Being a member of Autopia.org, I have learned a nice, scratch-free way of washing my car. I have a 1995 Acura Legend with 220,000 miles that looks like it just drove off the showroom floor partly because of my wash technique. So, here it is.
-2 microfiber wash mitts
-1 tire scrubber
-hose w/ working water
-some high quality microfiber cloths (as in no "bag-o-rags" from Pep Boys)
-microfiber waffle weave cloth
-Blue Magic window towel
-Windex auto (needed if you have tinted windows. regular windex works for non-tinted windows.)
-tire shine (optional)
-I start by pulling my car in the drive way. The slanted surface aids with water dripping out of crevices.
-Next, I fill up one bucket with soap and water, and I fill up another with just water.
-I rinse my car off with the hose at medium pressure. My car is never actually "dirty", but i still like to rinse as much dust off as possible first.
-Next up, I dip my best microfiber mitt into the soapy mixture and do NOT squeeze any soap out of the mitt. The more lubrication, the less likely it is to marr the paint.
-I wash the roof, then the hood, then the trunk, then the windows, then all other painted panels. I only go in up-down motions or occasionally side-side motions, but never both at the same time and NEVER IN CIRCLES!!! Never use mor ethan light pressure, and go slow. After every panel, i squeeze out the soapy water from the mitt, dip it into the plain water, swish it around, squeeze it out, re-dip it into the plain water, swish it around, squeeze it out, and then dip it into the soapy bucket and move on to the next panel. If the spaces between panels are still dirty, I use a Q-tip with some car soap to clean it. Also, don't forget to clean door jambs/scuff pads with a wet mitt.
-After I finish this, I move on to the wheels. I clean the tires with a tire brush and the leftover plain water, rinse the tire and rim, then use my old, slightly worn out mitt for the rims and the small, painted part of the wheel well (actually, this may be considered part of the fender/quarter panel.) Repeat for all 4 wheels.
-Next, I thoroughly rinse the car off with medium pressure.
-I dry with a waffle-weave microfiber towel. Only go in back-and-forth movements, never circles. If any streaks are left over, I use a dry microfiber towel and some Meguiar's QD to remove them, again in back-and-forth movements. Dry all jambs last.
-Then I clean windows. this can be done almost any way you can get them to be clean.
-Finally, I use some Blue magic tire shine if I want to dress the tires.
Thanks for looking, and feel free to comment/ask questions/flame me for anything you think I did wrong .