After ordering my model S I did a bunch of research on clear coats and clear bras for the car and decided on an Opti-Coat treatment. I had the treatment done 4 days after taking delivery and i’ve been very happy with the results. If anyone is interested, Seajay’s Detailing in MA did it for me and Jason is a first class operator. Mine was his 15th Tesla.
After getting the coating done Jason gave me instructions on the best way to wash the car. I had done some research before on good car washing techniques and generally found that what i’ve been doing most of my life for my other cars was wrong. Its all about not rubbing grit around on your painted surfaces and how to minimize that. These instructions are pretty generic for washing any treated or untreated car, but for untreated cars these instructions leave off the whole waxing part since wax is no longer needed once you have a clear-coat applied. As always this is what i’m doing to wash my car and it may or may not be right for you and your car.
I found that the way i’ve been washing cars most of my life was wrong
The stuff I used before for washing my cars was not up to par for many reasons, so I ended up compiling a shopping list and ended up with all new gear to wash my car. Here’s the list:
- 2 x 5 gallon bucket (clean/new) with 12″ diameter.
- I found a local hardware store to be the best place to get these. Get them with their logo on and they’re discounted.
- 2 x GritGuard in red or black.
- 1 x Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine – 32 oz.
- 2 x Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Wash Mitts
- 1 x Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Drying Towel
- 4 x Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Window Cloths
- 2 x Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Wheel Wand
- 1 x Bottle of Windex
- 1 x AutoSpa Micro Fiber interior duster
- A hose with a gentle spray setting
- I used one of those new Pocket Hoses and a nozzle from Wal-Mart with a “shower” setting.
Note that microfiber can vary greatly in quality so just be careful on brands etc. You can definitely save money here but make sure its not penny wise pound foolish. Seajays steered me to the Giot’s Garage products.
For the interior I did some basic care. No leather treatment or other fancy stuff this time around. Long term care of the leather is something i’m not ready to tackle yet :). For all the horizontal surfaces I just used the micro fiber interior duster and banged it against my hand outside the car to clean it off in between. It collected the dash dust nicely and was simple and quick.
For the windows I put one microfiber cloth down on the dash (to stop drips), then sprayed the window with windex and then wiped it off and moved along until I had the entire window. A quality micro fiber cloth is super important if you don’t want lint all over your windshield afterwards.
Finally I used a shop vac to vacuum everywhere I could, the floors (mostly covered by all weather mats for me), the seats (crumbs from the kid, hairs from the dog), etc. I had a big shop vac and my next purchase will be a small but powerful (AC power) one with better attachments better suited for a car.
Update: I got a little ArmorAll shop vac which I love for cleaning the Model S. Has all the right attachments, its light and does a great job.
A quality micro fiber cloth is super important if you don’t want lint all over your windshield afterwards.
Set up is simple. Put the GritGuards at the bottom of each bucket. You can get away with just one in the rinse bucket, but purists like two. For an extra $8 I went with two. One bucket will be your wash bucket, and the other will be the rinse one. The wash bucket gets the soap and should remain clean while the rinse bucket will be nasty by the time you’re done.
I went with a ratio of 2 oz of Optimum No Rinse for 2 Gallons of water (eyeballed it) and loaded the wash bucket with soap and water. The rinse bucket I just loaded with clean water.
Next you have two wash mitts for a reason. The first is to wash the top half of the car where less dirt/grit is likely and where the fancier/more visible surfaces are. My mental line of half way down was just below the retractable door handles on the Model S. So pick one mitt to be your permanent top half, and one to be your permanent bottom half. With the mitts I picked they’re two different colors and I picked the lighter one for the top half. After one wash it’s going to be obvious which is which…
Make sure you’ve removed any tags from microfiber cloths/mitts. Those negate the point of microfiber (no scratches)
Now for washing you want to do this in sections. For instance the roof (but not windshield or rear window), then top half of drivers side, then windshield, etc. For each section you follow this process:
- Soak mitt in wash bucket
- Wash section with a light touch
- Drop mitt in rinse bucket
- Dry section with the drying cloth making sure you don’t touch the unwashed areas and get your drying cloth dirty
- Rub mitt on bottom of rinse bucket on GritGuard/wring out a bit (get the grit out of it)
Notice that there’s never any spraying of water in this process. Not to wet the car nor to rinse it. If the car is really bad you can try to rinse off the dirt first, but generally it’s not needed. So this procedure is good for water conservation areas. Once you’re done with the top half of the car, repeat for the bottom half of the car with the other mitt.
Notice that there’s never any spraying of water in this process.
For the tires use the microfiber tire wand. For these, once scrubbed, I did spray the tires down with the hose keeping the water away from the rest of the car.
At the end your top half mitt will be cleaner than the bottom half mitt and your wash bucket should still look clean/nice and your rinse bucket will be nasty. Take a look at the picture and guess which is which. The car didn’t look that bad when I started. Its amazing how much dirt accumulates on cars.
While the whole process above sounds involved, it went quickly and was simple. It seems like a great process for avoiding micro-scratches in the car and I liked the way each section was “done” and looked great as I was moving along.
It went quickly and was simple
This post first appeared on Teslarati.
Brian H said:
It’s amazing how many people are too spooked by the wording on tags on stuffed and cloth goods, intended for the retailer, to remove them.
They all say something like “until delivered to the ultimate consumer”. Unless they’ve got necessary instructions about care and cleaning, once they’re yours they’re disposable.
I’m heading to Billerica on Tuesday to have my car OptiCoated at SeaJay’s detailing. Jason has been fantastically patient with all my dithering and questions. He told me not to buy any products till he has a chance to educate me on how to wash the car. Actually I’ve been studying Junkman’s 2-bucket wash method, and I’ll bet that’s good enough even for Jason
Yeah I watched the junkman videos. What I wrote here is exactly what Jason said to do. Junkman does things differently with the spray foamer. Jason uses rinse less wash.
Didn’t you leave out a rinse of each section on your sequential list?
Nope, thats a no-rinse wash. You never rinse your car with running water pre-wash or during. Its odd but you get used to it. The only exception is if the car is really heavy with grit then you can run water over it first to get the worst off. But otherwise its a no-rinse wash technique. Uses less water too and has worked great for me. Not sure it would work without the opti-coat.
Can I ask a dumb question? Did you tip the detailer? I never know when/how much to tip.
You don’t have to of course but 10-15% is standard.