Can be purchased at local hardware store, or online. This will be used to hold your water, and auto wash soap.
Can be purchased online. These assist with keeping dirt and contaminates separated from the soap that you are actively using to wash your vehicle.
The quality of microfiber towel is very important to keeping your vehicle swirl and defect free. Low quality towels found at your local home store will not suffice. You will need multiple 350+ GSM Plush Microfibers. Thread count of the towels is very important. At a minimum, you will need 3 microfiber towels for your wash, and 1 additional for your spray detailer application.
A foam cannon can be purchased for a relatively low price online. There is no need to buy a high end foam cannon, as even the cheap Chinese manufactured devices last years. They are straight forward devices, that convert liquid soap, to foam that can be sprayed on your vehicle.
Any high quality car wash soap will suffice. Do not use dish soap. Simple Meguiars wash and wax automotive soap will do the job, and will be budget friendly. For the more enthusiastic client, you may use a product that contains a "ceramic boost", such as CarPro Hydrofoam. Be sure to not overuse silica infused wash soaps, as they can cause issues if applied to frequently.
Any high pressure washer will work. Ensure your pressure washer has a quick connect fitting. For washing, you will want to use a nozzle that sprays a wider surface area. Never use a direct spray fitting. Generally, the tips on pressure washers offer the following "degrees" of spray: Green Spray Tip (25-Degrees) White Spray Tip (40-Degrees) Black Spray Tip (65-Degrees). Any of these will suffice.
We recommend having splurging on a quality spray detailer. A very small amount is used following the wash, and adds shine and additional protection to a ceramic coated vehicle. It is an efficient way to eliminate water streaking post wash. Products such as Beadmaker are extremely user friendly. For the more advanced user, we recommend a product called Carpro Elixer.
Having an air compressor aids in the drying step of your wash. We understand many clients may not have access to such equipment. We find a leaf blower works just as well, if not better, at evacuating water. Enthusiast can purchase a tool call a "Master Blaster" which blows warm air on your vehicle to speed up drying.
1. First, you will need to rinse your vehicle thoroughly. Note vehicles should be washed in the shade, and all panels should be cool to the touch. If your vehicle's paint is hot, this will soften it, making it much more prone to scratching and swirl marks, regardless of ceramic coating. Washing in the direct sunlight can cause water-spots to form (if your paint is soft), which can only be removed with polishing. Ensure you do not spray the vehicle too close, as it may cause paint to peel off, depending on the strength of your pressure washer, and other factors such as repainted panels.
2. This is done by layering a blanket of soap foam on the surface, allowing it to dwell and remove loose dirt not removed by the rinse. Leave the foam on the surface for 30-60 seconds. Do not allow it to dry. Rinse thoroughly, spending additional time on areas that collect dirt faster. These areas include: lower body panels, front bumper, and rear bumper. This step is critical to minimize the possibility of swirl marks.
3. During this step, you will ensure your two buckets are filled with a healthy mix of soap and water. Warm water is ideal, but not necessary. Use your foam cannon to again lay a blanket of soap on your vehicle. This adds extra lubrication for your wash. Working from the top of the panel, using bucket #1, proceed to wash the paint of your vehicle with your microfiber towel. You will use light pressure. Avoid using a scrubbing pattern. Circular motions are best, using only the weight of the microfiber. After each panel or when you notice dirt building up, dip the towel into your secondary bucket to flush. It is important to inspect your microfiber towel as you wash. Use your second microfiber towel for the bottom sections , and bumpers. It is important to work the same surface types first. For example, clean all painted panels, then proceed to clean glass, ending off with mental surfaces such as wheels and exhaust tips. This minimizes the chances for cross contamination. Do not allow the soap to dry. Rinse panels thoroughly.
Drying Your Vehicle
4. In this final step, you will dry your vehicle. Taking care in this step is equally as important as step 3. A vast amount of the vehicles we get in have damage caused by improper drying.
A) Using another new microfiber towel, begin to dry the vehicle from top to bottom, folding the towel between panels, or as it gets dirty. It is crucial to work from top sections downward, in order to prevent cross contamination. If your microfiber becomes soiled, use a new one. Leave bottom sections and bumpers for last. Work in a modular fashion, drying windows, and wheels separately.
B) Using your air compressor / blower tool, carefully clear areas of your vehicle that are known to retain water. It is not necessary to completely dry the panel with your compressed air. After you have evacuated the water as much as possible, use a new / clean microfiber towel to dry the remaining moisture.
5. After your vehicle is dried, you can then apply a spray detailer. Application instructions vary from product to product, but more or less you spray on, and immediately wipe. Usually, a minimal amount of product is required. Avoiding direct sunlight is a universal instruction on spray detailers. It is important to use gloves when using spray detailers, as they are usually skin irritants.
Before you begin the wash process on your vehicle, it is a good idea to do a walk around, and make mental notes of areas that will need a bit more attention. Note any new damage such as paint chips, as you will want to avoid directly spraying water or air on these sections.
After a vehicle is ceramic coated, we generally tell clients to not wash their vehicle for 1-3 weeks depending on several factors. After the curing period of your coating, it is important to wash the vehicle. This breaks the surface tension of the coating, improving beading. After your first wash, you can wash your vehicle as much as you like. We recommend washing your vehicle when it gets dirty! At a minimum, you should be washing your vehicle bi weekly. This can be either a hand wash, or a touch-less wash. However, we would recommend hand washing your vehicle at least once a month, as a touch-less will never get your vehicle 100 percent clean.
It is also wise to incorporate these advanced types of decontamination every so often in your wash ritual. Products such as IronX are safe and effective at removing stubborn contamination such as rail dust, without compromising the integrity of a ceramic coating. Simply wash and dry your vehicle, spray the product on, allow it to dwell for a few minutes, then rinse off. The same process can be used for a product called TarX. TarX is a product used to remove stuck on tar, caused by spirited driving, or a track driven vehicle. Be mindful using TarX on vehicles with paint protection film, as the product can act as an adhesive remover. Both of these products are excellent, as they remove stubborn contamination without the need for abrasion or agitation.
Car wash soaps, as well as chemicals such as spray detailers should be stored in cool dark places. Ensure caps are closed tight after use, and nozzles are turned to the off position. Failing to do so may cause your products to become contaminated. Chemicals that are not stored properly tend to lose their efficiency, and may also cause problems while using.
One of the most important, and often overlooked aspects of washing your car, is caring for your buckets! Your car wash bucket should be washed by hand before and after use. It is redundant to take all the steps to ensure your coated car is washed safely, if you fail to keep your buckets clean. If you don't clean your buckets, or replace them regularly, left over dirt from previous washes can mix with your new soap water, potentially causing damage to your finish.
It is also important to keep your grit guards clean.
As for your foam cannon, generally speaking, even the cheapest units can take quite a bit of abuse. Ensure you clean out the reservoir every so often. Also, it is wise to lubricate the quick connect every so often, as to prevent it from seizing.
We recommend clients use new microfibers for their wash. The logic behind this is that dirt can become embedded in towels, and wash mitts. All it can take is one stubborn piece of dirt to get stuck in your towel, and you will install unsightly defects onto your vehicle. To add, it can be quite the process itself to properly care for microfiber towels, and may be overwhelming for some.
We understand that it may not be economic for you to buy new microfibers for every wash. It is possible to make high thread count microfibers last for multiple washes, but that in itself is a process, which we will outline below.
Inspect your microfibers before and after washing. Remove any dirt or contamination.
Use a scent free laundry detergent to wash your towels. There is no need to use excessive detergent. Using excessive detergent will have a negative effect, leaving chemicals embedded in your towel. Follow the usage instructions on the detergent for best results.
It is very important that you wash your towels on a Cool or Cold cycle. Washing in warm or hot water will cause the synthetic(plastic like) fibers to become hard, and abrasive.
It is important to wash your towels on their own. Do not mix them with your house hold laundry (for obvious reasons).
It is also important to ensure your washing machine and dryer is clean. Any micro particles in your washer or dryer will become lodged in your towel, potentially causing damage next time you hand wash your vehicle.
Microfiber towels should be dried on a very low heat cycle. If you dry your towels with a normal or high heat mode, you will destroy the integrity of the towel, causing it to become abrasive, and to lint.
Microfiber towels are very good at trapping dirt.
This can be a good thing, and a bad thing.
You should absolutely never use a car wash brush or sponge to wash your vehicle. “Soft” or not, you can, and likely will damage your paint. Brushes are very abrasive and are well known to undo many hours of hard work from a paint correction.
We recommend not using things such as wash mitts, unless you are extremely careful to keep it clean (follow our microfiber care). Dirt can often become trapped in the fibers overtime, causing the potential for swirl marks.
Never wash your paint from the same soap that you wash your wheels/exhaust with. Wheels and exhaust should either be done at the end of your wash (after the paint is washed), or with a separate bucket. A microfiber is generally not required for wheel and exhaust cleaning.
Do not use house hold products to wash your vehicle (EG. Dish soap, Bathroom Products, Ect). Dish soap is aggressive, and not made for delicate automotive paints.
In the winter, never use a brush to clear snow off your vehicle. You can cause damage which you will notice the next time you wash. A leaf blower works well to clear snow, and is perfectly safe for your paint.
Never use touch car washes. This includes “soft touch” car washes. These are usually poorly maintained, and you are essentially rubbing the last cars contamination into your paint!
Be mindful whom you allow to wash your vehicle. Dealership “complimentary” washes are notorious for damaging freshly polished vehicles. This can be mitigated by getting the dealership to write “DO NOT WASH” on the work order.
A ceramic coating does not mean your vehicle does not need to be washed. This is often the way it is portrayed in false advertising online. In order to keep your coating healthy, you must wash it on a regular basis. Never allow water to dry on a ceramic coating!
If going to a detailer to wash your vehicle, ask them how they wash the vehicle, and compare it to our guide here. A good indication of a proper shop is a they offer ceramic coatings, and b) they have a strong reputation.
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