How To Perform The Perfect Car Wash

Let's Take A Quiz

Race card

Of these car washing steps, which do you think is incorrect?

A. Grab one bucket and some carwash soap

B. Fill the bucket with soap and water

C. Dip a wash mitt in the bucket

D. Scrub your car until it looks clean

E. Dip the wash mitt back in the same bucket and scrub some more

F. Rinse your car, repeat...

Know the answer? If not, there’s a good chance you’re doing it all wrong.

Whether or not your method is wrong really depends on how much you care about your car’s appearance, though. If you don’t care, feel free to wash it any way you like. But be warned, it probably won’t turn out the way you wanted.

“Wait, there’s actually a wrong way to wash your car? How hard can it be?"

Well, it’s not hard… you’re just skipping one very important step. Still not sure what it is?

Hint: Read choice “A” carefully

The Right Way To Wash Your Car



The answer is simple: you’re missing a second bucket.

Yep, that’s it. To wash your car the correct way you’ll need two buckets, not just one. One will have your carwash soap and water, the other will have just water.

The purpose of the second bucket is simply to rinse the dirty wash mitt after you wash a portion of your car.


Picture this: You’re working outdoors and eventually get filthy. So, you decide to take a soapy bath to clean your body up a bit. Later on, you decide to finish up some more yard work and end up covered in sweat and dirt, once again.

You decide to take another bath. You don’t want to spend time refilling the tub again, so you reuse the same water from earlier on.

Hate to break it to you, but the dirt you initially washed off didn’t go anywhere – it’s still in the tub. Basically, you’ll be bathing in dirt… to clean yourself of more dirt… and still wind up dirty in the end.

Okay, that was probably a bad analogy… but you get the point.

This is similar to what happens to the water when you only use one bucket. You dip the wash mitt in the soap, scrub your dirty car, return that dirty wash mitt back to the same bucket, and repeat.

After a few of these “double dips”, the dirt from your car will start to build up in your soap bucket more and more. At this point, you’ll be washing your car with more dirt.

You should probably avoid this (we’ll tell you why in a minute)… Just rinse the wash mitt in a separate bucket of water before re-dipping it in your soap bucket. Voila, no more dirty carwash soap!

Get it? Got it? Good. Let’s move on!


How To Correctly Wash Your Car

Now that you understand the purpose of having a second bucket, here’s a complete step-by-step on how to perfectly perform the two bucket wash:


1. Rinse your car off thoroughly with a powerful stream of water. This removes all the loose dirt and grime that has built up over time and helps cool down the paint.

rinse car


2. Fill one bucket up with the correct ratio of water and car wash soap, based on the product’s directions. We recommend using this super-concentrated shampoo 'Semper', which has high lubrication and quickly dissolves dirt to protect your car’s paint during a wash.

Bucket of Water


3. Fill a second bucket with plain water. For best results, place a grit guard at the bottom of the bucket – this helps trap dirt at the bottom after rinsing the wash mitt.

Fill second bucket


4. Grab a premium microfiber wash mitt like our Cyclone Wash Mitt and soak it with carwash soap. Starting at the roof, wipe lengthwise in straight lines (i.e., front to back) without scrubbing too hard.



5. After covering a small section, soak your wash mitt in the clean water to rinse the dirt, then dip it back in the soap bucket. Continue this until the whole roof panel is finished, then rinse it thoroughly.

Pro tip: If the air is warm, keep the car wet at all times to prevent the water from spotting.



6. Repeat this process on the hood and side panels, wiping lengthwise with moderate pressure. Remember to frequently rinse your wash mitt in the second bucket to keep the dirt off between washes



7.For the final rinse, remove the nozzle and allow the water to flow freely and “sheet” off the car. This speeds up drying and prevents water spots.



8.Dry carefully with a plush microfiber towel immediately after the final rinse.

Pro tip: Use a quality drying aid pre- or post-wash to further clean and protect your car’s natural finish.


Do I Really Need Two Buckets?



“I only wash my car with one bucket and it always looks clean... so what’s the problem?”.?

Sure, your car may LOOK clean, and it probably is. But have you taken a closer look at the paint?

Good from far, but far from good… If you’ve been washing your car the traditional way for some time, there’s a good chance your paint isn’t up to par. Under the light, you might notice very small hairline scratches covering your paint -- these are swirl marks. There are many factors that can lead to swirl marks, but using only one bucket is probably the biggest mistake. When you keep dipping your mitt back in the dirty soap, you’ll wind up transferring it straight back to your car…

But isn’t the point to keep the dirt off your car?

Yes, it is. And since dirt is abrasive, it will scratch your clear coat more and more with each pass you make. The result? Very tiny scratches, or swirl marks, that can be very difficult to remove.

If I could give you one piece of car washing advice, it would be this: keep dirt or other debris away from your paint AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE... it is your car’s worst enemy.

Remember, you can do this by frequently rinsing your wash mitt in the water bucket.

Oh, and if you don’t have a second bucket on hand, no worries! Just rinse the mitt with your hose. It removes dirt just as well but takes a little more time and effort.

Final Thoughts



Even if you’re an average DIYer with little experience, you can see just how easy it is to keep your car looking brand new. By using the right tools and following these simple steps, you can keep your car’s paint clean, protected, and scratch-free – like a pro!

Why is this so important?

Well, you want your car to last, don’t you? You spent that hard-earned money on your prized possession, so why not treat it right?

Plus, keeping up with your car’s paint will help maintain its value over time. Not only will you save on cosmetic repairs, you’ll also earn more if you trade or sell a car that’s in good cosmetic condition.

There’s no doubt that the two-bucket carwash method is one of the best ways to care for your car, but it’s not the only way. There are many other things you can do to maximize your car's appearance and longevity – we’ll go over those in another post.

For now, grab TWO buckets, and get to washing!