For many vehicle care enthusiasts, the weekly Saturday morning car wash is a therapeutic activity that allows the owner to take pride each week in creating a clean and shiny ride. For some, it is also the only proper alternative to the real or perceived dangers of automatic car washing.
Car washing certainly does not have to occur weekly. But when it does, it is important to use proper chemicals and techniques to not only get the best results, but also finish the job in a reasonable amount of time. The aim of this week’s blog entry is to talk about the driveway car wash.
Basics of Washing
Temperature. Proje’ car washing chemicals are safe when used properly. Nonetheless, it is always recommended to a car out of direct sunlight. Additionally, washing in cool temperatures is also recommended. If you cannot avoid the heat, work in the early morning or late afternoon. The concern with heat and sunlight is to keep the vehicle surfaces cool so there is less chance for water spotting or streaks.
Most washing methods include “dwell time”, which is the recommended few moments that washing chemicals are allowed to work on the surface at hand before scrubbing and rinsing. In direct sunlight or on very hot days, these chemicals may dry on the surface before the washer has a chance to rinse them off. This situation can cause chemical spotting which is more difficult to remove. Stronger chemicals that are allowed to dry on the surface may cause staining, and, in the most extreme situation, etching.
If you must wash in hot temperatures, work on small areas of the vehicle at a time, drying each one before moving on.
Run-off. Protecting the environment is everyone’s concern and car washing is no exception. Make sure to wash the vehicle in an area that prevents soapy rinse water from entering the street, storm drain, or natural waterway (e.g., stream, creek, pond, etc.). This is both environmentally conscious, but it is also in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972.
Research has shown that soapy rinse water that soaks into a lawn, shrubbery beds, or plain dirt does not contaminate the waterways because the chemicals are naturally leached out by the plants and dirt.
Saving Water. When using a garden hose to wash your vehicle, make sure to use a nozzle that has an automatic shut-off. “Trigger” type nozzles are available at the local hardware store, and some have multiple spray patterns. Use of a shut-off nozzle will save the precious resource of potable water, as well as saving you money on your water bill.
Types of Washing
Most folks think about car washing using the classic bucket of soapy water, a large sponge, and a free-flowing garden hose. These days, however, home car washing is more sophisticated than that, and there are actually several methods that can be used to wash a vehicle at home. Which one is best for you depends on your washing situation, which includes factors like availability of water, where the run-off goes, availability of shade, and adequacy of the washing space.
Prep Wash or Maintenance Wash? The first distinction to be made is to differentiate between the standard maintenance wash and what detail professionals call “the prep wash”. The prep wash includes several techniques that are designed to prepare the vehicle for detailing activities like paint correction or applying protection like wax, sealant, or ceramic coating. These next few blog entries will focus on the maintenance wash that is designed to keep the car clean between detailing events.
Full-rinse Washing. This washing method relies on full rinsing using a garden hose or pressure washer after soaping up the car. Of course, this method only works if you have access to a water spigot, you are working in an area where run-off will not go into the street or storm-drain, and the space you are working in will not be impacted by the rinsing overspray. For example, this method will NOT work inside a garage!
The most common choice of washing methods is going to be the standard “bucket wash”. This involves an initial full rinse of the vehicle. Then the car is washed using Proje’s Vital Car Wash Soap, properly diluted in a Proje’ Wash Bucket equipped with a Bucket Grit Guard, and applied to the vehicle surfaces with a Proje’ Microfiber Car Wash Mitt. A final rinse follows and the vehicle is properly dried. Specifics on this method, including how to handle the wheels and other dirty areas, will be covered in an upcoming blog entry.
Another option for full-rinse washing is the “foam cannon” method. After the vehicle receives an initial rinse, the Proje’ Garden Hose Foam Cannon can be used to apply a layer of sudsy wash shampoo to the entire vehicle. The lingering suds are then agitated with the Proje’ Microfiber Car Wash Mitt and rinsed off.
With both full-rinse methods, the vehicle may have some special cleaning needs that can be handled by special techniques or chemicals. For example, the wheels and tires may require chemicals that are stronger than Vital Car Wash Soap. Also, there may be contaminants on the painted or glass surfaces that will not come off with standard car wash shampoo. We will discuss these special situations in an upcoming blog entry.
Waterless Washing. In some situations, the use of water can be a real issue. For example, in a parking garage, or a multi-unit residential complex that does not allow car washing, or when a vehicle must be washed inside a home garage. In this case, it is possible to safely “wash” a vehicle using Proje’s SiO2 Quick Coat Ceramic Waterless Wash, which, amazingly, requires NO water. We’ll cover this in a future blog entry.
Ceramic Maintenance Wash. This refers to special products and techniques used to wash a vehicle that has been coated with one of Proje’s ceramic coating options. This was discussed in the blog entry titled “Consumer Guide to Ceramic Coating Maintenance”.
As you can see, there are many options for washing your personal vehicle. Which one you choose depends on your particular situation. Look for further detail on how to properly and safely perform each of these types of washes in upcoming blog entries.