A pre-wash can be done to loosen up dirt and grime before you start washing the car. This means that your washmitt (or similar) will have much less dirt to remove. This results in cleaner rinse water, less often the need to rinse your mitt and less mechanical cleaning needed.
A vehicle can be covered in dirt and grime, meaning the surface needs to be cleaned. When you wash your vehicle, you move the dirt and grime from the surface of the vehicle via the washmitt. This is done via mechanical cleaning. Although you reduce the risk of surface imperfection via the correct way of washing, you are still not risk-free. Any form of mechanical cleaning will always have a small risk. If the surface is more dirty, the risk becomes bigger. Pre-washing removes much of the dirt and grime without the need for mechanical cleaning. Unfortunately, pre-washing isn’t strong enough to completely clean the surface, so some mechanical washing is still needed.
What forms of pre-washing
There are a few different ways of pre-washing a vehicle. Some might be easier or cheaper, but will clean less. Others might clean more, but can potentially strip or damage the protective layer. Only the protection-safe products are suitable for regular use. The strong cleaners are more suitable for periodic use.
Snowfoam is a very common form of pre-wash. It is reasonably simple to apply and only requires a pressure washer and a foam lance. It is applied on the vehicle, left for several minutes to soak and then rinsed off. After the snowfoam is rinsed off, you can wash the vehicle like normal with a mitt or similar.
In case the equipment is missing to apply snowfoam, or there are reasons why a pressure washer can’t be used, a hand foamer can be used. This pump has a reservoir for water and snowfoam, a pump handle and a larger spraynozzle. The reservoir is pumped full of air, when there is enough pressure, the snowfoam/water mixture can be pushed through the nozzle, making it foam. This way of foaming is generally slightly less effective but might be a good option when a pressure washer can’t be used.
Truck wash is a chemical way of cleaning a vehicle. This alkaline or acidic product contains strong chemicals that are designed to fully strip anything on the surface of the paint. This often means that sealants and wax are removed. Coating can also be damaged by this product. The advantage is that it is easy to work with, fairly cheap and economical and works on many different forms of grime and dirt.
A traffic film remover is a strong cleaner, similar to truck wash, but in smaller form. It can also be designed to work on a specific type of dirt and/or grime, meaning it can be safe for certain materials. Most ’s are quite strong and will either strip your form of protection or negatively affect it. However, it is very effective in cleaning.
Whatever form of pre-wash you are using, it will not be enough to completely remove all forms of dirt or grime on the surface. Mechanical cleaning is almost always needed to get the surface perfectly clean. You can either follow up with a normal wash, or a full detail (wash, clay, decontaminate, polish and protect). Pre-washing has made washing safer, but its not a complete process.