Start the wash process by examining the vehicle. If bonded contamination is present (Mud, road salt, bug splatter, diesel films, etc.), perform a pre-wash using wax and sealant safe product like Auto Finesse Citrus Power, or Auto Finesse Avalanche snow foam to remove the bulk of the grime. If no bonded contamination is present, you can proceed directly to a pre-rinse using a free-running hosepipe, or pressure washer. This will remove the loose contamination, minimising the chance of marring.
Fill two buckets with water, one for rinsing, and another for washing. Most detailers favour 20 litre buckets, with scratch shields at the bottom like our Limited Edition Detailing Buckets. This is because they further minimise the chance of recirculating dirt, and can hold enough water to wash even the largest vehicles without being refilled. Typically 10 litres of wash water (Approximately 2.64 US Gallons) is the perfect amount to wash small to medium sized family vehicles and sports cars, but for large 4X4’s and luxury saloons, more may be required.
Auto Finesse Lather pH neutral car shampoo is a highly concentrated, and versatile shampoo, with a wide range of possible dilution ratios. However, for general use we find 650:1 (Which translates into two capfuls per 10-liters of water) to offer the best balance of lubrication, cleaning power, thick foam, and economy. For stronger washes on dirtier vehicles, you can use a little bit more for added lubricity and cleaning power. For lighter cleaning needs (For example, giving a show car its first wash of the season after its long winter sleep, or removing dust and oils from aggressive compounding.), a dilution ratio of up to 2000:1 is possible.
Add the necessary amount of Lather car shampoo to your wash water, and agitate it manually, or with a quick blast of water to build up your desired amount of foam. If the foam becomes depleted during the wash process, quickly agitating the water with your hand or wash mitt will revive it.
Wash the vehicle from the top down, using a soft sponge, microfiber wash pad, or (most preferably) a Lambswool Wash Mitt. Wash a panel at a time, and rinse with a hosepipe or pressure washer before moving onto another. To minimize the potential for water spotting if washing in direct sunlight, or on hot summer days, keep the vehicle wet at all times. After each section, rinse your wash media out in the rinse bucket to remove any trapped debris, and prevent it from marring the paintwork.
Once the vehicle has been completely washed, use a free-running hosepipe (Without any nozzle attachment) to slowly sheet water over the vehicle, leaving as little standing water on the finish as possible. This will make it much easier to dry with a Microfiber Drying Towel, or forced air blower. Make sure to also dry the sills, and any other gap in the panels or trim that might hold water, as these will leave unsightly drip-marks if left unchecked. Once the vehicle is dry, inspect for watermarks, and if present remove them immediately using a quick-detailer like Finale with a Plush Microfiber Towel.
Try to wash your vehicle every 1-2 weeks, or as needed to prevent debris from building up. If you use a cover for your car or motorcycle, make sure to wash your vehicle every time before you install it, as this will prevent severe marring from dirt getting trapped between the textile and the paint. By following the maintenance technique outlined above you will greatly reduce the chance of introducing swirls and marring to your vehicle, and preserve your detailing results.