Maintenance Exterior Wash: How to best take care of your cars Paintwork?

‘Is your cars paintwork looking a bit sorry for itself?’

If so look no further and follow our top tips and easy guide for a safe maintenance wash to ensure that you are taking the best possible care during the washing process. This will help you to keep your car looking like new for longer and avoid damaging your paintwork by commonly made mistakes.


The most imperative mistake made is to use harsh chemicals and abrasive scratchy sponges as this will undoubtedly dull the paint's natural shine by oxidize the paint, strip the clear coat, and make the paint dull looking by scuffing away the original glossy surface.  The Harsh chemicals can also leave the paint, rubber, and metal surfaces unprotected against moisture, road grime, and debris.

You should also try to avoid automatic car washes. As much as they are convenient way of making your car look presentable. The truth is that the fast-spinning rollers collect dirt and grit from previous cars causing fine scratches or swirl marks making the paint appear duller over time

Lastly, but not limited to, avoid washing your car in bright, direct sunlight. Although, it can be tempting to make the most of a hot sunny day, but the truth is water will evaporate a lot quicker than you can dry it leaving horrible watermarks. Similarly, the soap could also dry out before you’ve rinsed the car, which will make it much harder to clean off.


Our aim should be to naturally safeguard, protect, and preserve the paint of our cars especially given how expensive they can be to purchase. By taking the following necessary precautions during the washing process we can maintain its natural gloss shine for years to come.

Take the time to care for your vehicle. Invest in safe pH-neutral chemicals/ shampoos as they do not contain harsh chemicals or fillers in their formulation, and will not damage your paintwork as they are safe to use.

You should ditch the historically used single bucket and scratchy sponge and instead use a nice woolly or microfiber wash mitt, a big fluffy drying towel, and dedicated two or three buckets with grit guards. The purpose of using two buckets is to have one with your chosen shampoo and another with clean water to rinse the dirt off the mitt. A third bucket can be introduced to separate wheel cleaning from paintwork if you want to go that extra level. The grit guard will safeguard you from reaching into the bottom of the bucket and picking up dirt on your wash mitt, avoiding the risk of rubbing this back onto the car.


Here at HZ Car Care we believe that a solid wash routine is the backbone to maintaining the perfect finish.


car wheel wash image

We recommend you start with the wheels first so that we do not get any contaminants, caked on dirt or heavily soiled brake dust from the wheels onto the paintwork. We would recommend using a non-acidic wheel cleaner. Simply apply the wheel cleaner, leave it to dwell then agitate with a detailing brush or wheel brush. An additional step you could take is to apply a reactive fall-out remover to assist in the removal of any baked-on iron contamination is required (fallout removers should only be used when any other means of clean does not yield the desired results).


car cleaning image

Snow foams are generally pH neutral; its purpose is to remove the worst of the dirt that could later get caught in your wash mitt and scratch the surface of your paintwork during the contact wash. The snow foam will gently breakdown grime, loosen bonded contaminants, and slowly and safely transport these down the panels in the suspended foam and off the vehicle. Once sprayed all over leave it to dwell for 5-10 minutes to soak and then completely rinse off the foam.



bucket method car wash

For this step you will need your 2 buckets complete with grit guards. Fill the first bucket with clean water and the second bucket with water and 2/3 caps of your desired shampoo, such as Meguiars - Ultimate Wash and Wax. Now you’re ready for the contact wash. Start by dipping your wash mitt into your bucket full of shampoo. Make sure not to allow your wash mitt to sink to the bottom of the bucket to avoid collecting any debris. Once your mitt is lubricated and soapy in the shampoo, you want to gently apply this across the panels starting from the roof down, followed by the upper sides of the vehicle, then the rear and bumpers and finally the lower half of the sides and arch lips. The aim here is to leave the dirtiest areas until last so that you do not cause any damage to the paintwork. It is important that you regularly rinse your miss in your rinse bucket (the one with no additives or shampoo). Again, ensure not to allow your wash mitt to dip down to the bottom of the bucket. Reapply the shampoo and water mixture on to your wash mitt and move on to the next panel/area and repeat this until you have applied coverage to the whole vehicle. Work one panel at a time cleaning the car in a straight back and forward motion and avoiding round and round actions.



car drying products

For this step you will need a high quality microfiber drying towel. You may also choose to use a few spritz of a quick detailer or rinse aid/drying aid to assist by adding lubrication to the surface which helps to build up the gloss and makes it easier to gently wipe dry using your microfiber towel. This step is best done panel by panel so that the quick detailer or rinse aid/drying aid does not dry before you get the chance to dry the vehicle. Repeat this process until the whole vehicle is dry. Some people even prefer to ‘dab’ dry rather than wiping the panel, but this is down to your personal preference. Repeat this process until the whole vehicle is dry. Once finished you should be left with a clean, dry vehicle with a layer of protection on the paintwork from the quick detailer used to aid drying.



finishing off a proper car wash

After the vehicle has been dried to finish off you can apply some coatings such as exterior glass products so that the glass is protected. You may also choose to apply some quick detailer or sealant if desired to add a shine and protection to your cars exterior. You can also apply an all-purpose cleaner to areas that may need more attention such as door jams and the petrol flap. Spray and simply wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.


To conclude that is your simple and easy guide to help you carry out a safe maintenance wash. You should end up with a clean and fresh looking car. Please do note that this is not a ‘detail’ by any means. This will be covered in future blogs.