand washing, dip your wash mitt into the car shampoo bucket, and working on areas of 2-3' square, wash the car using straight, overlapping lines. After each section rinse out the wash mitt into the plain water bucket, before picking up more shampoo from the wash bucket and repeating the process across the whole car. This means the dirt which gets removed by the contact wash is left in the rinse bucket, falling to the bottom and getting trapped by the grit guard at the bottom and not getting transferred back onto the car.
The lower sections of your car will be the dirtiest, so begin by washing the top of the car and working down, finishing with the lower sills.
We go round and wash the top half of the car (bonnet, windows and roof), then rinse before washing the lower half of the car. You may also want go use a very soft brush to gently clean around badges/grills.
Step 4: Rinsing and drying the car.
Once the hand wash is complete, use your pressure washer to thoroughly rinse off all the shampoo suds. Rinsing from the roof downwards paying attention to flushing out panel gaps, winow seals and grills. If you have a deionised water vessel, finish by rinsing the car with DI water.
Once complete, you can either use a microfibre drying towel or car blower to dry the car (or a combination of both) or, if you've used DI water on the final rinse, you may wish to let the car dry without drying it to reduce the chance of marring the paint as you'll avoid water spots being left on the paint.
Step 5: Finishing touches.
Glass: If required, you may want to use a glass cleaner on the windows after washing.
Paint: To add extra gloss, slickness and hydrophobicity you could use a quick detailer spray. This is applied a panel at a time, being wiped over the panel with a soft microfibre cloth before being buffed off with another fresh soft microfibre cloth.
Tyre dressing: for best results, make sure the tyres are clean and dry before applying a tyre dressing.
If you want any more information on safe wash techniques, don't hesitate to get in touch, we love to help car owners to look after their cars.