Harsh Car Soap is Killing your Paint
Most car guys believe the difference between traditional car soap and dish soap varies widely, but unfortunately they would be mistaken. Despite having different purposes, different colors, and different scents, they are similar in one very important characteristic: REMOVAL. Traditionally, car guys would only use dish soap, on a rare occasion, to remove or “strip” old wax and start with a fresh “naked” surface. Likewise, they would use car soap for their daily, weekly, or monthly car wash routine because the car soap only removed the dirt, and not the wax. Sound about right? Wrong!
As most of you might know, I learned how to make chemicals (on a commercial level) a few years ago when I became obsessed with creating the best products for my own personal clients. (at the time , I was learning the chemistry/formulas/mixtures during the day, and working on my clients collections at night and on weekends) I was taught to follow certain formulas and guidelines because “people didn’t know the difference”, and “it was the way it had been done for years”. As I became more comfortable with the mixtures, and learned “how the industry works”, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the ingredients in car soap were moderate to highly corrosive, which is not exactly good for paint… Including various forms of harsh sodiums, aka SALT , and sulphonic acids. (amongst others I won’t begin to spell). Needless to say, I decided to go in another direction.
Here’s my point. Traditional car soaps (cheap, off-the-shelf, water down stuff) and dish soap are “basically” the same thing, because they have similar end results. Both are designed to remove unwanted deposits from wanted surfaces. The problem is they are not scalpels or laser guided missiles. They are more like butter-knives and A-bombs. They can effectively achieve their respective goals, but leave large collateral damage. In this case, the vehicles’ wax is weaken and/or removed when cleaning the paint. This means that you, (the car guy), is removing more and more protection from your paint every time you wash your car in the old fashion routine with traditional car soap. If you are paying $7 to $10 (or cheaper) for a gallon of brightly colored, heavily scented car soap, and using it on your “baby” in the driveway…Probably not a good idea. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
Think about it, your wife pays $15 to $25 for 16 oz of special shampoo that doesn’t strip her hair of “essential oils”, leaving it dry and brittle etc…Same goes for your paint and its protection (ie…wax, sealant, resins, synthetic polymers, petroleum distillates = ESSENTIAL OILS for your paint conditioning) If you are extremely fussy about the look and feel of your car, this is not the place to be cheap or misinformed. Poor products and improper wash techniques account for 80-90% of paint issues (marring, fading, dullness, light scratching or “love marks”, and insufficient UV protection etc etc…)
If you spend your time focused on proper car care, you will avoid (seeing me) and spending big $$$$ for paint correction. Save your money for fuel! (nowadays are sport, hobby, and joy, is getting pinched at the pump…I digress)
Although my FOAM soap is extremely soft, safe, and compatible with my other product layers, I still only use it if:
1) The vehicle is completely trashed (mud, salt, dirt, grossness everywhere)
2) The vehicle hasn’t been cleaned in weeks/months and is not garaged.
3) I’ve never seen (or work on) the vehicle before and want to start out fresh, or plan on doing paint correction.
What should you be doing instead?
Be less focused on full soap-downs, and more focused on building layers of protection. Your clear coat is most susceptible to UV light damage, and needs to be protected. That’s what causes your paint to fade and break-down over time. Defend your paint by adding layers of protection, NOT REMOVING THEM. Constant unnecessary washings with cheapo car soaps are removing layers of protection that immediately need to be replaced. So, in effect, you are removing (wash), then adding (wax), then removing (wash), then adding (wax). It turned out to be an endless cycle. This is why I created very specific formulas and techniques, that work with each other, and consistently add layers of protection, instead of removing. It’s actually a pretty simple idea that works, however, doesn’t require you to buy a lot of products….which I think is not mentioned or encouraged by the BIG BOYS because that would kill their P & L sheets.
“So how do I clean my car after a drive?”
I’ve designed a new method for cleaning your paint, when it isn’t necessary for a full complete soap down (which is 70% of the time). Its much easier, 10x quicker, and most of all, it adds another layer of protection while its cleaning. (This is NOT: an “all-in-one, space age, super duper, dirt disintegrateor, bullet-proof-wax-polish-body-armor-sealant”, and whatever else I see in million-dollar marketing campaigns. Btw: if you ever hear someone claim they have an “all-in-one” product that cleans every part of your car, don’t be lazy. And don’t buy it. It doesn’t work. They are taking advantage of something you HOPED for, but doesn’t exist. Good detailing products are much like successful businesses, they focus on 1 thing, and are the best at it. Don’t be everything to everyone. Doesn’t work….I will get off my soap-box now. Pun intended.)
Well, if you’ve made it this far though the article, you passed the test. My method and product is called AMMO Hydrate (paint moisturizer). This product is the culmination of years of work. If you don’t think Hydrate is absolutely, overwhelmingly amazing…give it back. (I’m running out of this stuff almost everyday. If it’s not going be used, I will donate to someone who will. ) It’s that good.
I created this method/product because I have the privilege of maintaining some of the worlds rarest cars on a weekly basis, and they are driven almost daily. Yes, I said driven daily and priceless. (that’s why they are great clients. Real car guys. What good are cars, if you dont drive them?…anyways) All of these cars are iconic pieces of history, and CANNOT BE REPLACED OR REPAINTED. So, clearly, I could not wash and chamois dry, wash and chamois dry, priceless paint every other day. Especially because they were never more than a bit dusty or what one of my clients refers to as “annoyingly imperfect”. So, I realized there was a need for a product that worked perfectly with AMMO Skin, dried wet paint, and added another layer of protection. AMMO Hydrate is used after you rinse down the car. It’s applied with a wet microfiber towel and a few squirts of Hydrate that clean, moisturize, and removes water from the paint. WAAAAAY safer than a chamois.
Check out all my detailing videos and remember that less is more in the car care world.