In the blog entry “Wash Like a Pro:  Bucket Wash Set-up”, we outlined how to get ready to perform a complete bucket wash on your vehicle.  There are several “ingredients” to the bucket wash, including:

  • The garden hose with a shut-off trigger nozzle
  • Step stool (as needed)
  • The “body wash bucket”: A Proje’ Wash Bucket equipped with a Proje’ Bucket Grit Guard, properly diluted Proje’ Vital Car Wash solution, and a Proje’ Microfiber Car Wash Mitt
  • A “wheel and tire bucket”: A separate Wash Bucket equipped with a Bucket Grit Guard, properly diluted Vital Wash solution, and several brushes (Proje’ Rim Cleaning Brush, Inner Barrel Rim Brush and an Easy Reach Crevice Brush for lug nuts).
  • A drying kit including several Proje’ DryPro Microfiber Towels and a leaf blower
  • A final wipe-down kit including Proje’s Genesis Glass Cleaner and Waffle Weave Microfiber Window Towels, optional quick spray wax like Proje’s Show Shine or Surge Quick Detail Spray and Plush Microfiber Towels, and Proje’s Fusion Tire Dressing and Tire Dressing Short Handle Brush.

Let’s Go!

Now let’s talk about the actual bucket wash process, step-by-step. The professional detailer gets great results (and charges accordingly!) because she or he uses a systematic process that maximizes efficiency and effectiveness.  We can produce similar results by employing a similar systematic approach.  With that in mind, a step-by-step professional-style wash process is outlined below.

Assemble your Supplies.  Get everything ready for your wash, using the list above and the specific directions outlined in the blog entry “Wash Like a Pro:  Bucket Wash Set-up”.

Initial Rinse.  Start by rinsing the car down from top-to-bottom.  If you have a multi-pattern spray nozzle (recommended), you can use the “shower” setting for this.  You can switch to the “fan” setting for areas like the wheel wells and crevices that are holding dust.  Use the “jet” setting for caked on mud on the lower panels.

Wash the Main Body.  Start at the roof.  Dip the Microfiber Wash Mitt into the wash bucket filled with Proje’ Vital Car Wash solution, and pull it out dripping wet.  Gently scrub the area with the wash mitt, going over the surface without a lot of pressure.  Thoroughly cover the area with the mitt but don’t scrub it repeatedly to help avoid accidental micro-scratches.

The mitt should be re-dipped into the wash bucket several times as you make your way around the vehicle.  How large of an area should you scrub before re-dipping the mitt?  Well, say you are working on a four-door sedan.  Here is a great progression, dipping the mitt before starting each of the following areas:

  • Driver side roof and windows
  • Driver side doors
  • Hood, fenders, front grill
  • Passenger roof and windows
  • Passenger doors
  • Trunk, rear fenders, and rear bumper

This would be the minimum number of bucket dips and one can certainly dip the mitt more often than the above suggested six times.  You may have also noticed that this is an efficient progression that requires the least steps around the car, especially if you grab the bucket and move it with you while you move around the car.

If there is caked-on grit or grime at the bottom of the side panels, make sure to touch those areas last.  That is, start at the top of the side panel and make your way down to the bottom, wiping the bottom part last.  Then dip the wash mitt in the soapy water to rinse off that grit before moving to the top of the next panel.

Also note we don’t want to over-scrub each area.  It should be just a once-over with the wash mitt, which has plenty of soft shaggy microfiber fingers to do the scrubbing for you.  In fact, using the above movement around the car, it should not take more than five minutes to soap up the entire main body of the car.

If you accidentally drop the wash mitt, rinse it thoroughly with the garden hose, then dip it several times in the wash bucket to remove any grit that might have grabbed on when it hit the ground.

Rinse.  With the “shower” setting on your adjustable spray nozzle, rinse off the vehicle from top-to-bottom.  A common habit is to use lots of water to rinse off every last bubble and this is simply not necessary.  We will be coming back with drying towels later, so a few leftover bubbles here and there are no big deal, and you’ll save some water.

(If it is a warm day or the sun is shining on part of the car, you may want to dry the main body now before moving on to clean the wheels and tires.)

Cleaning Wheels and Tires.  If you have a separate wheel and tire bucket, grab it now.  Or you can just use the leftover wash soap in your single bucket, but make sure to remove, wring out, and set aside your Proje’ Microfiber Wash Mitt and keep it protected from contamination.

Make sure the wheels and tires are still completely wet and re-rinse them as necessary.  Some folks like to start with the wheels and tires before washing the main body, in which case the tires should be cool to the touch (allowed to cool down if the car just arrived from a drive) then rinsed off thoroughly.

Mist the wheels and tires with Proje’s Redline Wheel Cleaner.  If it’s not a hot day and the sun is not shining on the wheels, you can mist all four before scrubbing.  Be sure to mist the inner barrel of the wheel as well.  If your wheels are in great condition and you wash your car weekly, you may not even have to touch them with a brush.  Instead, simply allow the Redline Wheel Cleaner to dwell as it loosens dirt and brake dust, then rinse thoroughly.

For thoroughness, however, it’s recommended to at least give the wheels a once-over with the Proje’ Rim Cleaning Brush, Inner Barrel Rim Brush and an Easy Reach Crevice Brush for lug nuts.  Then give them a rinse.

Drying.  Once the entire car is cleaned and rinsed, it’s time to dry.  Use Proje’ DryPro Microfiber Towels.  Most DIYers find that two DryPro towels work fine.  Use the first towel to do a once-over, removing the excess water from the entire vehicle.  Come back with a second DryPro towel to wipe up any leftover drips and streaks. 

You can use a leaf blower to blow out the mirrors, door handles, front grill, and any other cracks and crevices that might drip water later.  Then give the car one last wipe with the second DryPro towel.

Hang your DryPro towels out to dry and keep them safe from contamination like dirt and dust.


Using the above procedures, and utilizing Proje’s high quality chemicals and supplies, one can perform a driveway wash a car in about 30 minutes with great results.  In the next blog entry, we will go over the post-wash “final wipe down” and dressing activities that make the care truly sparkle.