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How to Polish Your Car by Hand

Your car’s paintjob should look like your pockets: deep and rich. No riches? No problem. In this article we’re going to explain how to turn a dull paintjob into a rich one, without the need for deep pockets.

Our first task is going to be to remove those pesky surface contaminants, but before we get started on that, we’ll need to wash off any loose dirt or dust from the vehicle surface. It’s important to use soap that has been formulated specifically for vehicles, such as Ultima Paint Guard Wash, otherwise you could potentially damage the exterior.

Tradition dictates that once the car is clean it’s time to break out the clay bar, but I’m here to tell you that the clay bar sponge is obsolete. Here’s why: drop it on the ground one time and it’s ruined.

These days you are better off with a synthetic clay bar such as the Ultima Sythetic Sponge, which safely removes surface contaminants and oxidation with less marring and mess than traditional clay bar treatment.

The Synthetic Sponge works best in tandem with Ultima Cleaning Lubricant Gel. Unlike detail sprays and other clay lubricants, Ultima Cleaning Lubricant Gel is pH neutral and contains no cleansers, alcohol, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or waxes.

Be sure to follow these important guidelines when removing surface contaminants:

  • First rinse the sponge in fresh or soapy water to clean.
  • Lightly mist a 2’ by 2’ area with Ultima Cleaning Lubricant Gel.
  • Gently rub the block on the surface until contamination is gone. If heavy contamination is present, vigorous rubbing may be needed. 
  • Wipe paint surface dry with a clean, dry microfiber towel (such as the Ultima Edgeless Towel) and feel for remaining contamination. 
  • Rinse the Ultima Sponge block frequently to keep clean. Rinse block if dropped. 

Once the defects have been removed, it’s time to focus on enhancing your clearcoat finish. It’s crucial to use a fine, non-abrasive polish that has been designed for modern clear coat paint finishes (like Ultima Paint Prep Plus), otherwise you could risk damaging your paint.

Ultima Paint Prep Plus is a concentrated, professional-grade exterior protectant that will give your paint a deep cleansing, smoothing away swirl marks, water spots and fine surface scratches. Boosted by their patented secret ingredient Polycharger®, it offers maximum protection from the elements, giving your paint that “just waxed” look.

Here are some guidelines for applying Paint Prep Plus:

  • Apply using the included Ultima Hand Polishing Applicator.
  • Apply to one panel at a time, working in thoroughly until only a light film remains, then allow the film to dry to a haze.
  • Buff off with a soft polishing towel or a microfiber bonnet.
  • Repeat if necessary to remove stubborn swirl marks or water spots. 

Paint Prep Plus also leaves behind a special primer designed to promote proper bonding with Ultima Paint Guard Plus, which can be applied afterwards to protect your finish for an entire season.

Now no matter how you roll, your pockets will look deep and rich (because so does your paint)!