Sud’s Law: Hand-washing harms your car

Car wash
Forget the dawn chorus and the peal of church bells. Sunday morning is usually heralded by the sound of a thousand lawn mowers as the weekend gardeners go about their business. And once the lawnmowers have been packed away for the winter, the sound is replaced by that of a thousand vacuum cleaners as the weekend cars washers valet away their day of rest.

But what if, instead of keeping the car in tip top condition, all that sponging and buffing could be doing more damage to your paint work than good? A recent study from the Paint Research Association (PRA) suggests this could be the case. It found hand-washing the car recorded the highest scratch count and so was deemed to be the most harmful to paintwork.

Talking about the car wash

The study saw four identical Ford Fiestas, with similar usage and mileage, put through different washing treatments over a 15-month period. One was commercially hand-washed, another was washed with standard nylon bristles at a mechanical car wash, while a third was washed in an IMO mechanical car wash, using Mitter technology. The fourth car was not washed at all for the full 15 months. The findings concluded IMO’s Mitter technology offered the best wash as it was able to remove dirt and contaminates without any measurable abrasion to the paintwork. At the other end of the scale was traditional hand washing, which proved the most abrasive, possibly due to sponges holding on to grit and heavy-handed cleaning. So, that’s one in the eye for the hand-washing hoardes! But while it seems machine-washing is the safest, it’s not always the most cost-effective, so given you’re probably going to have to get out the sponge and bucket at some point, here are some car-cleaning top tips…

How to clean your car

  • If you’re planning on cleaning your car from top to bottom then make sure you do exactly that – start at the top and work your way down so the dirty water doesn’t drip on the areas you just cleaned.
  • If you’re using a sponge, make sure you ring it clear of all grime before dipping it back in the bucket of cleaning solution. It may be a good idea to have a separate bucket of water in which to wash the sponge as you clean the car.
  • For best results, invest in a good quality, ultra absorbent microfiber cloth that will pick up grit and grime more effectively.
  • Once your car is clean and dry, run your finger along the surface of the paintwork, if there feels as though there is still a film use a clay bar to remove it. This is what professionals use to get that showroom gleam.
  • Regularly wax your car to help maintain the condition of the paintwork. You could also add hair conditioner containing lanolin to your washing solution for an extra layer of protection.
  • Regularly clean the interior, particularly the insides of the windows as any grit or grime will be magnified by low winter sun and this can be blinding. It’s a good idea to keep baby wipes in the glove box so you can regularly clear the windscreen of grime.
Do you have any good car washing tips? Let us know in the boxes below...

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