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The Importance of Proper Car Washing Techniques


Throughout many of the articles produced by the authors of the Detailed Image Ask A Pro Blog, you’ll find a consistent message: Proper washing and drying techniques and materials are paramount to keeping your car looking its best! This applies whether you are doing it yourself, or if you’re having your cars maintained by “professional detailers”. Just because you’re paying for a service, it doesn’t mean that they’re using the safest techniques, tools, or materials.

Several months ago I spent about 20 hours perfecting a Ferrari 360 Spider that had been improperly washed for years. When it left our studio it was as close to a perfect finish that was safely possible.

Here you can see what the finish looked like before polishing. This is what paint looks like when proper wash / dry methods are not used:

This is what the finish looked like after it was polished…notice the huge difference in clarity and color now that all of the swirls and defects have been removed.

I got a chance to see this same car yesterday, and was amazed at how bad the finished looked once again after a few short months of improper washing techniques. This can be avoided when proper wash techniques are used.

To serve as a reminder for all of our readers, I have included links to some reference articles on the proper care and maintenance of your car.

How To Properly Wash and Dry a Car (Without Causing Swirls)

The Grit Guard 2×4 Wash Method

Proper Microfiber Care

How To Care for Sheepskin Wash Mitts

Follow these guidelines and you’ll significantly reduce the possibility of inducing swirls and other damage to the finish of your cars!

I hope this helps.

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

12 comments on The Importance of Proper Car Washing Techniques

  1. Charles says:

    Thanks for the post. I have a quick question. Can you apply a wax or a sealant over OPT quick detailer? I know it has gloss enhancers and I just want to make sure it does not compromise the durability on my LSP. Thanks again!

    • Hi Charles,

      Preferrably you’d want to avoid applying your wax or sealant on top of your quick detailer. I’m sure there would be combinations that would work out fine, but in many cases however you may end up with streaking, smearing, or durability issues if it prevents a good bond with the surface.

  2. Tim H. says:


    Was that Ferrari at the Arthritis show?

    Thanks for the reminder. I drove by one of those charity washes today and saw them washing cars with bristle brushes. It made me a little ill. My wife jokingly asked me if I wanted to get my truck washed. I quickly said, “No, I’ll pass.” All I could think about was the hours I put in bringing the shine to better than new and how it would have all been for nothing in a matter of seconds. That was more terrifying than any horror movie.


    • Gerald Brown says:

      That is hilarious Tim, my kids had a football carwash fundraiser and they were using the same type brushes. When I dropped my boys off I was asked if I wanted my vehicle washed I too cringed
      and said no thanks! After washing your vehicle the right way you will never trust a machine or others in that matter to wash your vehicle for you again!

    • Hi Tim,

      No, the 360 I am referring to was not at the show, although I did see that one you’re speaking of. The paint on that one was a bit “needy” as well.

      And unfortunately, it’s not limited to kids at charity washes that are using those same methods! Scary indeed…

  3. Kaye says:

    What is the best for hand washing a rag or brush

  4. It sure was nice that you informed the readers that improper carwashing can affect the finish of the car and that this can be avoided if we take it to the pro for a cleaning. I will be sure to look for a carwash company as soon as I can then. After all, the aesthetic appeal of my car means a lot to me, and I want to avoid even the smallest chance of damaging its frame or finish.

  5. Car Tailing says:

    Hi Todd. This is a great article. Thank you for this. Also, a lot of car cleaning tips and techniques are being shared but minimal tips of what are the safest products for car cleaning. Do you have something to share about this since I think it would be also essential to know? Thanks!

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