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Why Ceramic Coatings Require Regular Wash Cycles


Ceramic Coatings need regular wash cycles to maintain optimal water behavior (hydrophobics) - Signature Detailing NJ

Ceramic Nano Coatings are by far the best protective technology (non-impact related) developed for paint vs. the waxes and sealants of past eras. They exhibit impressive traits that benefit both detailers and consumers alike.

These traits give long-term benefits for maintenance as well as aesthetic enhancements.

To maintain a ceramic coating’s optimal functional aspects, such as the ‘self-cleaning effect’ (staying cleaner for longer, and the ability for fast and easy cleaning (water behavior aka hydrophobics), coated vehicles should be maintained with regular wash cycles.

Why Ceramic Coatings Require Regular Wash Cycles

Think of a vehicle’s ceramic nano coating like a non-stick cooking pan. Both are impressive advancements in technology for convenience and ease.

However, if you cook with a non-stick pan, do not clean it, and then cook with it 1-2 more times what happens?

Things start sticking to the ‘non-stick’ pan.

This is because residue from multiple things, perhaps olive oil, butter, etc. begin to make a layer on the pan one by one. The first layer, butter, has the most difficulty adhering to the surface. But, when the butter is reduced in the pan and mixed with solids and spices and the moisture flashes off, it reduces to solids. And some of these deposits adhere to the pan.

Now, if the butter layer is not completely removed and the pan is reused, then the next layer of butter (from the next cooking session) can now adhere to the pan itself, but also to the first layer. This can make cooking in a ‘non-stick’ pan much more difficult than it should be.

The non-stick pan analogy holds true to the water behavior characteristics of ceramic coated vehicle surfaces. The more often a vehicle is washed, the longer, and more optimally, the characteristics of the coating will perform over time.

The longer the time between vehicle wash intervals, the more and more layers of topical bonded contamination are allowed to stick to the surfaces. Just like the frying pan, over time the hydrophobic characteristics of the surfaces change as they adopt the characteristics of the contamination, vs the optimal effects of the coating.

How Often Should Ceramic Coated Vehicles Be Washed?

How often a vehicle is washed is dependent on a few factors:

  • How often is the vehicle driven?
  • Is it a daily driver or a secondary fun vehicle?
  • Is the vehicle garaged or does it live outside?
  • What are the driving conditions of the seasons?

In general, the best rule of thumb is that daily driven ceramic coated vehicles should be washed once every two weeks.

Garaged vehicles or secondary vehicles which are less used maybe once a month.
In seasons, or conditions, where large amounts of contamination collect quickly on vehicle surfaces, the vehicles could require washing every week.

In super extreme conditions, such as love bugs in the south and south-east, vehicles may require cleaning twice a week. Vehicle cleaning may need to be evaluated day to day if enough harmful bug splatter collects on surfaces.

Best Products When Washing a Ceramic Coated Vehicles

When performing a regular wash cycle on a ceramic nano coated vehicle, it is critical to use a car soap or a rinseless or waterless wash product that is designed for the needs of ceramic coatings.

At Signature Detailing NJ we recommend the following products for maintaining ceramic coated vehicles:

Traditional Car Washing Method (Soap & Water with Surface Agitation):

Rinseless or Waterless Car Washing Method:

Both of these will ensure the coating will be cleaned thoroughly and thus will maintain its optimal characteristics over time.

Conclusion Ceramic Coatings & Regular Wash Cycles

If a ceramic nano coated vehicle is maintained properly then its characteristics of: ‘the self-cleaning effect’, its ease of cleaning, and its aesthetics will be intact for the long term.

However, if a ceramic coating is neglected and not washed regularly, it will act similarly to a frying pan over time. The surfaces will begin to collect contamination over time and thus change its surface characteristics, making cleaning more difficult and more time intensive to perform.

The name of the game is preventative and regular wash cycles. A ceramic coating is similar to most other technologies, in that, if you take care of the coating and show it a little basic love (maintenance) on a regular basis, it will be good to you over time.

Gregory Gellas
Signature Detailing NJ
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
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11 comments on Why Ceramic Coatings Require Regular Wash Cycles

  1. Ron Ayotte says:

    Great analogy! I have been trying to put an explanation of how to maintain a ceramic coating into terms that can easily be understood. Thank You!

  2. Vlad Kamnyev says:

    Makes total sense, but in wintry conditions and brine and salt on the ground, it’s very difficult to do maintenance washes. My cquartz 3.0 Coated cars just get rinses at the local diy washes for about 3 months out of the year and when it warms up, we are back to bi-weekly hand washes with Reset 🙂

  3. rlmccarty2000 says:

    Nice post! Remember to also do a yearly decontamination to remove the gunk that even strong car washes cant remove. It’s surprising how a supposedly “dead” coating can be revived by decontamination.

  4. Pete says:

    I live in Buffalo -NY, so unless I run through a car wash on the near to above freezing days, washing is out of the question. Is the solution used in “ touch less” car washes going to destroy my Adam’s graphene ceramic coating? Not the spray on, the actual graphene coating ?

    • Paul says:

      It will wear it down. It’s recommended that pH neutral soaps be used. The touch less car washes use either a high alkaline or acidic solution as far as I know. With that said if it needs washed and the touch less is what you have to use at the time, go ahead IMO.

  5. Walter Havens says:

    Very nice article. The no stick pan analogy is spot on.

  6. Dan says:

    I remember having Optimum Gloss Coat on my gf’s truck, and afer the year mark the water behavior diminished.

    I figured I’d remove it and go back to my old sealant of choice (Duragloss 111). But when I clayed (Meguiar’s 2000 fine grade) the first panel the slickness and hydrophobic properties came back. But this was after a nasty winter where we went through touchless washes and my ONR washes were sparse.

    With my gf’s new vehicle I applied Gloss Coat right after she got it, and I washed regularly with ONR, the Gloss Coat is working beautifully. I did re entitled do the driver side of the Jeep with two coats of Cquartz UK 3.0 and one layer of Gliss. ONR works great on that coating as well.

  7. rlmccarty2000 says:

    Claying may be a little too aggressive for a decon since you are rubbing the coatings surface. Even if you use a good clay lube you can scratch or mar the coating. I prefer to decon yearly with Carpro Acid Wash and ironX to , of course, remove and in bedded iron particles. I use Carpro Reset as my in between maintenance wash. There are other products similar to the Carpro line, but these are the ones I have used and recommend.

    • Reece @ DI says:

      For sure! Whenever you touch the surface you have a chance to marr it, so we do recommend using light chemicals to clean first. Using a clay bar is only recommended if shampoo or heavy removal chemicals did not work. Start mild and bump up the power only as needed!

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