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Thread: The Final Wipe

  1. #1
    Mike Phillips

    The Final Wipe

    The Final Wipe – Tips for creating a streak-free, show car finish

    1959 Chevrolet El Camino - Extreme Makeover

    Note: The final wiping technique is not for the initial wiping-off of the wax or paint sealant, but instead is for after the majority of product has been already been removed and now all you’re doing is giving the finish a final wipe.

    Turning a diamond in the rough into a glistening gemstone
    You started early in the morning by washing the car, then you clayed the paint, then removed all the swirls and scratches, then polished the finish to a super high gloss and after that you applied your favorite wax or paint sealant. You’ve taken a diamond in the rough and turned it into a glistening gemstone. After removing the wax or the paint sealant it’s time to give the paint one last final wipe to remove any trace residues and showcase all your hard work.

    Here’s a tip to help you insure there are no streaks or smears left on the paint and a technique that on some hard to work on paints that might be just the ticket for creating the perfect finish in any lighting condition.

    The Final Wipe
    After all the work is done, when it’s time to give the paint the final wipe-down before you stand back and say to yourself it is finished, and then you take your pride and joy for a spin around the block or turn the keys back over to the owner, you usually want and need to give the paint a final wipe-down to insure you didn’t miss any spots and to remove any trace residues off the paint that can stand out like a sore thumb in the right light at the right angle that will so easily distract everyone’s attention from the work of art you’ve created.

    This technique can often times help you to remove any stubborn streaks or uneven looking areas on the paint, and it’s exactly opposite of what I’ve often seen enthusiasts and detailers do my entire car detailing life.

    The Technique
    The technique is to wipe the paint down slowly using your best, premium quality microfiber polishing cloth using gentle, even pressure. Fold your polishing cloth 4-ways to provide plenty of cushion to help spread out the pressure from your hand as best as you can over the face of the folded microfiber.

    Fold your microfiber polishing cloth to create plenty of cushion to help spread out the pressure from your hand and to give you 8 dedicated wiping sides.

    The secret to this technique is purposefully moving your hand and wiping cloth s-l-o-w-l-y over the paint, not like a spastic crazy guy moving his hand at light-speed over the surface.

    How it works
    The way this works is really quite simple but let me break it down for you into simple terms so everyone can understand. When making the final wipe, your job is to remove all trace residues from the previously applied wax or paint sealant; that’s your job.

    While to the human eye the surface of your car’s paint looks smooth and flat, under a microscope it’s actually a landscape of hills and valleys, (which is high spots and low spots), as well as pits and pores and interstices. (Interstices = microscopic gaps and cracks in the paint)

    Trace residues remain in the lower imperfections on the surface and when you move a polishing cloth over the surface the fiber’s of the polishing cloth grab onto and removes residues off the high points the easiest.

    Again, your job is to remove all the trace residues and do it in such a way that you do no harm to the highly polished surface at the same time, thus you need to use a premium quality microfiber, folded 4-ways to help spread out the pressure of your hand.

    Now think about it, if you’re moving the microfiber quickly over the surface how much time do the residues on the surface have to transfer to the cloth? Seconds? Milliseconds? That’s not very long.

    That’s why wiping like a mad man won’t remove streaks or residues and could possibly inflict swirls and scratches back into the finish.

    Slow down to speed up
    Instead, how about moving the polishing cloth slowly over the surface and enabling the microscopic sized fibers to get into the low portions where once they make contact with any remaining wax or polymers, the residue will have time to transfer from the paint to the cloth?

    This is called the final wiping technique and most people would agree it makes sense. It also works most of the time for stubborn streaks that sometimes show up on dark colored paints but it’s also just a good technique when working on highly polished surfaces where your or your customer’s expectations are high.

    If you’ve ever spent upwards of 8 hours and/or longer polishing out the paint to perfection on your car, or a customer’s car then you know how much work goes into,

    • Washing the car.
    • Evaluating the surface.
    • Claying the paint.
    • Taping off trim, body lines, emblems and badges as well as hard, thin edges.
    • Removing swirls, scratches and other paint imperfections.
    • Polishing the paint to a high gloss.
    • Applying the wax or paint sealant.
    • Removing the tape and carefully wiping off any left-over residues around body lines and trim.
    • Removing the first and subsequent coats of wax or paint sealant.

    Now it’s time for the final wipe and the last thing you want is to do anything that could potentially instill any new swirls or scratches into the now pristine finish.

    That’s why as you progress through the process, after each step you have to be more and more careful when wiping off any compounds or polishes and usually as you progress through the process the quality of your wiping cloth increases along with your carefulness as that’s how show car finishes are achieved.

    You can’t just wipe with any old towel and do it in any old way. Show car work demands focusing on the task at hand and using your best skills and your best tools to reach the goal of a flawless show car finish.

    Rushing at the very end doesn’t make sense and if you instill swirls and scratches because you’re wiping off the car like a lunatic or not using your best quality polishing cloths, then that’s working backwards in the process.

    Simply put, sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.

    That is, sometimes using a slow wiping motion, or slow rate of travel, will be more effective at removing all trace residues and enable to reach your goal versus moving your hand and polishing cloth quickly over the paint. Sure at the end of the process you’re tired and ready to clean-up and be done with the car but the technique you use for your final wipe-down of the paint needs to be calculated, methodical and precise. And after you make the final pass and you lift your hand and polishing cloth off the paint you can stand back and admire your work and then say, “It is finished”.

    The Final Wipe is also demonstrated in this video...

    How to remove shallow RIDS and how to machine

    This how-to video also covers,

    • RIDS - Random Isolated Deeper Scratches
    • Removing watches and any jewelery
    • Using a DA Polisher without the handle
    • Placing cord over shoulder
    • Priming the pad on a DA Polisher
    • Speed settings for removing isolated defects
    • Downward pressure needed for removing isolated defects
    • How to clean a pad on the fly
    • Where and why to mark your backing plate with a black mark
    • Rotating the body of the tool to keep the pad flat to a panel
    • Why to allow the pad to stop spinning before lifting the pad off the paint
    • How to swap backing plates from a 3.5" to a 5"
    • Machine waxing using 5.5" Hydro-Tech Crimson Finishing pads with Menzerna Power Lock
    • The "Kissing the Finish" Technique
    • How to do the Swipe Test to check if a wax or paint sealant is dry
    • How to remove dried paint sealant using a microfiber bonnet on a dry pad on a DA Polisher
    • How to clean a microfiber bonnet on the fly with your fingernails
    • How to apply a paste wax by machine - Souveran Paste Wax
    • How to carefully wipe a WOWO wax off by hand using Microfiber Gloves and plush Microfiber Towels
    • How and why to fold a microfiber towel 4-ways to wipe wax off
    • How to break-open a coat of wax and then creep out to carefully wipe off a coating of wax
    • How to do the "Final Wipe"

    Products Mentioned
    Porter Cable 7424XP
    Meguiar's G110
    Lake Country Foam Pads
    Microfiber Polishing Bonnets
    Microfiber Smock
    Premium Quality Microfibers
    Mist & Wipe Quick Detailers
    Carnauba Waxes
    Paint Sealants

    Further Reading
    Tips & Techniques for using the Porter Cable 7424XP
    2008 Lexus IS 250 - Pinnacle Detail
    What it means to remove swirls, scratches and water spots out of automotive clear coats

    Last edited by Mike Phillips; 08-20-2009 at 09:04 PM.

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  3. #2
    Super Member Dwayne's Avatar
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    Stuart, FL
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    Re: The Final Wipe

    Question: Hey Mike, what about using a quick detailer for the final wipe?

    Last edited by Mike Phillips; 08-20-2009 at 09:09 PM.

  4. Likes Dano shine liked this post
  5. #3
    Mike Phillips

    Re: The Final Wipe

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwayne View Post
    Question: Hey Mike, what about using a quick detailer for a final wipe?
    Good Question!

    Answer: Sure! You can do this if you like, itís up to you. For the final wipe you can use your favorite quick detailer to give the finish a final wipe and this is a great way to remove any streaks and insure a uniform appearance over the entire car as well as help you to remove any trace residues that youíre eyes might have missed.

    D.O. Enthusiasts and Detailers
    Keep in mind that this article is written for an online audience of both enthusiast detailers as well as a few professional detailers that tend to be very A.R., (Anal Retentive), or as I like to say, D.O. which means Detailer Oriented, (sounds better, I hate using the term A.R.), and for this audience theyíre looking for getting the maximum features and benefits from their LSP or Last Step Product, which is usually a wax or a paint sealant and some of these people would prefer not to wipe the finish down with any liquids until after a window of time has passed to allow all the protection ingredients to fully cure or set-up.

    Leaving the maximum protection ingredients behind on he surface
    The issue is about leaving as much protection on the surface as possible and the concern is if you wipe the paint down with some type of quick detailer, (a liquid), and a microfiber, (even though itís gentle, itís more aggressive than not touching the paint at all), after just having removed a fresh coat of wax or paint sealant, youíre disrupting the protection ingredients and probably removing some of them off the surface to some degree. This defeats the purpose of putting them on in the first place because with most D.O. enthusiasts and detailers, the goal is to leave behind as much protection possible.

    The Ultimate Goal (The reason most people are waxing their cars)
    The idea being to wipe the dried wax or paint sealant off the paint and then quit touching it until after the protection ingredients have fully set-up so youíll leave the maximum amount of protection ingredients on the paint to cure or set-up.

    So the Final Wipe Technique is a technique for giving your carís paint a final, slow wipe to remove any unseen trace residue after first removing the majority of the wax so the paint looks great in any lighting condition while leaving the maximum protection ingredients on the surface.

    It also provides comfort to the D.O. Enthusiasts or as they are also referred to as detailers with OCD which means, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so they can sleep at night knowing they left the maximum amount of protection ingredients on the surface, otherwise they might not sleep or eat.

    In the end, itís personal preference, give the paint a slow, gentle final wipe using only a soft, plush microfiber polishing cloth or give the paint a final wipe using a soft, plush microfiber polishing cloth together with your favorite mist & wipe quick detailer. Just depends upon your personality and your goals.

    Products Mentioned
    Mist & Wipe Quick Detailers
    Last edited by Mike Phillips; 08-20-2009 at 09:06 PM.

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  7. #4
    Regular Member mackdaddyhibble's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: The Final Wipe

    You're absolutely right,unfortunately Ive looked at those streaks the next day because I was rushing and tired.I guess I"II have to add this to my learning curve,this damn OCD!

  8. #5
    Junior Member pakto's Avatar
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    Re: The Final Wipe

    This is a great post!!!, I help myself so much!

  9. #6
    Super Member Harleyguy's Avatar
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    Re: The Final Wipe

    Thanks Mike i'm also gulity of moving to fast and leaving streaks or left over residue.I just find it hard to slow down just the way i'am since at work i'am always running around.Will try that technique next time.
    Lamborghini Broward

  10. #7
    Super Member agpatel's Avatar
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    Greensboro, NC
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    Re: The Final Wipe

    I am also guilty of going fast...will slow it down next time

  11. #8
    Regular Member wisemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: The Final Wipe

    this is awesome
    I am a underachieving at overachieving and feel good about it

  12. #9
    Super Member MisterShark's Avatar
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    Re: The Final Wipe

    Another easily overlooked minor detail: make sure your hands are clean and oil-free. If your MF is busy absorbing any oil from your hand as you press lightly upon it, then that side will be less effective at wiping away excess product once it comes to rotating that side of the towel to the working surface.

  13. #10
    Super Member DLB's Avatar
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    Ringgold, GA
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    Re: The Final Wipe

    Is admitting your guilt of hurrying this step part of the twelve step process to get over your D.O.'ness, or is it just fanning the flame?

    Either way - gulity.


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