2 bucket car wash method

2 Bucket Car Wash Method is the most efficient and cost effective way of cleaning your car

Swirl-marks, spider webs and light scratches are easy to put into your car’s paint surface during the process of washing and drying your car, if incorrect techniques and products are used.


Those light marks that are easy to see in the sun, are usually caused by dirt and grit particles being rubbed against the paint surface and actually ‘scratching’ it permanently.

Washing and drying your car safely should be easy if you use quality products and good techniques. The 2 bucket method combined with a microfibre mitt and waffle weave drying towel should virtually eliminate swirls and leave your car looking great.

In addition if your car’s paint is ‘protected’ with a quality sealant or wax then these swirl-marks are harder to put in, mostly because dirt cannot stick to the car as easily and therefore more will rinse off before washing.

Tips before starting:

Always work in the shade or inside and ensure the car and paint surface is cool.

What you need:

A hose or pressure washer, a soft wash mitt – preferably microfibre or lambswool, a soft drying towel – preferably waffle weave microfibre or similar, 2 buckets, and a quality pH neutral shampoo.


Take your first bucket add one or two capfuls of pH neutral shampoo, this small amount is usually suffice for a quality one. Take the second bucket and fill with just clean fresh water to rinse your mitt.

Then thoroughly hose / rinse off your car to remove any loose dirt and dust, starting from the roof down.

Take your soft microfibre wash mitt and load it with shampoo solution from the first bucket, squeeze over the section of the car you are going to wash. Lightly wash over this section, applying no pressure to the surface – then put your mitt straight into the second bucket, this will rinse out any dirt collected from the car.

Next re-load your mitt with shampoo solution from the first bucket and wet the next area of the car. Again lightly wash over this area with the mitt, then go straight back in the second bucket to rinse.

Follow this 2-bucket method over every section of the car until complete.

Take your hose or pressure washer and rinse off the shampoo well from the roof down, good shampoos should not leave any residue behind.

For the drying stage take a microfibre waffle weave drying towel and start to dry your car section by section, preferably in a straight direction following the lines of the car. This super soft cloth will reduce the chance of marking your paintwork but will still hold lots of water. When full of water, simply wring out and then wipe over the next area.

Once you have finished the outside of the car, take a second smaller cloth that is easier to use when nearer the ground, and wipe over the door surrounds to soak up any last water. A second cloth is advisable also because in these areas you are likely to collect more dirt particles, that you do not want to put near the rest of the paint, it can easily scratch and mark.

For enthusiasts who want to add extra protection to their car, the regular wash stage is the perfect time. For a quick boost to gloss and protection something like Duragloss Aquawax can be used after rinsing and before drying. Or for an added shine and protection after drying; use a Protection Quick Detailer like Red Mist or Fast Clean & Shine.

Ongoing Tips & Troubleshooting:

Always rinse your mitt in the top-half of the second/rinse bucket, this will allow all dirt to fall out of the mitt freely and fall to the bottom, thus leaving you with a perfectly clean mitt for the entire wash. Your shampoo bucket should remain clean to the end and therefore not offer any chance of putting dirt particles back on the car as you wash.

Never rub or scrub your paint, this type of abrasive motion will scratch. For stubborn stains like bugs and bird droppings that will not simply wash off; rinse thoroughly first. Then take a soft cloth or towel, soak it in the shampoo solution and place over the bugs or droppings and leave for 5 minutes. Try to wash off again with the mitt, if the marks are still stubborn, repeat the soaking for another 5 minutes and then wash off.

If your car’s paint is ‘protected’ with a quality sealant or wax, swirl-marks are harder to put in, this is mostly because dirt cannot stick to the car as easily and therefore more will rinse off before washing.