Different washing methods, which is best?

Here at Bowden's Own, we love our cars, and we love washing them. Unfortunately, one of the biggest contributors to paint defects like scratches, swirls and marring is washing the car! Whether it’s using the accursed sponge, going through the dirty rollers at the car wash, or even using Dad’s old leather chamois that you found on the floor in the shed - there are hundreds of different ways to inflict damage into your precious duco. This is why we developed the safe wash system over the past few years - the whole system is designed to reduce the risk of inflicting scratches and swirls when washing, drying, and protecting your paint. Our pre-wash snow foams help remove the heavier dirt and grit touchlessly, and our lubricating washes, combined with our microfibre wash tools, help prevent dirt from marking the paint.



We have always been a proponent of the three-bucket wash method; one bucket used exclusively for the wheels which are usually the dirtiest part of the car, one for your wash water, and one to rinse your (now dirty) wash tool out in when you finish washing a section of the car. Having a separate Rinse bucket keeps your Wash bucket water cleaner for longer, and stops you from putting the dirt back on your paint (these are also brightly coloured with distinct bold writing so you don't accidentally rinse out in the wrong bucket!) Our Great Barrier Thingys fit perfectly in the bottom of our 15L buckets to help trap the bigger dirt and grime at the bottom of the bucket, keeping it from re-entering your wash tool, further minimizing the risk of scratching. Read more about our safe wash system here.


Different strokes

As technology and products evolve over time, we are always looking for alternatives to our products, methods, and systems, and have spent a huge amount of time playing around with different ways of washing over the years. There are plenty of options out there to choose from and we will outline a few of the good ones in this article. For these methods, we prefer to use the Wash Pillow as its massive surface area makes for faster and more efficient cleaning, and it holds a mammoth amount of suds to keep the surface well lubricated. You can use whichever car wash you prefer, but we've found that Nanolicious Wash creates the most foam when used in the cannon for best lubrication, and Auto Body Gel is best suited for working in the sun as it won't require another wipe over if it is allowed to dry on the paint or glass, it will all rinse away with the hose. Keep in mind that none of our washes will foam up as well as our dedicated snow foams as they both use different sets of chemistry for their respective jobs. Read more about our different washes here.



Multi-Mitt method

This one uses multiple wash tools (usually 6+) and one bucket of wash suds. It works really well as a safe wash system, as you are never touching the car with a potentially dirty wash tool. 



Step 1: Decide on your wash tool preferences. We like to use five Wash Pillows and one Shagamittastic Wash Mitt for a medium-sized car, or you will need more for larger 4x4s or vans, or exceptionally dirty cars.

Step 2: Pre-wash the vehicle with one of our snow foams to remove as much of the heavier dirt and grime as you can, reducing the risk of scratching or swirling your paint.

Step 3: Fill up your Wash bucket with around 8-9 litres of water, and then put in one cap of your chosen wash, then agitate with your pressure washer or hose trigger.

Step 4: Place all of your wash tools in the bucket and push them down, to allow them to soak up a heap of the sudsy solution.

Step 5: Starting at the top, begin washing the car with one side of your wash tool, one panel at a time, in straight lines, before flipping the wash tool and continuing. Once you have done a section, place your wash tool back into a separate bucket to be rinsed out at the end.

Step 6: Continue until the car is done, leaving the dirtier lower sections till last. Using the Shagamittastic Wash Mitt makes it a lot easier and prevents you from dropping the wash tool on the floor. Use one pass in a straight line for these lower sections.

Step 7: With the open end of the hose, flood the panels with water which will help the water sheet off in one go, leaving less water on the car, then dry with our Big Green Sucker with a few sprays of Boss Gloss into it to aid the drying process.

 



Pros

  • A very safe way of washing as you are using a fresh wash tool each time
  • Only one bucket of water is required, good if you are on limited tank water.

Cons

  • It works out to be a lot more expensive than using our Safe Wash system with buckets and Great Barrier Thingys this way, as you need to buy a minimum of 6 wash tools for an average sized car, more for a larger 4X4 or van.
  • Cleaning 6+ wash tools after washing can be a hassle.

One cannon, one bucket

Using the Snow Blow Cannon to apply your chosen wash is another way to get a large amount of suds onto your paint for extra lubrication, to further minimize the risk of scratching. We've found that Nanolicious Wash produces the best foam, but feel free to experiment with our other washes. Keep in mind that our snow foams are not lubricating enough to be used for a hand wash.
 


Step 1: Decide on your wash tool - we are using the Wash Pillow here - its massive surface area makes short work of the job.

Step 2: Prewash the vehicle with one of our snow foams to remove as much of the heavier dirt and grime as you can, reducing the risk of scratching or swirling your paint.

Step 3: Fill up your Rinse bucket with a Great Barrier Thingy in the bottom, with around 8-9 litres of water, and give your chosen wash tool a thorough thrash around in the water to dislodge any dirt or dust from it.

Step 4: Fill the Snow Blow Cannon with 50mL, or two caps of your chosen wash (we are using Nanolicious here as we've found it foams best) and 450ml of water, and begin foaming the car. It's best to work on one half of the car at a time to avoid any issues with the product drying on the paint - the wash won’t dwell as long as our snow foams on the paint, and you may encounter streaking if the car is in the sun or warm to the touch. To remove any visible streaking, you can simply wash and rinse that section again.

Step 5: Starting at the top, begin washing the car with one side of your wash tool, one panel at a time in straight lines, before flipping the wash tool and continuing. Once you have done a section, rinse off the completed section with your pressure washer, and give your wash tool a good thrashing in your Rinse bucket. Now, foam the next section of the car with your cannon.

Step 6: Continue until the car is done, leaving the dirtier lower sections till last, using the Shagamittastic Wash Mitt for this makes it a lot easier and prevents you from dropping the wash tool on the floor. Use one pass in a straight line for these lower sections.

Step 7: With the open end of the hose, flood the panels with water which will help the water sheet off in one go, leaving less water on the car, then dry with our Big Green Sucker with a few sprays of Boss Gloss into it to aid the drying process.



Pros

  • Extremely lubricating, especially when using a wash like our Nanolicious Wash.
  • A very methodical way of going over the car, ensuring you don't miss any spots.

Cons

  • This one is the most time consuming method, as you have to work one section at a time to avoid wash drying on the paint.
  • Uses more wash than the other methods mentioned here.


Zero-bucket method

Another one used by a lot of folks out there is sometimes called the zero-bucket wash, using the foam cannon to apply suds to the wash tool, and then rinsing off the mitt after completing the section.



Step 1: Grab yourself a Shagamittastic Wash Mitt and give it a thorough rinse out under the tap or hose. Fill up your cannon bottle with 50mL, or two caps of your chosen wash and 450ml of water. We have gone for Auto Body Gel here as we are working in the sun. Auto Body Gel is a pure wash with no additives, which means it won't streak if left to dry - it will simply rinse off with the hose or pressure washer. Nanolicious Wash and Wax Wash can require a quick re-wash if they are allowed to dry.


Step 2: Pre-wash the vehicle with one of our snow foams to remove as much of the heavier dirt and grime as you can.

Step 3: Spray the wash directly onto your mitt, making sure to get a decent amount of suds onto both sides of the wash tool. This is a lot easier to do with a short gun attachment for your pressure washer which is what we are using here.

Step 4: Starting at the top, begin washing the car with one side of your wash tool, one panel at a time in straight lines, before flipping the wash tool and continuing. Leave the lower sections till last as they are usually the dirtiest part of the car.

Step 5: After completing your section, switch to the regular nozzle of your pressure washer and thoroughly rinse out your mitt, making sure to not hold the gun too close to your hand or arm. Be very careful as pressure washers can cause serious injury to your body. Rinse off the section that you just did here while you have the pressure washer nozzle attached.

Step 6: Re-attach the Snow Blow Cannon and foam up your mitt once again, ready for the next section. Continue using this method until the car is done, leaving the dirtier lower sections till last, using one pass in a straight line for these lower sections.

Step 7: With the open end of the hose, flood the panels with water which will help the water sheet off in one go, leaving less water on the car, then dry with our Big Green Sucker with a few sprays of Boss Gloss into it to aid the drying process.



Pros

  • No buckets are required, so minimal setup and pack up times.
  • Efficient way of washing the car, as you aren't going to and from a bucket each time. 

Cons

  • This method puts your body in the firing line of the pressure washer which is never ideal, extra care needs to be taken to avoid injury.
  • The centrifugal action of agitating your wash tool in the Rinse bucket is more effective at releasing grit and grime from the microfibre, rather than potentially pushing it deeper in while rinsing with the hose or pressure washer.
  • A short gun handle for your pressure washer is required.


Personal preference

When it comes down to it, the way you choose to wash your car is your own personal preference. Have a play around with some of these different methods and see how you feel about them, we give our recommendations based on our own experience and extensive testing, but everyone has their own way of doing things and that's totally fine! Hopefully, the pros and cons outlined in this article have given you some alternatives.

We definitely prefer the simplicity and safety of the two bucket wash method for our vehicles here, as it is a tried and proven method for reducing the chance of creating scratches and swirls in your paint.

 

Happy Tub Time,

Article By: Gareth Bostock

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