Of all the things that we do to our car, this has to be the time when we can do the most damage to the surface of our paint. Making sure that you use a good quality microfiber towel goes a long way to minimizing any damage. But there are a lot more details that you need to observe to get through this process correctly.
The first I would say is to start with a shampoo made for car washing that will not take off your wax. That means don't just pour some kitchen sink detergent into your wash bucket and expect to get maximum results. Use a soap that is formulated for vehicle washing and the more expensive wash formulations are pH balanced which means it will not attack your wax as well as having lubricants like coconut oil that encapsulate and help remove particles away from the paint surface. Some formulations also have water softeners to help with water spots.
Another semi important detail is what are you going to wash with? It really doesn't matter if it is a mitt or a rag, sheepskin, soft synthetics or something in between, just make sure it plays nice with your paint.
Living on the west coast I generally do two kinds of washing. The first is one that I usually do is once a week and usually in the summer. I do a good rinse to get the dust off and then towel dry, no soap needed. Because we here in Southern California do not have to deal with as many bugs and no road tar to speak of this method works very well. During the rainy season, I am forced to do a full wash with detergent to get all of the road grime off.
When starting your wash, give the vehicle a good rinsing to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. Then starting on the roof, start washing with your soapy water and work your way down, rinsing as you go. If you are doing this in the sun, keep rinsing the car to keep it from drying so as not to leave water spots. Of course if you are using filtered water then that is not a problem. After doing a section try to spray the surface of your mitt or cloth to remove any grit that might be on the surface and keep going. As you work your way down, the dirtier the surface will be. Keeping your mitt or cloth clean is essential to keep from getting swirl marks.
After you have finished washing the body, dry from the top down using some good microfiber towels. Use one to get most of the water off in one section then follow up with a second towel to completely dry. When completed it's time to do the rims and tires.
This part of the washing process can be done many ways with products exclusively designed for tires and wheels or just use the soap you wash your car with. Personally, I just use the soap. I find I have to work just as hard to clean with those products as I do with the soapy water in my bucket. And when I am just doing a rinse wash with no soap, I just wipe the rims down with a damp cloth and I'm done and it looks great.
To finish off the tires after you have washed them you can use a tire gel product. I used to use a product called “Black Chrome" but can't find it anymore. So after some looking online I found this stuff called “Tire and Bumper Dressing Gel" by Sonus. This stuff works so much better than ArmorAll. It last longer and gives the tires that nice professional detailed look without looking to glossy. It is also great for putting on your exterior rubber hard plastic, seals and moldings.
There are many different ways to wash your vehicle but in the end you want a clean and undamaged surface on your vehicle.
My name is Allan Stewart and I have several websites dedicated to product reviews and well sites being for people and pets. Want to learn more about Car Detailing, go to: Car Washing Or visit my website at Detailed Car Care for more facts about car detailing.