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Refining The Traditional Car Wash: The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method


A refined traditional car wash method - 1 bucket and microfiber towels by Signature Detailing NJ

A Car Wash Method that breaks a Decade Old ‘Standard Procedure’

Warning: This method may likely be met with resistance by many, outright denial by some, and an inquisitive mind by others.

Breaking with “tradition” is frequently frowned on or considered taboo. Furthermore, when something is considered a gold standard, often some people will potentially insist that any alternate concept or assertion is: quackery, a farce, or just clickbait.

That being said, at Signature Detailing New Jersey our articles are generally aimed at advancing the discussion of optimal car care in auto detailing.

Therefore, this article will explore the idea of a variant of the traditional car wash method that is:

  • Simplest
  • Fastest
  • Safest
  • Most Thorough for Vehicle Surfaces

Spoiler Alert: We believe we’ve found it!

Read on to discover if you agree.

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method: The Set Up for Minimalists

While this car wash method still uses soap and water, it requires less components to set up, less time to execute, and labor and energy to complete.

The heart of this car wash method is a simple streamlined set up:

  1. (1) Bucket
  2. Car wash shampoo (CarPro Reset)
  3. Water (DI or RO is best practice)
  4. (3-6) Plush Long pile MF Towels (Eagle Edgeless 600)
  5. (1) Drying Towel (The Gauntlet 20×30”)

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method Explained

The concept and steps of the 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method are extremely simple to set up, execute, and complete.

After pressure washing the vehicle surface and then laying down a quick later of car wash shampoo, perform the following steps:

  • Fill the bucket 1/2 full of soap and water
  • Drop clean plush long-pile MF towels into the bucket
  • Pull a towel from the bucket and wash, utilizing all 8 sides of each towel.
  • The timing of when to turn the towel is ultimately dependent on the contamination level of the panel. For light or moderately soiled panels, turn the towel after an area about the size of a door or half a hood.
  • Rinse the vehicle and dry with the Drying Towel.

When towels are fused on all 8 sides, wring them out and place them in a dirty bin to be cleaned later.

The One Bucket Towel Car Wash Method by Greg Gellas of Signature Detailing NJ

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method Improves Speed, Efficiency, and Surface Care

Essentially, in all areas of vehicle washing, the 1 Bucket Towel Wash surpasses the no bucket, 2 bucket, 3 bucket, or 27 bucket wash methods.
This includes the amount of equipment, speed of the procedure, efficiency of labor, and as gentle of a wash to vehicle surfaces as possible.

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method is Built for Speed

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash is designed for speed because there is no need for extra components to set up and tear down.

  • No Multiple Buckets
  • No Grit Guards
  • No Multiple Mitts
  • No Rinsing of Mitts

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method is Built for Efficiency

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash is hyper efficient because the operator never stops the wash process. Once they start, they are in wash mode. If they need a new clean wash surface, they simply flip the towel to a new side 7 times before needing a new towel.

When finished with their towel, they wring it out (5 seconds), grab a new towel from the clean soap bucket and continue washing.

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method is for Surface Safety

The 1 Bucket Towel Wash is uber safe to all vehicle surfaces because:

  • The Method NEVER reintroduces contamination to other panels or new surfaces (towel turned)
  • Contamination from ‘cleaning’ the wash towel is never introduced to the clean towel bucket
  • MF Towels have the potential be much softer than most wash mitts

Closing Thoughts on the 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method

Next time you wash your vehicle give this method a try.

We have found that in every way, it’s an improved method of vehicle washing that is: faster in set up and execution, is more efficient, and is the safest method to care for vehicle surfaces.

These benefits are more magnified in a professional environment where 5-20, or more, vehicles may be washed in a single day. As a professional, think about the impact of potentially saving 5-10 minutes on every vehicle, while also delivering the highest quality possible.

No matter who you are, or how many vehicles you regularly wash, this method can benefit your circumstances.

Gregory Gellas
Signature Detailing NJ
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
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10 comments on Refining The Traditional Car Wash: The 1 Bucket Towel Wash Method

  1. Don says:

    I totally agree about this method being very safe and efficient. I for one abandoned the 2BM long ago for multiple media per bucket method. Whether that be mitts or towels. I will also say that Larry K has been doing this for a couple of years now.

  2. Julian Benedetti says:

    Just a couple years into detailing and started with the “traditional” two bucket method. However, after seeing other detailers via social media and reading this breakdown, I’ve recently implemented this into my procedure for all the reasons Greg has mentioned above.
    Ease of mind knowing all towels are never re-introducing contamination into the bucket is very mind relieving to achieving optimal results.

  3. Phil Black says:

    I for one never embraced the 2 bucket method. I use ONR in 2 gallons of very hot water, and add 3-4 plush and folded microfiber towels. Ever heard of the Gary Dean method? Gary will tell you that this “so called” new idea, isn’t new at all. The best detailers have been doing this for years. It’s safer, faster and better. Follow with a clay mitt before final rinse, and you’re done. I also use hot, high pressure – high volume air to blow out all the cracks and seams. You can’t say a vehicle is clean unless you blow out all the crud in the trim with air. Bottom line, if you’re still using 2 buckets, you should logically increase it to 3 or 4 buckets to match the safety of this one bucket method. Good luck with that.

  4. Parth Patel says:

    After reading this , this gives me a piece of mind regarding the ideas popping up in my head. My version of this involved 2 buckets , 1 on each side of the car , how ever instead of MF towels, It would be a couple mitts in each bucket. Now that I see it’s ok to Use mf with shampoo on car panels, ide prefer my idea with Towels instead. 1 bucket is also perfect to save water. Amazing post!

  5. Dave says:

    Well explained. Addresses the biggest issue in any car wash, marring the paint. Will appeal to those who those who don’t always have the time for other methods but like to keep their vehicles looking good.

  6. Thomkirby says:

    This method works just like the waterless method with a required rinse. Very efficient as stated and safe on the surface. Key to this is to let the towel do the job, do not apply any pressure as you wipe. And if the towel has lost the moisture, either grab a new one or else drip solution from a fresh towel to add lubrication. No rinse bucket needed is one less item to drag around or waste water. Nice article.

  7. Don Cattoni says:

    I use the one bucket method but would not recommend your procedure on a dark car or for that matter, any car you want to take serious care of. I use a mitt and use one half to do the upper panel and then the other half to do the lower panel. I keep my hose with nozzle close by and after each panel I power rinse both sides of the mitt to remove dirt particles before I go back into the suds bucket. I have black cars and they are scratch free.

    • Reece @ DI says:

      Don – The one bucket method can certainly work great in some situations, but finding what works best for you and for the exact vehicle you are working on is key. Your personal setup sounds great and will certainly provide you with a safe and quality wash process.

    • Dan Giustino says:

      That,s the way to do it.

  8. Joe says:

    This is a great method I’ve used for 15 plus years I drive a black truck that always looks excellent. I always teach my clients this method!

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