You know how to do a safe car wash right? Cleaning a car is pretty simple? It’s a common misconception that washing a car is just a bucket, sponge and some generic shampoo from the likes of Autoglym or Car Plan. Things are definitely not as easy as most would think if you want the most effective, efficient, safest and least damaging clean you can perform.
It isn’t until you get into the enthusiasts circle such as yourselves, who take pride in their cars or bikes where the surface of understanding really starts to show. To perform a safe car wash becomes more of a priority.
Whilst you’re reading this, you’re most likely aware of snow foam pre-washes and at a push I’d hazard a guess that it’s either one by AutoFinesse (one referred to by elitists as ‘scene’) or EZ Car Care (as it’s dirt cheap).
Snow foams aren’t all the same either which makes it a little confusing at first but once you’ve had it pointed out to you, it makes a lot of sense. There’s PH Neutral foams like Krystal Kleen Detail’s Blizzard which are perfect for general maintenance washes. There’s Alkaline foams such as Bilt Hamber Auto Foam that have excellent cleaning abilities on the dirtier side of things and there are even TFR (slightly) infused foams for winter or commercial uses.
Some detailers (myself included) sometimes use a citrus based pre-wash at times as that’s just as, if not more, effective at removing dirt and particularly bug splatter in one go rather than using various steps.
The point of this piece is to give those of you who want to fall a little further into the rabbit hole around car care, so I guess that the best starting point would be with equipment.
I’m a firm believer that you can have the world’s most expensive and most advanced chemicals but without the basic equipment, you’ll not achieve much more than the local hand car wash. So with that, I’d highly recommend you source the following as they’re pretty important.
Must have equipment for a safe car wash
2x Buckets labeled WASH and RINSE (3 if you’re picky and want one for your wheels, I use the wash bucket and then clean it out afterwards). Preferably big enough for the proper Grit Guards and not the cheaper scratch guards as the cheaper scratch guards tend to fall apart and float in the water. Without these key bits themselves, you’re going to leave the door open for the potential of very heavy wash marring (the bit that causes swirls/spider scratches). These are essential for a safe car wash.
Ideally the next bit of kit would be a decent wash mitt or wash pad. There isn’t really a right or wrong option between the two but personally, I prefer to hold a wash pad than wear a wash mitt. There’s plenty to go at but I’d advise against the ‘spaghetti’ style as they tend to hold onto dirt and not let go, even after rinsing. A long pile mitt or pad would be best as this can lift sediments from the surface and pull them inwards away from the panel until you drop it in the rinse bucket and clean it again. My personal preferences are the KKD Double Mitt, or more often used Klin Wash Pad.
Then you really need a lance to apply a snow foam, again, cheaper isn’t better on this. The ones you normally get included with a Karcher or a Nilfisk pressure washer are about as useful as the proverbial. The one considered the best on the market would be the Autobrite Direct foam lance, expensive, but brilliant. Those on a tighter budget, I’d recommend the KKD foam lance. It’s perfect but the build quality isn’t on par with the AD one.
The final very important bit of kit to clean a car is a plush drying towel. No Aqua blades, no chamois leathers, no tea towels or bath towels, a very plush microfiber towel. There’s a load to go at so I’ll leave you with a couple of personal favorites. The Clean Your Ride Dual Tommy is possibly the best you can get at the moment . With the Liquid Elements Silverback XL being a very close second.
If you’re overly critical on contact with the paint, there are heated blow driers available. Don’t be tempted to Amazon search “detailing car drier”. ou’ll end up paying hundreds of pounds for a £50 quid blower.
The things to look out for are filters. Filtered air is much better than non-filtered as it reduces the chance of the blower sucking up grit and spitting it at your car. Also check that the exiting air speed is reasonably fast.
The Carbon Collective Air Force 1 drier is around £180 and the best you can buy. It’made for the job, however there are less powerful but just as useful generic options on Amazon for around £60-80 under the Pet Drier category.
I’ll draw a close here for now and let you decide how far down the rabbit hole you want to venture. Told you it wasn’t so simple, and that’s without scratching the surface. There’s far more to it to get the perfect shine and protection, but that’s for another day! Atleast you now have some insight in to the basics of a safe car wash.
Please be sure to head over to the detailing section over at The Classicwise Collection. Use the exclusive TCS code ‘CS10’ for 10% off our range to get you started! Or let us take care of it all for you!
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Written by Chris Evans at The Detail room @ The Classicwise Collection