One simple rule to avoid SWIRLS AND HOLOGRAMS when washing your vehicle
This article will help you to properly care for your paint after having it ceramic coated to keep it looking like the day you picked it up. This article is lengthy and in-depth but will help in your understanding of how to properly care for your paint.
When cleaning your vehicle’s paint, it is important to realize how easily the surface can be abraded or scuffed. The smallest pieces of dirt can scratch the top layer of clear coat, or even ceramic coating (especially noticeable on dark colored cars). Today’s vehicles have different layers of paint on top of the metal/plastic body material. These generally consist of primer, then paint, then clear coat. (see picture) As a general rule of thumb, the less you touch your car, the better.
The first recommendation I give to anyone is to avoid any car wash that TOUCHES your vehicle. You are perfectly fine going to a car wash as long as it is touchless. The ceramic coating will allow 95% of dirt and grime on your vehicle to be washed away with this simple touchless wash (like a non-stick frying pan). I recommend going through a touchless wash at least once a week if possible. Now every few weeks or so you will need to properly hand wash your vehicle to remove that last 5% of the dirt and debris. The way you do this is what will keep your car looking great, or not-so-great.
Before starting, you will need the supplies.
-Two large buckets
-Microfiber wash mit
-Quality car wash soap
-fresh water supply (preferably not hard water)
-Pressure washer and foam cannon (if available)
-Microfiber drying towel
Step one when hand washing your car is to remove as much of the dirt grime from your vehicle before putting a wash mit on the paint. The preferred method for this is to use a pressure washer and foam cannon. Understanding that this is not an option for everyone, you can always visit the car wash (touchless) prior to handwashing. Once you have done this, you can now gently wash the vehicle with a mit. Now, if this isn’t already complicated enough, there is a right way and a wrong way(s) to do this. Washing your car in direct sunlight is not ideal, as it can dry the water/soap leaving streaks and water spots. Try to find a shaded area, or wait until evening.
I always recommend using the two-bucket method. This involves a rinse bucket and a wash bucket. One would just be filled with clean water (rinse), while the other will have soap in it (wash). While you’re washing your car you will start at the top after dunking your mit in the wash bucket. Wash one half of a panel at a time between re-dunking your mit in the buckets. When you dunk your mit you will first dunk it in the “rinse” bucket to remove any dirt from the mit that you could have collected from the paint. Next you will dunk your mit in the “wash” bucket to re-soap your mit. The soap acts as a lubricant to gently remove the dirt from the surface of the paint without scratching. You want to make sure to start at the top and work your way down, saving any more-dirty areas for last. Make sure you have plenty of soap and suds for proper lubrication. Keep an eye on areas you’ve already washed to make sure the soap is not drying. I usually find that I can wash one half of the vehicle, rinse with the hose, then wash the other side.
Save the wheels for last. A nice scrub brush works well for the tires, and a dedicated wheel mit for the wheels. Do not re-use the same mit you use on the paint for your wheels. I also recommend a wheel brush to reach inside of the barrel of the wheels, especially on vehicles with an “open” wheel design.
Once you have fully washed and rinsed the vehicle, you will need to gently dry it. There are a couple ways of doing this and both will work if done properly. One way (which is better for the paint) is to blow-dry the car. The ceramic coating on your car is extremely hydrophobic (think deathly afraid of water lol). This means that the water will easily flow off of your paint with a little air. I frequently use a leaf blower to do this (although your neighbors may think you’re crazy). This will save you from touching your paint to dry, which will further prevent scratches and swirls. The second option is to dry with a SOFT microfiber towel. If drying with a microfiber, it is necessary to constantly inspect the towel to ensure it is clean and you didn’t accumulate any dirt/debris in the towel. If you find any dirt/debris in the towel immediately wash it and grab a new microfiber. If you drop it on the ground, just throw it in the trash!
Every 2-3 months, I recommend applying a ceramic “booster” or Si02 spray sealant. This will help add another layer of protection to keep your paint looking great. If you’d like to bring your vehicle back to me for this step, I’m more than happy to help out. If you have any questions with anything mentioned, please contact me!
Tips and tricks
-The less you touch your paint, the better
-Always provide lubrication when touching the paint (soap/instant detailer/drying aid)
-DON’T wash in direct sunlight
-No need for heavy pressure or “scrubbing” the paint
-Check out my other BLOG posts for more useful information