Hey, I am teaching my teenage daughter about cars, and I realized that
I am really not happy with the way I have always washed cars. I use
a bucket with hot water and Spic-N-Span and hand sponges, and a garden
hose to rinse with. It works, but today I was thinking there HAS to be
a better way.
Are you serious? Cold water and a sponge from bottom up and change
sponges or rinse a lot so you don't scratch the paint on the way up
and rinse down. I could only get a job at a car wash and would kick
their ass and be on top in no time or them playing games to keep me in
vacuuming. Some of my greatest days where sucking up Michael Jackson
tapes on purpose about half way through and breaking the tape off and
leaving it for them to find or the chick with her top wide open on the
other side of the car doing the same job. One time this guy says
"wipe the car clean , if you find anything be sure to through it
away." First thing in the back seat is one of those underwater
cameras when they first came out. I was like Hmmm... And second hmmm
and left it in his car.
How old is she??? I'm curious if your serious. Lots of work and towel
dry the puppy and the whole job as fast as you can. Its only a car.
I never , hardly ever wash my truck, when I do I have people ask me if
I'm sick. Now, if I did I would (with my luck) get a ticket ! I wash
my windows and that is it with a tool at the gas station.
It sucked working at a car wash when your thinking of math problems.
And now buying swimming pool tile at a place that the toilet runs 24-7
when we're running out of water and building pools like crazy.
I use low pressure power washer setting first, if needed,
then a bucket of warm water, sheepskin washing gloves and a
combination wash/wax cleaner. For a quicky, the $2.00 coin
car wash thing is great. Never use the bubbly brush on
anything you don't want damaged. The gloves are the ticket
to easy hand washing; you can cover the car pretty fast with
Dweller in the cellar
who knows all about easy hand washing- my 25' MaXum is like
washing 4 big cars...
Well, I do this :- wash from the top down with a water brush attachment on
your garden hose to get most of the simple dust or lumps of bird crap off.
Then use a bucket and a dash of car shampoo with a soft sponge to get the
road scum, splattered insects and general grime off. Squirt that off with
your hose and - most importantly - dry all the beads of water off with a
real leather chamois ( or however its spelt ) because they are the best
thing for pulling all the water off without leaving water marks behind. One
thing about leather chamois - they stink like an old fish when they're
drying afterwards ! If she really loves her car, she can wax it. This always
turns out to be a more tiring job that it looks. I prefere Kitten brand to
Turtle as is less likely to leave a streaky finish. But its really important
to wax it in the shade and only do a couple of square feet at a time because
the longer you leave wax, the harder it is to get off. A freshly waxed car
always looks fantastic.
( Can you teach her how to grind the valves and clean the carbie jets ? What
a GAL ! )
Depends on how anal you want to be. As a former Porsche owner (of a Very
clean, all original limited import car with a rare color), I learned about
being anal real quick. Never wash with anything other than a car shampoo
unless you're planning on putting on some quality wax right away. I only
used unsented Dawn to remove my wax (once a year, in the spring - before
concours season), and a P21S car shampoo for all the other times which was
about every 2~3 weeks. Cold water only, never used a sponge, towel, rag
or anything other than a 'microfiber' cloth and I usually swapped 4 or 5
of them for the car. Always from the top down (top gets seen the most and
has the least dirt), dried with a synthetic chamois (real leather strips
wax) and did a final wipedown with another microfiber towel. If it was
needed, I'd use a 3m Hand Glaze to get out any scratches or swirl marks
(always from front to back ~ if you do circles and introduce scratches
they're MUCH easier to see). Then I'd apply my wax paste with bare finger
tips. The heat from your fingers helps the wax melt and you have a Much
better tactile feel of when you need more wax, or where flaws in the paint
might exist. Finally buff it all out with more microfiber towels.
All this is done on a cool car (to the touch) in complete shade. Like I
said... anal. My motorcycles hardly ever get washed.. to be accurate,
they get washed when it rains. A good site for learning about car care is
It's a good way to spend a day, and a great way to waste a summer if
you're entering a lot of car shows.
For starters, Don't use Spic-N-Span, that stuff is formulated for
cleaning kitchen floors. Dedicated car washing soaps are formulated
to not etch anything, strip off the wax, or do nasty things to the
chrome & aluminum brightwork if left on for too long. And you can buy
the no-name stuff cheap enough by the gallon.
Rinse down first and knock off all the big bugs and chunks. Wash
top to bottom, soft 'fake fleece' wash mitt or nice cotton terry
ex-bath-towel rag. Polyfoam sponges are okay if they're soft, and not
used for anything else so they're grit-free clean.
Slop on the soapy water so the dirt can float. Rinse the washing
towel in the soap bucket often, the dirt you loosen turns into an
abrasive unless you get rid of it. Dunk and swish it around often and
vigorously, and let the big dirt chunks fall off and settle to the
bottom of the soapy water bucket.
And final rinse top to bottom again. Don't shammy over dirt, it
will scratch. Grab a can of Sprayway glass cleaner and some soft
paper towels to do the windows.
Or better yet, get a pressure washer with a soap injector, and the
special car wash soap formulated for pressure washers. Rinse, wash,
rinse, Bada-Bing, done in no time. Back to your shop. ;-)
back in the 50's i used spick and span to wash my dads car... a 54
chevy.. after of year of washing with the spick and span the paint was
just about all gone.. well i was a kid and did not think about it at the
time.. and he was not there when i did it and thought he just had a bad
I have only one thing to add...
I give a final rinse with air conditioner or dehumidifier condensate. It's
pretty much distilled water, and I get a sparkling clean vehicle with
no water spots WITHOUT drying , as there are almost no dissolved minerals.
I save the condensate in old plastic water jugs.
Leslie M. Watts
L M Watts Furniture
Tiger, Georgia USA
Wet the car, use brush on a pipe attached to a hose with the long soft
bristles. Dunk this in a bucket with mild detergent like dish washing soap
or laundry soap, and brush and dunk til the grime and slime are gone. The
brush on a stick thing keeps me from getting sopping wet and allows me to
stand back far enough to see.
For the old clunker wit that thick layer of oxide, after washing, get a
large terry towel and soak it in water. Dump a pile of Comet on to the
towel and smush it around till you have a nice paste. With the car wet, use
this to cut through the film avoiding the corners or you will cut all the
way through the paint. You don't want to use a lot of pressure, the weight
of the towel and the abrasive does all the work. It is important to not
allow the car to dry during this process. This works best on solid colors
Did you mis-read the title?? It doesn't say "How NOT to wash a car"
Those brushes are handy for trucks and industrial equipment where
you have to cover a lot of ground fast, but it's way too easy for hem
to pick up and embed dirt, and scratch the paint all to hell.
If the car has nice paint now, don't use a brush - or at least wait
until you have all the heavy dirt knocked off with the first rinse.
And do NOT use household cleanser as a substitute for the proper
polishing compound, there is no control over the grit of the abrasive.
You can be through the paint, the primer, and down to bare metal
before you blink.
I spent a summer as a lot boy at a new and used car place in Lake
Oswego, Oregon and I can tell you how we did it (on the "good" cars -
the used cars got short shrift). You want a soap that won't stip the wax
(Spic & Span will). Get a car washing soap at an auto store, Armor All
makes a good product.
Basically you want to float the dirt off so you don't scratch the paint.
So the proceedure we used was:
1) Wet the whole car down.
2) Start on the roof and work down (let gravity help).
3) Use a soft mitt to scrub. (use an old mitt on the wheels and the
lower edges of the body) and use big looping strokes since curved
scratches are harder to see than straight lines (human eye is sensitive
4) Soap and scrub (gently) as much area as you can before the first area
starts to dry (1/2 of the car if you hussle).
5) Rinse area and rewet the next area.
6) Do the wheels last so you don't get all that grit on the paint.
7) Rinse the whole car again.
8) Wipe dry with an old towel making sure you open all the doors and
trunk and wipe down their edges and the sills.
Takes 10-15 minutes once you get the skills down. It's easier if you
stay after it. After a winter of mud, probably take closer to 45 minutes.
wash??? a vehicle?
You can do that?
No kidding? And it dont hurt anything?
So once a year with a putty knife is not the proper way?
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of
"loyalty" and "duty."
Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You
save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. " Lazarus
Roughly my response :-)
Gunner you're sure up on your rules & regs. It indeed is against Federal
law (Water Reclamation Act) to wash your car in your own driveway if the
soap and greasy (road :-) grime runs into a storm sewer.
Also illegal per many more specific state regs.
"loyalty" and "duty."
You may possibly
Which is why you want to pick up a soap designed for washing cars.
The good ones are non-toxic to "helpless woodland creatures" (not that
they encourage drinking the stuff, it usually tastes horrid) and
quickly biodegradable, and won't hurt the lawn at all if the soap
runoff from your wash session goes off thataway...
I wouldn't worry about the EPA unless it's a corporate fleet
washrack - and those need a sanitary sewer connection and permit, you
can't let that much soap into the storm drains or creeks. For a
house, they aren't going to send the Stormwater Runoff Stormtroopers
to bust down your door and run you in for washing a car or two - at
least, I hope it never gets to that point...
(You can pry my wash-mitt and shammy from my cold, dead fingers.)
And to forestall the inevitable "Lawn - What's that?" question,
around here that just means "natural lawn" - crabgrass and whatever
has enough balls to take root and grow, watered enough to keep
reasonably green, and knocked down with a mower every week or two. In
one area we sprinkled a 20-year-old can of dichondra seed, and it
germinated and took over, we might try that again. The neighbors like
wasting big money on fancy landscaping and a gardener twice a week,
not us... ;-)
If we're feeling nice, we'll mow often enough so the dandelions
can't bloom, germinate and go to seed...
No, that's too infrequent. But my usual is just to hose the car off
with plain water every week or two - I only wash the car carefully
when I'm going somewhere nice, or when it gets thick enough that
people can scratch "Wash Me" reminders with their fingers - which is
annoying, because that scratches the paint up something fierce...
I wished that were true. It rains here (pacific northwest) a lot, and my
cars are filthy. I don't wash them as often as I should 'cause it's just
going to rain and get them dirty again.
The OP lives here also.