3 Bucket Method: The Best Way For a Proper Car Wash

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You have probably heard some car detailers mentioning a 3 bucket method or even a 2 bucket method. Today, I decided to speak about 3 bucket method and why it’s the best method for a safer car wash.

3 Bucket Method is a car wash method where you use 3 different buckets, every for a different purpose. Usually, there are Wash, Rinse, and Wheels buckets that car detailers use. 

Without using a 3 bucket method when doing a car wash, there are chances that you will damage your car paint. And I bet no one would like to do that. Every car detailer (professional or just a weekend warrior) should know what’s this method all about and how to properly use it.


3 Bucket Method: Explanation

As I said earlier, there are buckets for wash, rinse and wheels. Only reading the names of buckets is enough for everyone to understand, but I’d like to go into some details.

1. Wheels Bucket

wheels bucket 3 bucket method

Wheels bucket is used for washing wheels and the area surrounding it which tends to be very dirty. 

Just put your favorite wheel cleaning solution, mix it with water, and you can start cleaning your wheels.

When cleaning the wheels, make sure to also wash your MF cloth and brushes in the rinse bucket to prevent any damage, and for a better results. 

The reason I mentioned Wheels bucket first is that you shall always wash your wheels first. It’s the dirtiest part of your car and you don’t want some of the wheel cleaning solutions ends up on your car paint.

2. Rinse Bucket

rinse bucket, 3 bucket method

When you wash one part of your car, you shall wash out all the dirt and grime from your wash mitt, other MF cloths, and brushes to prevent scratches and swirls on your car.

That’s the reason we use the rinse bucket. The rinse bucket is filled with clean water and will remove all the dirt from your wash mitt, cloths or brushes for cleaning the wheels and the car.

After washing your mitt or other MF cloth in the rinse bucket, it’s ready to soak into the wash or wheels bucket again and continue with car washing.

Remember: after washing the wheels, empty your rinse bucket and give it a quick wash with clean water to make sure all the brake dust and other dirt is out. Then you can go to the next step which is washing your car.

3. Wash Bucket

wash bucket, 3 bucket method

This bucket you shall fill with your favorite car wash soap and water. You will use this bucket to soak in your microfiber wash mitt or any other MF cloth that you use for car washing.

When your wash mitt soaks enough soap, you can start washing your car with it. When washing your car, there is plenty of dirt and grime which will stick to your wash mitt, and that’s the reason why using the rinse bucket is necessary.

RELATED: How To Wash Your Car The Right Way: COMPLETE GUIDE

Remember, never use some of your wheel cloths or brushes on your car paint. Always use a special type of cloth such as wash mitt.

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Which Buckets To Use?

I don’t want you to spend hundreds of bucks just for buying some “specialized” buckets for car washing. But you have to pay attention to when buying them.


One of the most important things to have in your buckets is the Grit Guard. Grit Guard goes to the bottom of your bucket and will prevent your wash mitt or other washing MF products from picking up the dirt and dust from the bucket.

So, you have to make sure that Grit Guard will fit your bucket. That’s the reason why I recommend buying some buckets that comes with the grit guard in the package.

The best “budget” option I found so far is Adam’s Grit Guard Detailing Wash Bucket (click to check the price on Amazon).

adam's polishes 3 bucket method
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You really don’t need too much money, if you already have the buckets, even better. Just find some cheap grit guard and you are ready to go.

Why is using 3 buckets so important?

Well, some people are still using only 1 bucket when washing their car. But I can guarantee you that they made some damages such as swirl marks or scratches on the car paint.

Also, some people are using the 2 bucket method. Honestly, that’s also a great method where you only have Wash and Rinse buckets. The con of this method is time. You will need more time to wash the car since you will have to wash both buckets after washing the wheels. 

Also, there is a big chance that some of your wheel cleaning solutions will stay inside the wash bucket, and mixing them with a wash soap isn’t a smart idea.

So, here are the main reasons why you should choose 3 bucket method:

  • You won’t scratch your car
  • You have separate buckets for different chemicals (cleaning solutions)
  • You’ll speed up the time of the car wash

There are many other reasons, but I think that I was clear enough. 

Fixing your car paint is much more expensive than the cost of 3 buckets with grit guards. So, why risk all that money?

Buy some buckets and improve your car washing.

How To Wash a Car With 3 Bucket Method

Here’s a quick video from BrowdensOwn where he explains how to wash a car with a 3 bucket method. Video is only 5 minutes long so it won’t take much of your time.


I hope that now you understand the importance of using 3 buckets when doing a car wash. This is the safest way to wash your car without making any damages. 

Let’s go and wash some cars!

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