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  • Vehicle cleaning prior to wrapping, snow foam etc?

    Posted by Chris Wilson on December 24, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    Only been off one day and am already thinking of things. Sorry.

    Vehicle cleaning. Just curious as to what everyone else does.
    For example, we book a big van in for an entire week with us for a full wrap. At least a day of that is cleaning. We’re the good old bucket and sponge with us, followed by tardis and all the normal crack. Just wondering if snow foam or something else and a power washer takes it much closer to being clean and ready. I’ve even seen some wrap shops stripping cars and washing them. Which seems rather scary to me for water getting somewhere it shouldn’t.

    David Hammond replied 1 year, 6 months ago 5 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Simon Worrall

    December 24, 2022 at 11:03 pm

    I clean in three stages;

    1. Water with washing up liquid/baby shampoo. Takes care of the water based dirt, mud, etc.

    2. Prepsol or wax and tar remover, for anything oil based as well as any wax residue. I use cotton sheets from salvation army ripped into rags. I throw away one rag per panel.

    3. Follow up with Isopropyl alcohol, which gets rid of whats left. I do the whole vehicle at once, plus each panel gets the iso treatment just prior to wrapping it. For the iso I use 3M microfibre cloths which gets washed between uses.

  • RobertLambie

    December 25, 2022 at 11:40 am

    Other than normal cleaning a useful tool is an airline gun, or just use the air hose, both from a standard compressor. an airline gun is great for blowing out the crap from within areas that you cant remove. it also helps if you are trying to dry off a vehicle when washed because you blow out the water that would otherwise run out down your dry bumper or the like.

    Claybar is also great to get rid of those tiny specs of debris trapped in the surface of the paint that fluids and rubbing won’t remove.

    It’s good to hear you hold the vehicle for a week, Chris, I struggle to keep them for more than three days unless it’s a BIG van.

  • David Hammond

    December 27, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    We try whereever possible to not “wash” a vehicle, unless using an airline you’ll forever have water running out of panels.

    G101 in a spray bottle, and a clay cloth from Autosmart, spray and wipe down, then go over again with IPA and a microfiber. No waiting for it to dry, and water running out of places.

    We’ve all the bottles mixed, and hanging ready, so it’s really quick for us to do it this way.

  • Gary Forbes

    December 30, 2022 at 5:18 pm

    I cant much to what has been said here, but i hate water running out of a hidden area and down the panel just as you are applying the vinyl. i swear it hides and just waits! 😠

    not that i have a compressor but the air gun is a great idea. i never would have thought of that. 👍

  • RobertLambie

    January 1, 2023 at 6:33 pm


    You are right to be intimidated by stripping cars down for cleaning and wrapping purposes, Chris.
    When you strip commercial vans down, there is often similarities on how they are assembled. How the handles and lights are secured. It is not rocket sience “once you have plenty experience of doing it”.
    But expereince comes at a price. Stripping bits and bobs off of a vehcile here and there takes time, and every new vehicle is back to the trial and error process.
    We are sign makers and vehicle wrappers etc we are not mechanics. The minute you screw up a door handle re-install or a clip comes off a bumper etc. you may as well wave goodbye to any actual profit from the job.
    You will also find that most new vehciles have a clause that authorised dealers must only work on their vehicles, or it voids the warranty. All that said, most still fire in and try their best, with crossed fingers with a rabbit-foot in our back pocket. 😇

  • RobertLambie

    January 1, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    When it comes to fancy car cleaners of grime and dirt, be careful which you use, if any!
    Many are great for breaking down grime and dirt, but also contain their own waxes and coatings to give a great finish to cleaning the vehicle. This being the case, you are causing more work and possible issues for yourself because you want the vehicle clean of dirt, and grime, but also waxes and polishes so that the adhesive can have the best bond, and bite on the paint surface.
    you will see from just some of the Snow Foam options I have attached, they contain wax etc, while others don’t appear to.

  • Chris Wilson

    January 1, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    Hey rob,

    Will give the foam a shot. Wasn’t so much the stripping down, we are used to that and got two of the lads trained up there, was more I’ve seen some big fish on Instagram strip a car then wheel it back outside for a foam down. To be fair one that I have noticed doing it, also has a detailing side of the business, so they will know more than me.

    Decided over the break to find another apprentice, as only really got one lad on the vans full time. Pretty firm on the full week for a full wrap. We’re not short on work, so happy to stick to that and we are the only ones ups here that have a proper indoor area to wrap vans. Some of competitors are literally doing it outside. It’s an average of -1 up here today. Madness.

    Problem is most of our customers are buying ex fleet vans. Which are 3-4 years old. And covered in tar and all the rest of it. That and quite often we are to booked up for them to come straight from the dealership and they have been on the road of 4-6 weeks. It’s a local thing, was told by a guy at DFS who has moved from glasgow that everyone here buys their couches with cash and it’s a hard sale. Back in glasgow it’s £22 a week and couches flying out the door.

    Anyway not looking to cut corners, we price for them to be with us for 5 days. Would just take some pressure off and less of a smell of tardis in the air if we could get it done a bit quicker.

    • David Hammond

      January 2, 2023 at 6:06 pm

      We also use the TFR spray from Autosmart too.

      Brilliant at removing some of the ingrained stains from road film. It’s potent stuff, and don’t use it on silver trims or it’ll turn white if mixed too strong.

      We did a fleet rebrand and used it almost like panel wipe, works a treat.

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