Anytime you spend money or time on a project, you’ll want to keep it clean – right? Whether it’s cleaning your new swimming pool, or washing your freshly ceramic coated car, truck, or SUV, using the right cleaning supplies and techniques for the specific application or material used is crucial. This is especially true when you’re looking to get the best out of your DIY ceramic coating.
There are more than a dozen different types of car shampoos on the market today. Some are made to clean and shine, others made specifically to break down existing waxes and sealants. Then there is the growing line of ceramic coating maintenance shampoos – or those that should be used for a coated vehicle.
Picking the right car shampoo used during general maintenance car washes can make a huge impact on the overall quality of your ceramic coating. Using the wrong type can take away a lot of the qualities that a ceramic coating produces.
So – how do you know which one is right for your precious ride?
This is what we’ll explain below. Let’s dive into the qualities of maintenance shampoos that you should consider using anytime you’ve got a ceramic coating on your ride.
Breaking Down the Different Types of Car Shampoos
Most car owners are aware of that their automotive soaps and shampoos are specially formulated for vehicle paint surfaces. The days of grabbing a scoop of laundry detergent to wash your ride are long gone. In fact, today’s car surfaces are not designed to handle aggressive detergents.
Due to that reality, car care manufacturers have worked with automakers to create a series of specially-formulated shampoos to be used as maintenance products.
There are generally four-types of car shampoos used in 2020.
Conventional Car Wash Soaps: The conventional soap or shampoo is a generic car washing formula without any added wax, additives, or agents. In most cases, it’s non-scented – but can have a slight aroma or specific coloring agents. These shampoos are usually pH +, meaning that they average a pH of 8 to 9.
Car Wash Shampoo with Wax: This is the second-grade of car wash shampoo. It starts with the similar type of conventional car wash soap but also adds a car wax. The wax sticks to the clear coat and is ‘buffed’ into the paint during the drying process. They can range from pH neutral to pH positive.
pH Neutral Car Shampoo: The third grade is the newest kid on the car washing block. It’s a pH neutral formulation, which is a gentle detergent that lifts dirt, debris, and other contaminants. The pH balance ensures it does not damage paint protection coatings or products. To help with lubrication, these car shampoos are usually formulated as high-suds producing or also know
pH Neutral Car Shampoo with Wax: The final maintenance car shampoo is a hybrid – blending the pH neutral formulation with added wax. The wax is mainly added to improve lubrication, to reduce the potential of scratching during the washing cycle.
What is Important for a Ceramic Coating Shampoo?
There are several reasons why people use ceramic coatings to protect their paint, glass, chrome, wheels, vinyl, and other materials. Some like the strength and durability of these coatings, while others are more focused on the enhanced shine, depth of paint, and the amazing hydrophobic properties they produce.
In order to get the best bang for your ceramic coating buck, you’ll want to use a maintenance shampoo that simply cleans the surface, and does not contain harsh detergents or other ingredients that will leave a residue on top of the coating.
As such, when you’re looking for the best shampoo for a ceramic coating – there are a few important attributes you should verify – before clicking that ‘buy now’ button online.
First – Must be pH Neutral
A nano ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX is a strong paint protection product. In fact, it takes quite a bit to damage the coating. However, to get your optimal protection and reduce the potential of harsh detergents leaving minor scratches or swirl marks on the coating, use a pH neutral car shampoo.
Second – NO Wax Added
Car wax (specifically carnauba wax) has been used in car shampoos for years. It’s mainly used to provide added lubrication – to reduce scratching on non-protected surfaces. However, the wax can leave a minor layer of residual on top of the surface – even a hydrophobic ceramic coating.
When this happens, it can reduce the hydrophobic properties, lead to excess collection of dirt and dust, and even increase the potential of water spots forming.
Third – High Suds Producing Formulation
While a 9H ceramic coating is strong, it can still be scratched through normal car washing. To help avoid this, using a car shampoo for ceramic coatings that have high-suds producing qualities. The extra thick suds serve as a lubricant, helping to glide the soap and wash mitt over the surface, remove more dirt and debris, and ensure a great car wash.
4 Tips for Using Ceramic Coating Car Wash Shampoos
Now that you’re aware what to look for in a ceramic coating maintenance shampoo, how do you use it to the best potential? The information below will outline some of the important tips that will enhance your car washing experience.
Tip #1 – Invest in a High-Quality Microfiber Wash Mitt
Washing a car correctly starts by using the right materials. At the top of this list is a wash mitt made from microfiber. The wash mitt should always be firm enough to wash the vehicle, but soft enough to reduce scratching.
It’s also important to resist using the circular motion. Always go side to side or front to back – and alternate frequently to reduce swirl marks and keep your car clean and looking like a new car.
Tip #2 – Purchase (3) Wash Buckets
A good wash bucket is nice – two is better – but three is you’re optimal solution. You’ll use the first two with the “two-bucket” method of car washing. The third is used to wash the wheels and tires ONLY. The first bucket should be used for soapy water – while the second should be used for clear rinsing water.
You should also only use these buckets for washing your cars, and not for draining liquids or any other use.
Tip #3 – Invest in a Foam Cannon or Foam Gun
For those with a high-pressure washer, a foam cannon is a great way of applying a thick layer of suds during the pre-washing process. A foam gun is attached to the normal spray nozzle from a garden hose. It accomplishes the same task, but just doesn’t produce the same thickness of soap or shampoo.
This is a luxury item, but it helps remove surface debris from a ceramic coated surface – again to reduce scratching during the hand washing process.
Tip #4 – A High Quality Drying Towel
There are several good drying towels on the market. However, the latest and greatest are those made from Korean Microfiber and a terry weave design. The unique construction of this type of towel along with the high GSM allows the towel to soak up a ton of standing water in one, easy pass.
If you really want to go above and beyond, consider investing in an electric air blower, which you can remove standing water first, then quickly dry the vehicle with that big drying towel.
Steps for Washing Your Ceramic Coated Car
It would be asinine to assume that washing a car with a ceramic coating would be just like any other car. The truth is that a coated surface should be washed with care and precision. While the coating will cure exceptionally strong, when you wash (which should be every two weeks) there is a recommended process.
Step 1 – Pre-Wash
Before you begin to wash the car, you’ll want to ensure that your car is cool – especially the engine and the outer body. If you can park it in shade for at least 30 minutes, that should be good enough to bring the surface temperature to optimal levels.
Once this has been completed, start by gathering all your car washing supplies, and spray the entire car with water from a hose.
Step 2 – Start with Cleaning Wheels
Once the entire car has been pre-washed with water, begin the washing part with your four wheels. If you are using a wheel washing formula or specific brushes, it will loosen up brake dust, which will wash onto the body. By washing the wheels first, brake dust will not be left on the clean body.
For those who smartly ceramic coated their wheels, you’ll find spraying off and a quick wash will likely remove all brake dust with ease.
Step 3 – Make sure to use the Right Ratio of Car Shampoo to Water
After you’ve washed your tires and wheels, it’s time to prepare your wash bucket. It’s essential to use the correct ratio of car wash shampoo to water – for optimal use. Mixing too much soap can leave streaks and cause damage to the paint.
Step 4 – The 2 Bucket Method & Wash in Sections
As described above, you should use two buckets – one for the soap mix, the second for a clean, rinsing water. When you wash the car, you should always wash in small sections (like a door or quarter panel at a time). This will permit you to complete each section. You should also wash in a sideways, top to bottom method. Rinse each section once you’re finished.
Step 5 – Complete a final rinse and dry
Once you’ve completely washed and rinsed each section, you should complete a final rinse with clean water. Then you should proceed to drying your car with the recommended drying towels, and materials. You want to complete this as quickly as possible to avoid water drying on the car.
Wrapping it Up
Investing in a ceramic coating for cars, whether it’s a DIY nano coating, or one professionally applied is a proactive and smart way of protecting your vehicle’s surface.
However, washing the car, truck, or SUV with the right car shampoo for ceramic coatings will improve the performance of the coating, extend life and longevity, and help maintain that amazing hydrophobic property.