I meant to go the whole nine yards this weekend - minor chip repair, compound, polish, fix the stripes all the way down etc. but time was short and weather was HOT, so we'll leave those more involved DIYs for some other time. For now, I'm just practicing blogging with photos! If you want to do a "Stage II" cleaning of your black car (WHICH IS REALLY HARD BECAUSE BLACK), here's what I suggest.

Do all that you can in the shade, while the car is cool to the touch. Otherwise the heat combined with even a small amount of abrasion can mess up your paint bigtime.

Firstly - use the 2 bucket method. This means you wash your mitts in one bucket, then you re-soap them with another (cleaner) bucket. Alternatively, just buy like a dozen wash mitts and swap them out as they get dirty. That's what I do - they're cheap and they wear out quickly if you hand-wash your car every week like a nerd.


Put a couple capfuls of quality soap in your first bucket - I like Meguiars. Then fill the rest of the bucket with water (duh). This is your "clean" bucket. Fill your other bucket with just clean water. This will become your dirty bucket after you wash your mitts in it, prior to soaping them up in your clean bucket again.

A note on soaps - some are "wash+wax", meaning they give your car a thin protective layer of wax after you wash. While this isn't a substitute for periodically hand-waxing, it's an extra layer of protection that's easy to apply regularly. This week I'm hand-waxing, so I don't worry about it.

Rinse da car from top to bottom. Be thorough - it's especially important if your car is REALLY dirty. Do not pressure wash as you can easily mar the paint. Garden hose will do.


Dip your washy-mitts in the clean bucket, soak up some soap and then wipe the car from top to bottom. Don't miss any spots.


This is usually when your neighbor walks by and says HEY YOU MISSED A SPAHT.

So how to avoid missing spots? Wash one body panel at a time. Ford gave you nice big panel gaps for this precise reason.


Before your mitts get dirty, either rinse them in the dirty bucket and re-soap them in the clean bucket or toss them in your "dirty mitt" pile and get a fresh set soaped up. Dragging dirt around your paint will get you microscratches and swirls, which are particularly painful on your beauteous black paint.


Mm. Sudsay.


Fun fact: The 2015 Mustang is the only car I can think of that is so iconic, so instantly recognizable - it doesn't say "Mustang" anywhere on the exterior. So make sure you gently scrub that pony or people might not know what kind of car you've got.


Get that 5.0 badge nice and clean too, so the four-cylinders know to get out of your way.

Wipe those door jambs down - you see them every time you enter.


Rinse the entire car (once again from top to bottom, to help the sheeting action), and suddenly remember that you have wheel-wells that should probably be rinsed too - especially if you live somewhere with salted roads.


Unless you want the finished product to look spot-tastic, you're gonna need to dry the vehicle. Do this with CLEAN microfiber towels or Meguiars Watermagnets.


One fantastic discovery I've made is that "dry 'n wax" spray not only helps you wax and dry at the same time, but it makes the drying faster by absorbing the water. Turtle Wax brand seems to be more effective at this than the equivalent Meguiars stuff.


Not too bad. Pick some of the foliage out of your grille and you might have a real looker.


Here's where I usually call it a day. I usually gun it down the nearest farm road to shake the water out of the little crevices, then I spot-detail as needed. But this week, we're gonna clay. Claying strips your paint of the old wax, as well as bonded contaminants like bugs and bird disgracefulness.


I actually use a clay towel and mitt - they work essentially like a clay bar, and much faster. However, for removing wax from little body panel gaps and badges like the above, I still break out the ol' clay bar, which can contort around such nooks and crannies.


With the car in the shade, cool to the touch, spray on some quick detailer for lubricant and wipe the surface with the clay. On the first wipe, you'll feel some roughness to the paint - these are the contaminants you're passing over. After a few passes, the paint should feel smooth as glass.


As geeky as this sounds, many people find clay insanely satisfying. Seeing and feeling the bonded contaminants coming off on the clay is akin to using a pore strip. It's the one part of this routine where I can pretty much count on friends wanting to take part.


Yas. Remember to proceed one body panel at a time, to avoid legitimizing snarky "you missed a spot" comments from passing dog-walkers.


This is the car stripped down to its clear coat. Ah, that reminds me - never clay without waxing afterward. The wax isn't just cosmetic, but also protective. So we're gonna wax today too. BUT FIRST - let's give our wheels some TLC.

I have black glossy wheels - I only learned they weren't matte after I washed them for the first time. Brake dust is gross - get some wheel cleaner suitable for your alloys, spray it on, let it sit for a minute, scrub it, and rinse it off.



If you want the wheels to look REALLY great for about 5 miles after washing, dry them with a microfiber rag after you rinse the bulk of the brake dust off...unngghhhghhhhhh.


Then gel the tires for that wet look. Protip: Don't drive the car right after you gel the wheels, unless you want to gel your wheel wells and body...yikes. Wait 30 minutes to prevent spinoff.

While you're dutifully waiting for the gel to dry, wax the car. I use Meguiars Black Wax and the Dual-Action Polisher that sticks into any ol' plug-in drill. The random motion of the polisher keeps you from burning up your paint as you cover areas in a single pass. Once again - how do we not miss spots? Yeah, one body panel at a time...


Wait 10-15 minutes after you wax the whole car (longer for more wax, shorter for less), and then wipe it down in the order in which you waxed it. (this is my favorite part)


Finally, roam around town looking for unwashed black luxury cars to park next to and humiliate.