When it comes to washing your car, one of the most important things to consider is the shampoo or soap that you use to remove the dirt from the surface of the paint. Whilst sometimes you might think a good spray down with water from a hose will remove dirt on its own, washing with a pH neutral soap will ensure that the dirt is lubricated and can easily wash away without causing any damage. Proper lubrication helps to avoid superficial scratches to the duco and maintain a showroom shine for much longer. Be cautious with touch-free and self-serve car washes as they often use more acidic soaps. You’ll find pH neutral shampoos are the product of choice as most professional car washes and are also available at auto retailers, just make sure you read the label.
To start off a wash, a high-pressure hose to rinse of the top layer of dirt is advisable. The force of the water is much more likely to remove dirt particles than a regular hose. It’s important to ensure that the tip of a high-pressure hose doesn’t get too close to the surface of the car as the nozzle could damage the paint. The pressure could also potentially cause paint to flake if it has been compromised for any reason, so ensure you keep around a meter away from the car. A large, soft and aerated sponge is the best option for removing the remaining dirt, with plenty of surface area for the dirt to stick to with the aid of the lubrication from the pH neutral shampoo. When using the sponge, using long, horizontal strokes along the length of the car will help to avoid ‘swirl marks’ - which can occur if there are small particles of dirt rubbed around in circular motions. Ensure that your tools are kept clean whilst washing, regularly rinsing off dirt to avoid scratching the paint. After rinsing again with a high-pressure hose, a wet chamois wrung out regularly will help to remove water from the surface. Then finally, a good quality microfiber cloth will help to complete the dry of the duco and avoid water marks, which can cause staining that is difficult to remove in the future.
At a self-service car wash you might find a brush on a boom, intended for applying the soap and removing dirt - these are often full of dirt from previous cars and can have harsh bristles which can do serious damage to your car, so proceed with caution. Some auto-washes use rotating straps which hit the car in a flicking motion - these can also retain dirt in some cases and cause scratching. The auto-wash may use a ‘blow-dryer’ to complete the dry of the car which is sometimes ineffective and can leave watermarks and streaking on the paint. At a professional car wash your car will go through a ‘production-line’ of sorts, where the team will usually quickly and effectively wash, rinse and dry your car with top-notch products in a fraction of the time you could do it at home.