Can You Use a Brush To Wash Your Car?

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using a brush for car washing, washing a car with a brush

I know that using the brush to wash your car seems like a fantastic solution to tough car dirt, stains, bugs, and other contaminants. But should you use brushes to wash your car?

KEY TAKEAWAY: You should never use a brush to wash your car. Even the tiniest scratch marks on your vehicle will accumulate over time, which in the end will only cost you heaps of money to fix.

Wash your car incorrectly, with the wrong tools, or use the right tools in the wrong manner, and you will end up with a scratched car with marked paintwork.

With the right car equipment and correct technique, you can maintain your vehicle’s look in the short and long term. Read on to learn about the common mistakes to avoid and the best way to give your car a wash. 

How Your Car Gets Unexpected Scratches

Technically, brushes are not recommended for a car wash because even the softest brushes and their bristles can damage your car in the most unexpected manner.

When you wash your vehicle in between dealing with all the maintenance details, the best you can do is hand wash your car using a wash mitt instead of a brush.

The bristles of a brush are bound to leave tiny and almost microscopic scratches on the cars’ clear coat. This is often referred to as “marring.”

Marring tends to make your vehicle’s surface appear dull after a certain period. Thus, your car will no longer have a shiny and smooth surface when there is excessive marring. In addition to having a dull look, it takes an exceptional amount of hard work to get rid of the marring over your car.

Over time, your entire vehicle will require polishing. If you use a brush or any other cleaning tools with an abrasive touch and feel, you might even need a 2-step paint correction to beautify your car and make it look new once again. 

A few older car washes continue to use abrasive and rough brushes instead of soft cloth for cleaning purposes. Naturally, this often results in minor scratches (swirl marks) on the overall finishing of your car. When it comes to older vehicles with just a single stage paint on them (i.e., no clear coating on top of the color coat), you can usually buff out these light scratches.

However, the more modern cars incorporate a base/clear system which comprises a relatively thin and transparent layer of clear coating atop the underlying coat. This gives your vehicle an added shine. If this thin layer of clear coating gets damaged due to any reason, usually the only way to restore your car’s shine back to normal is to repaint the affected areas. 

Automated car washes can be the most convenient way of beautifying your car and making it look more presentable. Still, it is best to avoid it if you really want to take care of your car paintwork.

Even the most high-end refinishing and car wash shops will never recommend you to take your car through any car wash where brushes are being used. Hence, it is not worth taking such chances, or else you will end up scratching your car in an attempt to find out.

The fast-spinning and moving rollers tend to gather heaps of grit and dirt from the previous vehicles. Hence, these brushes are bound to cause swirl marks and fine scratches in your paintwork. These tiny scratch marks are more observable on dark-colored cars. However, they will evidently make any colored paintwork look duller with time.

Even though the scratches on light-colored cars do not show up as well as they do on the dark-colored ones, the actual physical damage is no lesser. It will be equivalent to any other color. The self-service jet washes are equally disastrous for your car.

Those brushes have been used by numerous other people before you and then left just like in the ground to collect even more dirt and dust. These brushes are definitely expected to be full of grime, dirt, and grit and will scratch off your car paint as you rub it over its entire surface and bodywork. 

The brushes themselves might not result in so many scratches as opposed to the rocks, grit, and dirt caught from the vehicles that have been washed before you. These tiny elements stuck between the brushes are more likely to scratch your car and damage the body and paintwork.

Even though these scratches might appear minimal and microscopic, they will keep accumulating over time and begin to affect the appearance of your car. 

The Right Tool – Wash Mitt

If you own a car, you would also be interested like any other to know about the best products to wash your car. I recommend using washing tools and products other than a brush to prevent your vehicle from experiencing scratches and damaged paintwork. 

The washing mitt (check the price on Amazon now) is an ideal preference for many. This washing tool plays a significant role in car washing. Basically, this wash mitt slips over your hand and works like a mitten.

The wash mitt is made of a chenille material, which is basically a French word that refers to the caterpillar’s fur because of its soft and yarn-like material. Unlike a brush’s bristles, the chenille material works the suds onto your car’s surface without causing any of those microscopic scratches.

One special tip to keep in mind is that it is best not to combine cleaning chemicals from various parts of your car. For instance, it is definitely unwise to mix the chemicals from your paint cleaning with the one you use for tire cleaning. It is best to purchase various colored mitts so that you can assign a specific color to each kind of cleaner you use.

The Best Technique

The best technique to wash your car does require some elbow greasing. So, you must equip yourself with a grit-free and clean sponge and bucket, some top-quality soap or car shampoo, and an external water source like a hosepipe or a pressure/jet washer.

Related: Best Car Detailing Kits: All In One Packages For Your Car

A touchless car wash is a safer technique you should opt for. It entails using just high-pressure washers and soap or detergents to wash your car. In this touchless car wash, you do not need to touch your car physically to clean it. By using this system, there is practically zero chance that your car will encounter any cosmetic damages.

Additionally, a few localities offer coin-operated self-service in which you can hand-wash your car. They are a great option to spray away all the heavy grime and dirt buildups. Usually, though, you must carry your own bucket, sponge or washcloth, and dry towels. 


Let’s recap everything. You should never use a brush for external car washing. That way, you’ll make many scratches on your car paint which may cost you fortune in the future.

I tried to explain some things to you, and I hope that now you understand everything, and that you’ll never use a brush to wash your car.

There’s so many new and improved products that reduce the chance of making any damage to car paint and clear coat, and you should use them as much as possible.

Another similar thing that people often use is a sponge. If you want to check more info on whether using a sponge to wash your car is a good or bad idea, make sure to check the link.

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