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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Alright, so I decided to make a how to for all those of you guys out there new to washing or even detailing your car. I’m going to try to make this as in-depth as possible to capture most information people will need when starting out, that way you don’t have to go search around lots of different places and ask a ton of different questions. So lets start off with the basics:

Car Washing
There are different methods you can use to wash your car. They are:
1. Traditional method
2. Rinseless Wash
3. Waterless Wash

Traditional Method:
For this method you are going to be using the standard procedure for washing using standard chemicals and tools, this is often what people think of when they hear of car washing Before even spraying the car down you want to prepare a 2 bucket wash system, this is using 2 full buckets of water, both with grit guards in them. A grit guard is something that stays at the bottom of the bucket when washing, it is designed to trap the dirt you pull off the car at the bottom, that way it doesn’t float around in the water and get back onto your wash mitt. With the 2 buckets you have one with just clean water, and then the other you put in your choice of car wash solution. Here are a few examples of GOOD car wash solutions (only use high quality products).

Adams Car Wash Shampoo
Chemical Guys Wash & Wax

Start by rinsing off your car, when you do this if you have an adjustable setting for your hose/nozzle you want it to be on a setting that has high impact with a wide fan, I usually use the “flat” setting on my nozzle. Having it on a higher impact allows you to break loose as much dirt and grime as possible before actually touching the paint with soap, the less grime there is on the car the less you have to worry about scratching your paint when you wipe it.

While you are rinsing out the car your wash mitt should already be in the bucket with soap soaking. When you are ready to use it pull it out of the bucket and begin to wash, a good method is to wipe the car from top to bottom, since the bottom of the car is going to be more dirty than the top since it is closer to the ground (unless the car does more sitting than actual driving). Only wipe in straight lines, don’t go in circular motions. I only do a panel at a time (or half panel if is something like the hood or the roof). Once you do that panel and see dirt on the mitt dunk it into the bucket without soap and rub the holy hell against the grit guard at the bottom, really get all that dirt off. Then after that put it into the soapy bucket and rub it against the bottom of that grit guard, this ensures that you get as much dirt off that mitt as you can so it doesn’t go back onto the car. Repeat this entire process for the whole car.

At this point you should have soaped up the entire car, what you want to do now is rinse it off completely. Since soap is in all the little crevices you are going to want to rinse it with low pressure, that way the water can flow through all those hard to reach places and flush out the soap left in them.
To dry the car you are going to want to use a premium soft microfiber towel, there are places that sell huge ones to use that soak up a lot of water. Nothing too special about the drying process, there are chemicals that are sold that are supposed to help with it, but I haven’t really messed around with them. Now here is a video to help you understand what is going on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgi-xD7NY-o&list=UUzpvSWz3VFZpeFeitVsybWg

Rinseless Wash:
This method is similar to traditional washing in almost every way except there is no rinsing down the car before or after, hence “rinseless”. A rinseless wash is designed to act like car soap, using high lubricity polymers and waxes, you use the same 2 bucket method with grit guards as you would normally. What you do is have your wash mitt or microfiber towel in the bucket with the solution, pull it out of the bucket and ring it out to where it is just barely not dripping. Then you take it and with little pressure glide it across the paint surface in straight lines. Once you have gotten the entire area simply take a clean microfiber towel and dry it off. Here is a product example as well as a demonstration.

Adams Rinseless Wash
Croftgate Wash & Wax
Rinseless Wash Example Video

This is my preferred method as you can fill up a bucket inside and have it all ready to go, then just carry the bucket out to your car and proceed. You can do the entire thing without getting a drop of water on the ground. Also great for those who don’t have access to a hose, or the pipes have frozen. (In the winter time fill the bucket with warm water, will be a much better wash). In the summer it also lets you go slower so you don’t have to rush and try to dry the car off before you get water spots.

Waterless Wash:
Ok for this method you forget the water and the buckets all together. This method I’m not a huge fan of by itself, although there are some people who swear by it.

What you do is take your waterless wash solution, it is going to be in a spray bottle. Completely saturate the area you are going to do, then take your premium microfiber towel and begin wiping down, always do straight line passes when you can. Once you do the panel simply dry it off.

Since there is no initial dirt knocked off and there is not as much liquid being used you want to be more careful with this method, generally I only recommend it for cars that have light dust on them. Very light pressure when wiping and don’t try to rub if you see anything still on the paint. Here are a few different options to choose from as far as products, and some videos:

Adams Waterless Wash
Croftgate Aquanil X

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwS1PF-6Zbw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0UO6--UJDI&list=UUJD3_Rt6VkPmo3MLs8eSesw

My Method:
When I do my car I combine the Rinseless wash and waterless wash. I do everything like mentioned, but instead before I take the rinseless wash and begin to clean my car that way I use a waterless wash and also spray down the panel, that way it is already lubricated before my mitt with the rinseless wash on it even touches the paint. You can never be too careful when dealing with your paint.

Paint Decontamination:
When your car is fully cleaned, there are often small little contaminants that are stuck on your paint. You may not even see them at all. What you can do to detect them is to take a plastic bac, open it up and put your hand inside, then glide your hand across your paint. Most times you will feel small little particles that you can’t even see. The best way to get rid of these is to clay bar the car.
A clay bar is literally just as it sounds, a bar of clay. It is designed to be used with a lubrication to pick up those small contaminants off your paint. First, if it is a fresh bar, pull off a chunk and start to mold it since it will be fairly firm at first. Once it softens up flatten it out, an easy way is to press it against your windshield. Once it is done you will use your lubricant, a lot of people will use detail spray or waterless wash. Saturate the area and then begin to glide the clay across the paint. It should pick up the small contaminants. Once you are done with the panel, start folding the clay on top of itself, that will work the dirt on it toward the middle of the clay for fresh stuff on the outside. Once you are done wiping, use more detail spray or waterless wash and wipe off the residue.

What I personally do when claying is right after I either soap up the car, or make my passes with rinseless wash, that is when I use the clay. Since the paint will already be lubricated you won’t need to use any detail spray or waterless wash. Here is an example of a product and a video example:

Adams Blue Clay Bar

Clay Bar Demonstration

Wheels & Tires:
Alright when tackling your wheels and tires I like to look at it the same way as the paint. You have the same methods available to use, often wheels are a little more durable depending on their coating. If you have painted and clear coated wheels treat them exactly the same as your normal paint.

However, one thing to keep in mind is brake dust, it isn’t like normal dirt. You are going to have either metallic or ceramic pads, either of which you want with your regular washing/cleaning supplies. If you are going to use a bucket method for this you will want to have a bucket as well as mitt or towels just for your wheels. There are heavy duty wheel cleaners out there that are perfectly safe for all finishes, but what they do is attack the metals in the brake dust and lift it off the wheel. I use these and then go back and clean them normally since mine are painted. Here are some products to consider, and a video demonstration:

Adams Deep Wheel Cleaner
AMMO Wheel Soap
AMMO Plum Wheel Cleaner

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd16iX8Ore8&list=UUYsa8SOy3TkoxI5D17s1u-w

Paint Protection:
Ok here is where you put your protective layers on the paint, there are 3 different types of products you can use:
1. Wax
2. Glaze
3. Sealant
Each of these has its pros and cons, so lets look at each of them.
These products can be applied in multiple layers, as well as layered on top of each other. But only deal with that when you know the true characteristics of the specific products you are using, that simply takes time and experience.

Wax:
A wax is generally made out of Caranuba, maybe mixed in with some created polymers. A wax is more of the middle ground when it comes to protection. It is going to give you good protection, as well as good shine on the car. It is most people’s go-to when it comes to their protection. There are 3 main types of waxes, they all do similar things so I won’t go into huge detail. There are Spray Waxes, Liquid Waxes, and Paste Waxes.

A spray wax is going to be the absolute easiest to use, often it is used by the average Joe who wants protection on his paint, they generally don’t offer the most protection, but are great for shine and making the paint very slick. This is often the cheaper method.

AMMO Spit
Chemical Guys V7 Spray Wax


A Liquid Wax is what most people will use. It is very simple, squeeze a bit of product onto your applicator or even the paint, then spread it around the paint evenly, and thin. Then proceed to wipe it off, one thing I will note is do not use too much product, as it can be too hard to take off. These are usually not too expensive, but not super cheap.

Adams Buttery Wax
Chemical Guys Pure Cream Wax

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD80hqf9v2g

A Paste Wax is what most detail enthusiasts use as it allows them to get their hands on the entire car, it is something where you usually slow yourself down and do a final check while waxing so you can ensure the paint at this point is perfect and ready for the wax. It is my personal favorite. These are generally the most expensive, and can greatly vary in price.

Adams Americana
Chemical Guys Project J97
AMMO Creme Reflective Paste

As you can see, you can spend anywhere from $30 to $1,000 on paste wax.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVnrHRH7Eb0

Glaze:
A glaze doesn’t offer anywhere near the protection or longetivety of wax. It is designed mostly for the show car that rarely comes out of the garage. It may not last as long as wax, but a glaze is designed to make your paint POP, These often really bring out the depth in the paint and make it look like a mirror.

Chemical Guys Wet Mirror Finish Glaze
Adams Brilliant Glaze

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOmJ_YlI0Ho

Sealant:
A sealant is the opposite of a glaze, it still gives you good shine out of your paint; but a sealant is designed to be the most durable and long lasting. A proper sealant should last on your paint for easily 6 months, these are usually used on daily drivers, ones where you usually just wash the car and put a coating on it to keep it protected and looking nice.

Adams Paint Sealant
Chemical Guys Sealant

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwj0TyRuQSY

Application:
The videos should have explained themselves, but here is a little bit about them in case you didn’t watch the videos. When applying either a wax or glaze or sealant to the paint depending on the application if it is a paste or liquid or spray, you always apply it in straight lines. This is NOT the Karate Kid, do not listen to the whole “wax on, wax off” they use. They didn’t know how to detail cars properly. Apply in straight lines because if for some reason there is still a tiny particle of dirt on the paint if it does happen to make a very small micro scratch it is much easier to polish that out if it is straight than if it is a long windy circle.

Some products like to sit on the paint for a little bit, others like to be taken off right away, you will have to read up on the products you are looking at and see what they like. But when you remove it use a high quality microfiber and buff it off. When removing it, buff it off in opposite lines that you put it on. So it is essentially apply and take off in a cross hatch patter.

Paint Correction:
Alright, so this is where you do your compounding and polishing. Both of these techniques are done the same way, the only difference is how aggressive the actual product is. The more aggressive the product is, the more it will cut through the clearcoat to level out scratches. For most cars you won’t need a compound unless you are doing heavy scratch removal or the paint is faded or oxidized. If its minor scratches or swirl marks it can almost always be removed by polish.

There are 2 different ways to either compound or polish a car. They are by hand and with a machine. Most people will often do this by hand since machines are expensive, but it does take longer by hand.

If you do choose to polish your car by hand it is done in the same exact process as waxing your car, so refer back to that.

If you choose to use a machine there are 2 main different machines you can use depending on your skill level. The easiest and safest way to machine polish your paint is with a Dual Action polisher.

Dual Action:
These when moving don’t actually spin, they oscillate, which is going side to side, up and down, or cross pattern very fast, so it feels like it goes all over the place. The reason they do this is because it does not build up heat as fast as if it were just spinning. Too much heat and it can burn through your paint.

First thing you do is apply some product to the pad you are using, usually about 5 pea sized dots on the pad or an X mark will work. Generally you want to do a 2x2 sized panel. When you put the polisher onto the paint rub it around a little so it doesn’t sling off when you start it. Then start off at speed setting 1, this is just to get the product spread around evenly. Then bump it up to usually speed setting 5 or 6, and use moderate pressure onto the machine. You don’t want to put too much to where it doesn’t move, and not enough to where its not even really contacting the paint. Then go in up and down, side to side motions with it inside of your section.

When the product is all worked in it will generally turn from a haze to more of a transparent color, when it does that you can wipe it off. If it is coming off hard then you may need to work it in more with the polisher. Do this for the rest of your car. Here are some popular Dual Action polishers, and products to use for compound or polish.

Cyclo
Flex 3401

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuGZpYZO7EY&list=UUYsa8SOy3TkoxI5D17s1u-w

One thing is, after you polish your car all of its protection will be gone, so if you do plan on waxing your car, you do this before that. Polishing should only be done once every 6 months at the minimum, maybe even longer.

Conclusion:
Well I hope this helped a lot of people with their questions about the do’s and don’ts of beginning to detail your cars. There is so much more that can be said about detailing, but this is meant to be a simple guide for beginners. The one thing that is the most important is experience. None of this will just click by reading. Go out and try it for yourself, experiment with different products, see what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. Every brand of product is different as well as each type of product. You may find some cleaning products from one company good, and then waxes from a different company. Its all how you use them. Congratulations, you just finished reading a 7 page essay.
 

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Just wanna add, If your car is black or dark, i would top it off with a quality carnauba wax for that deep rich shine. if its white or silver, you will probably benefit the most from sealer, as far as shine is concerned.

Outside cars, i recommend sealer. Garaged dark cars, i recommend carnauba. Outside dark cars, i recommend sealer first coat and carnauba second coat.
 

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Just wanna add, If your car is black or dark, i would top it off with a quality carnauba wax for that deep rich shine. if its white or silver, you will probably benefit the most from sealer, as far as shine is concerned.

Outside cars, i recommend sealer. Garaged dark cars, i recommend carnauba. Outside dark cars, i recommend sealer first coat and carnauba second coat.
Shine doesn't come from wax. It's comes from proper polishing. Different colors react differently, it's just the way light works.

That said, the consistency of a carnauba typically adds a "warm glow" to the overall effect. Where a sealant typically retains a very shiny freshly polished look. IF it's been polished that is.

Very good tips in here. One I'd like to add is for drying, a good electric leaf blower works wonders to remove large amounts of water and in crevasses that are hard to get into. Less time wiping your car, less chance for swirls.

Don't use a gas powered one, the fumes will stick to your paint.

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Shine doesn't come from wax. It's comes from proper polishing. Different colors react differently, it's just the way light works.

That said, the consistency of a carnauba typically adds a "warm glow" to the overall effect. Where a sealant typically retains a very shiny freshly polished look. IF it's been polished that is.

Very good tips in here. One I'd like to add is for drying, a good electric leaf blower works wonders to remove large amounts of water and in crevasses that are hard to get into. Less time wiping your car, less chance for swirls.

Don't use a gas powered one, the fumes will stick to your paint.

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Any tips for white paint and polishing?
Also, your drying tip sounds like an excuse to pick up a ryobi 18volt leaf blower from home depot since i have the 18v drill already.

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Techniques are the same for all cars. Except white has it easier because you don't see the swirls or dirt as easily.


Bullitts are better than Bullets
This. The color only plays into how obvious the defects are and how it shows dirt/dust. All colors will have clear coat and that's where 90% of paint imperfections are.

Swirls are just very shallow scratches in the clear. You polish to level off the surrounding area so light doesn't scatter and reflects back in one direction.

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Any tips for white paint and polishing?
Also, your drying tip sounds like an excuse to pick up a ryobi 18volt leaf blower from home depot since i have the 18v drill already.

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Go for it. I just picked up a $30 Toro that does a great job. On high it blows 160 mph. Pretty powerful for a cheap electric blower.

Plus it's just handy to have for around the yard.

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I personally use a Dewalt DWP 849x buffer. Its a rotary, so not for the beginner. Definitely works for removing swirls, just gotta be careful. Thinking of picking up a Cyclo polisher eventually.
Yeah a rotary is dangerous for a beginner lol.

I have a Griot's garage DA. Good balance of power, safety and a good pricepoint. The cyclo looks interesting, but definitely expensive lol

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Good write up...for drying, I still use the tried and true shammy (real chamois leather, not the damn shamwow)

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Glazes aren't protection at all? They wash off with any sort of water/rain. They should always be layered under a wax or sealent. Thought you should mention that.
 

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Glazes aren't protection at all? They wash off with any sort of water/rain. They should always be layered under a wax or sealent. Thought you should mention that.
Absolutely, I just put a coat of glaze on my pony. Then I added sealent (M Seal) from Chemical guys and then I added butter wet wax from Chemical Guys.

On a side note I would recommend if someone was thinking of buying M Seal just by Jet Seal and spend the few extra bucks. Jet Seal sealant will give you 12 months protection. M Seal gives you 6 months protection.

Butter Wet Wax gives 3 months protection. But that carnauba wax does look beautiful on the right color cars.

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Good write up...for drying, I still use the tried and true shammy (real chamois leather, not the damn shamwow)

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Do they last a good long time? My parents got me one like 10 years ago, but I remember it didnt take long until some sections got hard and it seemed ruined. Like literally, some sections dried out and got hard. May have been a cheap one, but its made me hesitant to buy another one.

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I wash mine all together, I figure the soap and water get rid of all the chemicals. Or am I wrong in doing this?


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wash your car, Then use Megiurs clay bar kit. After that use Liquid glass. Your car will look and feel like glass. the most ridiculous shine i have seen on a car. Amazing products!!!
 
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