Truth and Transparency in Detailing


Hello and hearty welcome to Brite Detailing!

Consider this an introductory blog where we will explore the basics and terminology of Automotive Detailing (and Detailing in general) so that consumers can make educated decisions when choosing a Detailer. Over time, you will become familiar with the process and terminology of detailing and will better know what questions to ask and what to look for when looking to have your car(s) detailed. Today we’ll cover the wash.


We’ll start with the basics about what is included in a detail and what it means to detail a vehicle. Merriam Webster defines ‘detailing’ as “the act or process of meticulously cleaning and refurbishing an automobile”.

Seems pretty simple. But how exactly is this done and what is the process that (generally) goes into it?

The Wash

Washing a car is the most effective way to keep the exterior of your vehicle looking new(er) and to maintain the paint. Washing a car should generally include the following steps with a few exceptions:

  • Pre-Wash Rinse

  • Pre-Wash Soak

  • Two Bucket Wash

  • Rinse

  • Dry

The exceptions are generally applied in areas that have water or runoff restrictions. Detailers meet these restrictions by implementing a wash water recovery system. This usually involves a wash mat that collects any runoff that is then collected and disposed of according to local, state, or federal regulations that are dictated by where they reside or due business. The other way that is excepted is with the use of rinseless wash.

Pre-Wash Rinse

The pre-wash rinse is often accomplished with the use of a hose nozzle or the use of a pressure washer. This removed what is called “loose dirt”. Loose dirt comes off with the use of water. Semi-Bonded dirt is requires the use of a towel or wash mitt to remove but that will generally come off. Bonded dirt or contaminants require the use of something called a clay bar to remove. That will be covered later.

Pre-Wash Soak

A pre-wash soak uses what is called a foam cannon or a foam attachment. These work by mixing water with a wash soap to create a foam, which then is used to coat the car. The foaming action and type of soap used start the breakdown process of dirt and contaminants on the surface of the car and provide a layer of lubrication to help make sure that loosened dirt doesn’t scratch your car during washing.

Two Bucket Wash

The two bucket wash system is ideal for washing and isolating dirt that is removed from your car. Traditionally, you had a wash bucket with soap and water. The two bucket method still uses the wash bucket but also uses a rinse bucket. The rinse bucket is used to catch and contain the dirt that is removed from the car as you wash so that the removed dirt isn’t reintroduced into your wash bucket and then back onto the car as you wash so that you’re removing dirt and not putting it back on as you wash. It also helps keep scratches down.


Rinsing helps removed the leftover soap suds so that they don’t dry on your vehicle and form spots. Some Detailers use what is called a “de-ionized” rinse. A de-ionized rinse used water that has gone through a purifier hooked to the water source. This purifier removed hard water contaminants and essentially pure. This pure water can be allowed to air dry without the need for drying by hand as it contains nothing that would form water spots (minerals) as water spots are mineral deposits left over once water has evaporated. These systems are expensive though, and generally not utilized.


The drying step is done with the use of clean and plush microfiber towels. The microfibre picks up the water more effectively and is softer, which results in a scratch free dry. The use of beach towels for drying is not recommended.

Rinseless Wash

A rinseless wash is ideal for vehicles that are not heavily soiled. A rinseless wash solution is applied to the vehicle and allowed to dwell for several minutes. The solution encapsulates the dirt or dust and is then wiped off with a wet microfibre towel. The rinseless wash solution doesn’t require rinsing (hence the name), which in turn reduces water consumption. When done correctly, this is a very effective way to wash your vehicle.


This is a basic coverage of washing and the steps that are included. You can use the knowledge of these steps to help you choose a detailer for your vehicles. Ask them if they follow this method and how they will go about washing your car. This can help you avoid individuals or companies that may not do a great job so that you can receive the best service and outcomes for your time and investment.