Post-wash Dress-up

In the last few blog entries, we have gone over the basics of bucket washing and the bucket washing process.  We left off with the car being fully washed and dried using a do-it-yourself version of a professional “bucket wash”.  The vehicle is now ready for the post-wash “dressing up” final touches that make the difference between a clean car and a car that glows and sparkles.

The final touches of a complete wash include:

  • Wiping the vehicle with some type of spray-and-wipe protectant,
  • Final wipe of door jambs,
  • Final wipe of wheels,
  • Dressing the wheels,
  • Dressing trim, and,
  • Cleaning the windows.

Making it Shine

The car may be clean, but to add that extra shine, gloss, and sparkle, we can wipe the painted surfaces down with a “mist-and-wipe” quick detail spray like Proje’s Show Shine or Surge Quick Detail Spray.  Working one panel at a time, mist the surface with a light coating of detail spray, and then wipe it off using a Proje’s Plush Microfiber Towel.  You may want a second towel to buff away any leftover streaks.

If there is a breeze while you are doing this, work with the wind so that your panel misting does not overspray into areas that have already been wiped.  For example, if the wind is coming from the front of the car, start at the front of the hood and make your way to the back end of the car.  (Don’t worry about overspray on the windows, as we will clean these last.)

Occasionally, darker there may be leftover streaks or dark spots from using these products.  If this happens, and the spots are difficult to remove, this problem is easily solved by misting the products on the towel instead of directly onto the vehicle surface.

This simple process of going over the freshly washed car with Show Shine or Surge Quick Detail Spray will accomplish several things:

  • Wipe up any leftover streaks from drying,
  • Add gloss and shine to the painted surface,
  • Provide excellent protection against the elements between washes, and,
  • Make the next wash easier by reducing the ability for grime and dirt to stick to the painted surfaces.

Door Jambs and Wheels

It’s nice to have clean door jambs as you and your passengers enter the car.  Excess dirt and dust can be removed from these surfaces during the wash.  Then, during your post-wash final touch-ups, you can use the Proje’ Plush Microfiber Towel that you used for the initial wipe-off of the painted panels, as it is likely still damp with Show Shine or Surge.  Simply wipe the large painted parts of the door jamb and the outer edges of the door itself.  Avoid the hinge areas, as they may have grease that will contaminate the towel.

If you prefer, you can use a Black Mamba towel dedicated to this purpose.

You can use the same technique and same towel on the wheels or rims (NOT the tires) to give them a final streak-free finish.

This final wipe of the door jambs and wheels will also add a dirt and grime repelling coating so that they don’t attract as much dirt between washes.

Dressing the Tires

Clean tires certainly look better than dirty ones.  But there is one more important step that will greatly enhance the appearance of the tires, as well as the entire freshly washed car . . . dressing the tires.  For this, we will use Proje’s Fusion Tire Dressing and a Tire Dressing Short Handle Brush.  Except for extra large truck tires, misting the rubber directly is not recommended as this leaves overspray on the wheel and ground.  That’s why each bottle of Fusion comes with a flip-top instead of a trigger sprayer.

Instead, pour a stripe of Fusion across the top half of the tire brush and “paint” the dressing on the tire.  You will find that the bristles of the brush really help with working the dressing into the nooks and crannies of the tire lettering and such.  You may have to re-load the brush several times as you work each tire.

There is no need to wash the tire dressing brush after each use.  Instead, store it in some kind of plastic container so that it doesn’t contaminate your other detailing supplies with gooey tire dressing.  For example, you could cut the bottom four inches off an empty plastic gallon jug and use that as a place to store the brush.

Dressing Trim

Unpainted dark plastic trim and moldings often look better when lightly coated with a quality vinyl dressing.  We will turn again to Proje’s Fusion Tire Dressing for this job.  Don’t be fooled by the product label, as Fusion Tire Dressing is great on all unpainted rubber, vinyl, and plastic trim.  You can use a Proje’ Large Applicator Pad to apply the Fusion Dressing.

Simply pour out a bead of Fusion onto only one half of the pad as you hold it in your hand.  Then wipe the Fusion onto the parts that need dressing.  Be careful to avoid getting the dressing on paint or glass.  Although Fusion will certainly not hurt these surfaces, you can wipe off the excess with a utility towel so that the dressing job doesn’t look sloppy.

Because Fusion is a water-based dressing, it does not have a greasy look or feel after it has been applied.

The Last Step:  Windows

It is recommended that wiping down of exterior windows be the final step in your wash process to capture any overspray from previous steps.  We will use Proje’s Genesis Glass Cleaner and Waffle Weave Microfiber Window Towels to wipe the exterior glass.  Most professionals choose to use two towels, a damp towel for applying glass cleaner, and a second towel to wipe away any leftover streaks.

Another pro tip:  always start on the windshield, as this is when the towels are their cleanest and least likely to streak.

Remember to include the sunroof and sideview mirrors in your final glass cleaning.


The traditional bucket wash makes the vehicle clean.  The final wiping and dressing of the freshly washed vehicle is what makes it pop!