washing a car with a sponge

Car washing and geek materials for windshields

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I finally had a chance to wash our very dirty cars. Finally cleared up and to get the windshield washer fluid up to snuff.

Here’s the quick (distracting from the COVID-19 epidemic list):OK, if you are going to get started, then if you love your car at all, getting a ceramic coating on top of paint protective film after paint correction makes the most sense. Then you don’t have to wax.

Then you need the right materials for a home wash. Yes, you can just get it detailed, but it’s a Saturday tradition at least in my childhood home:

  1. Sonax Wheel Cleaner. Yes, it’s $72 and a big jug (you can also get a spray bottle), but once you see how grimy your wheels are you will thank Sonax. This is the first step, get the wheels clean and don’t let it dry.
  2. Sonax MultiStar Universal Cleaner. OK this is a huge jug, but I find that I use quite a bit of it. Mainly you spray it on the lower parts of the car. Wait a bit then spray it off to break up the dirt.
  3. Sonax Auto Shampoo. There are many different kinds out there, but this is why our detailer recommended it. It’s $61 for a 2 liter jug, but that’s a good buy if you have a sprayer thingy.
  4. Chemical Guys Bucket. Or go to Lowes but get a solid one.
  5. The Grit Guard Insert Black (and Red). Goes right at the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket to trap the dirt.
  6. Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Wheel Wand. These are for getting into the wheels. These are very gentle and probably a heavier brush like the Mothers Wheel Brush is needed if you have junk that is hard to remove.
  7. Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Wash Mitt. Really cool looking colors
  8. Griot’s Garage Glass Towel. Really small ones for Windexing your windshields.
  9. Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Drying Towel. The that final towel off.

Note on how to do the wash

The cleaning order is actually pretty important it is:

  1. Clean the wheels with the Wheel Cleaner, don’t let it dry
  2. Then spray the Universal Cleaner on the wheels and do the same
  3. Not spray the Universal Cleaner on the low part of the car. Wait a bit to let it loosen the dirt then spray off.
  4. Fill up the two buckets. One with clean water and the other with 2 capfuls of the Sonax Auto Shampoo.
  5. Then with your foam gun, go crazy (I use the 1:64 ratio)
  6. Now you want to take the light colored mitt and start at the top. DO NOT USE ANY PRESSURE. You literally want to just use the weight of the mitt soaked with the shampoo water. Go straight, no swirls. Overlap by 50% each long stroke. Then work your way, when you see dirt, clean in clean bucket and then soak again in the shampoo.
  7. When you are half way down, switch. The idea is that you go from cleanest to dirtiest so you are not rubbing dirt from the bottom on the visible paint.
  8. When you go lower, you are going to have clean more often. Do not use the dirty mitt on clean paint!
  9. This is a good time to open the doors and the trunk and hood and do a bit of careful cleaning there. Those parts get way dirty!
  10. Now you rinse the whole thing off.
  11. If you have the Modesta system, then you take the super expensive M2 Blast, this softens the ceramic coating. Spray a tiny bit, then take a microfiber that is damp and gently work it in. When you add it you will see the water instantly bead which is pretty cool.
  12. Now it’s time to dry. If you are lucky you have a leaf blower (see below). Start from the top of the car and work your way down.
  13. When done, it should again be very gently toweled off again with straight moves just using the weight of the towel.
  14. Finally, if you have really gross spots where the paint doesn’t look good, you can use the M3 Fire for cleaning.
  15. Now if you the ceramic you use M4 to spray a bit and then wipe off the excess with a microfiber.
  16. If you don’t then you use the Sonax Paint and Was if the paint is horrible or the Sonax Was if it is not. Use the applicator sponge and apply on a 2×2 foot area, let set for 1-2 minutes and then gently remove the excess with a microfiber. And you are done!
  17. Here is the optional take the Tire Gel and another applicator sponge and rub that into the sidewalls.

OK, these are really worthwhile, but completely necessary:

  1. Greenworks Electric Blower. For $28, this leaf blower saves so much time drying a car.
  2. Gilmour Foamaster Cleaning Gun. OK it is $86, but you attach it to your hose and you can foam the Autoshampoo like a pro. There are no direction and you definitely want to grease the fittings. Plus it has a really nice sprayer. And yes, I do want a pressure washer at some point 🙂
  3. Gilmour Threaded Hose Nozzle. OK, I’m a nerd, but apparently the best nozzle made 🙂
  4. Nosapaip Garden Hose. Again, the one from Lowe’s works great, but this is both soft and solid brass.

Then there are the nifty accessories if you didn’t get a ceramic coating:

  1. Sonax Application Sponge. Not necessary but an easy way to add on wax if you didn’t get it ceramic coated.
  2. Sonax Hybrid NPT Liquid Wax. Goes on easily, just goop it on, spread it with the sponge wait 1-2 minutes and gently wipe with a microfiber.
  3. Sonax Hybrid NPT Paint Cleaner and Wax. For your older cars with damaged paint like swirl marks and spider webs. It forms a bonded layer.
  4. Sonax Tire Gloss Gel. OK, if you really want to look ready to cruise down the boulevard, you just use an applicator (I used a microfiber, but I think it is better to have a sponge) and goop it on the sidewalls.

Windshield Washing

OK, you can just get the $10 jug from Walmart, but if you want to be a true geek (and save some money), you should mix your own stuff up with advice from Carfitter or you can be really old school and make it from ordinary ingredients like Your Mechanic:

  1. Rain-X White Washer Fluid Additive. This stuff really works. Puts a coating on your windshield so rain sleets away. You add it to the mix (below). The best $5 you will ever spend
  2. Nextzerr Kristall Klar Washer Fluid Concentrate. One $14 bottle makes 12 gallons worth of fluid or about $120 worth of it. You basically mix it up and it is biodegradeable too.
  3. Isopropyl Alcohol. In the winter, just buy some simple alcohol and add a little to the mixture so it doesn’t freeze. You need about 1 cup (8 ounces) per gallon (128 ounces).

Next up inside the car

I haven’t done this yet, but have a bunch of products for the “seats”, the dashboard and windshield. More on that soon.

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