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Detailing Efficiency Experiments

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Is there any advantage in washing and drying each panel using a rinseless wash (ONR) rather the more traditional washing the entire car and then dry it using the same products?


Experiment Number 1


To test this, a medium sized saloon car was used.  Only the painted surfaces and windows were cleaned.  The tyres, wheels, exhausts etc were not cleaned.


The car at the start of the experiment was clean. There are two reasons for this, firstly it had been washed only a day or two before I thought about this test and secondly a clean car provides a useful and repeatable benchmark.  To a degree, the level of dirt can determine how long it takes to clean a vehicle and it is hard to replicate the same level of dirt each time.


To give a benchmark time, the car was washed in the traditional way, a drying aid (OCW) was also used.  Each session was timed from the wash mitt leaving the bucket to the final wipedown on the last panel.  Setup times were not calculated although with a rinseless wash, this tends to be only a few minutes.

The aim was to clean the car in a slow and steady manner.  This meant it was easy to compare the times.

The second clean focused on cleaning and drying each panel before moving onto the next section.


The benchmark time was 30 minutes (all times rounded up or down)


The second clean (one panel at a time) was 22 minutes.


This is roughly a 30% improvement in efficiency.  Perhaps the biggest reason for the improvement was a reduction in the time walking around the car, ie less walking and more time spent actually working on the paint.


Another benefit was not related to the efficiency but washing and drying each panel forced the brain to remain engaged or at least reduced the tendency to drift off.  Moving around the vehicle washing and drying every few minutes meant the need to remain focused during the entire process.


Experiment Number 2.

This is very similar to the first test except for this time the interior door cards were cleaned (wiped and scrubbed with ONR and then dried).  Again, the door cards were clean before this test started

The benchmark time for the exterior and interior door cards was 41 minutes.

Washing and drying each panel including the interior door cards took 30 minutes.  This is roughly a 27% improvement.

As with the first experiment, it was the mental engagement which was most notable.  Cleaning the interior door cards meant even higher levels of engagement were needed and the process subjectively felt much quicker.  In a way, it felt more satisfying to complete one panel before moving onto the next and saving some time is a nice added bonus.

Obviously these small experiments have their limitations, the car was clean at the start, not every part of the car was cleaned.  Washing and drying each panel is easy with a rinseless or even a waterless wash but not so easy with more traditional products.

I did start a third experiment of incorporating polishing but after only a few seconds the polisher died.  At some point I would like to test cleaning the door jams and rubber trim.

The purpose of these tests was not to say “this is the best way” but rather to show there are efficiency savings to be had.  For some, the time taken to wash their cars is irrelevant but for others it is slightly more important.

As with all experiments, some may disagree with my approach or findings but the nice thing is this is an easy process for others to reproduce or improve

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Ive been cleaning panel by panel for a while now...infact I dont think Ive ever cleaned the whole car and then dryed it.  ONR ussually dries too fast for that if you are washing outside.

Good test Lowe :spoton[1]:

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There are ways to gain slightly more efficiency, even with the full body wash.

One is by having your bucket on wheels, eliminating the walking back and forth to the bucket.

Next is using the Big Red/Big Gold Sponges, having 2 sides you return to the bucket less often. 

By allowing the surface to air-dry to 70% you reduce drying time and effort. 


Which ever way you use, it’s all good, doing such exercises allows us to challenge ourselves and grow.

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In hindsight I should have mapped out how many steps I saved, in an ideal world it would have been nice to compare the set up time against a traditional approach but one of the reasons why I use a rinseless wash is my car is quite some distance from the house so it would not be a representative or realistic time.  I have spent a lot of time watching other videos just trying to find one which shows unedited set up times but have failed.  Of course it would be very boring to most people watching someone set up equipment

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