How to wash your car at home and reduce swirl marks

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Washing your car at home can become a pleasure. That is exactly how I started my journey and interests in auto detailing.

I knew from the day I got my first car that taking it to a car wash would cause damage to my clear coat.

I began washing my car on my driveway. This has developed into an obsession with keeping my car clean.

At first, I had no idea how to wash my vehicle correctly but over time I learned the right methods.

In this article, I want to share some critical approaches to hand wash your car and maintain that shiny clear coat.

Equipment you need

First of all, you must ensure that you have the right tools to get the job done. Having just a sponge and shampoo will not get the task done properly.

The safest way to wash a car is using the two-bucket method. Using two buckets with barriers to capture the dirt at the bottom of the buckets.

One bucket needs to be used for rinsing your wash mitt and the other bucket filled with  water and diluted with car shampoo.

It’s important to use a wash mitt, not a sponge. Because a sponge does not have any space for dirt to be collect and you will end up dragging fine dirt particles on the car, causing swirls in the clear coat.

The best thing to use is a Microfiber Wash Mitt.

The wheels need to be clean using a wheel brush. Never clean your car’s body with the same wash mitt or water used on the wheels.

I use a Microfiber Wheel Brush for my car wheels. Because I found that other brushes are a little too abrasive and I am cautious about fine scratches on my satin black alloys. You can also use Detailing Brushes.

Also, you need a pressure washer to make sure that there is enough pressure to remove all the dirt. A hose is also acceptable if you don’t have access to a pressure washer, but, you will need a Hose Gun.

A Snow Foam Lance is also a must for the application of foam on the vehicle. They connect to the pressure washer gun.

Lastly, a Microfiber Drying Towel is important. Do not use a leather chamois as it will cause swirls on the clear coat. The same goes for a wiper blade or a normal cloth.

Cleaning the Wheels

You should always start with cleaning the wheels first.


Because you don’t want to splash your car’s body with water or dirt from the wheels after you just washed it and dried it.

A Wheel Cleaner needs to be used to clean all the iron particles produced by the braking system.

Simply spray the alloys, wait for a minute, agitates with a detailing brush or use shampoo, with a wheel brush alongside the wheel cleaner.

Rise, and you’re done!


After your done with the wheels, simply use a pressure washer to remove all the dirt from the vehicle.

I use a Karcher K4 Pressure Washer which does the job perfectly for cleaning the car and home duties. You can use cheaper pressure washers, as long as it has decent pressure.

Use Snow Foam

Snow foam is an important part of the prewash, you need to use snow foam to help the drift lift from the car’s body.

A snow foam will help to lift and float the dirt off the paint to prevent the dirt from being rubbed against the paint when doing the contact wash.

Snow foam will encapsulate dust particles, road grime, dirt and pollen.

When it comes to snow foam, there are different brands you can use. From my experience, Bilt Hamber Snow Foam has the most cleaning power while being PH neutral.

Also, Autoglym Polar Blast is suitable if you are after a snow foam which produces a thick foam that will last longer on the vehicle.

After letting the snow foam duel on the car for a few minutes, it is time to rise all the foam off the vehicle.

Contact Wash

This is the most crucial step when washing the car to avoid any swirls.

As described in the preparation section, a two-bucket method needs to be used.

It is advised to use two microfiber wash mitts, for the top half of the vehicle and the other for the bottom part. This is because, on the lower part of the vehicle, more grime and dirt is collected, therefore, avoiding dragging dirt all over the car, will save your paint from swirls.

Also, you need a car shampoo that is safe for the paint. Using dish soap will cause serious oxidation to the clear coat.

Dish soap is abrasive and will strip any protective layer off the clear coat.

The Turtle Wax Car Shampoo is what I use. I found it to have the most solid quality for the price. Plus, it has an extra layer of protection to avoid swirls by having wax particles in the shampoo.

You should never wash in circular motions, always drag the wash mitt across the paint with gentle pressure.

Try to wash one panel at a time, then rise. Because dried shampoo will create hard spots on the car which might require using rubbing compound to remove them.

Wash then rise!


This step is very important.

Nobody wants to have water spots on their vehicle. Your car needs to be dried using a microfiber drying towel.

When drying the car, use a Detail Spray, this will provide extra lubrication avoiding swirls.

Dry each panel with little pressure. Again, avoiding circular motions.

You can easily make this routine fun and enjoyable.

Just to mention, never wash and dry a car in the sun. The chlorine from the water will get into the clear coat if left in the sun. Trust me, it’s a big pain to remove them.

Cars are the ultimate symbol of freedom, independence and individualism. They offer the freedom to “go anywhere,” whenever it suits and with whom one chooses.


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