Saturday, June 4, 2016

Full Wash - Prep for Polishing

After much procrastination, I decided to give my wife's DD a full treatment. Wash, polish, and wax. The car is not in a good condition with a lot of minor scratches and acidic bird droppings stains.

Some of the bird droppings have already etch through the clear coat. That would be beyond correction by compounding and polishing. I wonder what the birds eat in my wife's workplace parking lot.

In order to prepare the car for polishing, it needs a full wash. It is not just a simple full wash but a decontaminate wash where I used a stronger car wash shampoo to clean off all the dirt and gunk. The car surface will need to be clayed.


First up, the tools needed.

2 buckets and 2 grit guard

Grit Guard

Grit guards are placed at the bottom of the bucket. Their function is to prevent wash mitt from coming into contact with the dirt trapped at the bottom of the bucket and also act as a scrub board for the wash mitt.

These grit guards are from Meguiar's and they are not cheap. The can range from RM50-70 a piece. A cheaper alternative would be to use a plastic colander (basket). They are only a few ringgit each. Choose one that would fit inside a bucket and has as few flat faces as possible. Check out the green colander that I used before I got the Meguiar's grit guard.

Wash mitt

Either a microfiber chenille wash mitt or a plush microfiber wash mitt can do the job. Just don't use some old rags or old t-shirt. Microfiber has properties to lift up the dirt from the car surface and prevent the dirt from dragging on the surface.

Wash Mitt

Microfiber drying towels

Either a waffle type (yellow) or a plush microfiber towel will do. Waffle type microfiber towel absorbs more water so less wringing is needed.

Waffle Microfiber Towel


Since I was preparing the car for polishing, I used a stronger car shampoo. In fact any good quality car shampoo will do. Here I used Iron-X snow wash and Iron-X to clean the lower edge of the car.

Car Pro Iron X


Start washing by hosing the car down. High pressure water gun is optional if the water pressure at your place is sufficient. The idea is to blast away all loose dirt and bird droppings off the car surface.

Hose down the wheels and wheel arcs too.

As I mentioned before, I always start washing from the wheels first.

Spray the wheel and wheel arcs with wheel cleaner liberally.

Use a good wheel brush to brush the rim inside and out.

Use a bigger brush to clean the wheel arc. I got this particular brush from Daiso.

2 bucket wash method

As the name implies, we used 2 buckets. One bucket is filled with car shampoo and another with clean water. First dunk the wash mitt into the shampoo bucket. Clean the car with it. Then dunk it into the water bucket, giving it a good scrub and wring dry. Dunk it back into the shampoo bucket and repeat. It is important to wash the a car from top down, panel by panel. Keep the panel to maybe like a quarter of the roof top size. Once the wash mitt picks up a significant amount of dirt, it is important to remove the dirt to prevent the dirt from scratching the car surface.

2 bucket

After washing, hose down the car to rinse off all the shampoo.

Okay, the next step (claying) is to prepare the car for polishing. If this is just a normal weekend wash, skip claying. Dry the car with a waffle or plush microfiber towel. Grab a spray wax and quickly wax the car. Then you are done.

P/s: I will be covering more on spray wax in future posts.


Once the car is rinse, skip the drying and clay the car. Clay feels almost the same like plasticine or play-doh. However it has special properties to pick up dirt and contaminants that are still stuck on the car surface after washing. Examples are like over-sprayed paint.

After washing, if we run our hands on the car surface and it feels rough or bumpy, it shows that there are some contaminants stuck on the surface. You can use a sandwich bag as a glove to do this. The plastic will sort of amplify the bumps.

It is important to clay the car before polishing as we do not want these contaminants to be pickup by our polishing pad. Instead of correcting the car surfaces, these contaminants on the polishing pad will scratch the car!

Prior to detailing my own car I had a bad experience. That time, my car had over-spray paint. I am not sure where I got it but it was pretty bad. I sent my car to a road side car wash and the owner of the car wash assured me that he was experienced in removing over-spray and asked me to let him "settle" for me. He ended up adding billions on minor scratches on my car. I had to send my car to the professionals to remove the minor scratches. So, always clay before polish.

To start claying, get a small portion of the clay. You do not need to use the whole piece from the box. Knead the clay and flatten it.


In order to "wipe" the flatten clay on the car, some lubricant will be needed. We can either use a quick detailer, a waterless wash or a car wash in a bucket.

Here I used Optimum No Rinse Wash in a bucket.

Clay lubricant

Dunk the clay in the bucket. Scoop up some shampoo together with the clay and splash it on the car surface. "Wipe" the clay on all surface of the car. When there is contaminant on the surface, you will get a "rough" feeling when wiping. Continue wiping on the same area until it is smooth. The rough feeling is where the clay catches the contaminants and pulling them out from the surface.


This is the condition of the clay after wiping half the roof. And remember, this is after washing the car with a strong shampoo.

Dirty clay

Once all the surface has been clayed. Rinse the car again.


Well drying a car should be simple right? Just use a microfiber towel to wipe and wring.
If not done carefully, drying could introduce scratching. So, I usually use some drying assist. Optimum No Rinse Wash (ONR). ONR has properties to encapsulate dirt. It is also important to rinse the microfiber towel regularly to get rid of dirt stuck onto it while drying.

This wraps up the post. The next post will be about compounding, polishing, and waxing.


  1. Very nice blog you have... have been reading your blog quite sometimes...

    I saw you using PG clay rite?
    What is the different PG no 1, no 2 and no 3?

    1. Thank you very much for interest.
      PG clay is numbered 1, 2, 3 according to the amount of abrasive in the clay. That is why clay no.1 is stated for dark colored cars as it has the least amount of abrasive. 2 is with medium abrasive for light colored cars and 3 is the most abrasive in the range. If you're working on dark colored cars out if you're concern that the clay could leave too much micro scratches, then no.1 would be safest. Always go with the least aggressive method first. Hope this helps.