Guide to Basic Paintwork Safe Car Cleaning

Posted in: Trusted Guides

Everyone hates seeing unsightly swirling and wash marring in paintwork when the bright sunlight hits your car. This is caused by either or a combination of both automatic car washes and in particular, poor technique hand car washes such as your cheap £5 drive through hand car washes.

With this in mind, what is the correct technique and a safe way to maintain your vehicles head turning pristine look?

Stage 1:

Begin your safe car clean by spraying your wheels liberally with wheel cleaner. Ideally you want to use a PH neutral or at least non acidic wheel cleaner for this. Using acidic wheel cleaners is ok on a very infrequent basis for particularly heavy soiling but you want to avoid it if possible as long term this can corrode wheels, in particular centre caps and wheel nut coverings. Using a PH neutral wheel cleaner will also maintain any protective wheel coatings you may have applied. For any stubborn areas of soiling or for between awkward wheel spokes you may want to agitate with a soft detailing brush. Leave this to work while you prepare the next stage.

Stage 2:

This is when you want to coat your vehicle in a pre wash. Pre wash is used to soften heavy soiling and break the bonds holding things such as insects to the vehicle. Some people favour a PH Neutral Citrus Pre wash for this stage, some a PH Neutral snow foam, some both! If you have a pressure washer, ideally you will need to purchase a separate snow foam lance to properly coat your car in snow foam. Once the car is coated, including the wheels and inside the petrol cap, leave to dwell for 5-10 minutes.

Whilst the snow foam is dwelling on the vehicle, this is an opportune moment to prepare the two bucket method (2BM). Do this by filling one bucket containing your shampoo mix and the other with just plain water.

Stage 3:

Blast the vehicle down with your pressure washer (ideally) removing the snow foam and wheel cleaner from stage 1. The vehicle is now ready to be washed.

Starting from the roof and making your way down the vehicle, use a soft lambs wool or synthetic wool mitt to gently wash the vehicle. After each half panel – full panel depending on level of soiling, thoroughly rinse your mitt in the plain water bucket. This reduces the risk of soiling being transferred back to your wash solution and moved around the vehicle on your wash mitt. Grit Guards fitted in your buckets will further minimise the risk of soiling being transferred back to the vehicle.

Stage 4:

If you have a rinse aid, spray liberally all over the washed vehicle. This helps to bead up the water and sheet the water off the bodywork during the rinse stage. Less water on the bodywork means less drying and less chance of inflicting swirls and marring. After spraying the rinse aid, rinse the entire vehicle down and gently pat dry the vehicle using your deep pile plush drying towel.

Stage 5:

An optional stage but one which personally we consider essential for a great looking car is the quick detail stage. Simply spray sparingly and wipe with a plush microfibre cloth to remove any finger prints, smears and leave a fantastic shine with boosted protection for the bodywork. To finish, clean your glass for a great looking car.

What Do I Need?


2 x Large Buckets
1 Deep pile wash mitt
1 Deep pile drying towel
Pre Wash
Car Shampoo
Glass Cleaner
Microfibre Cloths
Wheel Cleaner
Hose with Gun


Pressure Washer
Grit Guards
Quick Detailer
Rinse Aid

Perfect Polish

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