Top 10 tips to prevent swirl marks when washing your car

Note:   These tips are not listed in any particular order of importance.

The relevance of these tips are greater, the dirtier the vehicle.


1.     Rinse bucket

 At first glance, your bucket may look clean enough, however in the time that it has been sitting since the last wash, it may have accumulated dust, dirt and debris. Spend a few minutes giving it a good rinse as not doing so could result in swirl marks or scratches on the surface of your car’s paintwork.

Dirt in bucket still present from previous wash. Make sure to clean your bucket completely before starting wash 

Dirt in bucket still present from previous wash. Make sure to clean your bucket completely before starting wash 




2.     Use a grit guard

Grit guard, sits on the bottom of the bucket, keeps dirt at the bottom of the bucket to prevent scratches & swirl marks

Grit guard, sits on the bottom of the bucket, keeps dirt at the bottom of the bucket to prevent scratches & swirl marks

 A grit guard handy device, is fairly cheap and sits at the bottom of your bucket to keep dirt and debris previously removed from your car’s paintwork, by keeping it at the bottom of your bucket, preventing swirl marks and scratches.


3.     Full Pre-Clean


Prior to contact washing, spray the whole car with snow foam to soften & lift off loose dirt and contaminants. Leave to dwell for a couple of minutes. Snow foam is designed to stay on the paintwork for a couple of minutes without drying onto it. Rinse the vehicle with a jet wash or hose.

Prewash with snow foam prior to contact washing

Prewash with snow foam prior to contact washing

Pre foaming and pre rinsing prior to contact washing plays a very important role in preventing swirl marks on your car’s paintwork.


4.     Use a high quality wash mitt


Cheap sponges can easily scratch/maar your car’s paintwork. Small stones can wedge themselves in the pores of the sponge that can result in swirl marks & scratches when drawn across the surface of the paintwork. A good quality wash mitt is gentle to your car’s paintwork and safely locks the dirt particles away from the surface in its long fibers, reducing the likelihood of any damage being caused. It also provides a more thorough clean than a sponge, the fibers help to agitate the dirt in and around exterior details in a way that a sponge won’t.

Deluxe wash mitt. 

Deluxe wash mitt. 



5.     Top to bottom


When contact washing, always start from the top and work your way to the bottom. Most of the dirt sits on the bottom third of the car, therefore finish washing the top before you start cleaning the bottom.


Wash each panel methodically, as it helps keep track of which areas have been covered and prevent the same area being washed twice or more and leaving out other areas from being washed at all, which normally happens when washing in a random hap hazard manner, this can also redistribute contaminants to clean parts of the car during the drying process, as they can be picked up the the fibers of the microfiber cloth.


6.     2 bucket method


The 2 bucket method is widely used by detailing professionals and enthusiasts, and offers a safe way to wash your car. As mentioned in tip no.2 use a grit guard in both buckets. The buckets will be used for the following:


·      Bucket no.1. Filled with fresh water

·      Bucket no.2. Filled with water and the shampoo of your choice and plush wash       mitt


Wash by applying the panel by panel method, each time a panel has been washed, dip the mitt in the fresh water bucket to rinse it, rub the mitt against the grit guard at the bottom to remove any dirt picked up, then dip it back into the bucket with the shampoo and clean the next panel. Follow the same process for each panel.


Note: The two bucket method takes longer to wash, so on a warm, sunny day keep your hose or jet wash ready at hand to rinse off each panel to prevent the shampoo from drying





7.     Avoid cross contamination

 Washing your mitt after every wash is recommended and goes without saying, however as mentioned previously, the lower third of the car is always the dirtiest and will therefore accelerate the wear on your mitt by sitting in the deeper layers of the fibers, which will subsequently cause swirl marks or even scratch the paint work, so it is highly recommended to reserve a “main” mitt for the upper two thirds of the vehicle and a separate mitt for the lower third of the car.A third mitt should also be used if you choose to use a mitt to clean the wheels, tyres and arches of your car. A mitt that has been used on the wheels of a car should NEVER be used to clean the painted surface of a car, even if it has been thoroughly cleaned after use.


8.     Drying towel

Using a drying towel of good quality is just as important as using a good quality wash mitt. Do NOT use a chamois, genuine or synthetic.


·      Chamois cloths are great at absorbing absorbing water, however they trap stray particles of dirt on the surface of the paintwork, resulting in further scratches and swirl marks.

·      Chamois cloths are not soft enough for the modern vehicle finishes and can cause marring when drawn across the paintwork even if there are no dirt particles present.

·      A good quality drying towel is soft and gentle enough to be used to remove rinse water from paintwork, but more IMPORTANTLY has the capability of locking potentially dangerous dirt particles deep in its microscopic fibers, away from the surface.

·      Towels are also far more versatile than chamois leathers as they can be washed in the washing machine & are less prone to streaking and water spotting when used correctly. It is highly recommended to get a micro fiber cloth with a nice deep pile.


9.     Use a Detailing spray


Using a detailing spray to dry your car has several benefits.


·      Acts as a lubricant for the drying towel to glide over the surface with ease.

·      Encapsulates any particles, either on the surface of the paintwork, or in the fibers in the towel.

·      Helps microfiber towel absorb water more effectively & helps prevent streaking & water spotting from standing water.

·      Gives a better finish than with drying alone. Not only does it prevent swirling, but also adds a higher quality of finish


You can use the the detailing spray by spraying it liberally over the vehicle or on a section by section basis, depending on your preference or weather condition.


10.   Keep mitts & Towels off the ground


Sounds like common sense, however it is quite common to see many individuals making this simple mistake, as they have difficulty finding a suitable place to keep their equipment during washing, they end up on the ground, to later cause scratches or swirl marks. The best place to put them would be on the lip of your bucket, taking care not to immerse it in there, once finished, placing them inside the empty bucket, ready for the next wash.

An example of a Mercedes E Class washed by Regal Vehicle Services using the above top 10 tips   

An example of a Mercedes E Class washed by Regal Vehicle Services using the above top 10 tips


Get in touch with us for further tips or if you feel that the above is going to take far too long for you to do, let Regal do it for you! Get in touch NOW on 07834988737

Have fun washing your car, keep it clean, keep it Regal!