How to clean your car and avoid nasty swirl marks

December 18, 2014

You just went to the car wash and your car came out with all those swirly marks. What gives? Here’s how to avoid those unattractive marks.

How to clean your car and avoid nasty swirl marks

What causes swirl marks?

Swirl marks are caused by improper washing and drying techniques. The automatic car wash will clean your car, but it won’t get it nice and shiny the way you like it. Or, are you hand-washing it at home and getting swirl marks? You may be using the wrong kind of towel. To avoid swirl marks, you’re going to have to clean thoroughly from beginning to end. Here's how:

Washing tips

  • Don’t use kitchen soaps or brushes. Use soaps made for car washing and get soft towels and scrubbers.
  • Don’t touch your car with anything abrasive.
  • Wash your car once a week, whether you drive it around or leave it in the garage.
  • Pre-soak any areas that are super dirty with an all-purpose cleaner that's safe for cars.
  • Wash from the top down. You don’t want that grime to fall on the parts you’ve already spent time washing.
  • Keep a separate buckets for washing the wheels, for the body of the car, and for rinsing.
  • If your car is very dirty, do a pre-wash with the hose to rinse off big dirt and loosen up debris stuck in the tight areas.

Drying tips

  • Use a microfibre towel that is gentle and made for cleaning a car. Remember, not all microfibre towels are created equal and some will leave swirl marks in your car paint.
  • Keep washing towels and drying towels separate.
  • Dry from top to bottom, just as you washed your car.
  • Lightly drag and blot the towel to absorb the bulk of the water, then with a compressed air hose, dry off the rest.
  • Apply detailer or spray wax and buff lightly with another microfibre towel.

A final note

To make sure your car comes out as clean and pristine as possible, you need to keep your cleaning equipment in top shape. That means cleaning out your buckets and letting them dry before storing them again, as well as cleaning your sponges and towels. Don’t wait to clean everything later.

Also, the layer of grime that appears on your car when you leave it outside will appear on your car parked in the garage as well, and it will attack your paint job. The most important tip to follow in order to avoid those swirl marks when cleaning is simply to clean it regularly. The longer grime is left on your car, the harder it is to clean it off afterwards. So, go out and flaunt that shiny, almost-good-as-new car!

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