How To Wash Your Car Without Scratching The Paint: Top 7 Tips

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scratched car paint after washing

I already wrote one of the most detailed guides on how to wash a car, but in this post, I’ll share some actionable tips you should implement in your car washing routine to prevent scratching the paint.

By following the tips below, you’ll avoid making these common car detailing mistakes and start washing your car correctly.

Tip 1: Pre Wash a Car With a Snow Foam

applying washing foam to the car

The snow foam loosens all the dirt and grime on the car, making it easier to clean later in the process. Actually, most of it will already be removed when you rinse the car after the snow foam has had enough time to dwell.

If you don’t have a foaming gun for the pressure washing machine, I suggest you buy the Adam’s IK Pro 2 Foaming Pump Sprayer (check below). With it, you’ll be able to apply the foam to the car.

Adam's Polishes IK Pro 2 Foaming Pump Sprayer, Pressure Sprayer for Car Cleaning Kit Car Wash Car...

It will take some more time, but it’ll do the job – which is the most important thing.

Tip 2: Buy High-Quality Microfiber Towels

car wash sponge

If you’re still using a sponge to wash your car, you should know that the sponge is probably the number one reason why your car might get scratched every time you wash it.

You should buy high-quality microfiber towels for washing the car. This includes microfiber wash mitts but also microfiber cloths for drying the car.

Also, don’t skimp on microfiber cloths. Cheap ones usually leave lint and may scratch the paint because of the stiffer edges.

Tip 3: Use Two or Three Bucket Methods

You should use a two-bucket method or even a three-bucket method to wash your car. In those methods, you have a bucket for washing and for rinsing. The washing one is filled with soapy water, and the rinse bucket is filled with plain water. In the three-bucket method, there’s also a bucket dedicated to washing wheels only.

By utilizing multiple buckets, you’ll wash off any dirt or dust accumulated in the wash mitt so that you can clean every new panel with a perfectly clean wash mitt that’s only soaked in soapy water for added lubrication and cleaning properties.

Tip 4: Don’t Skimp on Car Wash Soap

car wash bucket filled with soap

Car wash soaps are probably the cheapest products out of all detailing supplies, and you shouldn’t skimp on them. Car shampoos are full of lubricants and cleaning agents so that you don’t need to scrub the paint in order to clean it from all the dirt, dust, and contaminants.

I suggest that you stay away from those $3 car wash soap from the markets and buy a high-quality, pH-neutral car wash soap from any reputable company. I prefer using Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash or Gyeon Q2M Bathe.

Tip 5: Use Straight Motions When Using Microfiber Wash Mitt

washing car with wash mitt

When washing the car with a wash mitt, you should only wipe the car in straight motions: up-down, left-right, and vice versa.

I know that using circular motions seems like a better idea to remove dirt from the car quickly, but doing circular motions will cause scratches on your car paint. I’ve tried it multiple times on spare car parts, and every time, even by using high-quality soaps and towels, circular washing scratches the paint.

Tip 6: Don’t Scrub The Paint To Remove Bugs

bugs on a car mirror

I know that bugs are pretty hard to remove if they’re sitting on the paint for a long time and the car has been neglected, but the worst thing you can do is to scrub them.

If there are stuck bugs or even tree sap on the car’s paint, you should use dedicated bug and tar removers, which are made to quickly lift up all the bugs and tar from vehicles without the need for scrubbing.

That way, you won’t scratch the paint.

Tip 7: Use a Drying Aid

drying car after washing

Drying aids are a new thing in the car detailing world. These products are used to add additional lubrication while you’re drying the car with a microfiber drying towel.

Even though drying towels are safe for the paint, it’s always better to add some extra lubrication for the whole process to go even smoother.

The best thing about drying aids is that they also prevent water spots, provide the car with additional shine, and are completely safe to use on waxed or ceramic-coated cars.

Final Thoughts

Scratching the car paint is a widespread problem, and it’s easy to make mistakes. However, by following the tips in this article, I believe that you’re going to completely avoid scratching the paint the next time you wash your car.

Even though you’re going to need some additional equipment (if you don’t have it now), trust me, it’s worth it. Your car will maintain the “new” look longer, and in the end, it will cost more once you decide to sell it.

If you don’t have time or equipment to do car washing properly without scratching the paint, I suggest you take it to a reputable car detailer in your area. They will surely take care of your car, and you’ll get a nice, clean car without scratches and swirl marks.


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