process of a complete detail Section 1

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    Everything I post is something I’ve done, usually something I keep doing as it works, so please don’t take it to heart if it differs from your process and, as always, do anything I say at your own risk.

    1. Wash
    2 Clay
    3. Wash
    4. Dry
    5. Polish
    6. Seal
    7. Maintain (Very important step)

    Detailed explanation/instructions:


    Many people have adopted the 2-bucket method… one rinse bucket and one soap/wash bucket. The idea is that you soak the sponge/mitt (whatever you’re using to wash) in the wash bucket, wash a section of the car, rinse the sponge off in the rinse bucket, then go to the wash bucket again and wash a section again, etc. While this is good practice, definitely better than using just one bucket, it’s not perfect so to speak. The idea behind the 2-bucket method is that dirt trapped in the sponge after washing down a section will be released into the rinse bucket, so it’s not brought back to the paint. Problem is, all that dirt (depending on how dirty a car is) is usually not going to come out completely, or even close to completely, into the rinse bucket. The best way to do it is to rinse the sponge with the hose thoroughly after washing a section, which will ensure most, if not all, trapped dirt, is rinsed out. After that, you can use either 1 or 2 buckets… I still use 2-buckets (I rinse the sponge into the rinse bucket AFTER rinsing it with the hose) then start with the wash bucket again. The main thing is that the soap/water solution in the wash bucket should be as clean at the end of the wash as it was when you started. This is my process, which has worked great for over eight years now:

    1. Pre-wash:
    Before washing the entire car you want to begin with a thorough rinse, starting with low pressure to get it wet, then high pressure to get rid of as much loose dirt as possible. Then you should check around the entire car for any serious and heavy contamination, such as tar, tree sap, etc. and apply a cleaner to those areas so you do not damage the paint during washing these areas by scrubbing hard.

    2. Wash wheels:
    tires and wheel wells: You always want to start with the wheels and tires and finish them completely for two reasons, a. they’re always the most dirty areas and you want to clean those first to get most of the dirt off the vehicle as a whole, and b. any excess of dressing applied to tires and wheel wells will be washed off during the wash if it gets onto the paint around the wheels. To wash the wheels and tires, first spray an all-purpose cleaner onto the wheel wells and tires (or use tire cleaner for tires). Then spray a wheel cleaner onto the wheels. (I like to do 1 side at a time so the cleaners don’t dry, which usually happens if you spray all 4 wheels/tires) If the car has enough of a gap, try to get a brush, or at least a terry towel, under the wheel wells to scrub them clean after the cleaner is sprayed on. Then, scrub the tires with a brush or terry towel to clean them. Lastly take a brush or microfiber towel to the wheels and clean them after the cleaner is on there. Rinse everything off and dry thoroughly before applying a dressing to tires and wheel wells. You can wax the wheels later, when you do the paint, or at this point… either one is fine. Move on to washing the paint surfaces.

    3. Wash paint:
    As mentioned above, use 2-bucket method. I use two 5-gallon buckets both with grit guards in them. I fill the rinse bucket to about 4 gallons and let sponges (1 sponge for lower panels, 1 for upper) soak in there for a minute, while I add about 1 gallon of water to the wash bucket, then 4oz. of soap (different soaps will suggest different amount per gallon) then about 3 more gallons with a hard spray to get all the soap bubbly. Next, leaving one sponge in the rinse bucket, I take the one I’ll be using on upper panels, soak it a bit in the wash bucket, then wash half the roof, rinse the sponge with the hose, throw it in the rinse bucket, rinse off the half-roof section I just washed, wring the sponge into the rinse bucket, soak in wash bucket again, wash other half of roof, etc. I do the roof in two parts, then whole trunk (including back section but not bumper), then hood in two parts, then all glass (front windshield, back glass, windows, mirrors), then upper half of panels on one side, then upper half of panels on the other side, then (with the sponge for lower panels) I do the lower half of panels one side, then lower half of panels on the other side, rear bumper and finally front bumper along with headlights, grille, etc. After every of these sections I’m doing the same thing as before, rinsing the sponge out with the hose, washing the section off, wringing sponge into rinse bucket, then moving on. The idea here is to do a small section when washing so only a little dirt is trapped into the sponge, making it easier to rinse off. You wash the section off immediately as to not have potential water/soap solution drying up on the car and leaving spots. Throughout the wash, you will want to rinse the entire car, especially if it is hot and sunny outside, to keep any water from drying on any panel. When you are about to fully detail the car, this is not a huge deal as you’ll be out any of those dried up water spots easily with the lightest of polishes, but for maintenance washes it’s extremely important because you don’t want to scrub the water spots later when drying. After all that is said and done, and every panels is thoroughly washed and clean, rinse the car off one last time, making sure to get a good stream into all the door, trunk jambs, etc. to get any leftover soap out. Lastly, set the hose nozzle on a very light stream and lower the pressure (I use a on/off valve between the hose and nozzle to make this easier) and “wash the water off” the car by lightly rinsing… this makes most of the water come off as it doesn’t stay in the usual beads, rather just flows off.

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