Your essential car washing guide
You need the right washing tools
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 or as hard as you wish it to be. Whether it's 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. 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 Car Care Products. It is great quality and made in Australia. (BOB also won an Australian design award in 2004. Yes, a bucket won a design award!!)
You need a good washing tool; like our much loved Muffy Sponge or Love Glove Wash Mitt. We found that generic sponges, while they hold a lot of 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.
Muffy in action
Sponges pores also have great storage facilities for things like tiny hard particles, keeping them entrapped and scratching your paint forever. Likewise, we have found the longer hair wash mitts like lambs' wool, can also get small damaging particles caught up in their weave over time, another great car scratcher. It's for these reasons that we put a lot of thought into our two washing tools, to stop these things happening.
Our Muffy sponge has a layer of special bright yellow microfibre on the top and bottom, allowing it to have a protective, soft barrier, to minimise scratching. Muffy also has open sides, so you can get heaps of suds in and out of the sponge, this also helps stop wash fatigue with the sponge getting heavy as you move around the car. If you ever accidently drop Muffy, you can easily wash it out. The bright yellow material aids you in being able to just check it militantly, and find any foreign contaminants in the material.
Inspect and clean Muffy militantly after each wash or if you drop her!
Love Glove - Easy to use & wash
The Love Glove is another well thought out washing tool with a luxurious soft microfibre in a short nap weave, to stop the risk of those damaging particles getting caught in them, and a unique inner lining to again help draining and reduce washing fatigue.
One feature you will love with the Love Glove, is how you can stick a hose into the open end of the mitt, turn it on and clean it out as the water streams through the mitt. This is great for when you have finished and in case you somehow drop the mitt. (Yes, I have proved it is possible.)
Be safe on wheels
If you need to clean those wheels, make sure to use an entirely separate cloth like our Dirty Deeds microfibre cloth that 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 grey so you can easily identify it as the cloth to be used on the wheels. Brake dust is quite hard to remove from any cloth and can build up over time, you really don't want to be getting it in any your paint cleaning tools, especially your Love Glove mitt or Muffy.
The Car Wash Trio - the best you will ever use
You need a good car wash shampoo. Our custom blend, The Auto Body Gel, or our newest car washes Nanolicious Wash and Wax Wash, are the perfect combination for cleaning your cars' surface and still retaining your precious wax coat. A very important difference to the Auto Body Gel formula is that we don't have any salt in it. Salt is a popular additive for every other wash, as it increases sudsing, acts as a water softner so suds will happen in even rubbish quality water, and it thickens the product up to the gel like state. We found a better way to make it with no salt, about the only issue being is that if your water is bad quality it will not suds up. But, we hope that anyone who uses our wash will always use good quality water, so it's not an issue! All these years later and we still don't know of anyone else who makes a salt free wash - just another bonus for using it!
Wax Wash is one of our newest car wash shampoos. Infused with real T1 grade carnauba wax, this wash will give your paint a boost in both shine and protection. We've put unique additives in this wash that will look after the plastic and rubber trims on the outside of your car and keep them looking like new. The high sudsing and lubricated formula, ensures that dirt is encapsulated and suspended in the suds to reduce any potential scratching of your paint while you're washing. Wax Wash is pH neutral, so it won't strip any waxes or sealants that you may have already applied, and it will leave a layer of wax protection on your paint. You'll love the depth and shine this wash will give to your paint.
Nanolicious Wash is our most advanced car wash shampoo. We went to town on this one to make our absolute dream car wash. Super sudsy, extreme cleaning ability, lovely smell, all while being pH balanced, so it's safe for your wax or sealant coating. It uses a few different, special synthetic polymers that are designed to work in conjunction with our Fully Slick and Lazy Wax, that will leave a hydrophilic finish to your paint work when you've finished washing. Nanolicious Wash also helps to repair and maintain modern ceramic paint coatings. With its advanced cleaning agents, it's truly one of the best car wash shampoo's on the market.
Use good water
You need good 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, double 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 buys 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.
Our holy grail
You need a drying tool. We give you some great options with our new The Big Green Sucker microfibre drying towel and the more tradtional Microfibre Chamois for this task.
The Big Green Sucker microfibre drying towel is AWESOME!! We've put in a huge amount of time development of it, so we can certainly say it really sucks! This super luxurious drying towel is made for all serious car lovers who need the fastest and most effective tool for drying. Its thick, soft and plush weave is the most absorbent microfibre we have ever found and is exceptional at minimising errant dirt and grit missed while washing, from ever scratching your car. It glides over the surface, sucking up all the water as you go. The Big Green Sucker is a large 40cm x 70cm in size, so you can get your hands on each side of it and work your way around the car.
The chamois' we have are certainly not the common or garden variety ones you get at the local service station or car accessories store. They too have low grip so they will glide over the car surface and never strip the wax from it. They are excellent to use and work brilliantly.
What size to pick?
We make the chamois in three great sizes:
- The Little Ripper. Your more traditional size of 60cm x 35cm.
- About double its size is the Big Bugger size at a generous 71cm x 50cm.
- The biggest chamois on the planet, the Super Bloody Huge chamois. This massive one is for professionals or the most hardcore enthusiasts who don't like to be slowed down by having to wring out the chamois often. We can do most cars without having to wring it out at all.
Another great benefit of them all being microfibre is that they can be machine washed with our Microfibre Wash if you get them too dirty.
Why no container?
A lot of people ask us about this one and the answer is pretty simple; We want the drying towel or chamois to dry out after each wash, so they are ready to clean the windows first... If kept in a container they won't dry and are not as effective in giving perfect, smear free glass. You can read a bit more about this in the following section on drying your car.
Lets get wet
So now you have the perfect bucket, Love Glove/Muffy, wheel cloth, hose, water supply, car wash shampoo and wash bay. You, young grasshopper, are ready to wash!
Clean the wheels
We suggest to do the wheels first, as if you do them after washing the rest of the car you take the risk of leaving water sitting on your paint and creating water spots as they dry. Even if you do wash and then chamois your car down, you always seem to get water back on your freshly dried paint, as you rinse the wheels down after washing them. It's a hell of a waste of time going back over it a second time, so do your wheels first.
We have two methods for cleaning wheels, first one is with our Auto Body Gel and the Dirty Deeds cloth, and the second is if you suffer from bad brake dust issues, you will want to be using our epic Wheely Clean cleaner.
Let's start with the wash method first. Unless you are washing a Hummer or a Mack truck, half fill your bucket and add a capful of our Auto Body Gel wash to it. Use the Dirty Deeds cloth to give your wheels a good and thorough scrub. Do them one at a time and rinse off with fresh water afterwards.
Our second method is with our purpose made wheel cleaner; Wheely Clean. It was a 9-year journey to make an effective wheel cleaner that works. It's made for those who suffer from bad brake dust issues, and need a pH balanced, (i.e. non acidic or caustic), biodegradable wheel cleaner, that is safe for ALL wheels, whilst also cutting down the time down in cleaning the round friends on our cars.
It's a revolutionary type of cleaner that utilises a chemical reaction with metal oxide/brake dust that changes its state to a water-soluble complex, for easy removal with a hose. With no scrubbing it will do about 80% of the cleaning job for you on really dusty, grime caked wheels, close to 99% if used weekly on a daily driver. It's pH balanced, no acid or caustic ingredients, so it is safe for all wheels including painted, alloy, anodised, chromed, clear coated, powder coated, aluminium, stainless, billet - the list goes on!!
The simple version on using it is that you spray it on, brush it around, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then hose it off with a pressure washer or a strong jet of water. It's well worth reading the in depth article on using the Wheely Clean to make the most of this great product in the link at the bottom of this article.
As for drying the wheels, it's always nice to have a second, older chamois for this job, but just make sure you only use them on the wheels and maybe the door jams of your car. Make sure you ever don’t soil your good chamois by using it on them. Worst case, use a clean cotton or micofibre 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?” Just be sure you do this job at the end of washing, after you chamois dry your entire car, as doing it before will mean they are just going to get wet again from the next part of our article.
It's wash time
Your bucket is ¾ full (not you, the bucket!). You have used the correct dosage of shampoo, by using just one capful, adding it to the bucket when the water level is half full, as if you add the wash solution too early, you will get a huge head of suds and very little water! Your aim is to get a nice layer of suds, about 10cm worth, so they sit just above the rim of your bucket. Rinse the lid clean in the wash water as well, so you can be sure to get the full dose.
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.
From the top
Your Love Glove/Muffy is clean and immersed in the bucket. Squeeze Muffy while immersed in the suds, so she sucks up as much of the good water as possible. You start at the top of the car, commonly known as the roof, going from panel to panel working your way down. (Or from the bigger flat bonnet and boot panels on a car like the Shelby Cobra here) At the completion of washing each panel, you rinse, and while you’re at it, to deter water drying on the car, you keep the rest of the car wet too. 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.
Now it’s drying time. Make sure the car has no visible road grime, dirt or oil. Grab The Big Green Sucker or chamois, and while it is dry, do the glass first. (Refer to The Big Sucker article at the bottom of this page for some pro drying tips and hacks). This way you get no streaks on your glass. After the glass is done, start at the top of the car and work your way down, frequently wringing out your chamois if needed (The Big Green Sucker should just suck it all right up). On the large flat panels (roof, boot and bonnet) fold The Big Green Sucker in half, then move it across the panel with the cloth always facing the same direction (if you go "against the grain" you'll get smearing issues). Turn the cloth as needed, always using the same method. Great tip: if you're using The Big Green Sucker, spray each side of the cloth with 3-4 sprays of Boss Gloss or Fully Slick. We call this a "drying aid". It helps with preventing streaking, making the water even easier to get off the car and leaving a stunning finish!
If you're using a chamois, 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. On the side parts of the car, hold the top and lower part of the chamois when doing the sides, to stop it from ever touching the ground.
Two bucket method
For the real fussy ducks out there with brand new cars, whose paint is extra susceptible to light scratches, 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, it really cuts down on the potential of anything scratching your paint dramatically.
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, mark one with a bit of tape around the top, or put your Dirty Deeds cloth on its top edge, 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 Love Glove/Muffy into the pure water bucket and rinse it by shaking it vigorously or dragging it across the Grit Guards before placing it back into the wash suds bucket. Gather as much water and suds as your mitt can carry, then re-apply to the next panel. Repeat this process, washing every panel on the car. Doing it this way means you are never putting dirty water onto your 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 potentially scratching debris from one part of the car and rubbing it all over the rest.
The fun part
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. Please don't ever put your car away straight after washing it, as leaving water sitting around in the cars inaccessible areas is a huge no-no. This only invites every car’s biggest enemy to take hold, that of course is rust.
When you get back just go around with the chamois or drying towel, to again clean up the last bits of water.
Note that glowing shine. Even the Cobra's nearly 40 year old paint comes up fantastically with the Auto Body Gel wash and I know your car will be just the same.
In case you didn't 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 can be found in our stockists throughout Australia. Find a link at the very bottom of the webpage to them.
If you have any questions, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office on 1800 351 308.
Love your car,