How to wash your car - By used2clean1
First off, you'll need the right products and equipment. Here is a list of the bits and bobs that will allow you to safely maintain the appearance of your car.
3 buckets (one for wheel brushes, two for washing)
3 microfibre or lambswool mitts (1 for wheels, 2 for bodywork)
1 tyre brush (small curved brush the width of an average tyre)
1 Meguiars slide lock brush for wire wheels
Lots of microfiber cloths (these can be purchased inexpensively at Costco)
1 foam lance if you have a pressure washer
1 large microfibre drying towel
1 Meguiars all surface interior brush (for mohair hoods or carpets)
1 paint brush for applying tyre dressing
2 microfibre polishing pads or polishing sponges
1 x 1 litre pump spray bottle
3 or 4 x 500ml trigger sprayers.
Car shampoo. I'd choose one from Meguairs Shampoo Plus (low cost) or Zymol Natural Car Shampoo (lovely stuff!). I don't recommend anything marketed as wash and wax. Fairy liquid will completely strip your car of any protection it might have and make your paint go dull and cloudy with time.
Meguiars Hyper Wash for pre-wash foaming purposes (only if you have the foam lance).
Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner. This is a must have and is good for 100 different jobs at different concentrations. If you don't have a foam lance, dilute to 10 parts water : 1 part APC and use as a pre-spray (dilute 4:1 for filthy tyres). You can spray it on your wheels, your hood, your carpets, your door shuts, your tyres'.. anything really.
R222 Total Auto Wash. To be used on particularly dirty exterior surfaces. Will safely shift oil, grease etc. Also great for engine bays or bug splatter. Brilliant stuff but you can manage without it if you're on a budget.
Poorboy's Bug Squash. A must have in the warmer months. Washing with shampoo will not get rid of bug splatter on your windscreen or paintwork, and if you don't do something about them they will etch into your paintwork and require a lot of polishing. Rinse any treated areas thoroughly as this is solvent based.
Autosmart Tardis. This is another must have for removing tar spots. Don't even think about using paraffin rags or turps, or scrubbing away with a cloth. This stuff is brilliant - simply spray on, leave for a minute or two, and wipe off. Rinse any treated area thoroughly as this is solvent based.
3M Glass Cleaner. This is one of the cheapest glass cleaners on the market for the inside of your windscreen. I can't think of a good reason to use a different one.
Leather cleaner. I like the Zymol leather cleaner because it even smells like leather. Raceglaze is known to be excellent too. Using a leather brush can make a real difference to your results.
Clay Bar. Perhaps for the more enthusiastic of owners. Washing your car removes loose dirt and grime, but you paint will still be loaded with contaminants that affect the finish. The clay bar will remove them and make your paint feel silky smooth. It's the perfect step to take before waxing or polishing.
Wheel Cleaner. Wolf's Chemicals Wheel Cleaner (The Brake Duster) is a fairly new product and one you should not be without. It's safe, brilliant, easy to use and inexpensive.
303 Convertible Top Cleaner. This is only needed for those of you with mohair hoods, which we all know are an expensive option so they really ought to be looked after with some proper stuff.
Tyre Dressing. Once you have removed the dirt from your tyres, applying some dressing is a nice finishing touch and stops your tyres from going grey or brown. There's not much difference between dressings in my experience, but I prefer to use one that sprays on.
Waxes, sealants, polishes and compounds. They're all different.
Polishes and compounds contain abrasives to provide a degree of cut. They are used to remove very fine scratches and minor defects. Since they contain abrasives, people are making a mistake when the routinely apply products like T-Cut to their car, as it removes a little bit of paint every time you use it. I recommend Raceglaze Signature Series Pre-wax Cut and Cleanse as a safe and easy to use polish. Polishing should really be done in preparation for waxing.
Waxes and sealants are used to enhance and protect the finish. Sealants - being man-made - are more durable, but it is generally accepted that waxes provide a richer, deeper shine. Wax is also extremely hydrophobic which results in the water beading effect that lots of people enjoy. You can use both if you wish to, but you must apply the sealant first and the wax second.
For darker colours, it will make a huge difference using a wax specifically made for darker colours, such as Poorboy's Natty's Blue Paste Wax or Dodo Juice Purple Haze.
For lighter colours such as white or silver, it is difficult to get any real depth to the finish so there is not much point in choosing a wax over a sealant. I would recommend the Jeff Werkstat Acrylic Kit which is incredibly easy to apply and gives a great shine.
Metal Sealant. Not needed for most cars, but essential for a Morgan. From the stainless steel wheels to the bumpers to the door handles to the badge bar:- all metals should be polished and protected or it will dull, fade and go cloudy. Putting this on your wheels will repel brake dust. There is only one product you should get, and that is Blackfire All Metal Sealant.
Quick Detailing Spray such as 3M Quick Wax or Meguiars Quik Detailer are optional extras. I like them as they enhance the glossy finish and using them means you don't have to dry the car as thoroughly.
Line up your 3 buckets and put shampoo in two of them and clear rinse water in the other. I put my wheel brushes and mitt in one bucket of suds, and my bodywork mitts in the other.
Give your car a once over with the hose. If you are using a pressure washer, have it on a low pressure setting. Personally, I would not use a powerful pressure washer at all on the Morgan.
If you have a foam lance, put a small amount of Meguiars Hyper Wash and an equally small amount of Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner (APC) in the resevoir and fill it up with water. Cover your car in foam and let it dwell for a minute or two before rinsing off with the hose. If you don't have a foam lance, get your 1 litre sprayer and put approximately 2cm depth of APC in the bottom of it and fill the rest up with water. Pressurize the container as you walk around the car and cover it in a layer of the mixture. Rinse off with the hose.
Spray some Wolf's Brake Duster on your wheels next and leave it for 5-10 minutes. The brake dust will soon dissolve and the iron deposits will turn purple. Don't worry! Agitate it with the Meguiars Slide Lock brush if you need to get between the spokes, use your wheel mitt to give the spokes and rims a clean and rinse them off.
If your paintwork has dried off, rinse it again with the hose as it should always be wet before you put your mitts on it.
Now get your wash buckets. If you have the PVC hood, go round the car with two mitts working from top to bottom, rinsing them regularly in the bucket with clear water. This water won't be clear for long, and the idea is that any dirt and grime your mitts pick up from the car isn't transferred back on to it.
If you have a mohair hood and there are some dirty patches where birds have bombed or tree sap has landed, spray some 303 hood cleaner on to them and agitate with the Meguiars all surface interior brush. When it lathers, rinse it off gently. Then wash your car as described above.
If at this point you notice that there is bug residue on the windscreen and headlamps, give them a scoosh of Poorboy's Bug Squash (remember to dilute) or R222 autowash. Let it dwell for a couple of minutes and then wash it off with your mitt. You can use Bug Squash on paintwork too, but it contains solvents and will do a good job of stripping wax off, so it's best to reapply some wax after you've finished washing.
It is important to thoroughly rinse wherever you have used Bug Squash or Tardis.
Your car should be looking clean by now!
The optional step of claying your car should be done a couple of times a year. Working in areas about 18 square inches, spray some water/shampoo mix onto the car to lubricate it, then dip your clay bar into the shampoo bucket. Take a flat surface of the clay and lightly rub it back and forth over your paintwork. The clay will collect the bonded contaminants from the surface. If it sticks, you need more lubrication. Once an area is finished, dry it with a microfibre cloth and move on to the next area. If you have done it correctly, the paint will feel incredibly smooth.
If you are not claying, get the large microfibre drying towel, fold it and pat dry the surfaces. Use a normal microfibre cloth in your other hand to absorb the final drops. This takes a bit longer than wiping off or just leaving it to dry, but wiping really does marr the finish and water spots/streaks don't look good at all.
Once your car is dry, it's best to stick it in the garage or in the shade before polishing or waxing or applying a sealant.
If you're doing one, two or all three of these steps, the order they should be done in is POLISH - SEALANT - WAX.
Go round the car once applying your chosen protectant with a microfibre pad or polishing sponge, then go around the car again buffing it off with a cloth. Misting with some water makes this process a bit easier. Don't let the sun bake the product on the car before you buff it off. It wont do any damage, but it will be hard work getting it off.
You can now apply the finishing touches such as tyre dressing and metal sealant.
I spray the tyre dressing on and then even it out with a paintbrush, but don't apply too much or it will look really greasy. Have a cloth ready to wipe off any excess that runs onto your wheels.
Use a microfibre cloth or pad to apply the metal sealant to your wheels, door handles, bumpers etc, and then buff it off to leave it shiny and protected.
If you have a quick detailing spray, go round the car looking for streaks or fingerprints and get rid of them. Simply spray on and wipe off.
How long does wax last?
Depends on the miles you do, weather and whether or not you keep it in a garage, but 2-3 months is the norm. Some sealants will last 4-6 months.
What about paint protection like Diamond Brite or Supaguard?
If applied correctly (dealerships rarely do in my experience) then I have seen them used to some effect, but nothing like the claimed 3-5 years of protection.
Is the car cleaning kit I bought from the dealership any good?
It will be overpriced. I've used (under duress!) stuff from BMW, Jaguar and many more, and it doesn't compare to the products I've recommended.
Are the ¬£5 roadside car washes any good?
No. You get what you pay for, and for ¬£5 you get some very harsh and aggressive chemicals blasted on to your car and then blasted off again with no regard whatsoever for the life of your paintwork.
Where can I get all these products?
I get everything from the internet. The Zymol shampoo and leather cleaner are available at a great price from Halfords shops.
Is Autoglym any good?
Their brand certainly is as I get asked this all the time. It's ok. Their HD wax is impressive but none of their other products are as good as the others I've mentioned in my opinion.
Is Swissvax any good?
It's brilliant but there's no denying it's expensive.
Do bird droppings really damage your paint?
Yes! If you don't get it wiped off quite quickly the acid will leave a big etching mark on your paintwork, which will require machine polishing to remove it.