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  • Writer's pictureDynax Detailing Co.

Trust the process: Safe Washing and Pre-cleaning

The methods to cleaning a vehicle may seem straightforward to most, though for a professional valeter or detailer, the pursuit of perfection is a more rigorous and considered process.

Most of us have that friend, neighbour or family member who, without fail, gets the bucket and sponge out every Sunday to give the car the 'once over', leaving them with a sense of satisfaction that its being well maintained. It may indeed look shiny, but when inspected more closely on a glorious sunny afternoon the damage caused can then become visible.

Under direct sunlight or intense lighting, you may well have noticed a swirling or a spider-web type affect across the body of the paint. This is why detailers take a very different approach to simply removing dirt from a vehicle.


Pre-cleaning comes in many forms, though all products and methods are designed to achieve the same result - to remove as much dirt as possible from the vehicle without physically laying a finger on it.


This impressive and elaborate method often leaves the passer by in awe of the thick white blanket which has completely covered every inch of the vehicle. It is achieved via a lance attached to the pressure washer and, once applied, is left for 5-10 minutes to dwell (weather conditions dependant).

This process isn't just for show and not to be confused with the actual washing process. As the foam lather slowly runs down over the vehicle it loosens dirt in the process. This is followed by a pressure rinse removing all the snowfoam and, in doing so, also removes the vast majority of dirt that was bonded to the vehicle. Should the exterior of the vehicle still be dirty after this step, one of the following may also be necessary before the safe wash can begin.

Citrus Cleaner

A citrus based cleaner is sprayed onto the panels where the dirt remains - typically this tends to be the lower areas of the vehicle. Once spritzed to the desired amount leave for a few minutes before pressure rinsing away just as you did for the snowfoam. A well maintained vehicle will now be ready for the safe wash process. However, should a significant dirty looking film still be visible then it may be necessary to resort to Traffic Film Remover.

(Note: If upon inspection of the vehicle you can clearly see the snowfoam may need some assistance, you can apply a citrus pre-cleaner prior to the snowfoam application for additional strength in lifting the dirt).

Traffic Film Remover (TFR)

This solution can be diluted to the required ratio depending on how heavily soiled the vehicle is. It is important to note that TFR may impact any coatings applied to the vehicle, so always check the manufacturers guidelines and recommendations of use. TFR is applied the same way as the citrus based cleaner, though as a more aggressive solution it cuts through traffic film a lot easier, lifting dirt away from the paintwork. After a pressure rinse, most vehicles will see the majority of dirt removed without even laying a glove on the paintwork.

Safe Wash

This is easily the most misunderstood part of washing the vehicle itself - a single bucket and sponge will not be suffice here, far from it.

The two bucket wash method, plus an additional bucket for the wheels is essential - all with grit guards placed in the base of the buckets.

Grit Guards – Designed to trap dirt at the bottom of the bucket once a wash mitt has been rubbed against it, helping to untangle any dirt caught in the fibres. This helps prevent the mitt transferring the dirt straight back onto the vehicle.

Bucket 1 WASH

Filled with clean water (ideally pure which is free of minerals) and the correct measure of your chosen soapy suds.

Bucket 2 RINSE

Filled with clean water (ideally pure which is free of minerals).

Bucket 3 WHEELS

Filled with clean water and soapy suds. Solely for use of wheel brushes, never used to clean the rest of the car with. More details on this topic in an upcoming blog.

Top tip for both buckets, bigger is better. The deeper the bucket the further the dirt has to travel to the surface should it escape the grit guard. 5 Litre buckets are recommended.

The process is simple yet methodical. With a plush wash mitt, either lambswool, microfibre, noodle or other (but absolutely not a sponge!) - dunk into the soapy wash bucket. Starting from the back of the vehicle, working from the top down in straight line motion and following the contours of the body panels, caressing the vehicle. Avoid the lower areas of the vehicle until all upper parts of the vehicle are complete. Should any lingering dirt still lay on the lower areas you could be in danger of transferring that to the upper parts of the vehicle, incurring scratches in the process.

Without trying to do more than one panel at a time return to the rinse bucket to rub the mitt against the grit guard. When lifting the mitt from the bucket, quickly inspect the fibres of the mitt for any visual dirt, re-dunk and rub against the girt guard if required. Now move back over to the soapy wash bucket, rub the mitt again against the grit guard and bring out another handful of soapy suds to continue the process. Repeat these steps until every panel has been completed following this method.

Upon completing a final rinse, you now have safely washed the vehicle without inflicting marring and light scratches all over the paintwork. If this process is not followed, then just like that neighbour, friend or family member, you risk rubbing dirt and grime against the clearcoat of the paint resulting in scratches and swirl marks from where the dirt has been dragged around.

So now you know there is no excuse for not carrying out a safe wash. If you wish to remove unsightly swirl marks and scratches, take a look at our Dynax Detail which offers you entry level paint correction for scenarios exactly like this.

Always trust the process.

You dont have to be a supercar owner for this level of car care. Dynax Detailing Co. carry out these processes even with our entry level of service, catering to high end premium supercars, sports cars, SUV's, and daily driven grocery getters.

For more information about our valeting and detailing services, visit

Get in touch with us to make a booking. We look forward to hearing from you.


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