It's important to wash your car regularly. The outside of your car is exposed to various contaminants that if left to sit on your paint could cause permanent damage that may require costly repairs to fix. Every day, bird-droppings, overspray, tree sap and overspray pose threats to your vehicle's paintwork. All of these threats are best dealt with quickly. Bird droppings contain acid which left on your paint even for a couple of days can begin to corrode the clear coat and leave a permenant stain that would require paint correction or wet-sanding to fix.
Washing your car is important but there is risk to your car's paint if it's done incorrectly. The main risk to the paint is from introducing fine scratches by using incorrect wash method. Prevention is better than cure so please read below to learn about the Two-Bucket Wash Method, the best method to avoid wash scratches on your car.
Here is what you'll need. Firstly, two buckets. The first, your shampoo bucket, is filled with some water and a car shampoo solution mixed according to the manufacturers instructions and the second, your rinse bucket, is filled with only water. You'll also need a quality wash mitt. For the shampoo it's not too important which product you go for, as long as it was designed to be car shampoo and not dishwashing detergent as this strips any wax or polish. For the wash mitt we recommend a microfibre product that are readily available at most major hardware/auto stores. Don't use a sponge as they trap dirt on the outer layer which can scratch your paint.
This is the part where if not done thoroughly you run the risk of putting scratches in at later stages. Using either a waterblaster or a high-pressure spray nozzle on your hose, blast the vehicle from the top downwards. The aim of this stage is to remove anything that's sitting loose on the paint.
Dunk the wash mitt in the shampoo solution and start washing starting at the top of the vehicle and work your way down. The idea here is that you are working your way from the cleanest part of the car (the top) to the dirtiest.
After washing a defined section of the car, ie. the top above the doors - give the wash mitt a rinse in the bucket we prepared earlier.
Really simple, we're just rinsing the wash mitt every now and again after washing a few panels. The purpose behind this is to ensure that any particles of dirt picked up by the wash mitt fall into the rinse bucket and don't get passed into the wash solution and then dragged across the remaining panel causing scratches. After the mitt has been thoroughly rinsed, load it back up in the shampoo bucket and keep washing. Fundamentally that is the whole Two-Bucket Method which is really simple but very effective for avoiding, avoidable, scratches.
After the car has been washed all over follow the exact same step as Step 1 to remove the shampoo from the car - start from the top and work your way down removing any wash residue using high pressure water.
Drying your vehicle once it's washed is best done with a chamois or a microfibre towel. If using a chamois (and it does sound counter intuitive) - these work best when they are slightly damp and when they are used dry they can actually scratch.