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How To Hand-Wash Your Car & Get Those Performance Brakes Clean

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Step-by-Step Guide to a Perfect Hand Wash

You can pay $20 for one of those “laser washes”, only to get home and find that your fenders still have brake dust and theres water stains everywhere. Plus, I don't know if you know this, but they don't even use lasers! Talk about false advertising! Here is how to get a mirror finish on your car and even how to get those colorful performance brakes looking new again.

The Before Shot: Brake Dust Everywhere I Go

How can you drive that hideous thing????

How can you drive that hideous thing????

¡Ay díos mío!

¡Ay díos mío!

Your Weapons

Sir Brush-a-lot

Sir Brush-a-lot

Foam cannon foam

Foam cannon foam

1800 psi power washer. Yes, it’s electric. Pay special attention to the psi. You should not go over 1800, or you can damage your car’s paint.

1800 psi power washer. Yes, it’s electric. Pay special attention to the psi. You should not go over 1800, or you can damage your car’s paint.

Why Bother Washing?

Washing the car is...well, it's fun. If you like cars, that is. It gets you outdoors in the nice weather. It's also a great opportunity to wash other stuff. The all-weather floor mats are an obvious choice, but you can also power-wash your siding, do your windows, and even clean off the patio furniture. You can also make sure all the plants are watered.

The reason those laser-washes can't do the job is that they are really bad at actually getting all the soap off your car, and actually drying the car all the way. Just driving around isn't enough to get all the water off the car in time to avoid having water spots.

Cars don't really *need* to be washed but only a few times a year. If you're going to bother washing it more than that, you might as well make sure it's done correctly. That $20 wash a few times a year more than pays for the materials used. The pressure washer isn't even a necessity--the reason I use that instead of a hose attachment is because I have really bad water pressure at my place.

The Steps

Wet the car down real good

Wet the car down real good

It’s foam time!

It’s foam time!

If you have all-weather mats, might as well do those too

If you have all-weather mats, might as well do those too

It’s brush time! Work quickly, you do not want all that soap to dry.

It’s brush time! Work quickly, you do not want all that soap to dry.

Rinse

Rinse

Once again, working quickly, use a couple microfibers to dry. You need to dry quickly to avoid water spots.

Once again, working quickly, use a couple microfibers to dry. You need to dry quickly to avoid water spots.

Don't Do Your Wheels First!

Everybody does their wheels first. Uh, why? If you were a tall woman with long hair taking a shower, what would you do? Start from the top, work your way down. There is no reason to do the bottom of the car first. Come on now. The last part of the car is wheels and around the wheels (like the fenders, which never seem to come quite clean).

Windows are the only exception to the top-down rule. Sometimes the foam doesn't get the windows (particularly the windshield) quiiiiite picture perfect. The good news is, the best window cleaner is cheap as all get-out. Way cheaper than Windex. Plus it foams, so you can't miss a spot, plus foam is kind of my thing I don't know if you figured that out yet.

Boom! Windows!

Can’t miss anything when using this. Use a bone-dry microfiber towel, or a few coffee filters (uh, unused, obviously) to get it off. Just like everything else, speed is key.

Can’t miss anything when using this. Use a bone-dry microfiber towel, or a few coffee filters (uh, unused, obviously) to get it off. Just like everything else, speed is key.

Wheels and Tires

Hahaha, yikes!

Hahaha, yikes!

Spray—I didn’t get a good pic of this stuff, but it’s Chemical Guys Wheel Cleaner

Spray—I didn’t get a good pic of this stuff, but it’s Chemical Guys Wheel Cleaner

Brushy-brushy. You can use a harsher brush on your wheels than on the rest of the car, but if you have after market rims check with whoever installed them about what products you can use.

Brushy-brushy. You can use a harsher brush on your wheels than on the rest of the car, but if you have after market rims check with whoever installed them about what products you can use.

Rinse aaaand....my ceramic calipers are still dirty.

Rinse aaaand....my ceramic calipers are still dirty.

Brake dust does not come off with high pressure, or chemicals. The only way to get it off is elbow grease. I used an ordinary kitchen sponge. Use only soap and water on the ceramic brakes.

Brake dust does not come off with high pressure, or chemicals. The only way to get it off is elbow grease. I used an ordinary kitchen sponge. Use only soap and water on the ceramic brakes.

You really have to get in there.

You really have to get in there.

Well now will you look at that!

Well now will you look at that!

The Sponge Worked Okay, but You Need Wheel Woolies

Do You Need To Remove Your Wheels To Get The Calipers Clean?

I mean, if you have the ability to take the wheels off easily, or if you're taking them off anyway, then yeah, why not. As you can see, I have a shitty driveway so taking the wheels off just to clean them ain't happening. You can get the wheels just as clean by using the woolies that I talked about above, and also moving your car about 6" forward to get at the parts that the wheel spokes were covering.

Get That Road Dirt Off

Solving All My Problems with Rain-x

Heeere she is, my beautiful fender with no road dirt.

Heeere she is, my beautiful fender with no road dirt.

© 2020 Jo Gavilan