Washing your car – how to avoid scratches

Cars are meant for though use, right? Not to keep them in showrooms. Personally I agree on this to some degree. Cars are meant to be used but I like to keep investment also in good shape.

Even though my e-Boxer is not modeling in showrooms, I still like to take photographs of it. E.g. some nice material for this blog. A clean car looks nicer than a dirty one in photos.

You might also want to protect your investment, e.g. for getting better resale value or might have completely other reasons. Dirty e-Boxer is a bit like dirty underwear. No one likes dirty boxers. So let’s keep those clean!

Car washing machines

Easiest way to keep your car clean is just to go to a car wash. Car washing machine with a contact (w/ brushes) is easy to understand that there might be dirty particles from previous cars in the brushes. And rubbing those against your car’s paint surface is not the best idea, if the goal is to avoid micro scratches.

How about then contactless / brushless car wash machines? That is for sure a better option but it might leave the car bit dirty, leaving an extra thin layer of dirt to your car.

Of course there are huge differences with the car washes. Not all are equally the same in the result and how much they may damage the car’s paint job. In fact some machines are meant for different markets and if used in the wrong place, then the washing result may not be that good.

So to get your car clean but without scratches, manual hand wash is a very good option. However, if doing it wrong or with wrong equipment, it is easy to scratch the car as well. Often even more than in a car wash.

Car hand-wash

Here are the tools I recommend to have:

Foam gun

Foam is meant to be used with a pressure washer and foam gun. Personally I do not have a pressure washer, so I decided to buy a manual handheld pump. Difference is that when using a pressure washer, you get actual foam. With a manual pump you just spread liquid on the car.

I asked about this from one professional car washer person. According to him, the washing result is good with the both “styles”. Difference is that foam stays longer on the surface, as the liquid flows off quicker.


This is the most fun part of washing car. With a good foam prewash results can be really amazing! Majority of the dirt goes away in this phase. Note that if you buy prewash foam or any other chemical meant to prewash, make sure it is pH neutral. This is important specially if you have done wax treatment. So the prewash does not damage wax. Each prewash liquids has their own instructions how much to use but I tend to make 3 litres with 15% prewashing liquid. Have been working fine!

1 bucket, two buckets, three buckets

One is too few, three is overkill, so I have chosen the middle way. Idea with more buckets is that you rinse in one and shampoo is in another bucket. Hardcore washers does have third bucket for the alloy wheels. Although I don’t use a bucket for that at all. Lot of water from the hose when washing wheels.

With two bucket methods most of the dirt particles stay in the rinse bucket while keeping the shampoo bucket more cleaner.

Grit guard

These I bought recently but I have no experience yet. Idea is to keep dirt particles at the bottom of the bucket. So the sponge would be as clean as possible. I bought two of these. One for the rinse bucket and one for the shampoo bucket.


There is so many good shampoos available. Some of them may have some wax components and some may have maybe nice odour. Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus shampoo is also environmental friendly option.

Microfibre sponge

This is where you can go wrong easily. Make sure that the sponge (or washing glove) does have “long hairs”. With that way dirt particles won’t contact car’s paint that easily. If the sponge is smooth, you will end up rubbing tiny rocks against the paint and creating scratches very fast. Done that in the past. I do not recommend anyone to follow that. So I repeat, buy a quality sponge / washing glove. It’s important.

Drying towel

Last but not least.  Drying towel is needed as well and also here it is important not to rub the towel against the car. Any physical contact is subject to damage the paint.

  • Pressure towel gently against car
  • Lift towel and move it to new location
  • Repeat


Washing car may sound complicated as you would need this many items and special techniques to complete the task. I listed my recommendations above as a Amazon affiliate links. Maybe one more recommendation. If you do not have any of these tools and start to be interested to hand-wash car, here’s the complete car washer kit. Could be a good present too.

Let’s keep e-Boxer’s clean!


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