Safe Wash, The Why's Do's & Don'ts Part 1

These days you hear the term “safe wash” everywhere, wether its on social media at car meets at the show and shine stand or scrawled across a board in permanent marker outside your local hand car wash centre, but what does it mean and how can you achieve a “safe wash”?  The truthful answer is you can’t, well you could never achieve a 100% safe to your paintwork wash no matter how hard you try or how experienced you may be.  However with that said you can create an enviroment where you can get pretty damn close to ensuring that the work you are about to carry out poses minimal risk of damage to the paintwork on your pride and joy.  As with most things it all starts with the preparation, and before you even think of turning that outside tap on you need to make sure you are using the right tools for the job.  Now this is a topic that can divide the whole detailing community right down the middle discussed for days on end without ever coming to conclusion.  You’ll have heard people referring to 2 bucket methods, 3 bucket methods, non contact washing, waterless washing the list goes on, and can often blow you mind if you’re new to it all and learnt how to wash a car as a kid with just a bucket sponge and a chamois leather!  Once again the honest advice is if you can take any steps to improve your method you are going to limit the risk of damaging your paintwork.  Firstly lets take a look at the kind of tools we would recommend you need to carry out a reasonably “safe wash”


  • 2 Good sized wash buckets with a grit guard placed in the bottom of both.  One for your wash water and one to rinse your wash mitt of choice.(3rd bucket optional for wheels)
  • 1 or 2 good quality wash mitts, there are many types to choose from but we would recommend lambs wool, synthetic wool or a microfibre mitt.
  • 1 or 2 good quality plush drying towels.
  • Pressure washer (optional, a good old fashioned hose will suffice if you don’t wish to invest in a pressure washer).
  • Snow foam lance (for use with a pressure washer however there are versions available that will attach to a hose).
  • A good quality, preferably PH neutral car shampoo (you favourite wash and wax however is perfectly fine if you don’t have the desire to spend time hand waxing your car afterwards)
  • A good quality, preferably PH neutral snow foam (For use with the snow foam lance)
  • A selection of soft brushes for the wheels (optional)


The above list is a recommendation and can be adjusted to suit your budget and desire.  If two or three buckets is too much for you, by simply implementing 1 bucket with a grit guard fitted in exchange of your old one pound DIY store bucket and a new wash mitt instead of your sponge you can vastly improve your chances of not damaging the paintwork.  With that said, if you really want to go all out on your mission for damage free paintwork the sky is the limit.  You could have three buckets with two grit guards in each (stacked), a wash mitt for the top half of your car, one for the middle part one for the bottom and 1 for your wheels.  You can see where this is heading and this is where it can all get a bit sticky in the detailing community, there is no one hard fast rule for how to wash your car it basically all boils down to how much you want to invest, the amount of time you want to spend and the results you wish to achieve!  

Now we’ve covered that lets take a look at a fairly risk free wash method, and we’ll break it down into sections.

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