Often overlooked, washing your Porsche properly is vital in ensuring it not only looks its best, but avoids any unnecessary damage to paintwork and finish. Many Porsche owners have all the right intentions, but unwittingly cause more harm than good when washing their pride and joy.
Washing is simply the process of removing loose dirt and debris from the surfaces of your Porsche. If time permits, washing your Porsche should be done once a week preferably, or once every other week if you don't have as much free time. In the following guide, we'll tell you why a wash mitt is better than the yellow sponge. We'll also talk about the two bucket method, using microfibre wash mitts, how to wash and rinse exterior surfaces properly, how to dry surfaces safely, and the use of microfiber towels for drying your Porsche.
Washing your Porsche, is definitely not just throwing a bucket of soapy water over the car and then rinsing off. Washing your Porsche should be thought of as a process. The process is about removing loose contaminants on the surface of the car, such as dust, dirt, grit, road salt and dead insects, from the exterior surfaces of your Porsche.
This is an interesting question. Generally speaking you should wash your Porsche frequently enough to keep it looking clean. Sounds obvious. But what's not so obvious, is that over cleaning does more harm than good.
If you use your Porsche as your daily drive, then it will accumulate surface contaminants more quickly. Washing once a week in this case is probably about right.
Unfortunately, the process of washing your Porsche moves the surface contaminants around causing abrasion which results in those unsightly paint swirl marks or defects. This is inevitable. No matter what anyone else says, the process of washing will induce these swirl marks. What's important about the washing process, is to ensure you take appropriate steps during the washing process to minimise this effect. So before you wash your Porsche, stand back and make sure the cars needs washing in the first place.
Unfortunately it is a vicious circle. The less you was the car the less impact you'll have on the paint's condition. However, leave it too long and the car has acquired a significant film of dirt and grime there is now a much greater risk of inflicting sub-surface paint defects during the wash process. This is of course due to the greater number of contaminants present that may inadvertently be moved around over underlying surfaces as they are removed, and the tendency to scrub the paint more to get it clean.
At basic level the first thing you can do to minimise this risk is to rinse off as much dirt and grime as possible using a hose pipe or a pressure washer before even attempting to wash the bodywork by hand. Following the principal of removing as much dirt from your Porsche without physically touching it, as a good guide to ensuring minimal damage over time. In most cases, if your Porsche hasn't got too much dirt and grime over it, then a few minutes with a hose pipe will remove the worse of the dirt.
In cases where the hose or pressure washer just won't remove everything then the use of a pre-wash foaming solution is the next weapon in your washing arsenal. The principal behind a pre-wash foam is simple. By applying a clingy foam to the outside of the car, the washing agents have more time to get to work in dissolving all the dirt and contaminants ready to be flushed away during rinsing. This keeps us inline with our principle of avoiding physical contact with the surface of your Porsche's precious paintwork for as long as possible during the washing process.
You can use your normal car shampoo wash to create a nice thick foam, but this is going to cost you a small fortune. Rather, we recommend by a dedicated pre-wash foam. They last ages as the dilution ratio means you only have to use it sparingly to achieve the desired results. We are not going to recommend a specific product here but rather recommend you read around for what others are recommending. It is important though to ensure you get a pre-wash foam that is PH neutral so that it doesn't strip off any previously applied wax coatings.
If you want to use specialised equipment for pre-wash foaming you have the choice of a foam gun or foam lance. The foam lance seems to be better able to produce thicker more clingy foam which means it clings to the surface of your Porsches bodywork for longer. This means it has more time to work. We also recommend using warm water as it produces better foaming as well as helping remove dirt and grime without touching the car.
This is a vital decision in your quest to achieve the optimal cleaning process for your Porsche. Here's what we think of Mitts and Sponges.
The aim of washing is to lift any contaminants, dirt and grime off your Porsches paint work as you clean. Failure to lift these contaminants away will result in these abrasive materials damaging the surface of the paintwork.
If you look closely at a traditional sponge and then think about the washing process we have described, it should become apparent that they are poorly suited to the task. The sponge provides no means of lifting particles of dirt safely away from the surfaces being washed. Instead, dirt particles are trapped against the face of the sponge and moved around over underlying surfaces, creating fine scratches or swirl marks.
Wash mitts on the other hand feature a deep pile in their makeup that draws dirt and grime away the surfaces being washed. Not only that, because the pile is loose, particles of dirt can easily be rinsed out. Sponges on the other hand are reluctant to let their debris be rinsed away. These benefits can be reinforced by using the two bucket method, in which the first bucket is filled with suds and the second with rinse water. The idea behind this method is to load the mitt with suds, wash one panel of the car and then rinse the mitt thoroughly in the second bucket to release any trapped particles of dirt, before reloading the mitt with suds and moving on to the next panel. Sounds like a simple idea, but very effective. Simple is often the most effective!
Obviously there are a range of wash mitts available. Some are lambs wool while a modern alternative are microfiber. Both are excellent at their job. The lambs wool has the advantage of a deeper looser pile, while the microfiber mitt is more resilient to damage from snagging.
OK, so wat about your choice of shampoo. This is important. The shampoo needs to be tough enough to dissolve all the accumulated dirt and grime, but at the same time not it should not be so aggressive as to strip or damage existing layers of wax protection that you've spent hours applying. It is surprising how many of the shampoos available in stores are actually quite strong. These should be avoided at all costs. If you wash your car regularly and apply regular coats of wax protection you should only need a mild grade of shampoo as the dirt and grime shouldn't have built up too much or had a chance to cling to your Porsche's surfaces. A good quality shampoo might also contain natural or synthetic oils. These serve to encapsulate the particles of dirt, which will reduce risk of adding swirl marks. They also serve to help leave a slick finish that sheets water very easily and makes drying off a pleasure rather than hard work.
There are a couple of problems to think about during the process of drying your Porsche. Some paint finishes lend themselves to marring no matter how carefully they are treated. The firstly of our problems is the danger when working outside that contaminants in the atmosphere may settle on your Porsche after rinsing off. Wiping the Porsche dry with a microfibre drying towel can then result in these contaminants causing marring as they are trapped by the towel and then drawn across the surfaces. Our second problem is that as the pain is dried off, all the lubrication are effectively removed. This means that the friction between the towel and the paint increases, again a further cause or maring.
There is of course a solution to both problems. The way to reduce swirls during the washing and drying process is to reduce the contact with the car. You might consider Pat drying your Porsche using a microfibre drying towel. It only takes slightly longer than wipe dring, but it removes the circular or wiping motion that introducing swirls or maring. Another option is to ditch the dring towels altogether and use an air blower. There are dedicated specialist units available or simply use a leaf blower. Zero contact with your Porsche means no swirl marks.
So lets now talk about the actual washing process. The first thing you should do is rinse off as much loose dirt and grime as possible. This is doen with a garden hose or pressure washer. If your using the latter ensure you don't apply water at too high a pressure as you could damage your Porsche's paint work. It is also worthwhile taking the time to thoroughly rinse the wheels and the insides of the wheel arches at this stage, as it makes later work with the microfibre wash mitt easier and less mucky.
After rinsing (and foaming if desired), the next thing you should do is wash all of the exterior surfaces bar the wheels and the insides of the wheel arches using a good quality lambswool wash mitt in conjunction with a mild shampoo and the two bucket wash method. Start with the roof, and then work down, washing the windows, the bonnet, the boot, the upper halves of the sides, the lower halves of the sides and finally the front and rear bumpers and the sills. Rinse the mitt thoroughly after every panel, and don't be stingy with the suds; make up a fresh bucket if necessary. The same goes for the rinse bucket; the rinse water can get dirty very quickly, so keep an eye on it and replace it whenever necessary.
When using the wash mitt, try to follow the lines of the car and use only back and forth or side to side motions; circular motions will only make swirl marks more pronounced if you are unlucky enough to inflict any. It is better to wash your car in the shade if you can, so as to prevent the suds from drying out before rinsing off. If this is not possible, you should begin rinsing off sooner, panel by panel on really hot days. When rinsing off, we recommend using a hose with all of the end attachments removed; this encourages the rinse water to sheet off the panels and makes drying off easier.
The wheels on your Porsche live a particularly harsh life. They are closest to the ground and are bombarded with dirt and debris. The wheels are also exposed to hot and abrasive brake dust, especially on the inside of the rims. Soak the wheels with warm soapy water and agitate with a soft wheel brush or a microfiber cloth. Preferably wheels should be removed from the car so you can wash them completely. It also gives you access to the inner wheel arches.
Once the wheel is clean and dry, it's worth thinking about some protective coating options to defend against future dirt and brake dust corrosion and damage. The are plenty of products on the market to choose from, ranging from natural rim waxes as well as artificial polymer coatings. Make sure you check that the coating is compatible with your wheels. If in doubt ask. Better to avaoid damage than fix it later.
When you have finished washing your Porsche, you need to ensure you look after your washing tools and equipment. The final step of cleaning your Porsche should be storing your cleaning all tools and equipment. They should all be perfectly clean and completely contaminant free for their next use. Clean your buckets and make sure each bucket is reserved for cleaning the same parts of your Porsche the next time. So the bucket used for wheels should be used for cleaning the wheels next time. Next, wash mitts and drying towels should be cleaned in a washing machine at a low temperature using a non-biological liquid detergent before allowing them to dry out naturally. Lastly store the mitts and towels in plastic zip bags to avoid any contamination or cross contamination.
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