I found out too late that the swirl marks that disfigured my car was caused by my poor washing technique, so after a very expensive professional auto repainting job, I took it upon myself to properly do weekly washes and hand drying at home with greater care. I know how using the improper techniques can cause unsightly scratches and swirl marks on the car finish and they can require polishing or compounding at the very least, which are extra chores I am not willing to do nor to spend extra money on. I have found these tips to be pretty nifty for car washing at home:
I do weekly washing.
Some contaminants can do some serious long term damage to the paint fast so I have undertaken to do weekly washing. Bird droppings and dead insects are two such organic elements. The complex proteins in those elements as well as the organic acids eat their way through the surface and the clear coat, necessitating prompt removal as they can lead to discolorations and rust. Brake dust can also be another problem. Brake dust comes with metal shavings from the adhesives and rotors used in the manufacture of brake pads. With a moving vehicle, there’s a dirty column of roadway chemicals and brake dust traveling along. This dirty plume could easily bombard the car’s lower portion with a sticky mist that’s almost invisible. Extremely sticky and corrosive, brake dust has to be removed every week by washing it away before it does permanent damage. I never wash my car under direct sunlight. Instead, I pick a shady spot to do the chore.
I wash the wheels and tires first. Then, when I’m ready to wash, I start with clean water, a freshly rinsed bucket and a wash mitt. I use a lubricant-rich car wash. I wash the vehicle down instead of front to back.
I use the proper washing tools.
I make sure the tools I use for washing are gentle on the paint while still being effective for contamination removal. I avoid dense sponges and flat weave towels and opt instead for plush or deep nap mitts and sponges. I use an organic sea sponge with natural fibers that won’t damage the paint and can basically draw contaminants into its openings and well away from the precious car finish. For washing, I use the sponge’s softer side. I also make sure to rinse the natural sponge thoroughly before use to eliminate sand or shell fragments. Another option I am open to trying is sheepskin wash mitts, which are extremely plush and soft, like micro-chenille wash mitts. I use a water-based cleaner that is safe for all wheels. I look for cleaners free of corrosive chemicals. I agitate with a wheel brush to ensure that my wheels remain scratch free when cleaning. I finish up with a spray sealant or spray wax.