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The 10 Most Pervasive Auto Detailing Myths

Updated: 2 days ago

In the dynamic world of auto detailing, drivers and providers alike are full of notions that are either simply untrue, or at least misunderstood. In the latest Wings Mobile Detailing

Wings Mobile Detailing logo
Wings Mobile Detailing logo

podcast, we discussed the most common and pervasive myths out there and try to debunk them. Not only that, we reinforce some important truths that some have been treating as somewhat “optional” when it comes to detailing.

1. Two buckets good; one bucket bad – One of the most common things you hear when people are talking detailing is the “two bucket method” for washing. It means having one bucket of clean soapy water, and another bucket in which you rinse the washing mitt or cloth so as to minimize contamination in the clean bucket.

Sure, this is a good and logical method, especially if your car is really dirty, but do you absolutely have to have multiple buckets? Some people add a third bucket for wheels. So, why not 4? Or 20? The truth is that if your car is already pretty clean and you’re just washing as a matter of course to maintain cleanliness, one bucket will suffice. Multiple buckets are for the heavier-duty cleaning jobs.

2. You have to foam the car first – Another common notion is that no car washing is complete without first foaming the car. Once again, this isn’t necessarily true. Foaming the car up, as with the situation mentioned in the previous point, is only really necessary when your car has accumulated a real dirt layer. This may be, for instance, when you haven’t washed it for a long time, or your local area experienced extreme weather like a dust storm.

3. Waxing will remove swirl marks – Detailers are never sure who exactly spreads this kind of myth, but the fact is that wax will only cover the superficial scratches. It won’t remove them. This would be the job of a polishing, compound, or anything that has abrasiveness.

4. Clay bars? They’ll scratch the car’s surface – Another interesting myth that persists. To the inexperienced, the notion of rubbing a clay bar over your car might seem counterintuitive. This much we understand. If you use the clay bar correctly, however, then it absolutely will not damage your car’s surface. But it surely will scratch if you clay a car with any light dirt on it.

5. Don’t bother with car shampoo when dish detergent will do – The amateur car washer may believe that when it comes to cleaning, any agent will do. This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to your car. The chemical formula of dish detergent is not designed to work safely on your car’s expensive paintwork. It can ruin the protective layer over the paint, wiping out any sealant or wax that you had previously applied. It’s definitely a no-no. You must use car-safe products.

6. Double the layers of wax, double the length of protection – Some people think they can get a year’s worth of car waxing done in a single application by adding more layers. If one layer protects for three months, then four layers will protect for the entire year, right? The math appears to make sense, but it doesn’t work that way with car wax. These users are thinking that as one layer is worn away, the others will just bond with the paint in the same way. This isn’t true. Only the first layer that you apply will bond properly, the rest will not. In the end, adding multiple layers is just a waste of wax.

7. If I add wax to the sealant I just applied, I’ll get even more protection – The logic, again, seems sound, but the reality is quite different. If you are showing a car in a trade show the next day, then using this method might work to apply a temporary extra shine to attract eyeballs, plus the sealant will last longer underneath the wax.

8. Detailing is an exact science that applies universally – In fact, detailing is a lot more subjective than you realize. Each car’s exact needs are different because not all cars get dirty to the same degree and at the same frequency. Some people get their cars dirty really quick, and others don’t. Some are exposed to additional contaminants like bird feces or insects colliding with the car’s surface. All these things bring their own special requirements.

9. Microfiber is just a con, you don’t really need it – The idea that ‘any kind of towel will do’ is the con here. Microfiber is designed in such a way that makes it especially effective for detailing. It’s all in the structure of the fabric. Microfiber is no myth, it’s a real benefit.


10. More frequency = less risk of getting scratches – The final myth in our list, it’s really common for people to think that more washing/detailing means more protection. The hard truth is, if you are really concerned about your car’s paint, then the only solution is to never drive it, or wash it. Just keep it covered up in the garage at a nice comfortable temperature. All outside input has a kind of “wearing” effect on the car, including both the process of getting dirty and the process of cleaning it up again. Washing more as a rule won’t, in itself, help keep your paint safer unless it has accumulated any level of dirt. The sooner you remove daily contaminants from the surface of your vehicle, the less it will have corroded through your car's finish.

In the end, detailing is a game of response

There’s no objective rule when it comes to detailing. It’s about responding to your car’s needs. You may have just washed the car that morning, but if in the afternoon you get a load of bird feces on the car, then you have to wash it again. Bird feces and dead insects carry acidic properties that can damage the paintwork, there’s no time to lose. On the other hand, when you have barely driven the car for a few weeks, then you might not need detailing at all.

We hope you enjoy the insights of our Wings Mobile Detailing podcast. Listen out to our team chatting and going into more details on the podcast!

-Feel free to contact us with your questions on Instagram @wingsmobiledetailing.

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