| Clay Bar
When I was in high school I'd get out the
Spic 'n' Span and a big sponge that had probably been used for
putting on wallpaper paste, cleaning grout, and various other
"gritty" tasks and wash the car. Thinking about that now makes
my head spin! Here are the steps I've found work best to get a
super shiny car.
1. Mix your car shampoo with water
according to the label instructions.
the vehicle with clear water to remove loose grit and
dirt. Be sure to use lots of water
and get the car wet. Most garden hose attachments
restrict the water flow and make this difficult. I have
a hose-end attachment that looks like a firehose end,
which doesn't restrict the water flow at all at low
pressures. I got it at Lowes for about $8. Griot's
Garage sells one for $75, which is ridiculous.
3. Avoid washing a car in direct
sunlight. The suds can dry on the car, which is bad.
4. Using a clean lambs wool
microfiber wash mitt, wash car either
from from the bottom up or top
down, rinsing out mitt often.
As soon as the mitt shows any dirt, rinse it! I like the
mitts with no thumb, which makes it easier to rotate the
mitt on your hand and keep the clean side toward the
5. Whether you wash from the top down
or bottom up depends on how dirty your car is and on how
many wash mitts you're using. If your car is pretty
clean (like mine usually is), I like to wash from the
bottom up so suds don't run down the side and obscure
which parts have already been washed. If your car is
really dirt, you want to wash the top first so that the
road grime from the door sills doesn't end up getting
trapped in the wash mitt and scratching the paint.
People who are really fanatic (more than I am), use two
wash mitts -- one for the lower body work and one for
6. Do not allow car to air dry
before drying. Even if plain water
dries on the car it will cause water etching, which
detracts from a shiny finish.
7. Perform final rinse using
free-flowing water (use no
nozzle at all or a firehose nozzle)
to allow water to sheet off the car.
Dry immediately to prevent water spots.
I used to use plain cotton towels for this, but as I got
more fanatic about waxing the car, the car tended to
bead water to such a degree that the towels got soaked
and didn't really work. Now I slough most of the water
off the car with a California water blade (which I got
at Schuck's), and then I towel dry with cotton towels.
You'd think a towel is a towel, but towels
are not all the same. One approach is to use
100% cotton towels
for washing the car (but not for waxing it). You have to
be careful with this. Some towels that claim to be 100%
cotton still use polyster in the taped hems around the
Zaino has some good
towel advice. If you go this direction, you'd better
plan to use the California Water Blade first or plan to
use several towels.
Another approach is to use
for drying the car, but you have to be careful what else
you've used the microfiber towel for. If you've used a
microfiber towel previously to remove wax, I've found
that when I dry the windows, the towels shed small
amounts of wax onto the windows, and then the windshield
wipers streak. If you dedicate microfiber towels solely
for drying, and never use them for waxing, that can work
out OK. The additionaln benefit is that the microfiber
towels soak up enough water that you can skip the
waterblade step. I bought a couple
6 foot microfiber towels at Schuck's, and they work
very well. I haven't yet seen any microfiber towels this
size any other place.
After trying lots and lots of different
shampoos, I've settled on
Zaino's Z-7 show
car wash. The wash produces outstanding suds that
don't break down very quickly in the wash bucket. The
suds also seem to have high lubricity, and I don't worry
much about scratching the paint while I'm washing.
good alternative is the
Extreme Body Wash & Synthetic Wax/Gloss Enhancer. I
don't know about the "synthetic wax" part of it, but the
shampoo itself works about as well as Zaino's, and it's
$15.95 per gallon instead of $8.95 per 16 oz bottle.