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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen a lot of discussion lately on washing/waxing cars. Because I've got a grand history of driving Very Old cars that have already achieved a "matte finish" I don't know much about waxing at all. And because I am an apartment dweller in an area without many You-Wash car washes (but a LOT of automatic ones, which I've been avoiding so I don't have to take off the wheel skirts), I don't really get a lot of chances to wash my insight.

[[potentially shocking disclosure: I find myself saying "oh, well, the insight is ALUMINUM, so it's not really imperative to wash it frequently...]]

I'll be at my dad's this weekend, though, and will be able to baby the insight when I'm up there. Can you high quality car maintainers fill me in on what I should do to treat my baby right? Bonus points for an easy to follow regimen - please remember that this will be practically my first venture into non-free-with-oil-change car washes.
 

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Hmm... Well, I can give you the cleaning regimen that I would recommend, especially for what I think your car needs. I don't think it'll be easy, though! Except for the fact that the car is so small. :)

1) Wash the car with a mild detergent. I use a specially formulated liquid soap that's just for cars, but that's merely because it's on hand. My boyfriend likes to keep a stock of the stuff. I think you can use liquid dish soap but you WILL have to wax afterwards, as it strips off any wax the car may have (or so I've heard).

2) Optional Step: After washing and drying the car, if you still feel that the paint is gritty when you run your hand over it, there are probably contaminants embedded in the paint. You can use a clay bar treatment like Meguiar's or Mother's (available in most auto care stores or Wal Mart, but I haven't seen it in Target lately).

The basic premise of the clay bar is to run it over your car, using the included detailing solution as a lubricant, until you don't feel the gritty stuff in the paint anymore. You'll hear a faint "scratching" sound until the contaminants come free. Depending on how hot it is at your dad's place, you might want to skip this step because it can be quite labor intensive.

Interestingly enough, you would think that a brand new car does not need a clay bar. But even straight from the factory I have found that the paint on cars has embedded contaminants. :(

3) Wax. You must do this, especially if you are using dish soap. Use a light coat, as you don't need to put it on too heavy in order to achieve shine and protection. Also, if you layer it on too thick, it'll be difficult to remove. When the wax dries to a light haze, wipe it off with a clean soft towel and keep on buffing it with clean parts of the towel until your baby is nice and shiny.

For #2 and #3, make sure that the car is nice and cool. Doing the whole process in the shade is advisable. I usually wash my car in the driveway, then bring it into the garage to let the body cool down before doing #2 (if needed) and #3.

Oh... and even though the Insight is aluminum, it's still important to keep the paint clean and waxed. Unless you like that "matte" finish. :D

Hope that helps!
 

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Well I’ll probably be labeled a heretic but… I run my car (’97 Civic HX, steelership still hasn’t delivered my Insight yet) threw the automatic car wash at work. After it comes out I dry the door and trunk jambs, this prevents the build up of grime. I don’t dry the rest as the water is treated to not spot. I have never waxed it. Washed it by hand a few times but this is too much effort to my way of thinking. I’m sure this is all Honda ever expected from the owner. The car is a ’97 and it still looks shinny from a distance, up close it has all sorts of stone chips. For a car that is basic commuter transportation this is all that is needed. If you are totally in to the ‘show car’ thing don’t listen to me.

Minako mentioned using dish soap on a car. A lot of body shops use Ivory dish soap as it dose not leave excessive residue and is easier on the wax. It is cheaper than the specialty car soaps and I convinced my wife to use it on the dishes years ago so it is readily available (just make sure you get it back to the kitchen before you get caught).
 

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If you want your car to stay shiny, don't use any dish detergent, and stay away from diy car washes.
Use a car wash soap, and detailing spray if it isn't too bad. The detergents in normal dish washing soap will ruin the clear coat over time.
I use a microfiber towel to dry, and they work great on windows.

There is a ton of info on the web, and also in this forum. Just use the search feature.

Good luck with it.
robert
 

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Kari;

About that washing, do yourself a favor and do a "SEARCH" here for WAXING and look at what comes up. Might be worth your while.

Fred
 

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Perhaps this is obvious, but work from the top down so you are not washing grit down onto already clean surfaces.

If your dishwashing soap is hard on your hands it probably is hard on your car.

Use water from the dehumidifier to do your final rinse as it is distilled and will dry without leaving a mineral residue.

Occasionally remove the front inner fender liner and the rear wheel covers. Use the salvaged sand for the sand box. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks for all the tips, y'all. as I said, I don't have ANY experience waxing so the detailed instructions (thanks minako!) are much appreciated. I can find all kinds of information (usually at cross purposes) on the internets, it's good to have a bunch of knowledgeable people who are willing to give me tips.

my family won't know what's come over me this weekend when I show up with wax and potentially also weird magic clay!

my only concern about the washing is that I want to avoid non-biodegradable soaps, and I'm sure that's going to be very difficult - my dad lives out where there are no roads or storm sewers, and I like to do my part to keep his well water clean. but I can look that up myself -

thanks!
 

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I was wondering if Simple Green is safe to use for car washes. I'd rather use something environmentally friendly if I can, and the manufacturer tells me simple green is very safe for washing cars (diluted 1 part SG to 30 parts H2O). Right now, I have car cleaner that I got as part of a kit, but I'm thinking about using simple green on my car since I have gallons of the stuff lying around at home- once the car cleaner runs out.
 

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Simple green is an awesome cleaner. I used it to cut black soot from a house fire.
I wash my Insight with Dawn dish detergent and wax it with Mothers car wax.
 

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I just have to say this, dish washing detergent does more to paint than just remove wax. It dries it out and strips away the natural oils that are in the paint. Specific car wash soaps are made PH neutral whereas dish soap is not. It won't happen right away, but over time dish washing soap will cause your clear coat to fail.

And car wash soaps aren't really all that expensive either (depending). You can pick up a gallon of it for about what a gallon of dish detergent costs at Costco.
 

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Good point, Rick. I have never washed my cars with dish soap. I already know that it makes my hands all dry and yucky. I don't want it to eat at the paint job of my car, either! ;)

kari - no problem at all! I know it's a lot of detail, but I hope it's helpful. I know how it feels to be a girl who has no idea where to start, what to use, etc. Let us know how it goes. LOL
 

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kari said:
potentially shocking disclosure: I find myself saying "oh, well, the insight is ALUMINUM, so it's not really imperative to wash it frequently
What does that have to do with anything? The metal has paint on it and that is what you are washing. I've never heard of anyone that has not washed a car before. Wow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Resist said:
What does that have to do with anything? The metal has paint on it and that is what you are washing. I've never heard of anyone that has not washed a car before. Wow.
living in the Northeast, often the first reason you wash your car is to get the road salt off of it before it rusts to pieces. salt and rust have always been a first priority above paint protection. so having an aluminum frame and a plastic body, well, that's a recipe for lazy washing!

I see what you're saying, though, the paint protects the metal from the salt. that is a MUCH more responsible way of looking at things.

(and I should say that I *have* washed a car before, but it's a casual, drive through car wash sort of thing to get the salt off. I've never waxed a car before.)
 

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No worries, Kari. We're all newbies at everything at some point in our lives. :D
 
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