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Top 7 Must Have Items For a Swirl Free Car Wash


Improper washing methods are the main cause of paint defects. Tiny scratches called swirls can be produced if you do not wash your car properly. To properly wash it, you need the proper equipment. Here is a list of the top 7 must-have products to properly wash your car without producing swirls. For further instructions on how to properly wash your car, please refer Todd Cooperider’s article: The Grit Guard 2X4 Wash Method.

#1 – 2 Buckets


The number one thing you must have to properly wash your car is two buckets. The first bucket needs to be filled with just water. The second bucket needs to be filled with a water/soap solution. While washing your car, you need to wash only one panel at a time. Once you have done one panel, rinse your wash media out in the bucket filled with just water. Then rinse it out in the bucket that has the water/soap solution in it. The idea here is to rinse all of the dirt out of the wash media in the first bucket. Then put it in the second bucket to load it with soapy water. If done properly all of the dirt and grime will stay in the first bucket. This will clean all of the dirt out of your wash media from the first panel preventing that dirt from being rubbed on the surface of your next panel. After each wash, you should wash out your buckets to remove any dirt in them.

An additional bucket should be used for just your wheels.

#2 – Grit Guards


Grit Guards are essential for a swirl free wash; their unique design serves two purposes.  The first purpose is to prevent your wash media from contacting dirt in the bottom of the bucket. The second purpose is to prevent the water from moving around in the bucket. If the water moves around in the bucket, it will just stir the dirt from the bottom up allowing it to come into contact with your wash media.  Two Grit Guards will be needed, one for each bucket, to ensure no dirt will get back into your wash media.

#3 – Sheepskin Wash Mitt


Sheepskin wash mitts are designed to release dirt. Once you wash a panel you want to rinse the dirt out of it. The sheepskin allows the dirt to easily be flushed out of the mitt. A lot of people use microfiber mitts, but microfiber is designed to trap dirt. While washing your car you don’t want to trap dirt in your mitt. The mitt is being used to break the dirt away from your car’s surface so it can be flushed away during your rinse process. After each wash, you should thoroughly wash out your mitt.

#4 – Gilmour Foamaster


The Gilmour Foamaster allows you to completely cover your car with soap. The soap will then begin to separate the dirt from your car, making it easier to get the dirt off while you are washing. When the dirt is easier to remove, it prevents you from using pressure when washing. Using pressure only grinds the dirt in the paint causing swirls. The best way to use the Foamaster is to first rinse your car off with water, then completely cover your car with soap and let it sit for a minute so the soap can do its job. Then you can start washing.

#5 – Metro Vac n’ Blo


Drying your car properly is just as important as washing it correctly. If you can remove the majority of the water before you take a towel to it, then it will save you towels and from having to touch the paint more. The Metro Vac n’ Blo is a great way to do this. You simply turn it on, and it blows air at a high rate to blow all of the water off of the car. You don’t have to get it 100% dry but you want to get the majority off of it. Then you can remove the remaining water with a Microfiber Waffle Weave Drying Towel. Removing the majority of the water will make it easier to dry the rest of the car quickly, preventing water spots. It is also great for drying wheels and getting water out of cracks and crevices. If you don’t have an air compressor this is a great way to dry your car! The Vac n’ Blo also doubles as a vacuum and comes with many accessories.

#6 – Microfiber Waffle Weave Drying Towel


When you dry your car, you want to use a towel that won’t damage your paint. The Microfiber Waffle Weave Drying Towel is a great towel that you can use to safely dry your car. Its weave is designed to absorb water and its fibers are soft enough not to cause damage. If you first dry your car off with the Vac n’ Blo or compressed air, you can easily dry a whole car with one towel. Another key to preventing swirls is to use a lubricant between the towel and the paint. Before you start drying, you need to spray/prep your towel with a lubricant on a side that will touch your car. This will help the towel glide along the paint’s surface while drying. It is also important not to use any pressure while drying. Folding your towel into 4’s will help keep even pressure over the whole towel. Prepping your towel will also help your towel absorb better. Slightly damp microfiber will absorb better than dry microfiber.

#7 – Chemical Guys HYBRID V7


Chemical Guys HYBRID V7 is a great product to prep your drying towel. It is a combination of a quick detailer and a spray sealant. This makes it possible to actually apply a layer of protection to your car while you are using it as a lubricant for drying. Before you start drying, just spray each side of the drying towel with Chemical Guys HYBRID V7. You don’t want to soak the towel but just get it damp.

With all of these products and the proper technique, you can wash your car every time without producing any swirls.

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Addison Good of Good Guys Detailing
Addison Good
Good Guys Detailing
South Florida

18 comments on Top 7 Must Have Items For a Swirl Free Car Wash

  1. Andy Erickson says:

    Dang, I always learn something new here. The dry waffle weave has baffled me. Now I know why. Looking forward to washing my car and prepping the waffle weave.

    Thanks, Addison!


  2. Omar says:

    Great article Addison,about a topic that will make any other aspect of paint detailing a more manageable task. My question is about “sheepskin wash mitt”… How different or how much better is it in comparison to a microfiber wash mitt (something like the “DI Microfiber Autofiber Zero Cuff Chenille Wash Mitt”

    Thanks in advance!


  3. Tom Evans says:

    Thanks for the great article. I have items 1-6, but not the Chemical Guys Hybrid V7. Question – can you still use a quick detailer or spray wax while drying your vehicle if you use the Hybrid V7?

  4. MobileXmen says:

    I have been using a stick/brush for 12 years and have never scratched a vehicle. My theory is that with a sheepskin mit if you pick up some dirt while washing before you rinse the mit you will scratch the paint. With the stick/brush method there is now way that any dirt will stay on the surface of the brush. Another benefit is that in the winter you dont get wet and washing a car takes half the time, a win-win. I never see anyone using the stick/brush and am baffled why nobody uses it.

    • lawrence says:

      mobilexmen if youve been using a stick brush then you have swirls in your paint, we arent talking about serious scratches were talking about very light scratches that can only be seen under direct sunlight

  5. David says:

    Great tips here Addison!

    Instead of the 2 bucket method with grit guards, why not use 1 bucket and 3 or 4 MF mitts? You get 2 clean, grit free sides per mitt which gives you 6 or 8 “new” sides in total – likely enough to do a whole car without risk. If MF mitts do indeed trap dirt, there is less risk of cross contamination when you flip the mitt over for your next panel.
    You save on a second bucket and grit guard , expensive sheepskin mitts (which, to me, don’t feel as soft as MF) and clutter. Just place your used MF mitts in a dry bucket or basin and wash with MF cleaner – speaking of whick: have you tried both brands available on the DI shopping list? Any preference?

  6. Miguel says:

    I bought some high speed wax can I spray some on my waffle towel when drying my car

  7. Zach says:

    @David: The 2 bucket method is effective because it allows you to rinse out your wash media so that you do not introduce the dirt into your washing solution. I think it is much more practical to use 1 mitt & 2 buckets w/ grit guards instead of multiple mitts and 1 bucket.

    Also, the sheepskin mitts are very soft when you allow them to sit in the soapy solution for a minute or so before use.

    • David B says:

      Thanks Zach – I might give the two bucket trick a try. BUT recently I came across the Garry Dean wash method which REALLY makes sense. Three or four MF cloths in your soap/water or ONR solution and then wash ONE panel at a time with using only ONE cloth surface for each panel, turning over the cloth three more times, and then never reintroducing that cloth into the wash medium. You just throw the “used” cloth into a bucket along with the other dirty cloths to be washed with MF cleaner for use for another day. AmAzing results ’cause you never drag dirt across to another panel OR introduce dirt into your wash medium!
      Happy detailing!

      • David,
        The Garry Dean Wash Method is definitely a nice, safe rinseless wash process. When I perform rinseless washes, this is my method of choice instead of the standard two bucket method. When performing standard washes, the two bucket method is still a great option for safe and effective washing.

  8. Quick prep on the road: Bring a pocket full of quarters to a self serve car wash. After blasting out the jams wheel wells etc close it up and drench the whole car in engine degreaser (if it was harmful to paint they wouldn’t use it !) Spray the whole car with wax, quick rinse and hit the highway, pull over and wipe the rear window. Ready to detail !

  9. Michael T. says:

    I have a black 2015 GMC Sierra and I have a hard time keeping the spider webs/swirls out of the clear coat when washing. I have tried the sheepskin mitt and I use Optimum Car Wash but I always seem to end up with swirls. It looks great except under direct light. I use the 2 bucket method also and a very light pressure when washing. Does anyone have any suggestions to prevent the swirls. With it now being winter and not having a garage to do a full paint correction I will have to wait until spring but I want to prevent further ones through the winter. Thank you Michael

  10. JamesC says:

    Mike if you live in a sandy state (like Florida) and commute daily, you won’t stop swirl marks…. Why? Because the wind will blow sand everywhere…the faster you drive the harder the sand and dust hits your ride…. Can’t be prevented only contained by buffing…..

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