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.
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:
- 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!).
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.
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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