Car Washing

Materials needed for the job

Tyre scrub brush


Lambs wool mitt



Wheel nut brush

Wheel well brush

Car detergent

How to wash a car !!

Washing your car is probably the easiest part of any auto detailing exercise. It is a procedure of course that is  required to be carried out before polishing and waxing. After all, how can you polish if your exterior is covered in filth. It is so easy to carry out, yet so many people just get it wrong. I have a nasty  feeling this is going to be the longest page on this entire website. Where do you start? Well firstly your going to need the   common basics listed above. These are your bare must have essentials. You could also stock yourself with various brushes for working on  your moulds trims and plastics like the photo below. Mind you, your now getting nitty gritty. “WHICH YOU SHOULD BE”. If anything your car will look even better and crisper in appearance if you are thorough with your washing. Besides, when your car has been  freshly polished and waxed, the last thing you need is to see dust sitting on the edges of moulds, plastics, and trims because your mitt  could not get in there. It can not be stressed enough that the effort you make in the beginning is the result you will achieve in the end. Softer brushes will generally be required for use around any moulds or trims that have an edge in contact with your paint such as window  rubbers. These brushes have to be soft so in order not to scratch your paint as your dragging out dirt from your rubbers.
Stiffer or courser brushes will be used on tyres and under body trims, mud flaps and step boards such as those on
4WD’S. You need to  remember that the trick with making your car stand out is by keeping everything clean. Especially if your car has a lot of black plastics or  rubbers.

It doesn’t matter how clean your paint is, but if you have a car with an ample amount of dirty black moulds and trim rubbers, the entire car  will hardly look clean. Black moulds and plastics are the magic high light of any coloured vehicle getting around these days. If the moulds and plastics have been cleaned and highlighted, even though the car may have not been washed, the car still stands out.  WHY?, because black is the strongest colour.
A car with clean paint and dirty looking moulds and rubbers, or tyres does not look good. It is a half completed job. Do the job properly, and reward yourself with  impressive results. Clean the entire car properly. Do keep in mind however that this page is not involved with engine  bay or undercarriage cleaning. The information contained on this page is only to prepare your vehicle for polishing and waxing.


Initial Hose down

CORRECT METHOD 2-3 inch contact funnel


Do not use laser type water contact. This does tend to cause vibrations through the vehicle pannels, and if there is any weakness of paint  adhesion, you could cause paint chips especially around edges. I KNOW !! I’ve seen it happen. If you are a fan of using water blasters, that is fine. Just don’t take the blast head too close to your paintwork. If your vehicle is heavily soiled, then water blasting is ok as it removes  huge volumes of dirt. Especially on 4wd’s, but remember keep the head at a good distance. To commence hosing hosing down, start from the top and work your way down. Start with the roof of the vehicle, then cover the boot area or bonnet, whichever you see fit, and go completely over the sides of the vehicle. Make sure you also cover your door jambs, and also open the boot and bonnet and rinse around
all rubbers and water channels.
Also thoroughly clean your wheel arches and wheels. When you are convinced that you have removed as much dirt as possible, it is time to move on to the next procedure. Soaping down the vehicle.

The vehicle having been chosen here is being washed for demonstration purposes only.
You will have noticed that it is being washed under direct sunlight. Under normal circumstances when
you are washing your vehicle, always try to wash under the shade or on an overcast day. The reason
for this is that direct sunlight will dry water and soap suds on your vehicle very quickly, making it harder
for you to work at a comfortable pace.

Soaping Down

The next step is to get your hands on some meguiars NXT generation car wash detergent. Meguiars are world renowned for auto detailing products.Poor about 100mls into your bucket and pressure fill the bucket to the top making sure there are plenty of soap suds. Why do we need plenty of soap suds? Simple! Lots of soap suds carry away dirt particles and allow your mitt to glide over your paint work without any friction what so ever therefore completely minimising or eliminating any scratches that may arise from departing dirt particles. The other reason we use a mitt and not a sponge, is that sponges can tend to drag dirt across your paint surfaces, and due to their hard nature do apply pressure to paint surfaces. The last thing you need is dirt under pressure and under your sponge.
When it comes to soaping down your vehicle, you will in fact need about 3 buckets. One seperate bucket for your wheels, and two buckets for the vehicle. The two buckets for the vehicle however includes one for containing the main detergent with your mitt. The other one contains just clean water for rinsing your mitt.

In order to start soaping down your vehicle slide the mitt on to your hand and
thoroughly soak  it in the detergent bucket. Commence with soaping the vehicle from the roof , working your way down the sides.
The procedure is the same as hosing down the vehicle. Everything starts from the top to the bottom. Why? because filth follows gravity and travels down. Remember however to wash one panel at a time. While you are soaping down, areas that have already been washed need to be kept wet  until the entire vehicle has been completed with the  soaping procedure.

When you are washing one panel at a time remember to also rinse your mitt in the bucket with clean water. There’s nothing better than not having to worry about re-dipping your wash mitt in a bucket that is just filling up with dirt. While carrying out the soaping procedure remember to use the assortment of soft and course brushes for cleaning out all your rubber and plastic moulds. If you find you just can’t seem to find the right courseness of brush, you can always buy long length brushes and cut them to suit. The shorter you cut them the coarser they become.  When drying your car and using a chamois, always drag the chamois across the surfaces. When you are drying the sides of the vehicle always fold the chamois so it does not drag on the ground.


When it comes to washing your wheels, you will need to use a seperate bucket and materials. Never ever use the same bucket for washing the vehicle and your wheels. Seperate materials always. If you are not going to follow this rule, then always remember to leave your wheels last. Bare in mind though, when you do wash your wheels, you will have a heavily contaminated bucket. Imagine the damage you could inflict on your wheels over time. So better off, use a seperate bucket with clean materials. It is pretty much ok to use a sponge on your wheels. Always make sure you have plenty of suds to wash away grime. For wheel nuts, you can always use a wheel nut brush like the one pictured. There are various brushes which you can obtain from your  local parts and accessories outlet.
Auto Barn is my favourite. In my opinion they are one of the best well stocked outlets for car care products and accessories. As far as using wheel acids on your wheels, the one important factor to remember is to never use acid wheel cleaners on uncoated wheels, or basically  alloy wheels which are not coated and don’t use it on chrome. Also be care full not to use acid cleaners on anodised wheels as well. If you  have a tightly spoked wheel, you are certainly going to need a brush that can get between spokes for effective cleaning.

One product which you can use on these sort of wheels is Meguiars Hot Rims. It is specially made for uncoated wheels. Always try to avoid  washing wheels that are hot, or basically just don’t wash your car imediately after driving. Let everything cool down. Which ever wheel cleaner you use, always spray on liberally and allow for the chemical to soak in and do it’s work. This is why your wheels can not be hot. The chemical will dry up and possibly even stain your wheels. This is where you will need your wheel brushes to agitate and work the cleaner well into your wheels. You will certainly need your wheel nut brush and a spoke  brush for spoked wheels. When you are convinced you have done a well enough job of agitating and cleaning your wheels, then rinse off  what is left. For the whole job to be done properly you really should consider removing the wheels and thoroughly cleaning from the inside  as well. Especially with wide spoke wheels that reveal the inside section of the rim.
When you have rinsed off then go over  your wheel again with your sponge and car detergent. By now your  wheels should look like a  million dollars. There are chemical cleaners out there which are designed for all types  wheels. Coated and Uncoated. Your local auto  outlet will be able to help you with this.

Wheel Spoke Brush

Soft Bristle Wheel Brush

Wheel Nut Brush


What is needed to be known here is, that when you need to clean your tyres, simply running a sponge over your tyres is not going to clean  them well enough. You have to remember that with past applications of tyre protectants you have grime stuck to your tyres. It will be more  than likely that the tyre protectant which has been used in the past will contain silicon. If you look closely at a tyre which has been driven on after tyre protectants have been applied, you will notice dirt already having stuck to the tyre.
Not cleaning tyres with a good scrub and merely applying protectants on top of dirty protectants is not going to achieve much as far as a  nice clean looking tyre. This is where your going to need a good tyre cleaning brush like the one pictured here. This actually contains a button pressed detergent dispenser so as you scrub you can also dispense more detergent. Simply remove the cap, fill with detergent and scrub away till your satisfied the tyre  is clean. What a magnificent idea. Believe it or not, items like this can be found even at woolworths shopping centres. As far as achieving  the shine on your tyre, you actually have a choice. If you are after a satin finish, merely spray the tyre and walk away. Mind you, this is the  method that will also atract more dirt sticking to your tyre.
On the other hand, if you like more of a natural look with just a clean looking tyre, than spray your tyres, leave for a couple of minutes, then completely wipe off all residue. This will give you a rich black clean looking tyre with minimal dirt sticking to your tyres while driving. If you  have thoroughly completed everything on this page as is stated, there is no reason that your vehicle should not already be  in a beautiful  clean condition ready for the next phase. Car polishing.
Dr Buff

A love and passion for cars

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