Washing is the act of replacing unwanted particles/substances from a surface to a carrying medium. This act is used to clean the surface that is being washed.
Cars (like any other general surface) is in contact with several sources of dirt. Dust/sand in the wind/rain, metal particles from brakes and rubber on the roadsurface, sigarets and other garbage on the street. So a vehicle will eventually get dirty and contaminated. Washing is the process in which an attempt is made to remove (most of) this dirt. It is part of proper maintenance.
There are several recommended techniques when washing a car. A few of these are:
- 2 bucket method
- 3 bucket method
The general attempt of every technique is to clean the surface in the most safe way.
Improper washing technique can cause swirls, scratches, rust, oxidation etc.
Many people wash a car with shampoo or cleaning liquid that is not designed for a car, combined with an old sponge and a dusty old bucket. The shampoo or cleaning liquid used can cause surface damage to the paintwork. The dirty old sponge will not lift the dirt up, but will stay at the surface of the sponge, dragging the dirt over the paintwork (similar the mild sandpaper). The water in the single bucket will become dirty, meaning you rinse off your dirty sponge in dirty water. And you re-apply that dirty water via the old sponge on your paintwork in an attempt to clean it.
A proper washing technique minimizes the risk of surface damage, protects the glossy look and can actually help your wax (or similar product) to perform better.
Washing in normal terms
When a surface is dirty, it needs to be cleaned. A cleaning liquid is used to increase the absorbency of water, and add fat-solving agents with a much lower surface tension. When you apply this water-shampoo combination to the dirty surface, the cleaning solution will loosen up the dirt, weaken the bonds of grease, fat and/or grime, and let the dirt become mixed with the cleaning solution. When this ‘dirty’ mixture is then moved via a washmitt (or similar) the dirt is taken away and moved to the washmitt. When you rinse the washmitt in the bucket with ‘rinse’-water, the dirt is released from the washmitt and released into the water.
In a way you could conclude that washing is the act of transporting the dirt in a safe way to the water, where its much easier to get rid of it.
Ways of washing
Washing can be done via a chemical way and via a mechanic way.
Chemical way, means that the cleaning solution is applied to the surface, and that it does its job without the need to agitate it. After letting it soak you just rinse it off and you’re done. Snowfoam is a good example of chemical cleaning.
Mechanic cleaning, means that the cleaning solution is applied via a physical interaction with the surface. Washing a car with a washmitt is a good example of mechanic cleaning. There is physical contact with the paint which actually removes the dirt.