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What is the one bucket method

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The one bucket method is the most used method of washing a car, but is also the least recommended way of washing the car. In this method the user only uses 1 bucket, which doesn’t allow for much rinsing of the sponge/washmitt.

Most common, most un-recommended

The one bucket method is probably the most common way of washing a car. In this case the bucket is filled with a water/soap mixture and a sponge or washmitt is used to wash the vehicle. The dirty sponge is then rinsed off in the bucket and re-used to wash the rest of the car. This means that the water will get dirty, and the sponge will get less clean as the water gets more dirty. You might start out with a clean sponge, but in the end you’ll be rubbing around a sponge with many dust, sand and other unwanted particles over your paint. It is the easiest way, and the most common way, but it’s also the least favored way by professional detailers.

Why the different methods

There can be several reasons why a certain method of washing is used. Sometimes it’s more economic, other times it’s just because of a deadline. It can also depend on the job you need to do. The one bucket method is best used when the car has already been washed, decontaminated and/or polished. This would make the washing stage nothing more then the removal of polish dust and perhaps a little bit of polish residue. The sponge/washmitt won’t need rinsing for this type of use.

It’s not all bad

The one bucket method does not always have to be a damaging method. By knowing when to use it, and how to do it, you can use the one bucket method in a safe way. The problem with the one bucket method is that it allows for very little rinsing of the washmitt/sponge, which will make the water get dirtier each time you put the sponge/washmitt back into the bucket. You could try to rinse out as much dirt as you can by hosing off the washmitt/sponge, but this doesn’t always work properly and depends largely on the amount of dirt on the vehicle. However, if the hevicle isn’t very dirty, or not dirty at all (like after polishing), you don’t have to worry about the water getting more dirty. In it is much more likely that you can wash the car with one bucket, without worrying about swirls and other marks. As with many things detailing, craftsmanship, experience and knowledge will help to determine what to use in which situation and how to use it safely.

How to use the one bucket method in the best way

If you are going to do the one bucket method, you can pick up a few tips from these lists to advice you on how to use the one bucket method in the safest way. (assuming you are washing a medium to slightly dirty vehicle).

When washing a vehicle

  • Try to rinse the washmitt/sponge as much as you can before putting it back in the bucket
  • Don’t apply to much pressure on the sponge/washmitt
  • Work in small areas
  • If at all possible, use several sponges/washmitts so you’ll never end up with a really dirty one
  • Try to rinse off as much as possible before washing, snowfoam might help

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