my first wash/detail, step by step. [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: my first wash/detail, step by step.

08-30-2004, 10:03 AM
hi all,
based on some great tips in this forum i went ahead and washed/detailed my Silver Grey '05 325i (650 miles) this past weekend at my parents' house. i picked and chose from the many different products/methods recommended here and thought i would share my results. basically i was looking at a way to get a nice shine and good protection without too much time and hassle. (i like my car, but it's just a car...) i'll break up my account into a few posts for readibility.

first, here's the inventory of products i collected for the task, along with prices.

(1) Zaino Z2 polish ($12.95)
(1) Zaino Z6 quick detailer ($9.95)
(1) Zaino ZFX quick cure additive for Z2 ($19.95)
(3) Zaino #314 cotton applicator pad ($2.50)
(1) Dawn original scent concentrated dishwashing soap (the blue one)
(1) Meguiars NXT car wash ($5.99 @ Walmart, did not use)
(1) Mr. Clean Auto Dry system ($19.99 @ BJ's)
(1) Stoner Invisible Glass ($4.50, but you can get 3 for $9 at BJ's)
(2) wash buckets ($0.97 @ Walmart - oh yeah)
(1) California water blade, 11" ($12.99? at Target/Walmart)
(1) Microfiber towel 25-pack ($12.99 @ BJ's, forgot the brand)
(1) Sheepskin wash mit ($4.99 @ Walmart)
(1) wheel/tire brush combo pack ($3.50 clearance @ Walmart)
(1) Bounty paper towel roll, plain white

ok, some notes. i bought the Meguiars car wash for future use, not this first wash. i figured i would need something on subsequent quick washes that wouldn't strip the wax job. i did get the Mr. Clean system, but i did NOT use the included soap - just bought it for the water filter, since my parents have well water and i expected it to be very hard. turns out it's not - my mother said she actually gets less scaling in the shower than we used to when we had municipal water - but still good to have the filter.

the BJ's MF towels are not the same ones from Costco that a lot of people here like... i forget offhand what brand they are, but they're 70/30 polester/polyamide, blue and white colors, and quite small. they were cheap though so i got them anyway. they had labels, which i tore off while hand-washing them thoroughly with Woolite. i dried them slightly in the dryer, then let them hang overnight to get all the moisture out.

next part: washing the car.

08-30-2004, 11:35 AM
prepping: i installed the Mr. Clean spray and its water filter. again, i did not use the included soap. the device is rather large but is very comfortable to hold, and the thumb switch to control the water is great - just a quick flick, and it turns cleanly and quickly on and off. the nozzle has 3 settings - wash (which mixes with the soap reservoir), rinse (full-spray, unfiltered water), and filtered rince. the filtered setting is not strong enough to rinse on its own, rather it sprays a very fine mist of de-ionized, filtered water (the filter is supposedly similar to the Pur water filters). it's very convenient for wetting towels or misting your car to keep it from spotting, and the de-ionizing seems to work well - you'll see the water really bead up evenly in little drops on surfaces and stay there for a long time without spotting.

to rinse the car, i thoughly hosed down with plain water, then finished off with filtered mist to keep the car wet.

washing: i started with the wheels, which were quite grimey with brake dust. i used some Dawn and the soft wheel/stiff tire brush set i got - a steal for $3.50 on clearance, if you can find them at your Walmart i recommend them. i forget what the brand is but they are red and gray with nice beefy rubber handles. thankfully my stock 16" 7-spoke wheels clean very easily, and the brush did a nice job of wiping away the grime and metallic dust. i rinsed with plenty of unfiltered water, then finished off with the filtered mist. i think i used paper towels to dry as i didn't want to waste too many MF towels just yet.

next was the car. filled another bucket with plain water and Dawn, lathered with the mit, then worked section by section. after each section, i heavily rinsed first with regular water to get all the soap off, then used filtered mist to push off all the unfiltered water and leave behind the fine beads. as i moved on i re-misted already cleaned sections to make sure they stayed wet and didn't spot.

drying: i got the California water blade knowing it wouldnt' work perfectly, but would at least cut down significantly on the # of towels and amount of squeezing i'd need to do. i got the smaller 11" blade as the car doesn't have many large flat surfaces, and i'd actually recommend an even smaller one (maybe 8") if you can get it - working around the curves of a E46 is tough, and if you have one of the newer Bangle-Mangled cars i imagine it's even harder. anyway, my results with the blade were mediocre at best - it squeaks and squeals like crazy, really noisy, and it leaves behind a lot of water around the edges and where there are curves. you need work slowly and carefully, follow up with a towel to dry up what's left behind, and clean the blade constantly - i kept a clean bucket of water with a MF towel handy to do just that after each swipe. it's also very easy to scratch your car - i got a little hasty and wound up leaving some white scratches on the front fender and hood from the corner of the blade. i was a little freaked out but fortunately the scratches came out during the waxing process later.

as my smallish MF towels got soaked it wound up becoming a 3-step drying process - cali blade swipe to get off most of beads, slightly damp towel to clean up big drops left behind, and dry towel to finish off. every couple minutes my damp dowel became a soaked towel while my dry towel became a damp towel, so i'd have to rotate in a new dry towel and throw the wet one in a bucket. for the whole car i wound up using about 6 small (11"x11") towels; if i didn't use the blade it would have been even more.

next: Zaino time.

08-30-2004, 12:19 PM
first step after drying the car was to wipe down with Z6 QD spray. i wasn't totally sure how effective the stuff would be - it seemed like some sort of glorified spray cleaner. it's not. you'll see the difference after your very first spray and wipe, the finish instantly becomes deeper, smoother, almost glowing. it's also a good way to prep for polishing as it allows you to wipe off any remaining grime which could scratch your car later. best of all, it's a piece of cake to use - spritz, wipe off with a cotton or MF towel - and it works on black matte and rubber trim just fine. doesn't smudge your windows either. good stuff.

next was the Z2 polish with ZFX. i couldn't believe my $20 for the ZFX bought a little tiny vial of blue stuff not more than half an once in size - oh well. i prepared about 2 ounces of the Z2 and ZFX in the supplied vials, then applied with the Zaino cotton pad. one thing i noticed was that the pad was just as good at taking off the product as it was putting it on, so when using a fresh pad it's very hard to get the stuff onto the car. i wound up using a spritz of water from the Mr. Clean filter to dampen it slightly, then starting with a generous amount of polish to cover the whole pad surface. the stuff goes on very thinly and you might think it's not going to do anything, but don't worry - a super thin layer seems to work just fine, it doesn't need to be a completely white haze like some other waxes. i really liked how easy the polish was to apply, and like the Z6 spray i could use it on rubber and matte black parts to good effect (it seems to actually moisturize the black rubber bumper/side trim very nicely). none of that white staining or caking up like most waxes.

i did two coats of Z2 + ZFX (was hoping to do 3 but ran out of time); for a 325i, it took about 3 ounces, so 1.5 oz per coat. i wound up using 2 clean Zaino cotton pads to buff, and 3 MF towels to do the final shining. be sure to keep flipping/replacing your pads/towels, and if you drop it on the ground or get it dirty against a tire or something, THROW IT OUT - i had a little dirt in one of my pads and wound up creating a scratch that i had to re-polish and buff out. the stuff is very easy to remove though - my 2nd coat i unintentially let it cure for over 2 hours in the summer heat, and i could still buff it out without too much effort. i think the initial treatment with Z6 spray helps in this regard by applying a polymer "primer" coat to slick and seal the paint finish... it was a humid day as well which also made matters easier. oh, i also applied a liberal coating of Z2/ZFX to the wheels, and buffed off with a paper towel.

end result - the car shines like crazy and is so slick you'd think it was greased up. when using Stoners Invisible Glass i couldn't even put the cap on the hood as it would immediately slide right off. the super smooth optical quality also brings out the silver part of the silver gray finish a lot more - the car actually looks a bit lighter and much more sparkly than when i got it from the dealer. whether you like that or not is subjective i guess, but it still looks good. i'm not sure how long it'll last but i think it'll afford good protection for the car as well - the wheels too are so slick, i imagine the brake dust will wipe right off. overall i'm very satisfied with the Zaino products and think they are worth the cost. i'm not sure how much difference the ZFX additive made to the polish, but i have to admit it did cure very well on the car - not sure if it would have been the same with just straight Z2. oh, and Stoners Invisible Glass is great stuff too, so much better than Windex.

i don't have any pictures of the final car, but i did take a couple pictures of the car during the washing process and with the Mr. Clean beading action - will post later when i get a chance.

08-30-2004, 08:59 PM
here's a few pics during the washing process.

after washing and misting with Mr. Clean filtered water... note how well it beads, even though the car has been stripped of wax with the dishwashing soap:

here's the car after Z6 QD'ing, but before Z2/ZFX polishing:

i will have to take a picture of the finished car after two coats of Z2 - the gloss is really amazing.

08-31-2004, 03:42 AM
Looks like you've got a plan. Post some pics of the finished product!

Rather than using the Blade, I've found that removing the nozzle from my hose and letting the water run directly onto the car "sheets" the water off of the car, leaving just a little behind. A large MF drying towel than finishes the car perfectly.


01-31-2005, 09:08 AM
Can someone please advise as to how I can actually SEE whether or not I've applied the Z2+ZFX on the silver gray surfaces? I tried my first Zaino wax this past weekend, and in most angles of light I really could not see where I put Zaino on or not.

Generally I applied roughly a dime size dab on a cotton towel and spread it around a 1'x1.5' area on each panel, but it's hard to see where I actually have a good layer, and when I run out.

Any hints as to how I can better track/see the Zaino Z2 application?


Mr. The Edge
01-31-2005, 09:20 AM
Generally I applied roughly a dime size dab on a cotton towel and spread it around a 1'x1.5' area on each panel, but it's hard to see where I actually have a good layer, and when I run out.

Any hints as to how I can better track/see the Zaino Z2 application?


sounds like you put on way too much. the dime sized dab should be good for 1/4 of the hood probably.

one hint I tell people is to try the zaino on the windshield and back window first, to see that you really don't need as much as you think you might.

when the zaino hazes you'll see it easily on the glass