OUR GUIDE TO CAR WASHING
Now we don’t want to sound patronising or condescending in any way, but you would be amazed at how many people just don’t get the whole car washing thing. It is as simple and as hard as you wish it to be. Wether it is a quick whip around before a cruise, or a luxurious twin bucket bath for your special someone. There are a few simple rules you must follow.
Ready to get wet, Lisa with the good stuff.
Keep Cool; Your car’s surface must be cool to touch, or, with the exception of our more southerly located brothers and sisters, out of direct sunlight. If your car’s surface is hot, or in direct sunlight, it causes water spots or streaking.
When it’s wet, it’s wet. When it’s not, it’s not. Yes, I am talking car care here folks! If your car is wet and you have no intention of drying it, then keep it as wet as you can. Don’t let it dry naturally. Throw the hose over it as often as possible. When the time comes to dry the car, use the Microfibre chamois or even a large Microfibre towel and dry it as much as you can. First do it in the shade and then move it out into the sunlight, so you can mop up all those sneaky droplets that appear when you move the car. On a last note, for those of you without the time, or a car collection or unregistered cars, please don’t wash your car then put it back in the shed. At least drive it back and forth in your driveway if you must, then leave out in the sun with all of its openable bits akimbo. Your car must be completely dry before going back to its shelter. Water that is allowed to sit in a motionless car will create rust!
Logic. Don’t wash your wheels and tyres first. Don’t drop your mitt or chamois - if you do, rinse it thoroughly. If you drop it in dirt, halt all proceedings and wash it either in a machine with some normal suds or in a clean bucket of water with a small amount of the Auto Body Gel. Do not take the risk of scratching the paint. Don’t wear rings, watches or belt buckles. Don’t drink alcohol and attempt to clean your car. It does not work; a friend of a friend told me so!
Do not drink beans and drive, a friend of a friend told me so.
Friction is bad! Like everything to do with cars, except for braking of course, friction is not your car’s friend. If at any stage you feel your mitt clinging to the car’s surface, or emitting a high-pitched sound (‘singing’), you are experiencing friction. By using a cheap inferior car wash, you can expect it. If you are using the Auto Body Gel at the correct dosage and experience friction, you should do one of two things: either think very seriously about re-waxing your car, or you should start shrieking madly, because you have picked up some sort of contaminant from somewhere, and you are now rubbing it all over your car!
Wind Problems; Coastal dwellers!! Don’t wash your car when it is howling onshore. That’s a wind coming from the ocean, as it is dense with salt air. And salt is not good for your wash process, although some of our competitors seem to think very differently… Country folk!! Don’t wash your car when a lot of dust is in the air, as it will settle on the car’s surface allowing you to scratch it into your car’s finish. Wind also cuts down the drying time of water on the car, so make sure you factor that in when cleaning and rinsing the car down.
Lisa and BOB, our award winning bucket.
THE RIGHT WASHING TOOLS
You need a good bucket with about 12 litres capacity. We use a bucket known affectionately as BOB, the Bowden’s Own Bucket, with all our care care kits. It is great quality and made in Australia. (BOB won an Australian design award in 2004.. yes - a bucket won a design award!!)
The Love Glove, ready for action.
THROW OUT THE OLD SPONGE
You need a good applicator; like our Muffy Sponge or Microfibre Wash Mitt (known in house as the "Love Glove"). We like our Love Glove mitt, or even more so, the "Muffy" sponge as it holds a lot of soapy water and is very gentle to your paint. We found that generic sponges, while they hold just as much if not more water, don’t have much ‘give’ in them. Meaning that if you pick up a tiny stone it won’t recess into the sponge like it would with a mitt and therefore it scratches your paint surface. They also have great storage facilities for things like tiny stones, keeping them entrapped and scratching your paint forever. Likewise we have found the longer hair mitts like lambs wool also get small things caught up in their weave over time, another great car scratcher. It is also more likely that you could drop a sponge, as it is not attached to your hand like the mitt. If you drop Muffy, you can easy wash it out, just check it militantly, being the bright yellow it makes the inspection quite easy to find any contaminants.
One feature I always love with the Mitt is the way you can stick your hose into the open end of the mitt, turn it on and as the water streams out quickly, it thoroughly cleans the mitt. This is great for when you have finished and in case you somehow drop the mitt. (Yes, I have proved that it is possible.)
Wheels need an extra special touch.
BE SAFE ON WHEELS
You need to clean those wheels: Make sure to use only a separate cloth or our Microfibre wheel cloth for –obviously - cleaning the wheels. Our cloth has a unique weave that can really get in and clean, but does it SAFELY. Perfect for those polished or painted alloys so prevalent nowadays. It is made in red for a genuine reason - so you do not use it by mistake on anything else except the wheels. Brake dust is quite harmful and you do not want to be getting it in any other cloth, especially your Love Glove mitt or Muffy. Do not use the wheel cloth for anything else but cleaning wheels!
Our old label, but the good stuff inside is still the same!
You need a good car wash shampoo. Our custom blend, The Auto Body Gel, is the perfect combination for cleaning your car’s surface and still retaining your precious wax coat.
USE GOOD WATER
You need water. D’uh you say, but there are many different types of water. Never use bore or dam water as these are high in nutrients and the salinity content (salt= rust) may be questionable. Even if you have had your bore checked for salinity levels, think twice before you take to your pride and joy with the offending water, salinity levels fluctuate. Certain areas of Australia, like Adelaide for a classic example, have ‘hard’ tap water, this is where, for reasons only the water board really know, the water is high in mineral content. Hard water, like acid rain, is prone to leaving very defined water spots on your paint if it dries. Regardless of your water source, as long as it is not dam or bore, it will do the trick, but if you have the option of using ‘soft’ water, and the best of these is pure rainwater, go with it every time. We have special filtered tanks of rainwater just for washing the cars. Considering we live in a semi-rural area, this is not as extravagant as it sounds. They also double as fire fighting supplies and fantastic rogue bush-turkey deterrents.
You need a hose. If you are one of those people who buy those useless hoses that kink as soon as you even contemplate washing the car, you deserve the pain and anguish it delivers. On a return trip back from Sydney we had to wash the old Moffat race car transporter with one of those anaemic things. Never again! Get yourself a good quality medium strength hose. Not too tough so it’s inflexible, not so weak that it’s, for lack of a better word, kinky.
Don’t worry about a fitting on the end. If you want to spray, which you most certainly do at the start, jam your finger in front of the hose, propelling the water at a more rapid rate. If you want a gentle, even flow, which you do at the end, remove your finger and let it flow.
Great grip on the Chamois, that only comes from years of practice.
You need a drying tool. We use our Microfibre Chamois, certainly never the common or garden variety ones you get at the local service station or car accessories store. There are arguments over the pros and cons of using synthetic or real chamois. One party says the other strips wax and scratches, the other party says the exact same thing. Like everything to do with car care, we have done our own personal tests and found our Microfibre version is by far the best in that if used correctly it neither strips wax nor scratches surfaces... Simply it is just excellent to use and works brilliantly.
You need a wash bay. A carport is perfect, but anything out of direct sunlight that has a tap right next to it, is what your ultimate goal should be. If your designated area also has a slight incline, to allow water to run from the car freely and onto the lawn, then NO EXCUSES, you have the ultimate wash bay!! Let’s get washing.
Love Glove, BOB, Auto Body Gel and Lisa, the perfect washing combination.
LETS GET WET
So now you have the perfect bucket, mitt/ Muffy, wheel cloth, hose, water supply, car wash shampoo and wash bay. You, young grasshopper, are ready to wash!
Your bucket is ¾ full (not you, the bucket!). You have used the correct dosage of shampoo and there is a nice layer of suds up to the rim of your bucket. You have thoroughly drenched the car, making sure to have rinsed away as much of the dirt and "heavier" elements off from the car, especially down on the lower areas with a slightly stronger water pressure. Your mitt/ Muffy is clean and immersed in the bucket. Holding as much water/suds content as available, you start at the top of the car, commonly known as the roof, going from panel to panel working your way down. At the completion of washing each panel, you rinse and while you’re at it, you keep the rest of the car wet too.
FROM THE TOP
The reason you start at the top is to minimise contamination of the bucket. The lower the panel is on the car, the more it collects road grime. The more road grime you get in the bucket, the more hazardous it becomes to wash with.
You have now washed and rinsed every panel on the car starting from the top and working your way down. A great tip for rinsing the car, is to let a gentle stream of water cover the car; It catches all of the water beads and lessens the amount of water that sits on the cars surface, allowing you to dry the car faster. It also acts as a good final rinse.
Cobra's nose getting a bit of tender love. Oh to be a Cobra.
Now it’s drying time. Make sure the car has no visible road grime, dirt or oil. Grab the chamois and again start at the top and work your way down, frequently wringing out your chamois. On the large flat panels (roof, boot and bonnet) hold the chamois like you would to throw a blanket across a large bed, throw it out and then pull it gently back towards you. This minimises time, nothing else, so if you are comfortable with how you already use a chamois, do with this advice as you wish.
“What about the wheels and tyres?”, you say. Now is the time to give them a good seeing to. Unless you are washing a Hummer or a Mack truck, you should have enough left in your bucket to scrub them thoroughly with your wheel cloth. If it is real dirty water left over, it is best to put a half capful of the Auto Body Gel in with some fresh water. Yes, you will get water on the car again when washing them, just rinse and chamois it off. It’s a small price to pay for not having to do the wheels and tyres in a rush, while the rest of the car dries. Depending on how thoroughly you wash your round friends depends on whether or not to use your chamois on them. If they are sparkling, then by all means dry away. If you have multiple spokes and you can think of better ways to spend an afternoon than scrubbing them, then fair enough! But unless your wheels are very clean, don’t soil your chamois by using it on them. Use a clean rag, or if you don’t live on a dirt road, nothing at all.
Generally, wheels that are easy to clean have a large ‘face’ and water spots are an issue and will benefit from getting dried. Wheels that are hard to clean usually have no large surface areas and therefore don’t benefit greatly from getting dried. Just ask yourself “Will they benefit from drying?”
Yes, car washing can be exciting, especially on a genuine 1963 Shelby Cobra.
TEN MINUTES OF LOVE
You’re done!! Does your baby gleam? Don’t you feel better now? To make you and your precious machine feel even better why not take him / her for a drive, at least ten minutes long. This will help get rid of any water left in cracks or recesses most cars seem to have. When you get back just go around with the chamois to again clean up the last bits of water. Please try not to put your car away straight after washing it, as leaving water sitting around in these places is a huge no-no. This only invites every car’s biggest enemy, rust.
Time for the fun bit, taking her for a drive to dry out. Cobra of course needs this as well.
THOUGHT YOU HAD HEARD IT ALL?
For the real fussy ducks out there, with brand new cars or the people who have original coats on their ageing cars, you will want to use the “Two-Bucket Method”. There is no real gimmick, you just minimise the chances of washing your car with contaminated water/ wash.
You get two 12 litre buckets; one is ¾ full of water with car shampoo mixed in, the other is ¾ full of pure water (If possible, use two different colour buckets so you do not mix them up later in the wash) Start washing the car in the prescribed manner above. Once you have finished a panel, submerge the mitt/ Muffy into the pure water bucket and rinse it by shaking it vigorously, before placing it back into the wash bucket. Gather as much water and suds as your mitt can carry, then reapply to the next panel. Repeat this process, washing every panel on the car.
That’s the mysterious two-bucket method! It does make good practice; we use it on certain cars as a rule. It dramatically minimises your chances of accidentally picking up some debris from one part of the car and rubbing it all over the rest.
This was the last time we saw the Cobra, if anyone spots it or Lisa please let us know!!
YES WE ARE CAR FREAKS
And that is how we wash our cars at the Bowden household. All of these methods and tips have been pooled together by 3 generations of car freaks. As every motoring enthusiast has different needs for their different cars and locations around our large continent, none of this should be taken as pure gospel. If any of what has been written goes against your regular methods, then think about it, weigh up both of the options and go with the one that is best for your car.
All the products in this article are available on our website here, or through our network of stockists in Australia. Take a good look at our kits and packs as they save you quite a bit of money as well.
If you have any questions about car care please give us a call on (07) 5445 6065 or email email@example.com
Love your car,