The Minimalist 2-Bucket Wash Kit

The 2-Bucket Wash method is the most commonly recommended process for keeping your car clean.  In this post I describe a minimalist approach to the 2-Bucket Wash Kit which will keep your car looking great on a tight budget.

The 2-Bucket Wash Shopping List:

It’s time to start with a clean slate and you want to start looking after your car in a new way but don’t have much money to spare?

I’m using Australian resources/stores for this example but most will apply to any country.  The principle is simple, spend little get a quality result.

What you need:

  • Two Buckets.  Go for buckets of around 10L in size, the under $1 super market buckets will do just fine – ideally you want a deep bucket so any grit or dirt will settle towards the bottom and not be stirred up back onto your noodle sponge. 
    If you want to up the ante bit there’s a heap of tougher buckets out there, the 15L hard painters pails or even just heavier duty domestic buckets will do.  The Bowdens Own Bucket (BOB) is great value at $8.99.
    Cost $2
  • A Microfibre noodle sponge.  In general any automotive microfibre noodle sponge will do.  I really dislike Mitts and have never had success at keeping my had in a sopping wet mitt.
    Bowdens Own Muffy Sponge
    Bowdens Own Muffy Sponge

    The Bowdens Own Muffy Sponge is good value and nice to use but equally a Mequiars or “House Brand” product will work just fine with little variance in price.
    Cost $10

  • A Car Wash Detergent.  This is really where you can end up coming undone.  There are really three (or more) broad classes of detergents sold in auto stores for washing cars.  Each has a specific role and over time you’ll find yourself with a few different kinds.  For our basic 2-Bucket Wash we need a product that is going to break down the dirt and road-grime, lubricate while you use your noodle sponge, leave no residue and most importantly not wash away any previously applied waxes or coatings!
    There’s many many products that fit the brief but I’ve found that the Meguiars, Mothers or Bowdens Own products all work well.  At $16.99 the highly concentrated Bowdens Own is a good buy.
    Cost $17
  • Several Microfibre Cloths.  You’ll be using at least one cloth to dry off the body, and at least one more to apply a final step product.  I have two-grades of cloth, general purpose cloths that are cheap and cheerful for use on interiors, glass, wheels and exterior rubber, and thick plush cloths for drying the paintwork and product wipe-off.  Waffle Weave drying towels are great, and with their larger size they tend to not get too saturated.
    Waffle Weave Towel (House brand) $15

    House Brand Microfibres
    House Brand Microfibres are great all-rounders for detailing.

    3/4 Pack of House Brand Microfibre Cloths $10-15
    1-2 Quality Microfibre cloths for product application and removal $20-30

  • A Spray Detailer/Wax.  This is just good sense, using one of these as part of the drying step can make drying easier, the added lubrication reduces risks of marking and the fine protective layer left behind acts as a first line of defence against the world.  I’d recommend “Fully Slick” but have had good luck with Mothers Quick Detailer and Eagle1 Wax-As-You-Dry as well.
    Cost $25
  • Total Costs:
    • Buckets $2
    • Noodle Sponge $10
    • Cloths $45
    • Wash Detergent $17
    • Spray Detailer $25
    • Grand Total: $99

If you look after the cloths and don’t over-dose the chemicals you’ll be keeping your car clean for at least 6 months!  And you’ll only every be replenishing supplies as you need them (or when there’s a 20% off sale)

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Geek, Car Guy, Former entrepreneur looking for the next big thing while doing the things I should have done 20 years ago. Key pusher and thinker for a large organisation who dreams to be doing something else.

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