A very warm welcome from all of us to John Sorrie, who recently joined the PB team in a sales and marketing role. John is currently being intensively trained in all aspects of car care and detailing, and as part of this process we thought it would be nice for him to share his thoughts and contribute some diary entries to the blog. Without further ado we’ll hand over to John…
“As the newest addition to the Polished Bliss team, it’s fair to say I’m on the bottom edge of a rather steep learning curve and one which seems to have a particularly high summit. Over the coming weeks, as I ascend this mountain, I’ll update the blog with my progress, thoughts and discoveries. I should point out at this stage that I’m not a detailer, more an ‘enthusiastic amateur’, so I’m fully aware that I have a lot to learn. The first stage of my training has focused on the wash process; pre-wash rinsing, pre-wash foaming, hand washing, post-wash rinsing, wheel cleaning and drying.
Rich and I agreed that pre-wash rinsing is often not done properly. The basic principle of the pre-wash rinse is to remove the maximum amount of dirt and grime possible before starting the wash process proper. Like all parts of detailing, the wash process should be systematic, working top-down and ‘chasing’ as much dirt, and therefore dirty water, off the car as possible – it’s not just about wetting the paint and Rich and I both felt that anything less than ten minutes of rinsing, assuming the use of a power washer, was insufficient. You only have to look at the image at the top of this post to see why thorough pre-wash rinsing is so important! Pre-wash foaming, whilst it has its critics or ‘non-believers’, is a useful process and one which can remove yet more dirt before contact is made with the paint.
Hand washing itself is a minefield. The best place to start is probably with the tools – what you use to wash a car with. If you’re reading this you’re probably already aware that using a sponge isn’t a good idea but I’ll try and briefly explore why. A sponge, due to its nature, can’t lift much, if any, dirt actually away from a painted surface so the dirt is therefore trapped between the paint and the sponge, where it causes marring and swirling. A lambswool wash mitt, with its flexible, long pile can lift dirt away and trap it within its fibres, preventing the dirt from being moved around over the paint. Imagine putting some sand on the back of your hand and rubbing it with a wet sponge – it’d be abrasive and would chafe your skin. Now imagine trying it with a wet lambswool mitt – the dirt would be lifted away from your skin and the experience would be more pleasant.
Many companies have tried to develop sponge- or foam-based items for washing but none of them have the surface texture to lift dirt away from the surface effectively. Critics of the lambswool mitt claim the dirt lifted into the pile stays there and is moved across the paint at a later point but if the mitt is rinsed carefully, the dirt is removed from the pile. Being ultra-gentle when washing is also crucial – scrubbing at the paint, regardless of the type of mitt, will cause marring. Always remember that just a very light touch should be used!
The two bucket method is well explained in the ‘seek advice’ section of the site but the one aspect I was most guilty of overlooking was changing the rinse water regularly. If this water is dirty, the dirt will be dragged onto the mitt and therefore the paint. Changing it at least once, but often up to three or four times, during the wash process is definitely worthwhile. Rich and I looked at grit guards and how they claim to work but we both believe careful rinsing in clean water is a far safer option. Grit guards are situated in the bottom of the rinse bucket, where all the dirt should be held, so forcing a mitt into the depths of the bucket will encourage grit to be dragged onto the mitt, not off of it. The guards also encourage the user to assume that grit will be removed whereas careful rinsing and visual checking of the mitt are much safer options.
During a practical training session I tried out all the shampoos in the store, cleaning each panel of my own car with a different shampoo – the differences between them were marked. Each shampoo offers distinct characteristics and a large aspect of selection comes down to personal preference or using a product which matches other products used on the car, e.g. Blackfire’s Gloss Shampoo and Conditioner is best suited to a car treated with Blackfire All Finish Paint Protection I also tested all of the wheel cleaners in the store, which fall into distinct categories depending on their intended usage. Some are clearly far stronger than others and suitable only for occasional use whilst the more mild cleaners are safe for regular usage. Some are also suitable for specific types of wheel and some for more delicate finishes. Like with the shampoos, there is no ‘best’ product, rather different products suited to different tasks.
Drying a car fills me with fear – the idea of dragging a towel across a non-lubricated surface seems to me to be the perfect way to mar the paint. Rich explained how patting a car dry minimises the risk of damage but that many people prefer to wipe the paint, and he also showed me which microfibre drying towels work best for each method. The machine I was most interested in was the Black Baron dryer and I tried this out on the grilles and shuts of my car. By using a flow of very high speed warm air, the machine forces water out and reduces the need to touch the paint. It is (a) very loud but (b) extremely impressive. I’m tempted to spend my own money on one, which is a pretty resounding statement!
My next batch of training will concentrate on decontaminating paint and then we’ll work through all the other aspects of detailing and I’ll blog on each one – I look forward to your comments!”