Drying is one of the most harmful processes that car owner’s do to their vehicles…
Why? Because water is that ‘slick’: It doesn’t have a lot of lubricity. There is more friction between the towel and the paint, then when the surface is washed. In general, reducing the amount that the paint is touched with any towel is good for the paint. It reduces the risk for any surface scratching to occur.
So we wash and rinse our car and the surface is wet. How to we remove the most amount of water in the fastest time possible with out touching the surface? (Speed is important to prevent water spotting).
Step 1: Flood the car with more water! What?! Water has a property called ‘surface tension’. In basic terms, surface tension refers to the fact that water is attracted to itself. When the water is more attracted to itself then surrounding surfaces it will pool together and may even stand up (water beading) off the surface to maintain a semi-sphere.
By flooding the paint with a smooth flow of steady water, the water will forum into a large sheet, and the weight of that sheet will pull additional water from the surface.
Here is an example of flooding the paint in pictures.
Lots of water spots waiting to happen on the surface of the paint. We must remove the majority of this water quickly, with out touching the surface to prevent scratching.
By aiming a low pressure stream of water at the paint, we can form a ‘blanket of water’ that will pull off adjacent standing water.
The water sheets away…
One side to go…
A large amount of water has quickly been removed with out even touching the surface. Another advantage of flooding the paint is that residual soap will be flush out of tight areas, such as the mirror housing or trim, that might have otherwise been missed (and will attract more dirt).
So most of the paint has been dried by water, what next?
Well, at this point you can use a leaf blower to remove water from some of the surfaces, emblems, and crevices, as well as the body of the car.
A couple of notes on using an optional leaf blower:
- It is very difficult to completely dry to larger hoods and roofs with a leaf blower. The water will get blown from side to side, but can dry and deposit water spots in the process. I like to dry the hood and large flat surfaces first with a towel (but more on that later).
- Avoid using a gas powered blower that routes the exhaust from the engine thru the shoot.
- Never aim at the ground and you blow dust, dirt, or grass into the air and onto your freshly washed car.
My preferred method is first dry the horizontal surfaces of the car with a waffle weave microfiber towel and a quick detail spray, to avoid the creating of water spots. (More on this in a second), then to use the leaf blower to blow out and cracks, the side panels, the mirrors, the wheels, tires, and wheel wells, then the under body.
After ‘blowing out’ the car or using the sheeting method (if you did not use a leaf blower) there will still be residual water. This must be removed completely to avoid spots (unless you are using distilled water as a final rinse) and streaks.
Since we have to touch the car with something absorbent, we want to use a soft towel that has nap (to avoid grinding any dust or dirt into the paint). The Big Blue III Waffle Weave microfiber towel is as absorbent as synthetic chamois, but greatly reduces the risk of scratching.
I also always dry the car using a quick detail spray. Why? A quick detail spray will provide lubricity to the paint’s surface as the towel is rubbed over, in addition to cleaning over an super fine water spots that might start to occur. A side benefit is that most quick detail sprays also add a little extra ‘pop’ to the paint. My personal favorite is Meguiar’s M135 Synthetic Spray Detailer. It is basically the same formula as Meguiar’s Ultimate Quick Detailer, but sold in bulk for commercial use.
You should only use 1 pull of the trigger per section to lay down a very fine mist. Then wipe gently with the big blue microfiber towel, buffing to a high gloss. Avoid going trigger happy as it makes application more difficult. By the time you bring out the towel most of the water should have been removed, so think of this step as more of applying a quick detailer to the paint rather then drying it.