Clear Coat Finish – Keep It Clean and Keep It Protected

Innocent mistakes by new car owners is the leading cause of clear coat damage.  This typically happens when the car owner washes the car at home, attempts to remove something that does not belong on the paint (bird poop, sap,  bug splat ) or takes the car to a automatic car wash place.

1.  Incorrect technique when attempting to remove something on the clear coat that does not belong.  Bird poop, tree sap, bug splat

This is probably THE top source of innocent clear coat damage from the 100s of emails I have received over the years.  For instance a bug splat...the car owner washes the car and uses a kitchen scrub sponge with abrasive scotch brite side.  This will cause SERIOUS  damage to your clear coat.  DO NOT use this type of sponge on your car...its just like taking sand paper to the clear coat.

Do not use paper towels on any painted surface of your vehicle.  Paper towels are a wood product and can scratch your clear coat.  They are OK for window glass but that's all.

NEVER "dry wipe" your paint finish with anything ....even micro fiber.  This is guaranteed  recipe for micro marring.  You would be either washing with traditional car wash shampoo or a modern hi tech product called Kleen Freak  that requires no hose water - its a advance spray emulsion that is the safest way to clean and wash a modern clear coat finish .

How to do it right - Always Always Always use a fresh perfectly clean micro fiber towel when touching your delicate clear coat finish.  Do not use it dry however (see below about "dry wiping".  Always wet a micro fiber towel, shampoo, detail spray or similar  - it is  how it was designed to work effectively.

There are bug specific automotive shampoos - they are pretty strong and will remove any wax or sealant. Therefore you will want to apply wax or sealant after you wash.  Use a micro fiber towel or mitt...DO NOT scrub - let the shampoo do the work.  You can lay a big soaked towel on the area for   10 -15 minutes to help soften the bugs so they wash off easily.

For bird splats you can use a autmotive shampoo with warm water -  soak the micro fiber towel and lay it on the bird splat and allow it to often. Then with a fresh side blot up the debris DO NOT rub.   Flood the area with water dry and then apply wax or sealant to protect the area.

For tree sap  WD40 works pretty well.  DO NOT try to pick tree sap off with your can pull the paint right off to bare metal. I like to put the car in the sun to soften up the sap then spray WD40 on the sap and let it slowly soften.  DO NOT rub it off or try to pick it off.  Blot at it it might take several minutes to get it to soften.  Alternately you could soak a micro fiber towel and lay it on the sap for a while to allow it to soften up.


2.  Incorrect drive way car washing - The simple task of washing a car in the driveway is THE most common time car owners will inflict innocent clear coat damage ...either immediate or long term.





Do not use cotton towels or any household cleaning products, this includes dish washing soap.  All house hold chemicals are high pH  which means they are alkaline (strong oxidizer ).  They will strip wax and sealant from the paint and also deteriorate rubber and plastic over time (oxidizing effect ).   Cotton towels do not pick up debris safely - they tend to swirl debris around thus can cause scratching when washing or drying a clear coat finish.

 How to wash in the drive way correctly :

I will go into more detail on this in another post.  However the correct way to wash a car is using what is called a  "2 bucket" wash.

  • two buckets one for suds one for rinse water
  • automotive car wash shampoo
  • micro fiber wash mitt ( optional 2   one for lower dirty parts one for upper parts of the vehicle )
  • micro fiber over sized drying towel    at least  24"x35"
    *Work around the vehicle rinsing the wash mitt every panel and applying fresh suds.
    *Dry the vehicle with the over size micro fiber towel
    *Always wash the paint finish when its cool to the touch.  A  warm surface is prone to micro marring.

Kleen Freak 10 Minute Detail wash

The cutting edge modern alternative to old fashion " 2 bucket" wash is a product called  Kleen Freak.  This product uses no garden hose water to wash a delicate clear coat finish.   It is a hi tech spray emulsion that creates a slippery film that breaks the bond of the dirt to the paint and the residue is safely picked up with a unique micro fiber towel and then buffed to a dazzling shine.  It takes approx 10 minutes to do a regular size vehicle.  The advantage is that it's the safest way to clean a modern clear coat finish.  There is no mess, it's fast and leaves a layer of polymer sealant on the clear coat for ongoing protection.

3.  Taking your vehicle to ANY automatic car wash (aka Spider-O-Matic)

Death to your clear coat!







I have spoken volumes about this over the years.  Just know it's not IF  it's WHEN your clear coat will suffer abuse.
The abuse comes in two flavors.

1. Immediate scratch damage due to crud in the high speed spinning brushes.  Obvious damage.
2. Long term dulling (spider scratches) this comes from the abrasive abuse of the spinning bristles and the fact that they hold crud from 100s of cars before yours. Even if they cleaned them every day....(they don't) your paint will still get abused.

Tell Tale Automatic car wash damage


It takes at least an hour or more to do a correct " 2 bucket" wash in your driveway....  it's messy and a hassle and you need a garden hose.

However there is a NEW way to keep your vehicle clean!

I know time is valuable and that is why I designed Kleen Freak 10 Minute Detail spray wash.  You can use it ANYWHERE.  Kleen Freak is SAFE and FAST plus you get protection and shine that will blow your mind.

If you think this blog post was valuable and you learned a few things please share it with your friends that could benefit too!