Sunday, October 22, 2023

How I Wash My Car (Updated)

In a previous article, I describe how I washed my car.  I have since updated the routine per new information I have learned since then.  Take note as the steps and some recommend products have changed.


Pre-rinse with a pressure washer.  Make sure to use a top-down approach ending with the wheels and fender wells.

It is important to use the pressure washer properly.  Never go full blast with the strongest (highest PSI) nozzle directly at a panel (90-degree angle).  I usually use the white nozzle that produces a 40-degree stream, creating a fanned-out pattern of water that is safer that a direct, focused stream.

Pre-wash vehicle with your pressure washer and a foam cannon like the Adam's (I generally find Adam's products to be of high quality, but you would could do just as well with a less expensive model).  Snow foam will pull more dirt down and away, a gentle method for surface cleaning vehicle before washing.

Rinse entire vehicle with pressure washer again.

Pre-wash Again - Yes that's right, snow foam the vehicle again with your pressure washer.
PRO TIP: Clean the bottle and nozzle thoroughly to prevent clogging upon next use.


Don't rinse yet!  With the foam on the vehicle, it's time to wash.

Wash with a quality microfiber mitt such as this one from Chemical Guy's.  For shampoo, I like Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Pro Pure Wash .  These also work great for the pre-wash step.

Don't rinse yet! Time to grab the clay towel.


Here we will accomplish two things at once.  Use a Clay towel such as the P&S Clay Decontamination Towel (which is what I use) along with an iron remover such as CARPRO's IronX Remover in a spray bottle.  One spray on the towel and one on a panel is all you need.  Work panel to panel, from top to bottom. No need to do the tires, we'll do those soon.
PRO TIP: This has a date sticker so make sure you check before use as it expires after 2 years.

Rinse entire vehicle with pressure washer again.

Wash tires with a good tire wash like Turtle Wax's Hybrid Solutions Pro All Wheel Cleaner + Iron Remover (which is what I use).  Let the cleaner sit for a minute and do its job lifting dirt, brake dust and other containments from tires and rims.  Agitate with a good tire brush like Mothers Wheel Brush and Tire Cleaner - use additional chemical if needed.

Dry with a high-quality microfiber towel.  One towel should be enough to dry most vehicles.  I have tried several towels, but this microfiber drying towel has worked best for me.  Let the towel absorb the water by gently pulling it over each window and panel. 
PRO TIP:  No need to press hard or rub fast, that may cause fine scratches in the clearcoat so slow and steady is the way.


Apply base application of wax.  I use Hybrid Solutions PRO To The Max Wax as a base coat of protection.  This should be done once per year but can be done more often (I apply in early spring since we typically have a harsh, highly salted roads during winter).  Again, just follow the instructions on the bottle.

Apply topper of choice.  While this isn't absolutely necessary in many cases, it will generally provide the best gloss, slickness, water repellency, and heat dissipation for increased UV protection.  I use Hybrid Solutions Pro Graphene Flex Wax (yes, I like the TurtleWax products).  
PRO TIP:  Keep shiny by applying a topper such as Pure Shine Detailer several times throughout the season to maintain protection (and gloss, of course).


Add a tire shine as a final step in making your vehicle look great.  I use... you guessed it, Turtle Wax's Hybrid Solutions Graphene Acrylic Tire Shine Spray Coating.  I have not tested other products but this provides a longer lasting shine than the product I was using previously.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, I highly recommend several pro detailers on YouTube:  Apex Detail, Pan The Organizer, and ESOTERIC.

Do not forget to check out my other articles on windshield and interior cleaning.