Improper washing methods are the main cause of paint defects. Tiny scratches called swirls can be produced if you do not wash your car properly. To properly wash it, you need the proper equipment. Here is a list of the top 7 must-have products to properly wash your car without producing swirls. For further instructions on how to properly wash your car, please refer Todd Cooperider’s article: The Grit Guard 2X4 Wash Method.
The number one thing you must have to properly wash your car is two buckets. The first bucket needs to be filled with just water. The second bucket needs to be filled with a water/soap solution. While washing your car, you need to wash only one panel at a time. Once you have done one panel, rinse your wash media out in the bucket filled with just water. Then rinse it out in the bucket that has the water/soap solution in it. The idea here is to rinse all of the dirt out of the wash media in the first bucket. Then put it in the second bucket to load it with soapy water. If done properly all of the dirt and grime will stay in the first bucket. This will clean all of the dirt out of your wash media from the first panel preventing that dirt from being rubbed on the surface of your next panel. After each wash, you should wash out your buckets to remove any dirt in them.
An additional bucket should be used for just your wheels.
Grit Guards are essential for a swirl free wash; their unique design serves two purposes. The first purpose is to prevent your wash media from contacting dirt in the bottom of the bucket. The second purpose is to prevent the water from moving around in the bucket. If the water moves around in the bucket, it will just stir the dirt from the bottom up allowing it to come into contact with your wash media. Two Grit Guards will be needed, one for each bucket, to ensure no dirt will get back into your wash media.
Sheepskin wash mitts are designed to release dirt. Once you wash a panel you want to rinse the dirt out of it. The sheepskin allows the dirt to easily be flushed out of the mitt. A lot of people use microfiber mitts, but microfiber is designed to trap dirt. While washing your car you don’t want to trap dirt in your mitt. The mitt is being used to break the dirt away from your car’s surface so it can be flushed away during your rinse process. After each wash, you should thoroughly wash out your mitt.
The Gilmour Foamaster allows you to completely cover your car with soap. The soap will then begin to separate the dirt from your car, making it easier to get the dirt off while you are washing. When the dirt is easier to remove, it prevents you from using pressure when washing. Using pressure only grinds the dirt in the paint causing swirls. The best way to use the Foamaster is to first rinse your car off with water, then completely cover your car with soap and let it sit for a minute so the soap can do its job. Then you can start washing.
Drying your car properly is just as important as washing it correctly. If you can remove the majority of the water before you take a towel to it, then it will save you towels and from having to touch the paint more. The Metro Vac n’ Blo is a great way to do this. You simply turn it on, and it blows air at a high rate to blow all of the water off of the car. You don’t have to get it 100% dry but you want to get the majority off of it. Then you can remove the remaining water with a Microfiber Waffle Weave Drying Towel. Removing the majority of the water will make it easier to dry the rest of the car quickly, preventing water spots. It is also great for drying wheels and getting water out of cracks and crevices. If you don’t have an air compressor this is a great way to dry your car! The Vac n’ Blo also doubles as a vacuum and comes with many accessories.
When you dry your car, you want to use a towel that won’t damage your paint. The Microfiber Waffle Weave Drying Towel is a great towel that you can use to safely dry your car. Its weave is designed to absorb water and its fibers are soft enough not to cause damage. If you first dry your car off with the Vac n’ Blo or compressed air, you can easily dry a whole car with one towel. Another key to preventing swirls is to use a lubricant between the towel and the paint. Before you start drying, you need to spray/prep your towel with a lubricant on a side that will touch your car. This will help the towel glide along the paint’s surface while drying. It is also important not to use any pressure while drying. Folding your towel into 4’s will help keep even pressure over the whole towel. Prepping your towel will also help your towel absorb better. Slightly damp microfiber will absorb better than dry microfiber.
Chemical Guys HYBRID V7 is a great product to prep your drying towel. It is a combination of a quick detailer and a spray sealant. This makes it possible to actually apply a layer of protection to your car while you are using it as a lubricant for drying. Before you start drying, just spray each side of the drying towel with Chemical Guys HYBRID V7. You don’t want to soak the towel but just get it damp.
With all of these products and the proper technique, you can wash your car every time without producing any swirls.