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Old 13-04-2009   #1
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Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Due to the fact that there seems to be a huge amount of repitition of threads in this section, i thought an appropriate guide that we could link members to giving a basic guide to taking care of your car would be useful.

This guide is nowhere near definitive, but it's certainly a good starting point.

Basic Steps:
1. Wheels
2. Snow Foam
3. Shampoo
4. Drying
5. Claying
6. Polish
7. Wax

1. Wheels
Wheels are usually the first step for me. A highly recomended product for these is Bilberry Wheel cleaner, it is a concentrated cleaner which you should dilute in a spray bottle.
No doubt your wheels are in a state like this:


i) spray on wheel cleaner
ii) leave to dwell for a few minutes
iii) either spray again and aggitate with a wheel brush or
iv) jet wash off

This should leave your wheels looking somewhat better like this:


You can at this point, clay your wheels and apply a wheel sealant or wax, or just leave them be.

2. Snow Foam
Snow Foam is a must if you want to limit the contact you have with the car (thus help reduce wash marks) and want to keep your paintwork in as good condition as possible. For snow foam, you will require a Pressure Washer, a foam lance and snow foam. You then need to calculate the dilution of the snow foam solution for your lance.
Your car is probably looking something like this at the moment:


i) spray on snow foam


ii) leave to dwell for 5 minutes (ish)
iii) pressure wash off starting low down and ensuring you are not pointing the lance at 90 degrees to the paintwork.
iv) your car should look semi- clean after this, as the foam frees up contaminants and dirt on the surface of the paintwork.



3. Shampoo
Its time for the most obvious step now- shampoo-ing the car. There are lots of different shampoos out there, and your choice should depend on what type of finish you want. Use a wash wax solution if you do not intend on waxing the car yourself, or choose a shampoo if you do such as Dodo Juice born to be mild. You will also require a wash mitt such as the Meguiars Lambswool mitt.

i) dilute shampoo into a bucket of warm water (nice for your hands)
ii) fill a second bucket with just water
iii) dip your wash mitt into the shampoo bucket and wipe over a panel on your car
iv) after a panel, dip the washmitt into the bucket with just water, and then refill in the shampoo bucket.
v) repeat steps iii & iv starting high on your car and working lower and lower until the whole car has been done.
vi) rinse off the car with free flowing water (ie not through your pressure washer)

You should now be left with a pretty clean looking car. Heres one i did earlier:


4. Drying
To dry your car, you are going to require some microfibre cloths (or one big drying towel fit for purpose) and a drying lubricant such as dodo juice time to dry. I personally just use Meguiars last touch as it is dilutable and cheap, but it does effect the life of your drying towel due to lowering their solubility properties.

i) spray the car with your chosen lubricant
ii) If you are using a drying towel- fold it into quarters, and continue to dry a panel until that side is full saturated with water, then turn over and use another side.
iii) dry the entire car from top to bottom
iv) admire your clean dry car

Easy Step huh?

5. Claying
Getting onto more 'specialist' stuff now. To clay your car, you will need some auto clay such as Bilt Hamber Soft. Sonus Fine is also recomended and good value, but requires a lubricant such as Meguiars Last Touch.

This is a good video on how to clay your car:

basic steps for claying:
i) clean your car- see previous steps
ii) knead clay until it is maleable
iii) mist on the lubricant (for Bilt Hamber clay you only need water!)
iv) rub clay on bodywork until it is completely smooth, kneading to a clean surface when required
v) re-wash the car.
vi) seal the paintwork

Try not to clay the car in direct sunlight or on a hot surface, and remember that paintwork needs to be sealed after claying, dont just leave it.

6. Polishing
Polishing is very useful for removing light marring / swirls to the paintwork, but the best results can only be achieved by machine polishing. Possibly the best polish out there is AutoGlym Super Resin Polish (shop around, can be as cheap as 10/ litre). It has a slight abrasive cut and uses fillers to improve your paintwork. You will also need an applicator pad, and some microfibre cloths to buff it off.

i) clean your car / clay if required
ii) apply SRP to the paintwork in small amounts using the foam applicator and work until clear- less really is more with this product. If you are experiancing a lot of dusting then you are using too much.
iii) buff off using microfibre cloth.
iv) repeat until desired gloss is achieved.

If you dont want to wax but have clayed your car, it is fine to just put a layer of SRP on top.

7. Wax

There are many different waxes on the market, some ultra-expensive. Collinite is a budget priced wax that is considered very good value for money as it beads very well and lasts over 6 months. To apply wax, you will need a foam applicator, and some microfibres to buff off (see above).

i) clean, clay and polish the car
ii) apply a tiny amount of water to foam applicator
iii) apply wax sparingly to paintwork
iv) decide on a cure time (for collinite no more than 10mins as it becomes hard to remove). This is basically how long to leave the wax on the car before buffing off.
v) buff off with a microfibre cloth

It is a good idea to mask off any black trim on your bodywork to prevent getting wax on them as it can be a pain to get off afterwards.

This is basically it, after this, your car could look as good as these:








sure you dont mind Matt and Andy.

Thanks for looking


All products also available from other suppliers
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Last edited by dave; 26-02-2010 at 09:05.
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Old 13-04-2009   #2
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

I've been watching TV and doing coursework at same time as this, so if you notice any obvious errors ive made just let me know.

Could be a useful sticky?
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Old 13-04-2009   #3
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

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Old 13-04-2009   #4
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Quote Originally Posted by Jai View Post
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Old 15-04-2009   #5
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Tris only thing you've missed possibly is making a cheap pikey mix of QD using shampoo and water in a spray bottle....instead of the Megs

and if you do get any on black trim a rubber, AG fast glass or QD works well....
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Old 15-04-2009   #6
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

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Old 15-04-2009   #7
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

thats fine tris but you missed my best side...

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Quote Originally Posted by Most Easterly Pandas View Post
Massive gash
Quote Originally Posted by EmmaM88 View Post
Just a little touch up
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Old 18-04-2009   #8
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Just to add to the cleaning wheels step.

Be very careful using a pressure washer on the wheels not to blast the brake components or the tire side walls
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Old 21-05-2009   #9
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Epic car cleaning thread. Great for a cleaning noob like moi. Many thanks Tris
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Old 21-05-2009   #10
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Don't you use any particular product for the glass?
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Old 22-05-2009   #11
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

I use Autoglymn fast glass, should probably have added that.

I also use Lidl's own brand Rain X as it absolutely superb- you can bomb down the motorway in terrential rain and not have to use your wipers it beads off so fast! Think it's called W5 or something like that.

Andy uses Autoglymn glass sealant as well, although im not sure if it made a difference
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Old 22-05-2009   #12
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Cheers for that, I have dewipered the back and although I can still see in terrential rain I was yet to find a repellant that was worth the money
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Old 22-05-2009   #13
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

it's cheap too, which is always a bonus! p!sses all over rain x!
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Old 27-05-2009   #14
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Quote Originally Posted by Tris Harris View Post

5. Claying
Getting onto more 'specialist' stuff now. To clay your car, you will need some auto clay such as Bilt Hamber Soft. Sonus Fine is also recomended and good value, but requires a lubricant such as Meguiars Last Touch.

basic steps for claying:
i) clean your car- see previous steps
ii) knead clay until it is maleable
iii) mist on the lubricant (for Bilt Hamber clay you only need water!)
iv) rub clay on bodywork until it is completely smooth, kneading to a clean surface when required
v) re-wash the car.
vi) seal the paintwork

Try not to clay the car in direct sunlight or on a hot surface, and remember that paintwork needs to be sealed after claying, dont just leave it.

when you say seal the paintwork does that just mean do the next step of polishing it or is there something else to go on it?
thanks
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Old 27-05-2009   #15
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Re: Basic Guide: How to Clean your Car

Quote Originally Posted by B3NN377 View Post
when you say seal the paintwork does that just mean do the next step of polishing it or is there something else to go on it?
thanks
Either apply a wax or sealent product.
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