Car Washing Guide

ScratchShield | Car Washing Guide

Scratches and swirls can make a cars paint look dull and flat, it seems to show more on dark paint, black, blue, grey etc.. Especially under bright lights or when the sun is shining. Next time you are in the petrol station at night and that dark coloured car pulls in, look at its paint. Is it like looking into a mirror, deep wet look shine? Or does look a little discoloured? fine scratches, swirls almost cobweb like? 

If it’s the latter, here is the reason. Getting a good shine from your paint is all about reflection, if the surface is free from scratches the light can reflect straight off and give you a perfect shine, if there are scratches, it becomes distorted. Think about looking into a cracked mirror, you don’t get a true reflection!

There are many things that can cause scratches and swirls in your vehicles paint, from the obvious, contact against something sharp or abrasive, to bushes on country lanes, automated carwashes etc… but did you know that you can easily cause scratches and swirls in your vehicle paint when washing by hand?

In recent years the “hand car wash” has seen a boom, people initially moving away from automated carwashes with high speed brushes, to doing it themselves or using the local hand carwash, normally located in the disused petrol station or in the supermarket car park.

YOU can cause scratches and swirls when washing by hand

Here is our guide to scratch free washing:
For your best chance to achieve a scratch free car wash, ensure you follow every stage.
If you choose to use a professional to clean your car, make sure they are using these stages.



  1. Hosepipe or watering can. When using the hose, mains pressure is normally enough. DON’T waste water! Try to use an adaptor which will allow you to turn the water flow off when you are not using it.

  2. Microfibre wash mitt(s), or lambs wool mitt. Everyone one has an opinion on which is softer and more friendly to the paint. We don’t mind which one you use, both are better than a sponge. It is possible to cause scratches and swirls with a sponge. Its worth having a separate mitt for wheels and really dirty areas.

  3. PH Neutral car wash. Harsh chemicals, washing up liquid, TFR (traffic film remover) may be effective at removing dirt and grime, but they are probably the biggest cause of minor swirls and scratches in paint. It will always state on the label that it is PH Neutral, if it isn’t on the packet, its unlikely to be PH Neutral!

  4. At least two buckets with Scratch Shields™ fitted. One bucket and filter for washing, one for rinsing. You will be amazed at how much debris gathers below the shield. Without the shield you risk rubbing this back onto the paint! Some people choose to have a third bucket and filter for wheels and the dirtier parts, thus ensuring that the main wash bucket always remains as clean as possible.

  5. Microfibre drying towel. Super soft and extremely absorbent, microfibre will dry your car quicker and its so soft its unlikely to scratch. Always ensure its clean and free from dirt, grit and debris.



  1. Get set up. Ensure you have enough room to work, all your equipment is clean, free from debris, dirt, grit or contamination and set out in an easy to reach, organised way. Make sure you can identify easily your wash & rinse buckets, as “cross contamination” will undo all your hard work so far.

  2. Follow the directions for use on the PH Neutral shampoo. Normally mix this in a bucket with warm water, make sure you get lots of foam and suds.

  3. Do manageable sections at a time. Start at the top. With your hose or full watering can, pour clean water over the vehicle roof wash away any loose particles of dirt, grit and debris. Use enough water to do the job properly, but try not to waste excess water.

  4. Once the roof is soaked with clean water, take your wash mitt, “charge” it full of soapy water and foam, pass gently over the paint surface, then rinse the mitt in the rinse bucket, Rub over the Scratch Shield to remove any loose particles that might be trapped in the mitts fibres, recharge with carwash and repeat until you have completed the whole roof.

  5. Rinse and check for any missed areas. Some of the water will naturally run down the sides of the vehicle, this just helps with your next stage.

  6. Repeat stages 3- 5 working your way all around the vehicle, always ensuring the top half is completed first.

  7. Finally the wheels.

  8. Using a dedicated wash mitt, bucket and Scratch Shield™, follow the same process as for the paint.

  9. Dry off the excess water using your microfibre towel use a dedicated drying towel for the wheels

  10. Avoid washing the car in direct sunlight or in the middle of the day, water drops can act like a magnifying glass and “burn” mark the paint surface. If you have to do it in direct sunlight , wash smaller areas at a time.

  11. After washing the vehicle, clean all your equipment and store it in a place that will avoid contamination.


Dos, don’ts and things to avoid

Following the scratch free washing method should give you a scratch free carwash every time, but remember;



Do- Use a PH Neutral Carwash

Do- Use a wash and rinse bucket system (two or three buckets system)

Do- Use Scratch Shield™ bucket filters

Do- Use clean microfibre drying towels

Do- Use different mitts and towels for the wheels

Do- Make sure any valeter/detailer working on your vehicle uses these stages



Don’t- Be tempted to use cheap Carwash, harsh chemicals or alternative products such as washing up liquid

Don’t- Use a high pressure washer, this can just as easily damage the paint and can flick small stones/debris off the floor and onto the vehicle.

Don’t- Use excessively hot water, this can damage the paint

Don’t- Use the same wash mitt on the wheels and paint

Don’t- Use the same microfibre drying towel on the paint and wheels

Don’t- Use a wash mitt or towel straight after it has been on the floor (wash before use)



Avoid- Washing in direct sunlight

Avoid- “cross” contamination of buckets, wash mitts and towels

Avoid- “professionals” who don’t adopt a scratch free washing procedure

Avoid- Cloths which are not microfibre, the wrong cloth can cause scratches!

Avoid- Cheap microfibre, there is a huge choice, quality microfibre isn’t expensive. (make sure the edges are as soft as the towel)


Glossary of terms

Wash Mitt- A device intended for an individual to place their hand inside and use when washing the vehicle.

PH Neutral- Chemical status, which is neither Acid or Alkaline

Scratch Shield™- A device to be placed in the bottom of a bucket, which creates a protective barrier against the dirt and grit that settles on the bottom of the bucket

Two bucket system- A method for washing a vehicle which uses two buckets, one contains carwash (wash) and the other plain water(rinse).

Microfibre- A soft synthetic material made by a number of fibres which have been split. Each fibre is thinner than a human hair before it is split, these are then woven together.



The contents of this guide are the opinions of the Directors, employees and associates of  Wizzard Products Ltd, who have combined experience of in excess of 50 years within the Automotive and “Car wash” industry. They have made every effort to ensure that the content is accurate at the time of publishing.



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