21 stage wash

2 Bucket Method Wash Method


Good Results Comes from preperation

Almost every family in Australia owns a car. In a perfect world, cars won't get dirty and paintwork are flawless without any imperfections. While in reality, cars do get dirty easier than you think from harmful environment factors such as bird and bat poo, industrial fallout or even tree sap.  
The good news is there are ways to keep them less dirty with waxing your car regularly or by using paint protection coating's self-cleaning effects. You can check out our article about paint protection coatings here.

We love our cars and most of us always want a clean car, that is why car washes and car care products exist. Compared to windscreen glass for example, painted surfaces on a car is actually quite soft and they tend to get scratched easily. If your car is covered in dust and your brush it off, chances are you've created fine scratches on the car. Ever wipe your car with something like a tissue? That has also probably scratched the surface.

Without the right washing methods, it won't be long for your car paintwork looks tired and loses its lustre and gloss, leaving behind swirl marks, scratches and a dull finish.

One of the best and easiest ways to keep your car in the best condition in the long run is by using the famous 2-bucket method in conjunction with Grit Guards to wash your car safely, this method is also included in our 21-Stage Wash and Decontamination.

2-Bucket method is a safer way and a major improvement to wash your car while reducing the changes of any swirl marks caused in the process. Project Detail will go through the process with you below.

2 Bucket Wash Method

Contents include:

  • 2 Large Buckets
  • Car shampoo of your choice. We suggest using a pH neutral one if possible.
  • 2-3 Microfibre Wash Mitts (We heavily advise against using sponges. Look out for this in another article.)
  • Optional - Grit Guards. Easily found online, if you have these, these are a major bonus.


  1. Start by filling two buckets with as much water as possible. This allows the dirt to be released easier and suspended in the liquid. While having too little water means the dirt and debris is more concentrated. 
  2. Pour your shampoo mixture to the right dilution ratio into one bucket only. This becomes your 'wash' bucket.
  3. The second bucket is filled with water only, this bucket becomes your rinse bucket.
  4. Using a clean microfibre mitt, begin washing the vehicle top to bottom. This allows any loose dirt to pour down and not create any more work in this fashion.
  5. Try not to use excessive force otherwise the friction may push into the paintwork and cause swirls or scratches. Allow the microfibre mitt to glide over the surface and catch all the sediment in it's microfibre fingers.
  6. Every panel or adjusting depending on how dirty your car is, rinse the microfibre mitt in your 'rinse' bucket. The dirt will be trapped in this bucket. Wring the mitt clean and dry.
  7. Dip your mitt into the 'wash' bucket. Your mitt should be clean and be carrying clean shampoo water onto the vehicle.

  8. Repeat the process until your vehicle is washed.
  9. If vehicle is excessively dirty, it's ok to change the water for fresh water or even change mitts.
  10. After washing and drying your vehicle, be sure to wash the mitts and buckets for next use.

We hope that this article has been useful for you, feel free to share and comment as we believe this will assist in keeping your car swirl free for longer. If you would like to know more about how Project Detail washes their vehicles, be sure to check out our 21 stage wash method by clicking here.

To know more or for any additional questions, click here to contact us.

21 Stage Wash Method

Our Washing is Different

Project Detail believes in providing our customers with a special service, something they won't be able to wont be able to experience for their car at many other places. By using the best products from Europe, USA or Japan and modern techniques we can ensure that even our 'simple' wash will exceed the performance of washing at home, local car wash or even some mobile detailers.

We carry that same belief with car detailing in Sydney & Melbourne and aim to provide the best service possible.

Our washing process is no different and may seem excessive to some but it allows us the car to be cleaned to the highest degree in order to produce the best results in our paint correction or when applying our glass coating. 

A BMW M4 with 'Snow Foam' during our 21 stage wash process.

Our fundamental belief is that being careful enough, swirl marks can be avoided. Famous Detailer Paul Dalton once said there's 3 different of 'energy' to be utilised for easier and more effective washing: Thermal energy, Friction Energy and Chemical Energy. These come from our access to hot water washing up to 90 degrees celsius, the chemicals doing their job and finally the physical washing process itself.

Porsche 911 Wheels -  Before

Porsche 911 Wheels - During Iron Removal

Below is our 21 Stage washing process. Originally, it was never designed this way. We washed vehicles as thoroughly as possible and we realised it took a total of 21 stages for us to complete.

  1. Soak the exterior car in Citrus Pre-wash Solution. Gently begins to break down dirt, contamination and other debris on the car.
  2. Spray a suitable wheel cleaner such as a pH neutral Iron Fallout remover onto the wheels.
  3. Rinse Wheels with pressurised hot water.
  4. Shift Vehicle and soak other half of wheels in the same product, and repeat rinse.
  5. Spray product where necessary and use wheel woolies, wheel brushes and dedicated Wheel cleaning bucket to deep clean wheel barrels and brakes where possible, rinse with hot water.
  6. Spray Appropriate degreaser into Wheel arches, scrub and rinse to clean arches.
  7. Scrub and clean tyre to remove previous tyre product or silicone based products.
  8. Cover vehicle with thick pH neutral snow foam (consistency like shaving cream) and allow to dwell for 3-5 minutes depending on the level of debris.
  9. Rinse Snow Foam and Pre-Wash Solution off car with Pressurised Hot Water.
  10. Begin 2 bucket wash method with grit guards to separate sediment and debris removed from the vehicle. Vehicle is washed with fresh, microfibre wash mitts. We use a pH neutral and wax free shampoo and buckets filled with hot water.
  11. Buckets are emptied and fresh hot water is filled if the car is excessively dirty. Mitts can also be changed depending on the condition.
  12. Every Quarter of the car, the car is rinsed and kept wet not allowing the water to dry and stain the vehicle.
  13. Once vehicle is fully washed, we do a final rinse.
  14. Spray pH iron fallout remover onto painted surface to remove ferrous particles
  15. Spray tar remover to remove road tar and glue residue if present.
  16. Using a proper clay lubricant and a Japanese manufactured fine grade clay bar, carefully clay the surface to remove physical contamination.
  17. Rinse vehicle every quarter in order to prevent lubricant drying on the paintwork.
  18. Using a proper microfibre or waffle weave drying towel, vehicle is dried before the water dries.
  19. Pressurised air or a blower is used to remove water built up around mirrors and other crevices
  20. Check for dried water spots, using an appropriate water spots remover. Remove as necessary.
  21. Prepare vehicle for next step by wiping down with diluted Isopropyl solution to remove any remaining waxes, water marks or finger prints left on the surface.

Although the 21 stages seems like it would take all day, in fact it only takes 1-2 hours to complete. Even to the outsider spending 1-2 hours on a washing seems insane but with the calibre of cars and their devoted owners, it's a must to make sure the car is prepared for the paint correction, wax application or glass coating that comes afterwards.

By using a snow foam as thick like cream allows the dirt to break apart and rinsed away.

To find out more about Project Detail's services, please click here

If Project Detail can help with any washing queries or anything else, please click here to contact us.