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Almost everyone does the standard preventive mechanical maintenance on their car – getting the oil changed, getting the brake pads replaced, tire rotation, etc. All of these are critical for extending the life of your car and to keeping it running. However, appearance maintenance – both interior and exterior - is also critical to the longevity of your car, arguably as much so as engine and tire maintenance. Keeping your car clean is much more than just for appearances sake – it actually makes the paint and finish last longer by keeping it in good condition. However, washing your car isn't as simple as taking it through the drive-thru car wash, although on a basic level, that does work. There is a definite art to how to wash, wax and dry your car properly. Actually, you can do more harm than good if you wash your car incorrectly and do not use the right products. There is no time like the present to make sure you are taking care of your car correctly.
Pre-Wash Set Up
The first step in washing your car is location, location, location! Always make every effort to wash your car in the shade. The sun will make the car hot and the water and cleaner will evaporate too quickly. Your car should be warm or cool to the touch when you are working on it – not hot. If you do not have a garage or shade, then wash your car in the morning or when it is below 72 degrees and rinse your car often to keep it wet. If possible, park on a slight incline, such as a driveway, so that rinse water will run off the trim, moldings and recessed area.
The second step is to make sure you have the right wash tools. Start by taking the old bath towels mom has been saving and toss them to the dog. Most bath or wash towels are made from cotton and polyester - polyester is stronger than steel and will scratch your paint with every wipe. 100% cotton towels are fine, as are waffle weave drying towels and microfiber towels. Try to stay away from synthetic wool, as it is more abrasive than chenille or microfiber wash pads. When washing your car, make sure you use the correct mitt or sponge. Sheepskin wash mitts, microfiber wash mitts and cotton chenille wash mitts are all good because they contain many fibers which allow the mitt to hold more soap and absorb fine particles that may be lingering on the paint's surface. And don't forget your bucket – 2 gallons should be sufficient. Also, keep the hose close to your car for frequent use.
The third step is to have the right wash products for the right situation. If you are trying to give your car a deep cleaning, use Diamond Professional Autowash. Autowash will strip your car of debris; removing wax, polish, and even dressing. You probably don't want to use Autowash every time you wash you car as it is an aggressive cleaner and is best used when you car is very dirty or you want to give it a deep clean and wax. For maintenance washes and keeping your car looking good between waxes, use Diamond Professional Wash N Wax. It is mild enough that it will not remove wax protection from the paint, it rinses off easily and promotes sheeting for easier drying. Wash N Wax lifts and carries dirt away from the car's surface using lubricants to prevent scratching and surface conditioners to maintain shine. Be sure to follow the dilution recommendations, as too much may hinder a film-free rinse.
Once you have your car in the shade, have the correct wash tools and have your wash diluted in your bucket, you are ready to get started. Wash and rinse your car in sections - dividing by panels is a good way to go. Begin at the top of the car - roof, then hood and trunk, then doors, etc. Do the lower areas last - the rocker panels, wheels, tires and lower bumpers. They are generally the dirtiest and you don't want to fill your wash bucket with dirty water at the start of the process.
First, wet your car with a medium spray of water to get rid of loose dirt and surface grim. Grab your chenille wash mitt, get it nice and sudsy and start washing the car from the top down. Let the mitt glide across the car, allowing the shampoo and fibers to sweep away the dirt. For a particularly dirty section, wash the area with your mitt as you direct a stream of water to that spot, which will wash away the dirt.
When rinsing the body, be sure to rinse the car often, from the top down. When you are done washing the car, use a final rinse of free-flowing water allowing the water to sheet off the car. Once you have rinsed the car, for exceptional gloss and appearance you can also spray a final detail wipe, such as Diamond Professional Blue Mist Final Wipe, liberally over the car before drying - not more than 1 or 2 panels at a time. This final wipe combination using Blue Mist and a synthetic chamois, cotton or microfiber towel ensures a spot-free surface while leaving a high gloss, slick finish.
Drying your car is just as important as washing your car because you don't want to damage or scratch the finish or leave swirl marks. Dry the tires and wheels first, using a terry detailing towel, as wheels will soil chamois and a good microfiber towel. When you are drying the body of your car, use a waffle weave drying towel drying towel, chamois or microfiber towel and start from the top and work your way down. A synthetic fabric, cotton tee or polyester cloth will strip polish and wax, so using our recommended towels is the better choice. Pull the chamois across the car in a straight line. Repeat this process until the surface is mostly dry and then finish drying your car with a dry microfiber towel or hand size waffle towel to get rid of little droplets of water. When drying door jams, sills and the truck area, use a microfiber or waffle weave hand towel and wipe under the door and along the edge as well. Do not use a lot of pressure when drying these areas. You can also use a squeegee to clean water off the windows and large flat surfaces – it will definitely decrease your drying time. Be sure to finish drying the squeegeed parts with a waffle weave towel. If you didn't use your Blue Mist Final Wipe before drying, you can also use it after drying your car. Spray the mist liberally over the car and wipe off with a microfiber towel. This will leave your finish shiny and smooth.
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