After paying a hefty sum for a fresh paint job, you as the driver want the paint to stay in pristine condition the longest time possible.
Next to environmental contaminants, improper washing is the main reason for scratches and damage to the paint.
In general, it is best to wash a freshly painted car after two to three weeks at the earliest. This is when the paint has fully cured and has reached its maximum hardness. After the waiting period, it is best to wash the car by hand with proper equipment to avoid scratches and damages.
There are a few things to consider, so make sure to continue reading the article.
How Long Do I Have To Wait To Wash My Car After A Paint Job?
In general, it is best to avoid washing a freshly painted car for at least two weeks. This is the time it takes the upper paint layers to cure completely and reach their maximum hardness. On average, it takes up to eight weeks, before all paint layers are cured fully.
The paint cures about 2 days after the paint job, but that doesn’t mean your car is ready for a wash. Generally, It takes 2 to 8 weeks for the inner layers to cure.
The drying process depends on the thickness of the paint layer, the materials used, and the drying method. The safe coat for washing forms in 2 weeks after the paint job is done.
This topic is very controversial, and by searching on the Internet, you can come across a variety of estimates.
Some claim to wash cars in 12 hours with no negative consequences; others advise to wait at least 90 days.
To get more specific answers, it’s worth turning to professionals.
Here’s a list of a few detailing shops and their comments about washing your car after painting:
|Auto Body Shop||Comment||Advice|
|Tead Auto||“It all depends on how well the paint has dried. If it was heated in the paint booth and stayed there long enough, you can wash it by hand the next day, as long as you don’t rub it too hard”||We recommend at least a 7-day break after the paint job|
But it’s better to wait a bit longer. Say, 2-3 weeks.
|Hybrid Detailing||At least 3-4 days, so as not to deal massive damage||Be patient, it takes about 10-15 days before cured to treat the car safely|
|BM Tuning||Trust professional washers, but warn them that the paint job is fresh. Light pressure is also ok.||Stick to 15 days. The distance from the pressure washer to the car’s body should not be closer than 16 inches!|
|Vanguard Car Styling||The key here is not to perform Marie Kondo-ing. Not wipe — but gliding across the top. You have to be gentle with paintwork. Yet confident.||The safe period varies depending on many factors. However, you are not going to cause serious paint damage after 12-15 days.|
|Opel Official Service||We don’t recommend washing the car earlier than 2 weeks. This is a borderline number. That is, you can’t be sure that the paint will have fully “taken root” by that point.||Wait 2 weeks and wash your Opel (or any other car) safely. |
Ask your detailer about paint properties. He knows better than anyone.
What To Avoid After A Paintjob
How To Wash A Car After A Paintjob
Have already painted your car or are going to do it in the future?
Follow these steps to wash the car safely:
Scroll the page to read about each step in detail.
Let the Paint Cure
A freshly painted car needs time. How much? Well, that depends on several factors, but you should not wash a car within less than 2 weeks after the paint job.
What happens here is paint polymerization. Special additives, called polymers, are added to paint to provide superior adherence and protection from environmental factors (such as corrosion).
These polymers charge 2 weeks to partly cure, and 8 weeks to set fully.
Time is the best contribution you can make at this stage.
So, wait long enough after the paint job is done. The minimum gap between a paint job and the first wash shouldn’t be less than 14 days.
Prepare The Car And Wash In The Shade
At this stage, it is important to remember that the paint is not yet ready for aggressive exposure.
You probably know that paint is applied in layers: the outer layer dries faster, while the deeper layers of paint take 2-8 weeks to fully cure. Here are a few tips:
Had a drive under the scorching Miami sun? The car should cool down naturally by waiting for some time in the shade or garage. If you wash immediately, the temperature difference can lead to the clouding of the clear coat.
The washing procedure itself should also be done in the shade.
If you do it in the sun, the droplets may become optical lenses, which will cause uneven burnout of the paintwork.
Remember burning ants with a lense? The same happens to your paintwork.
Windy areas should be avoided, as this leads to dust, which becomes abrasive that causes new scratches to appear.
Besides, the wind causes the auto paint to dry very quickly, leaving white spots on the surface.
To remove them, you’ll need extra scrubbing, which could make the paint dull.
Use pH-neutral And Non-Aggressive Products
Check your chemicals. Overly aggressive chemicals are not good for washing vulnerable paint. Never use Dawn-esque products or any other dish soap. Read this to grasp why dish soap is a dead-center you want to avoid by all means.
Get some car shampoo that contains wax. Waxing helps create a protective film on your freshly painted surface that has a triple benefit:
If you painted your car in the fall and winter, you can use a cleaner that has silicone in it. In this case, an invisible film is formed, protecting the surface of the painted body from various damages.
The materials with which you are going to wash the surface of the car are of great importance.
For example, sponges are capable of holding abrasive particles in them, which can cause damage to the paint coating at the time of cleaning.
Even if the sponge seems clean, it’s probably not.
That’s why you should utilize a soft microfiber or a time-tested wash mitt. Both are great for washing freshly painted cars.
Tip: Make sure your microfiber has 400+ GSM density.
Forget about the pressure washer. The jet of chemicals bombarding your freshly painted car won’t be the best bang for your buck. What you want to do instead is careful hand wash. Check out the next step.
Perform a Safe Hand-Wash
Opting for the right wash technique directly affects the condition of your car’s paint. Never use a high-pressure washer.
The best ways to treat a fresh paint job would be a hand wash or a touchless wash.
Perform either of them to avoid scratches or any other paint damage.
Hand Wash Technique (two buckets)
To wash your car by hand, you will need two large buckets, some dense yet soft microfibers, a pair of grit-guards, and car shampoo.
This classy method is often referred to as the “two-bucket”. The idea behind it is pretty plain: you manually apply shampoo using two buckets. One bucket with clean water, and another bucket with soapy water. Here is an action sequence to perform two bucket method safely:
Tip: avoid hard water, as it leaves white strips.
Waterless Wash Technique
The point of this method is to apply a special high-lubricating cleaner to the car, which will destroy the dirt without your active participation.
If you are using a concentrate, you will need a little water to dilute it to the right consistency (read the instructions on the label).
A spray form is even easier: just apply the product to the car body directly from the bottle.
Coat part of the car with chemicals, wait a couple of minutes and then wipe it off.
Use medium-hard microfibers for this purpose. Too soft material can accumulate hard particles, while stiff rags can harm the paint.
300-400 GSM is the optimal density for a microfiber. Fold your rag in half twice (8 folds) and use only the clean part of the microfiber.
The best pattern to safely wipe your car is from top to bottom. Start with the roof, then treat the side view mirrors, hood, and trunk lid. The next step is the front of the car, the rear bumper, and, finally, the wheels. Make sure to use another rug for wheels.
Will Rain Hurt A Freshly Painted Car?
Unless this is a high-toxic chemical rain, a freshly painted car will not be damaged from rain. The outer layers of paint on your car cure in about 24 hours, thus forming a hard layer. Rain cannot damage this hard layer.
However, it’s still undesirable to expose your car to strong external influences. Especially, if it’s raining cats and dogs. Leave the car in the workshop/garage for 24 hours after painting to avoid any exposure.
Other natural phenomena like snow or hail similarly affect the paint. However, the effects are more intense. If the weather forecast predicts snowfall, it’s best not to expose the paint to it, if it hasn’t had at least 48 hours to cure.