How To Wash and Wax A Car

There is this way. And there is my way.

Getting the car ready for the fall means a thorough wash and wax. I had today off work and what better way to spend a morning than getting the automobile all nice and clean.

I use a two bucket system to wash the car: one bucket for the soap and one bucket to rinse the wash mitt. I work with two genuine sheepskin wash mitts: one mitt for the top half of the car and one mitt for the bottom half. I use several waffle weave microfiber cloths to dry the car. And I use Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash.

The car gets washed in the shade. Both 10L buckets are filled halfway with water. To the first bucket I add the appropriate amount of car wash and then I use the hose to fill that bucket up a bit more to add some foam.

The car receives a good rinse to clear off any loose material.

I work the top half of the vehicle first washing a major panel at a time. After each panel is washed, I rinse off the soap from the car and I take the wash mitt to the second bucket and rinse it off as well.

Once the top half of the vehicle is clean, I switch to my second wash mitt. I also clean out both buckets and refill them. One with water and one with the car soap.

Again, I work a panel at a time on the bottom half of the vehicle following the same process I used for the top half.

After the car is washed and rinsed, I use the waffle weave microfiber cloths to dry the vehicle.

The car is then brought into the garage for the wax treatment. This part of the process takes a few hours as I apply the wax by hand and I buff the wax by hand.

I prefer the look of a carnauba wax and I use Meguiar’s Gold Class Carnauba Plus Premium Liquid Wax.

The wax is quite easy to apply and I tend to do the car in four stages: top and front, passenger side, rear deck and back, and finally driver side. I use wax and shine towels. There is a textured side to remove the wax haze and a plush side to buff the wax to a perfect finish. I use four towels using only one towel per stage.

Then, once the entire car is finished, I step back and admire the result.

Everything I learned about detailing a car came from Mike Phillips. You can find his e-book here.

4 replies
  1. Filipe Dokov
    Filipe Dokov says:

    RIchard, how long would the wax you are using last on your car? My guess is a couple of weeks at best. Point being is that since you are putting all that manual work and hours into it, you could probably try a better quaility wax that is proven to last several times longer, provide deeper shine and ensure way better protection. E.g. Colinite Super DoubleCoat Auto Wax #476 or Colinite Marque D’elegance #915 are truly professional and much superior waxes, probably the best on the market. I have been using the Colinite #915 for a few years now and know the huge difference it makes. This wax is a bit tough to work with, but that’s generally a good thing for a quality wax that will last long, so it will give you a good work out.
    Planning to try the Colinite #476 this fall.


    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      Most carnauba waxes last 6 – 8 weeks depending on how the car is maintained between treatments. I don’t take my car through car washes and I quick detail the vehicle between hand washes. I can generally tell when it is time to re-apply the wax and it seems to be about every 6 weeks or so.

      Collinite Marque D’elegance #915 is a carnauba wax. I prefer carnauba particularly for dark colours. And the product I use is a carnauba wax.

      I wasn’t able to find proof that Collinite is a longer lasting, deeper shining and way better protection product. If you know a source please pass it along. I did find lots of feedback that it is difficult to apply 🙂

      I might pick some Collinite #915 from Autogeek and give it a try the next time I detail the car (October/November timeframe before the big winter!!)

      I’ll post my experience when I do. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Filipe Dokov
    Filipe Dokov says:

    Well … , not all carnaube waxes are created equal and definitely what manufacturers are claiming about their own carnauba waxes is not always true either. There are many criteria that a car wax needs to satisfy as a minimum to be considered at least good, let alone excellent. There are may details on this topic and a whole science behind that too.

    Below is a link to a real life test conducted over several months, showing which waxes are the winners after a period of 6.5 months. Collinite #915 is one of them.

    Here is what Autogeek says about Collinite waxes:

    In addition, from my own exeprience I know that Collinite #915 lasts on my daily commuter for at least 7 months (from October to April) and the car is usually parked outside during the day and just rinsed from time to time with no interim detailing done whatsoever during those months.

    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      Thanks Filipe,

      The 915 looks to have fared better than many products.

      The guys who hang out on the bimmerfest detailing forums seem to really like Zaino, Optimum, ZyMol, Griot, Meguiar’s, Menzerna, Wolfgang, Black Magic amongst many others. A pass on the Internet shows a lot of folks trying to determine the “best” car wax — from Consumer Reports through to many of the major detailing forums. What I gather from reading those sources is that there are a number of good products and a few duds. Not unlike most things in life I suppose.

      Thanks for the feedback on the post. As mentioned I will give the 915 a try.

      Much appreciated 🙂


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *