Wand Wash Wizardry
If you haven’t got the tools or facilities to hand wash your car at home, you’ll probably be inclined to driving to a self service car wash. Used correctly, you can get a professional quality wash for less money than going to an automatic or full service car wash.
Though they may not seem particularly inviting–dripping walls of an empty garage, faded instructions on an intimidating high-pressure water sprayer– once you know how to use one, you’ll start looking forward to carwash day.
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First off there are some things you are going to need before we get started. Make sure to have these tools ready to go before heading to your bay:
- A wash mitt or a car sponge (great for sticky bug remains that a lot of pressure sprayers just can’t handle)
- A rough and bristly brush for scrubbing tires
- A chamois for drying parts of your car after a rinse
- A terry cloth for drying yourself from splashback
If you don’t have any of these tools at home, you can pick them up at most car washes for a fairly reasonable price. You would also be wise to bring a credit card, some change, if needed, or cash to buy tokens (some car wash services require “no cash value” coin purchase.)
Pull up in through the bay doors and park in the middle of the garage. Sometimes it’s marked letting you park with enough room to walk around your vehicle, also, make sure you’ve pulled up far enough for the hose to reach the perimeter of the vehicle.
So you don’t have to get in and out of your car throughout the wash, pull out all your tools and any interior components you would like to wash–mats and console inserts, and set them aside.
Familiarise yourself with the sprayer settings. There are usually a standard settings selection, but some devices come with a more deluxe feel like extra power settings, a pre-wash soak and a wax feature. The basic setting are:
- Wash: which is just water, much like rinse but before the soap
- Soap: helps to breakdown any tougher debris, salt residue and grease
- Rinse: which is just like wash but after the soap
- If you have available pre-wash and wax options, pre-wash is pretty self explanatory and the wax comes last.
Don’t go plugging all of your cash or coins into the machine right away rather, use a few until the timer is done. Some devices still count down a timer even if the sprayer isn’t being used which is just wasting your money.
If you have the option, coat your car with the pre-wash function–top to bottom, up in the wheel wells and underside. Stand back a bit, put about a metre between yourself and your vehicle. Give it a couple of minutes to soak and really loosen up any debris. Now you can go ahead and follow up with the wash which just kind of turns into a rinse for the pre-wash at this point.
The next step
This part is a little like the “Getting Started” segment, only it’ll involve a little more hands on and a little more bubbles. You’re going to dredge the car in suds. Just coat it the whole way over on the soap setting–including the interior parts you pulled out of the car earlier. Get that brush and scrub the tires, rims, and wheel wells. It’s always great to get the grit and iron filings from brake dust off of your car first. Prevents them getting on your car later and having to wash or rinse again. Rinse your tires, and grab your sponge for a good once over on everything else. Rinse your sponge every panel to make sure that you aren’t dragging dirt traces around. They can scratch up the paint and dull out the overall shine of the vehicle’s coat.
Set the sprayer to the rinse function and let it rip. Get all that soap off of the car, from the roof right down the pavement, don’t just let gravity do it’s thing. You don’t want soap residue to hang around as it can make soap spots that will make the car look dirty after all the hard work you just put into it. Don’t forget to include those interior pieces.
There are often clips for hanging things like the floor mats on the wall of your wash station. They are great for washing, rinsing and drying your interior bits.
Though waxing is optional, it does come highly recommended. It’s great for protecting your paint from the elements and gives it an extra shine after washing the harsh winter road residue. It’s worth the extra coins you have to plug into the machine.
Don’t forget to wipe down and dry off any nooks and crannies like the door jams and gas cap. Leftover water can drip and leave streaks when you go to drive away, again, wasting all that hard work you had just committed to.
These quick easy steps should have you in and out of the bay doors in roughly 20 minutes. Most machines operate in the same manner, so working with one is almost like working with another. A crucial tip is to just make sure you know what option you have your wand set to so you don’t waste time.
Just a couple of tips would be:
Don’t wear any jewelry–scratches.
Don’t wear nice clothes– there is a lot of splash back.
Don’t wax the interior pieces.