Exterior Detailing – Washing Yor Car and the DIY Car Wash

Classic car. New Truck. Convertible. Even the family vehicle that got passed from Father to Daughter, detailing your car starts with the perfect DIY car wash. Keeping your vehicle clean is about keeping your vehicle looking sharp but it is also proven to protect your finish, reduce corrosion and greatly reduce the swirl marks and scratches you are all but guaranteed to get at the commercial car wash. This page covers the ‘car wash’ portion of detailing your vehicle. Sealers, Waxes, Coatings, detailing sprays are all part of a separate conversation and are not covered here.

Pricing & Options

 

SONAX Bucket with Grit Guard Insert


SKU: SGGB05R
 

Price Each:

$ 33.99

Price Multiple:

$ 24.99

2 or more for quantity discount
SONAX Bucket with Grit Guard Insert
 

The bucket is the foundation of the two bucket wash system. This item includes one bucket and one grit guard. It does not include the microfiber sponge. We suggest ordering two. One is used with your soap. The second is used with plain water to rinse off your wash sponge. We label ours and always use the same bucket for the same purpose.

PIN-75Q Pinnacle Quart Foamaster Foam Gun (FG01) SONAX Garden Hose Version


SKU: FG01
 

Price Each:

$ 99.99

On Sale!:

$ 67.99

no coupons or discounts apply
PIN-75Q Pinnacle Quart Foamaster Foam Gun (FG01) SONAX Garden Hose Version
 

This garden hose version of the foam cannon is awesome for those who do not have a pressure washer. Used here with Actifoam Energy foaming car shampoo.

FC01 SONAX Foam Canon (Pressure Washer Version) No Coupons.


SKU: FC01
 

Price Each:

$ 109.99

On Sale!:

$ 99.99

no coupons or discounts apply
FC01 SONAX Foam Canon (Pressure Washer Version) No Coupons.
 

We LOVE foam guns. This high-capacity 1 Liter foam gun creates an awesome foam layer on your vehicle. This version MUST be used with a pressure washer not a garden hose.

SONAX Car Wash Shampoo Concentrate 314300


SKU: 314300
 

Price Each:

$ 15.99
SONAX Car Wash Shampoo Concentrate 314300
 

SONAX Car Wash Shampoo Concentrate 314300

If you are looking for a pretty bottle containing various fruity smells, this is not your product. This automotive detailing shampoo is all work and no play. Obviously it has a pleasant odor, but it′s designed to remove dirt. Pure and simple. Phosphate-free, PH Neutral concentrated shampoo for your car or truck. Safe for all finishes. Environmentally friendly. Can be used undiluted for tree sap and bug remains.

 

SONAX PROFILINE ActiFoam Energy Foaming Car Wash Shampoo 1L 618300


SKU: 618300
 

Price Each:

$ 23.99
SONAX PROFILINE ActiFoam Energy Foaming Car Wash  Shampoo 1L 618300
 

SONAX PROFILINE ActiFoam Energy Foaming Car Wash Shampoo 1L (618300) is ideally suited for washing your car when using a foam cannon or foam gun. We always suggest both foaming and using a two bucket method of washing the vehicle. Dilution ratio 1:30

Can be used as an insect remover and rim cleaner but we typically suggest products specifically formulated for those tasks.

 

For best results when washing a vehicle so our article on how to wash a car. Use wheel cleaner or wheel cleaner Plus on wheels. Rinse the vehicle thoroughly. Use insect remover and insect removing sponge to remove tough, dried-on bugs. Foam the entire vehicle.  

Fill two buckets, with a grit guard or equivalent on the bottom.  Add shampoo to one. Dip wash mitt into the bucket with soap and gently glide in straight lines across a small portion of the vehicle. Rine in the clear water bucket and wring out onto the ground. Repeat until the entire vehicle is washed. rinse and dry. We suggest a drying agent and a microfiber drying towel. This is not a complete set of instructions. See article for details

 

 

 

 

  

SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect 230200


SKU: 230200
 

Price Each:

$ 15.99
SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect 230200
 

New truck or car, and especially an old one, detailing your vehicle means keeping your wheels wheelie wheelie clean. SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect 230200 is the ideal cleaner for the toughest road grime. The color-changing formula turns from green to pink as it attaches itself to built-up brake dust. When used regularly and in conjunction with a strong water hose or power washer it can often be a scrub-free solution to cleaning your wheels.

SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS 750ml 230400


SKU: 230400
 

Price Each:

$ 23.99
SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS 750ml 230400
 

20-30% stronger wheel cleaner. SONAX Wheel cleaner PLUS 750ml 230400 is safe for any wheel we have come across. Goes on clear and changes color as it removes the brake dust. Let it dwell. Agitate with the Sonax wheel brush. Rinse it off.

One huge advantage of this acid-free wheel cleaner is you don′t need to scrub your wheel which can scratch them. Just agitate the cleaner using the brush.

SONAX Clear Glass Glass Cleaner and Clay Disc Lube 750ml 338400


SKU: 338400
 

Price Each:

$ 12.99
SONAX Clear Glass Glass Cleaner and Clay Disc Lube 750ml 338400
 

Slow drying, no alcohol glass cleaner. Keep your glass clean with Sonax glass cleaner! Easily remove insects, dirt, grime, exhaust film, and even nicotine. This is also lube for SONAX clay disc. 

 

Product Size:
750ml (25.36 FL OZ)

SONAX Fallout Cleaner 513200 | Rust Remover | Brake Dust Remover


SKU: 513200
 

Price Each:

$ 19.99
SONAX Fallout Cleaner 513200 | Rust Remover | Brake Dust Remover
 

Sonax fallout cleaner is more than just a rust remover and brake dust remover. It removes metallic-based contaminants that are often unseen to be removed by mechanical means. The best approach is to use this as a pre-wash as discussed in the video.

Prewash in small sections, allow to dwell, and rinse. Then do a complete wash.

SONAX Insect Bug Remover 533200


SKU: 533200
 

Price Each:

$ 12.99
SONAX Insect  Bug  Remover 533200
 

Removing insects has never been easier with SONAX Insect Bug Remover 533200. Being based in Colorado, we know better than anyone that 20 minutes on the highway, your hood, the backside of the mirrors, and grille is covered with insects and it probably bugs the heck out of you. Sonax insect remover is safe to use on glass, chrome, paint, and plastic.

SONAX Microfiber Car Wash Sponge (red) 428100


SKU: 428100
 

Price Each:

$ 11.99
 SONAX Microfiber Car Wash Sponge (red) 428100
 

SONAX Microfiber Car Wash Sponge is perfect for use with SONAX shampoos. It is an extra-large sponge with a wash side and a side for removing tough dirt, bugs, and other dried-on gunk. Wen used in conjunction with a foaming shampoo and or the two bucket method, this sponge helps to prevent scratching.

Remember to go straight not in a circular motion and to frequently rinse the sponge in a second bucked and wring it out onto the ground -- never back into the bucket. For complete details see our how to wash a car post.

SONAX Insect Sponge 427141


SKU: 427141
 

Price Each:

$ 6.99
SONAX Insect Sponge 427141
 

The SONAX insect sponge is one of Justin′s must-haves. Use it in conjunction with SONAX shampoo or bug and insect remover for getting rid of bugs that can permanently damage your car′s finish.  While it can be used in conjunction with any good car shampoo, never use the product on a dry surface.

 

 

SONAX Microfiber Cloths Ultrafine (3 Pack) 450700


SKU: 450700
 

Price Each:

$ 19.99
SONAX Microfiber Cloths Ultrafine (3 Pack) 450700
 

3 Pack professional-grade tagless microfiber cloths.

These are our most popular Sonax Microfiber towels. Each towel in the pack has a unique colored seam so you can use a different towel for different portions of your vehicle and eliminate contamination. Designed to leave a streak-free, scratch-free finish . Highly absorbent and insanely soft.

Interior Use

Exterior Use

 

SONAX Microfiber Interior and Glass Cloth Plus (2 Pack) 416541


SKU: 416541
 

Price Each:

$ 10.99
SONAX Microfiber Interior and Glass Cloth Plus (2 Pack) 416541
 

Our go-to Sonax cloth for glass and mirrors. Works well on interior plastics, upholstery, and carpets. Streak-resistant, ultra-fine.  Often used wet for cleaning. Used dry for simple wiping or polishing.  Great for products like SOnax interior and multi-purpose cleaners.

SONAX Intensive Cleaning Brush 491700


SKU: 491700
 

Price Each:

$ 14.99
SONAX Intensive Cleaning Brush 491700
 

So it′s been a little longer than you would like to admit since you cleaned those rubber mats or gross carpets. Now you want to clean them and clean them right.  SONAX Intensive Cleaning Brush 491700 is perfect for cleaning interior textiles. Always spot-check before use and use with the appropriate SONAX brand cleaner.

SONAX Instant Shine Spray & Seal Instant Shine Coating 243400


SKU: 243400
 

Price Each:

$ 19.99
SONAX  Instant Shine Spray & Seal Instant Shine Coating 243400
 

If you are a beginner at detailing your vehicles or if you are just looking for a fast and easy shine it does not get much easier than SONAX Spray & Seal Instant Shine Coating. Simply wash your vehicle and leave it wet. We suggest a foaming car wash followed by the two bucket method. Then spray SONAX Spray & Seal Instant Shine Coating on evenly and dry.

 

SONAX Application Sponge (Yellow/White) 417300


SKU: 417300
 

Price Each:

$ 6.99
SONAX Application Sponge (Yellow/White) 417300
 

Specialty applicator for waxes and polises as well as exterior plastic products.

SONAX MultiStar APC Multi Purpose Light Degreaser & All Purpose Cleaner


SKU: 627400
 

Price Each:

$ 14.99
SONAX MultiStar APC  Multi Purpose Light Degreaser & All Purpose  Cleaner
 

Be Cautious! Multi Star is a nice ′little bit of everything approach to light degreasing and cleaning, especially on the exterior. For interior applications, it is stronger than the Sonax multi-purpose cleaner but it is not for use on leather, clear plastics, leavers, radio, or sat-nav devices. Long story short this is a light cleaner for the exterior and a relatively strong cleaner for the exterior so use it with caution. Applied to the wrong surfaces can cause damage or staining.

We use this product on wheel wells and highly soiled carpets but we use 321200 for most multi-purpose interior applications. It does work very well on heavily soiled carpets and some floor plastic or rubber floor mats. We start with 321200  and use this if the stain can′t be removed. But test it first -- such as on the underside of a rubber mat.  When cleaning rubber mats we suggest hosing them off or use a pressure washer. Don′t allow it to dry on the surface.

Always test first and always remove.

SONAX Flexi Blade (FLexiBlade) 417400


SKU: 417400
 

Price Each:

$ 19.99
SONAX Flexi Blade (FLexiBlade) 417400
 

Love at first wipe. That is our take on the SONAX Flexi Blade 417400. For larger vehicles, it used to take multiple drying towels to get the car dry and avoid water spots. This specially designed squeegee avoids scratching your paint while making it much easier to get it dry. Works well on glass too.

SONAX Microfiber Drying Cloth Towel (Blue) 450800


SKU: 450800
 

Price Each:

$ 19.99
SONAX Microfiber Drying Cloth Towel (Blue) 450800
 

The not so little towel that could. Our blue drying towel from Sonax absorbs 10x its weight in water. Dries your vehicle while being gentle on the paint. Just use one side to absorb the water and wipe again with the other side.

SONAX Grit Guard Kit


SKU: GG-SON01
 

Price Each:

$ 89.99
SONAX Grit Guard Kit
 

This detailing kit is a great starter kit, especially when paired with the interior kit. The kit contains:

 

Wheel Cleaner full effect (1), Car Wash Shampoo (1), Spray+Seal (1), Microfiber Sponge Red (1), Microfiber Drying Cloth (1), Bucket (1), Grit Guard Insert (1)

 

Things you might consider adding for exterior detailing: Microfiber cloths, engine cleaner. Spray on ceramic and quick detailer.

AD360 Sonax Ultimate Interior/Exterior & Ceramic With Foam Gun


SKU: AD360FG
 

Price Each:

$ 567.68

On Sale!:

$ 449.99

no coupons or discounts apply
AD360 Sonax Ultimate Interior/Exterior & Ceramic With Foam Gun
 

Auto Detail 360 and Garage Flooring LLC of Colorado have teamed up to get you the Ultimate Sonax kit. This kit contains all the SONAX products the average person needs to completely detail their Vehicle. It even includes the ceramic spray coating and the ceramic quick detailer. This version also includes the foam gun and soap. Coupon codes do not apply.

 

All items include one package unless otherwise noted. When two are included it is two packages. For example, the ultra-fine microfiber is 2-3 packs.

SONAX Dashboard Cleaner  
SONAX Leather Foam  
SONAX Multi-Purpose Auto Interior Cleaner
SONAX Glass Cleaner  
SONAX Plastic Detailer
SONAX Ceramic Spray Coating **NEW**
SONAX Ceramic Ultra Slick Detailer **NEW**
SONAX Car Wash Shampoo Concentrate  
SONAX Rubber Protectant (GummiPfleger)
SONAX Insect Remover
SONAX Engine Cleaner
SONAX MultiStar All-Purpose Cleaner
SONAX Wheel Cleaner full effect
SONAX Tire Gloss Gel  
SONAX Profiline ActiFoam
SONAX Dirt Eraser
SONAX Premium Leather Chamois
SONAX Microfiber Cloth Plus
SONAX Care Pad for Plastics
SONAX Application Sponge
Tire Gloss Gel Applicator
SONAX Insect Sponge
SONAX Microfiber Car Wash Sponge Red
SONAX Clay Disc
SONAX Microfiber Towel Ultrafine (White)  (Qty 2)
SONAX Microfiber Drying Cloth (Blue)
SONAX Intensive Cleaning Brush
SONAX Bucket with Grit Guard Insert
Garden Hose Spray Foamer

 

 

 

 

AD360 Sonax Ultimate Interior/Exterior & Ceramic NO Foam Gun


SKU: AD360NOFG
 

Price Each:

$ 507.69

On Sale!:

$ 399.99

no coupons or discounts apply
AD360 Sonax Ultimate Interior/Exterior & Ceramic NO Foam Gun
 

Auto Detail 360 and Garage Flooring LLC of Colorado have teamed up to get you the Ultimate Sonax kit. This kit contains all the SONAX products the average person needs to completely detail their Vehicle. It even includes the ceramic spray coating and the ceramic quick detailer. This version also includes the foam gun and soap. Coupon codes do not apply.

 

All items include one package unless otherwise noted. When two are included it is two packages. For example, the ultra-fine microfiber is 2-3 packs.

SONAX Dashboard Cleaner  
SONAX Leather Foam  
SONAX Multi-Purpose Auto Interior Cleaner
SONAX Glass Cleaner  
SONAX Plastic Detailer
SONAX Ceramic Spray Coating **NEW**
SONAX Ceramic Ultra Slick Detailer **NEW**
SONAX Car Wash Shampoo Concentrate  
SONAX Rubber Protectant (GummiPfleger)
SONAX Insect Remover
SONAX Engine Cleaner
SONAX MultiStar All-Purpose Cleaner
SONAX Wheel Cleaner full effect
SONAX Tire Gloss Gel  
SONAX Profiline ActiFoam
SONAX Dirt Eraser
SONAX Premium Leather Chamois
SONAX Microfiber Cloth Plus
SONAX Care Pad for Plastics
SONAX Application Sponge
Tire Gloss Gel Applicator
SONAX Insect Sponge
SONAX Microfiber Car Wash Sponge Red
SONAX Clay Disc
SONAX Microfiber Towel Ultrafine (White)  (Qty 2)
SONAX Microfiber Drying Cloth (Blue)
SONAX Intensive Cleaning Brush

SONAX Bucket with Grit Guard Insert

 

 

 

 

Honeydew Snow Foam Auto Wash Cleanser (16 Fl. Oz.)


SKU: CWS_110_16
 

Price Each:

$ 9.99
Honeydew Snow Foam Auto Wash Cleanser (16 Fl. Oz.)
 

Chemical Guys ® Honeydew Snow Foam Auto Wash Cleanser (16 Fl. Oz.)

Chemical Guys Bucket Lid (Black) (Lid Only)


SKU: IAI519
 

Price Each:

$ 9.99
Chemical Guys Bucket Lid (Black) (Lid Only)
 
Chemical Guys Chemical Guys Bucket Lid (Black)

Cyclone Dirt Trap Car Wash Bucket Insert (Blue)


SKU: DIRTTRAP03
 

Price Each:

$ 9.99
Cyclone Dirt Trap Car Wash Bucket Insert (Blue)
 
Chemical Guys Cyclone Dirt Trap Car Wash Bucket Insert (Blue)

Heavy Duty Ultra Clear Detailing Bucket


SKU: ACC106
 

Price Each:

$ 8.99
Heavy Duty Ultra Clear Detailing Bucket
 
Chemical Guys Heavy Duty Ultra Clear Detailing Bucket

Product Photos Click to Enlarge

How To Wash Your Car — Which Method

How to wash your car, or more accurately which method of washing your car to use is an important consideration and should serve as your starting point to determine what products you are going to buy. There are several methods of washing cars. There is a two bucket method, a one bucket method, you can use a foaming fun or you can use a coaming gun in combination with a one or two bucket method. We find that rinsing the car, then foaming the vehicle, and following up with the two bucket wash method is the absolute best way to wash a car. When used in conjunction with a good wash mitt or sponge and straight motions as opposed to circular, you can virtually eliminate scratches. You can eliminate the foaming of the vehicle step if you wish.

Cleaning the Wheels

No matter which method of washing your car you decide to use, we highly suggest you start with the wheels. Sonax wheel cleaner, as well as the wheel cleaner plus, are both great options. Generally speaking, Make sure the wheel is cool and dry unless the instructions specifically call for a pre-rinse. spray on the wheel cleaner of choice, allow it to dwell, agitate, don’t scrub, and wash it off. Once you are experienced with this step, the dwell time is a great opportunity to work on removing bugs.

Remove Bugs With Insect Remover

Different people will place this in different portions of the vehicle wash process. Experienced users will typically remove insects while they allow the wheel cleaner to dwell. In some cases, you may even need to repeat it. By rinsing the area and starting with insect removal, you are arguably creating more work for yourself and some of the bugs may have come off during the wash process. That said by doing a quick rinse, you are knocking off the loose bugs. By continuing with the insect removal process you are making sure your buckets or wash mitt don’t get contaminated. You also stand a much better chance of rinsing off all of the insect removers. It is safe to do this after foaming the vehicle so long as that will not allow the foam to dry.

After rinsing the vehicle apply some inset remover such as Sonax insect remover. Apply the same cleaner to the pad or sponge of your choice. One example would be the Sonax Insect Sponge. Allow tp dwell per instructions. Using the sponge in straight lines (not circular motions) and rinse and wring the sponge regularly. Make sure you wring the sponge onto the ground and not into any of the buckets you will use for washing. Generally, this is necessary on the hood, grille, front bumper, and trim as well as the top of the front doors and back of the mirrors.

Do not allow insect remover to dry on the vehicle. Rinse immediately and or move to your next step. While insect removal can be done without a full wash it is imperative that all the insect remover is rinsed off. If you are not going to wash the vehicle make sure you dry with a drying towel to avoid watermarks. Pro Tip Keeping the sponge very wet with diluted insect remover reduces friction and reduces your chances of scratching the vehicle.

The Danger of Commercial Car Washes

We get it. You just got back from a camping trip and your favorite diesel truck looks like it’s been working in the oil fields. Is that gas station car was really going to hurt, just this once? We can’t say for sure, but we know every year thousands and thousands of dollars are spent removing swirl marks and other imperfections caused in part by commercial washes.

How, you ask? So the guy before you had the campsite next to you. He beat you to the car wash and the dirt and grime from his truck are now stuck in the brushes of your favorite commercial car wash. It acts as an abrasive. At best it causes microscopic imperfections. At worst it leaves visible scratches or swirl marks that you will have to correct later.

Glass

The bad news is the gas station squeegee or even the windshield wiper fluid button is not going to get your windshield clean. We offer a wide variety of glass cleaners and even ceramic finishes for your glass. Cleaning your glass inside and out is imperative not an attractive overall finish and safe driving!

Washing The Car

After cleaning the wheels and removing insects you can proceed to wash the car. We are going to go through this process using our ultimate wash method but you can absolutely eliminate steps, for example foaming. We do not suggest the one bucket method of washing a car, but we will cover some cautions to exercise if that is your only option. Using just the two bucket method is absolutely acceptable. One important note. while not covered here in detail, it is a good idea to use chemical contaminant removers such as Sonax Fall Out remover when doing a full detail. This is especially true if you live in a highly-populated or industrial area.

Rinse the vehicle if you have not already. Starting at the highest point, foam the entire vehicle. Every foam gun is slightly different, but the basic steps are the same. Fill mostly with water. Add your soap (usually a couple of ounces). Swish the foam gun container around to mix the soap and water but do not shake it. Read the instructions or watch the video on your gun and soap for specifics. Once the vehicle foamed proceed to the two bucket method.

The two bucket method is very simple. Two buckets with two dirt guards or dirt traps. We prefer different colors. Fill both buckets with water. Add a little soap to one. This will be your wash bucket. The second bucket will be your rinse bucket. Make sure you have this set up in advance so your foam is not drying on the vehicle. Work in small sections starting with the highest portion of the vehicle. Take your wash sponge or microfiber wash mitt. Soak it in the wash bucket and then carefully glide it across the section to be cleaned. Make sure to rinse it in the rinse bucket often, dragging on the dirt guard if necessary and wring it out onto the ground — where allowed. Repeat until the whole vehicle is washed.

Now rinse the vehicle and dry using a clean drying cloth (or two or three). If you are not going to be applying a quick detailer or coating we would suggest using a drying agent or Sonax spray and seal in the drying process. This will reduce friction, eliminate water spots and give your vehicle a nicer shine — but it is not a substitute for waxing, sealing, or coating the vehicle.

The Car is Clean, Now What

Once the vehicle is clean we highly suggest you finish the job by applying an appropriate coating, sealer or wax. We have a page dedicated to helping you determine the best product to seal your car. Spoiler alert, we love ceramic coatings, but we have plenty of other options!

What Tools of The Trade do I need

Everyone has their own opinions. There are some basics that most of us agree on. For starters, we firmly believe everyone who washes their own car should have a minimum of two buckets with dirt traps. You will also want a microfiber wash sponge or wash mitt. Some basic microfiber towels and a drying-specific towel is also a must. From there we would add a foaming gun for either a garden hose or pressure washer. We use the insect removal sponge regularly and the plastics detailer from time to time. A good wheel brush is also helpful as is a tire product applicator if you want to add shine to the tires

Chrome

We do not consider chrome part of cleaning your vehicle but we have great chrome cleaners and paste that is designed to bring your chrome back to that factory-new look.

Other Plastics and Rubber Parts

How you deal with plastics and rubber depends in part on what you use for a coating or detailer. Many ceramic products are great overall hard exterior surfaces. Again we highly recommend the Sonax rubber products for your door seals before winter hits.

Additional detailing products

Now that the outside of your vehicle is clean, check out our interior detailing page and our ceramic coatings, waxes, and sealers pages. We also have a page dedicated completely to Sonax Products. Also visit our Auto Detailing page.