While not as efficient as an automatic wash, we love ourselves a good hand wash, and it still remains the best method to fully clean your vehicle. There are however some differences between the correct Two Bucket Method most professional detailers use, and the usual hand wash you may have learned growing up.

As the name suggests, you’re going to need two 5 gallon buckets for this method. One for soapy water used to wash the vehicle, the other for rinsing off your sponge/microfiber between panels. While this concept seems too simple to be effective, this is the best way you can prevent scratching your vehicle, as most occur during the washing process.

If you want to take your wash to the professional level, add a 3rd bucket strictly for wheel cleaning as this is the dirtiest area of the vehicle. You can also find grit-guards for the bottom of the buckets which help prevent debris from getting into your microfibre mitt.


  1. Pull your car into a shaded area, or one that won’t receive constant direct sunlight.
  2. Pre-rinse entire vehicle with water including the wheels and tires.
  3. Have your two buckets ready; one with soapy (PH balanced) water for cleaning, and the other with just water for rinsing.
  4. Using a clean soft wash mitt, dip mitt in the soapy bucket and wash vehicle from the top down. The important note here is that you do not want to bring dirt from the lower portion of the vehicle to the other paint surfaces of the vehicle, causing scratching. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the mitt in the clean water bucket after washing each panel. This will eliminate cross-contamination.
  5. After cleaning the entire vehicle, rinse the soap off with fresh water.
  6. To dry the vehicle, use a soft microfiber towel. The water will come off easily so aggressive rubbing is not necessary. Leaf blowers and Air guns make a great alternative for easy drying as well.