What is the full process to wash my newly ceramic-coated or clear bra/paint protection film car?
Embedded seven part series we have on YouTube for caring for your ceramic coating or clear bra (text version below embedded videos):
Aftercare - Part 1 of 10 (Products Used)
Aftercare - Part 2 of 10 (Dos and Don'ts)
Aftercare - Part 3 of 10 (Waterless wash, wheels)
Aftercare - Part 4 of 10 (Waterless wash, car)
Aftercare - Part 5 of 10 (Wheels, standard wash with pressure washer/buckets)
Aftercare - Part 6 of 10 (Foam cannon wash)
Aftercare - Part 7 of 10 (Foam cannon wash with two bucket method, and two bucket method)
Aftercare - Part 8 of 10 (Interior cleaning, windshield cleaning)
Aftercare - Part 9 of 10 (Tire shine)
Aftercare - Part 10 of 10 (Vinegar or water spot remover)
There are a couple processes discussed here for washing your car, with corresponding YouTube videos that will help demonstrate. Everyone has their own way of washing their vehicle, and detailers don’t always agree on the exact steps or methods. We are simply showing you the way that we take care of our car (which is covered in clear bra/paint protection film as well as sb3 ceramic coating), and hoping that you can take our methods and adapt how you see fit. Our goal is always to keep your vehicle lasting as long as possible, without damaging the clear bra or ceramic coating, and we always err on the side of caution when recommending products or methods.
Our goal is to prevent you from having to come back to us and spend more money on a new ceramic coating, or to pay us to conduct paint enhancement/paint correction again, which will also remove the ceramic coating.
See our frequently asked question regarding what ceramic coating and clear bra safe products we use, or look for it in the description of every one of the videos on YouTube in this auto detailing series of questions.
Dos and Don'ts:
– avoid washing in the sun, and try to wash in the shade or a cool area
– don’t let hard water dry on your ceramic coating or clear bra
– if you must wash in the sun, do one panel at a time
– do not rub the paint hard when washing or drying; try to be as gentle as possible. Whether you have ceramic coating or bare paint, you can scratch it. You can be a little more aggressive with clear bra because it has self-healing technology
– don’t let bug remover, tar remover, or wheel cleaner dry in the sun
– clean your glass not facing the sun or in the heat
– take care of clear bra/PPF/paint protection film edges, both with the size or degree pressure washer tip, and getting too close to the edge and lifting the clear bra edge
– stay around 2.5 to 3 feet back with the pressure washer nozzle to be on the safe side
– if you drop the towel or mitt you are using, the item is contaminated and you need to switch it out
– have multiple options of towels in case you drop something
– separate your mitts and towels between paint and wheels, and don’t mix them (avoid even mixing them in the washer if you can)
– use 3D Towel Kleen or similar microfiber towel cleaner when you wash them
– replace your towels as they get old and scratchy
Waterless wash, wheels:
Use this method after we have ceramic coated your wheels and they are not super filthy. Remember we are using a completely different towel for wheels that we don’t mix with paint towels. You’re simply going to spray a generous amount of waterless wash on your ceramic coated wheel and wipe it off. Again, this is not a good idea when the wheels are super dirty and really if you don’t have access to water/hose. If you have the option you definitely would be better to hit these with soap and a mitt, even though they are ceramic coated. Remember that ceramic coating isn’t going to completely repel the brake dust on your wheels, it’s just going to make this part of the process easier.
Waterless wash, car:
If your car is not that dirty, for example if you keep the car clean and it doesn’t get muddy, you can use the waterless wash or rinseless wash method. The goal of rinseless wash is to lift the dirt particles off the surface so they are somewhat floating on the ceramic coating. Since the ceramic coating has filled in peaks and valleys in your paint or in your clear bra, it’s easier to remove. Liberally spray the waterless wash onto the surface in small areas, and use your plush microfiber drying towel (we use Autofiber) to sort of drag across the surface without using much pressure. With a ceramic coating, this should come off very easily. If you have a clear bra on your car, as well, it’s even easier, as you can be a little quicker with the wiping and a little more aggressive as well, since the clear bra is self-healing and it won’t scratch your paint.
Wheels, standard wash with foam cannon/hose/two buckets:
Always wash and pre-rinse your wheels in the shade if possible using a 40 degree tip and staying about 2.5-3 feet away from the surface. Work on wheels first – you’ll notice that the wheels should bead pretty well once they are ceramic coating, making your cleanup easier. We use a non-acid-based wheel cleaner from P&S using a microfiber wheel brush to agitate them. Rub the wheel cleaner on the grit guard every approximately 1/3 of the wheel and do not mix that rinse bucket with other items that will touch the paint. Re-rinse the wheel again with a pressure washer. Again, it should be easy because your wheel is now ceramic coated. Remember to keep items that come in contact with the wheel away from the paint, and separate the buckets, mitts, etc.
Because the wheel is ceramic coated, does not mean you won’t have brake dust, but it should be easier to clean off. In many cases you may not need to physically agitate the wheel because the ceramic coating makes it that much easier – if that’s the case, use the same concept with the wheels as you would the paint – the less touching the better.
Standard pressure washer/hose/foam cannon:
For waterless/rinseless wash, we only want to use that, even on a ceramic coated/clear bra vehicle if the car is not really that dirty. Once it gets past that dusty/very lightly dirty stage, you want to move to a hose/foam cannon/two bucket method to clean it, even if it is coated or has clear bra. Remember that ceramic coating does not protect against scratching of the surface when washing and drying your vehicle – only clear bra will help with that.
Always wash top to bottom on the car so the water and dirt you are rinsing off your ceramic coated car runs over uncleaned or dirty panels. You don’t want to clean a panel and then clean the panel above it, and all the dirt runs back to the panel you just cleaned.
Set up a rinse bucket with a grit guard and a nice, soft mitt (or sponge), with fresh water only in it. You’re going to use that grit guard to shake off the dirt particles from the mitt when you rinse it.
Wash/rinse the vehicle, which should be easier since it has ceramic coating, clear bra/paint protection film, or both. Sometimes, if you want to be extra careful, you can spray rinseless wash on the surface before you even rinse it off to help raise the dirt particles off the ceramic coated surface.
Switch to the foam cannon. Foam the car. From the top of the vehicle, use light pressure side to side with your mitt. As soon as you get the mitt dirty, you’re going to rub the mitt on the grit guard, dislodging the dirt to the bottom of the bucket, and wring out the mitt. Continue on. The more you rinse and wring out, and work in small sections, the less likely you are to scratch.
Switch back to the 40 degree tip and rinse top to bottom again just like you did to start. Use either a towel, lightly moving over the surface (again, easier because of the ceramic coating), changing out your towels frequently. Or you can use a leaf blower as well, just ensure the battery is charged and set on the high setting.
Use a separate towel (we use black so it’s obvious) to dry wheels so they don’t get mixed in with towels that touch the paint.
Standard pressure washer/hose/foam cannon (extra dirty with two bucket method added):
You’re going to use the same method as with the regular foam cannon method, except now you are adding a second bucket with a mitt and soap. So instead of just using the mitt with the foam cannon and rinsing, you’re going to use the bucket with the soap in it. Foam cannon, then clean mitt dipped in soapy water, then rinse as usual, then back to the soapy water, and repeat.
This is also the method you will use if you don’t have access to a hose and/or foam cannon/pressure washer, such as potentially at an apartment complex or similar. You just have to eliminate the foam cannon out of the equation.
Interior and windshield cleaning:
For cleaning windshields, using an old newspaper is a myth that doesn’t work anymore, because the dye process has changed over the years. The best method we have found to clean windshields is to spray waterless wash (which can also be diluted to be a glass cleaner), use a squeegee to clean it off. Take a perfectly clean microfiber and dry the remainder, and then take another towel and wipe it one more time. Once you use these towels, you cannot reuse them, as the dirt is what causes streaks on the interior windshield.
To clean our interior, which we have also ceramic coated (we always ceramic coat just about every surface to make cleanup easier), we use P&S express interior cleaner. It works on leather, plastic, and fabric with no issue. It’s really as easy as spraying some onto a clean rag and wiping off.
It’s important to not use a brand-new colorful towel that hasn’t been washed, or a towel that bleeds, when you are dealing with lighter colored interiors and leather, even if they are ceramic coated, because the dye from the towel can transfer to the light surface. This is particularly concerning on the Teslas with the white vegan leather interiors, which are known to even turn blue from blue jeans (and another reason we highly recommend ceramic coating them, to make that removal easier or to prevent the dye transfer entirely).
For tire shine, we typically use Americana Global Tire and Trim and a smaller Autofiber applicator, and we simply apply it on and wipe it off. This gives it a new tire look as opposed to dousing the tire in tire shine, which slings shine all over the vehicle and looks too greasy for our tastes.
Water spot removal:
The biggest culprit of water spots is either washing your vehicle with hard water, or the water from an untreated sprinkler system. The best method to remove this is to use vinegar, which you will likely have around the house. And then rinse the car off afterward. If you need to use a dedicated water spot remover, such as the Renegade product we recommended, just ensure you wear gloves and immediately rinse the surface afterward (and do not apply in direct light).