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The Grit Guard 2×4 Wash Method


Many enthusiasts are familiar with the Two-Bucket Method of car washing utilizing Grit Guards in each bucket. It has been the standard for swirl-free washing for some time now, but it is now ready to be taken to a new level.

Before we move forward however, let’s take a closer look at the Grit Guard, the Two-Bucket Method, and what makes them work.

The Grit Guard insert’s radial surface extracts contaminants from wash mitts, brushes, and other cleaning tools, and then safely deposits them to the bottom of the bucket. The 4-quadrant design of the Grit Guard then calms the dirty water below. With this system, the abrasive contaminants that cause scratches and swirls remain trapped at the bottom of the bucket while the clean water stays at the top.

The reason why 2 buckets are used instead of just one is so that you can have separate wash and rinse buckets. Each bucket has a Grit Guard, and one bucket is used to rinse out your dirty wash mitt and the other contains the clean soapy wash water. The key to safely washing your vehicle (and maintaining a swirl-free finish) is to make sure that you’re not re-introducing abrasive dirt and contaminants to the delicate painted surface. If you simply use one bucket, you’re continuously re-introducing contaminants to your wash water, and then subsequently washing your car with dirty, abrasive water. When you use the Two-Bucket Method however, your rinse buckets traps the dirt, and your wash bucket is as clean when you finish as when you started.

For more detailed information on the proper washing and drying methods for maintaining a swirl-free finish, please refer to my Washing and Drying Tutorial.

Now that we’re all on the same page for the popular Two-Bucket Method, let’s take the next evolutionary step in the washing process…the 2×4 Wash Method!

The 2×4 Wash Method is identical to the traditional Two-Bucket Method, however it adds 2 more Grit Guards. Now we are utilizing 2 buckets, and 4 Grit Guards (hence the 2×4).

When using a 5-gallon bucket you’re typically filling it with about 4 gallons of water. Each Grit Guard insert will have about 1 gallon of water underneath it, so with 2 of them in each bucket, 50% of the water is safely underneath the Grit Guards.

2 buckets, 4 Grit Guards!

2 buckets, 4 Grit Guards!

In this photo, you can see where stacking 2 Grit Guards provides a total of 8 different safety chambers (4 per Grit Guard) to separate the contaminated water underneath from the clean water at the top.


The further away your wash mitt is from the bottom of the bucket, the less chance you have at stirring up the abrasive debris at the bottom.

Basically we’re dealing with 3 different kind of dirt and debris that can potentially damage the finish of a car:

  1. The kind that floats (leaves, twigs, bugs, etc. I recommend buying a small fine mesh aquarium net and skimming the surface water if you suspect any floating debris…a handy tool for the perfectionist or those like me with serious OCD issues!).
  2. The kind that is in suspension (water that is dirty looking even after it has settled out). This type of debris isn’t capable of heavier scratches, but can potentially cause micro-scratches that degrade the overall finish over time.

  3. The kind that sinks (grit, sand, mud, small stones, asphalt). This type causes the most damage to a vehicle’s finish.

Now that we have a better understanding of the 3 different types of dirt and debris, we can see how and why the 2×4 Wash Method makes so much sense. By stacking 2 Grit Guards per bucket, we’re increasing our odds that the type 2 and 3 debris stay safely underneath!

The 2×4 Wash Method:

First place 2 Grit Guards each in 2 different 5-gallon buckets.


Then fill your rinse bucket with water, and your wash bucket with your favorite automotive wash solution.


Now when washing your vehicle, gently rub both sides of your wash mitt against the Grit Guards…first in the rinse bucket, and then in the wash bucket. For best results, only wash one small section at a time (i.e. a fender, or a door panel). Wash the small section, rinse out your mitt in the rinse bucket, then re-load your wash mitt in the wash bucket, and then move onto the next section.


If you want the confidence of knowing that you’re taking every cautionary measure to ensure a swirl-free finish, then add 2 more Grit Guards to your arsenal and use the 2×4 Wash Method!

Enjoy your swirl-free finish!

For a complete step-by-step guide on safely washing and drying your vehicle, please refer to my Washing and Drying Tutorial.

If you have any additional comments or questions, please submit your reply in the comment box below.

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Todd Cooperider Esoteric Auto Detail
Todd Cooperider
Esoteric Auto Detail
Columbus, Ohio

30 comments on The Grit Guard 2×4 Wash Method

  1. Justin says:

    Nice one!
    I prefer using two as I feel one just isnt deep enough. I feel the simple cleaning of the wash mitt stirs up debris from the bottom of the bucket.

    • Justin…glad to hear that you’re using two as well! Since you also work on rare exotics, you know how important it is to take every precautionary measure possible to ensure a swirl-free finish!

  2. William says:

    Thanks for sharing – the fine mesh screen is a great idea! Another step I take after I remove my mitt from the rinse bucket is to rinse it once more with the hose, and then I go for the wash bucket.

    • William,

      Thanks for the comments. One thing to keep in mind about rinsing with the hose is that while it does a good job of getting the debris off of the outer part of the wash mitt, it can actually embed some of the inner stuff deeper into the fibers. When using the Grit Guard, it allows the wash mitt to open up so to speak in such a way that even the inner debris will float away.

  3. Mike Y. says:

    Nice, write up I’ve been using 2×2 method now I’m going to aim for the 2×4 sounds pretty cool too! Now I gotta save up$$$ Thanks D.I. once again good work!

  4. Albert says:

    Hi Todd,
    For washing I use separate 5-gallon buckets with Grit Guards as recommended. The bucket diameters taper such that my Grit Guard wedges itself about half-way down the bucket.

    I suppose this is a good thing, and perhaps approximates some of the benefits of using 2 Grit Guards per bucket.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thank you.

    San Jose, CA

    • Albert,

      It’s probably similar, but not the same. Since you can’t fit your Grit Guard all the way down into your bucket, you have more dirty water underneath it, which is good. The benefit of having two of them however is that each of the Grit Guards provide additional chambers for the water to settle and prevent debris from rising back to the top.

      • Albert says:

        Thanks for your response Todd,

        Yes, that makes sense.

        Interestingly, I watched a You Tube Video which demos the 2 bucket method. The buckets look they have Detailed Image logo on them, and the Grit Guards only go half-way down the buckets.

        I’m surprised that Detailed Image doesn’t sell full width non-tapered buckets that allow a Grit Guard to sit on the bottom of the bucket.


        • Albert,

          I think the very first batch of buckets that DI had were tapered a bit, but that was quickly changed to a model that allowed a Grit Guard to fit all the way down to the bottom.

  5. […] The Grit Guard 2×4 Wash Method:┬áProper washing technique requires the use of the Grit Guard, and this article shows how to take advantage of the protective benefits by doubling the amount of Grit Guards used in the traditional 2-bucket method. […]

  6. Steve says:

    Where did Mr. Ferrari guy get his buckets? I cannot find ANY that are CLOSE to those and 5-gallons is overkill and a waste of water- sorry. Maybe if you’re washing a Minivan, but for my 2007 Accord in NBP- 3.5 gallon should work just fine. But, I’m not a ‘detail expert’ and I just bought the car- so, maybe not. (LOL)

  7. Danny R. says:


    I am going to implement this but to my rinse bucket thanks. Since my wash bucket stays very clean and 1 grit guard seems to be enough. I only do 3 to 3.5 gallon washes, but in my rinse bucket I use 4.5 gallons of water.


  8. Tony L says:

    I have a spare grit guard…why didn’t I think of this? I’ll be using 2 in my rinse bucket now. My wash bucket is always clean with just the one. THANKS!

  9. Nathan Hoekzema says:

    I have been doing the 2×4 wash method for a while now, thanks to your advice. My question is regarding keeping the grit guards at the bottom of the buckets. I will occasionally find them floating up a bit…maybe bouyed by air/soap bubbles? Does this happen to you and any ideas on keeping them at the bottom with their undisturbed sediment?

  10. Joseph says:

    I have to say, i thifnk you guys have OCD on a major level. Why not boil the water before you use?, or use a new bucket and mitt for every panel lick the cars clean. I am all for taking care when cleaning cars but the simple fact or driving a car over 30 mph or at all is going to result in scratches is enough to acknowledge that the paint usually needs correcting(skimming) after 3-4 years is enough. So why not save the time and have just wash regularly and polish ocaasionally and skim rarely and live life.

    • Proper washing methods only adds a few minutes to the wash time, and can save a lot of time and expense in the long run when you don’t have to polish as much. So why not take a few extra minutes, take care of the car properly, and save time and money in the long run, and protect resale value of the vehicle in the process?

  11. […] the rest of the car. Notice too that I use Grit Guards in both my rinse bucket and my wash bucket (for best results, use two Grit Guards per bucket!). For the rinse bucket in particular, this helps dislodge dirt and debris from the wash mitt, and […]

  12. David says:

    I’ve had really good luck with 3 or 4 MF mitts (which I find softer than sheepskin) per wash – don’t need to rinse mitts at all!
    Just start your wash on the first panel with one side of the first mitt, the next panel with the other side of the mitt, put it aside in a seperate basin and continue to wash the rest of the car while not having to dip ANY mitt twice into the wash solution! Can you get any safer than that?!
    This will not be of much value to a high volume car wash but I wouldn’t bring my car to one of those in the first place!

  13. Jamie Walker says:

    A couple of suggestions from an old bike rider:

    1. For those tight to get in spaces in washing or polishing, consider an inexpensive electric toothbrush. I have been using them for over 10 years on my Harley where ever chrome or hard surfaces need to be cleaned and are too small for my fingers to get into. Wheels and grill work benefit greatly.

    2. An inexpensive leaf blower works great and drying wheels and hard to reach spots. Just make sure you wash down the space you will be washing your vehicle so you don’t blow any grit or stones.

    3. If you must park outside exposed to the elements or an open carport- get a car/truck cover! Its a lot easier to keep the dust, pollen and grime off than to scrub it off.

    4. Got bugs or other sticky stuff on your vehicle? In a pinch you can use taco sauce packages. The acid will clean tar and bugs but remember to wash right away or at least use a handi wipe to clean the area. Most fast food stops can accommodate you with all of these.

    5. Carry a can of plain soda water to clean up accidental food spills on upholstery. Don’t use Coke or Mountain Dew!

  14. Mark Welch says:

    In my occupational experience in dealing with chemical rinses, and from high school chemistry class when rinsing containers, I recommend a triple rinse system.

    If you don’t use three (3) rinse buckets before immersing the wash mitt into the wash soap bucket, as least try two (2) rinse buckets. I’ve done this with two rinse buckets and a wash bucket and the results are amazing. This will make your system a 3-bucket or 4-bucket system, plus one more bucket for wheel and wheel-lining washing. Be sure to label your “dirty” wheel buckets, so you never use them on your car panels.

    I have no affiliation with this website or business. I just know the value of that extra rinse.

  15. Michael Hinchey says:

    Man I just dont understand the logic behind this method at all. I get why you use two and I bought into this for a few months when I first started serious detailing. However, there is nothing safer than using a one bucket method and using multiple wash mediums and never introducing the dirty mitt back into the clean water. Working on other people’s cars , bot just exotocs , shouldn’t you want to take that extra step in ensuring that there is no chance of that dirt reentering the clean wash water ?
    One bucket , one grit guard
    Rinsed sheepskin and no dirt.

  16. Kevin says:

    This sounds like a good method but then you only have maybe 3 gallons of wash medium and rinse water to use. I use the Optimum ONR myself using the 2×2 method I have to use maybe 2oz of solution to clean up one car since the Grit Guard takes up that 1 gallon. If using 2 of them in the wash bucket would I have to go up to 3 or 4 oz of solution?

  17. […] it off and remove any sediment that may still remain. Another thing you can use in your bucket is a grit guard insert. A grit guard can sits in the bottom of the bucket, and will better trap and hold the dirt in the […]

  18. Brittny says:

    Wow thank for this article! I would’ve never thought of using two but I’ll be sure to adopt that method for my business. Thanks again!

  19. Jay says:

    Todd, I use the 2 x 4 + 2 system. I take your 2 x 4 stsytem; adding an extra modofied bucket to each wash and rinse bucket. I take 2 buckets, modified by drilling several 5/16″ diameter holes in the bottom of each bucket, I than place the buckets above the grit guards into the wash and rinse buckets.

  20. […] sau linkurile de mai jos, in mod individual.Cum poti spala corect masina (fara a cauza zgarieturi)Metoda de spalat folosind Grit GuardCum sa intretii corect prosoapele din microfibraCum sa intretii corect manusile din blana de […]

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