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The Best Way to Hand Wash your Car


Washing your vehicle properly is fundamental to automotive detailing. Once you understand the proper mindset and the mechanics of maintaining swirl-free paint, the steps are simple and easy to follow. There are several optional steps you can add or remove with ease depending on the demands of your project. For people brand new to the two bucket wash and other safe wash practices, it can take some time and several repetitions to really understand each step, what order to do them in and some of the nuances to the process that will help yield top-notch results. This is also the most asked question we get from our customers when we coat their vehicle as well, by far. We took the opportunity to shoot a short video walking through each step of the process and the tools and chemicals as a tutorial for our clients, new employees, and anyone looking for a good base reference on the process. Check out the video below:

Great foam option if you don’t have a pressure washer

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Matt Carter
Detail Peoria
Peoria, IL

9 comments on The Best Way to Hand Wash your Car

  1. Rodney Tatum says:

    Very well put together!!

  2. Kim Newling says:

    Nope. No buckets. Water ends up being dirty in both buckets. Sorry fellas.

    • Matt Carter says:

      Well that is a new one! The 2 bucket wash method is widely understood as the best safe hand wash practice in the detailing industry. I also explained that there are several things you can add to this base wash process to improve your results, this could be things like a second foam and pre-rinse in order to remove more dirt and debris before your contact wash or using multiple wash mitts to keep them as clean as possible. If you follow the steps correctly and pay attention to what you are doing, you will absolutely keep your wash water clean.

  3. Kim Newling says:

    I have found that foam cannon car, and then using multiple wash mitts, keeps you from dunking you’re wash mitts into dirty water. When done with wash mitt set aside and start with new one. Always working clean. Rinse car off, and dry. Done.

    • Matt Carter says:

      That is a perfect example of a way to adapt the 2 bucket method to your own process. I like the multi mitt process for reaching the minimum possible risk during the contact wash but its not something I will teach my customers or others who are brand new to proper car care due to the practicality of stocking up on 6-10 high quality mits. The goal here is to teach the right mentality and mindset so our clients and readers can understand how to minimize their risk when caring for their vehicles. Once they have the 2 bucket wash down, they can adapt as they see fit. You are right, there is more than 1 way to skin a cat.

  4. Phillip says:

    Any details about your pressure washer setup? Looking to build a garage soon & hoping to have a designated indoor area for detailing my vehicles. Thanks!

    • Kim Newling says:

      I live in Wisconsin so indoor washing in garage is tough. In the winter having water in garage means water pipes must be under ground below the frost line. This could mean 6ft. However I do wash vehicles in garage during winter using the rinseless wash method. There is almost no mess when done, and vehicles come out pretty good. The second thing I can recommend is have plenty of lighting! Nothing worse then backing out of garage and seeing small spots you’ve missed. Hope that helps.

    • Matt Carter says:

      We have a Kranzle pressure washer mounted to the wall but also did a years worth of commercial work with a lower level unit as well. If the budget allows, the Kranzle is one of the best you can get, we are very pleased, but if it does not, don’t worry, you will be able to get great results with a less expensive unit and can always upgrade down the road if you wish. For home use, a CR spotless system might be worth looking into. You will want to measure the TDS of your water supply and review the treatment charts from CR spotless to see how much of your water a change of resin will treat. It is very nice to work with spot free water for your rinse if you can.

      • Phillip says:

        Thanks for the reply & info Matt. I will look into these. I noticed the wall mount unit in your video & was thinking “hey, that looks pretty handy.”

        To Kim: I’m in South Mississippi, so not much to worry about here regarding the temps. Good lighting is definitely on the list to have though.

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