How to wash a vehicle that has received a Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film (PPF)
Your vehicle needs very specific levels of appearance maintenance and professional aftercare if you want it to provide you with many years of flawless beauty. The aftercare process is one of the most important things you can do for the exterior of your vehicle. Improper care and techniques can destroy everything you've worked so hard to make look beautiful. The wash process is the same as laid out in our previous blog post titled, How To Wash. Here are a few valuable tips and things to keep in mind while maintaining your vehicle that has a Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film.
Knowing how to wash your vehicle after a Ceramic Coating is applied is the most important part of keeping your vehicle protected for as long as possible. Ceramic Coatings aren’t a one-and-done thing—you need to actively maintain them. Here’s what you need to know about washing a ceramic coated vehicle:
1. Wash Regularly-Just because you have a coating doesn’t mean you can slack on washing. You’ll want to wash at least twice a month to prevent contaminant build-up. Having a coating will make cleaning easier, so you won’t have to work as hard to get the tough stuff off.
2. Use the Two-Bucket Method while washing-This is a basic car wash technique that will keep you from accidentally inflicting scratches. Use one bucket for your wash soap, and another lined with a Grit Guard and filled with water for rinsing grime off your wash mitt. The Grit Guard at the bottom traps contaminants coming off your wash mitt so they won’t be re-introduced when cleaning. Otherwise you’ll find yourself dragging some type of contaminant across your coating and causing a scratch or micro-marring..
3. Use a soap made for ceramic coatings-If you have a low sliding angle coating like Nano-Resin, your coating is already doing a lot to self-clean; water beads slide off easily and pick up gunk with them. In detailing, it’s often said you should always use the least aggressive solution possible to preserve your vehicle’s health. If your coating is already doing some of the cleaning for you, you don’t need a heavy duty soap, use a gentle wash soap made for ceramic coatings.
4. NEVER use an automatic wash-If you have a coating, you’re probably concerned about preventing scratches. So why take your vehicle to a wash that’s going to mar your finish? Automatic washes use highly abrasive bristles that retain all the scratch-prone contaminants from previous washes. Put your vehicle through one and you’ll come out with a micro-marred coating.
1. The first seven days the film is curing, you may notice some bubbles or a slight haze in the film but that is nothing to worry about as the moisture will evaporate through the pores of the film in the next 2-3 weeks. Bubbles can appear and disappear due to the wet method of installation.
2. Once the film has cured, you are able to wash the car as normal (use the two bucket wash method and a microfiber wash mitt), if using a pressure washer insure that you keep the spray lance at least 3 feet away from the surface of the film, especially the edges, as the pressure may lift the edge of the film. The best product to use on the film are PH neutral car care products.
3. In the event you have bug splatter or bird droppings, you should remove immediately, as if left on, the acids in the dropping will etch through the self-healing layer, coupled with the ambient heat produced by the car this may accelerate the process. The best way to remove the bug splatter is by using pressurized water from 3 feet away, and the best way to remove bird droppings is by pouring warm water on the area; leave to soften for a minute then gently use a microfiber cloth only to wipe off.
4. If you usually polish or wax your car on a regular basis there are some restrictions on what you can use on the film. Polishes that have abrasives may not be used on the film nor products that contain Petroleum or Solvents. These products will damage the self-healing layer of the film, and if solvents are used, they will remove the adhesive. Do not use abrasive or resin-based products as they can cause a haze to the surface of the film.
5. Surface scratches and swirl marks in the film will heal over a period of time, if you want to accelerate the process then pour warm water over the desired area, that will help the upper most layer of the film morph back into its original state.
Tyler's Product Ramblings: My favorite combination when doing a quick wash on a vehicle is using Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine (ONR) and Optimum Big Red Wash Sponge; both can be found in our Store. Dilute the ONR in a 5 gallon bucket with water and throw the sponge in. As you're washing with the sponge, the cross hatching pattern picks up any dirt and grime that might be on the paint, sucking it in and allowing for a safer wash. Since you're using ONR all you have to do is dry after washing, making the wash process super simple.