I don’t have a religion, that kind of thing has passed me by. That’s not to say I don’t have a moral code – I do.
But when it comes down to the life’s rituals and the necessary moments of quiet contemplation and feelings of being at peace with the world, they are few and far between.
Apart, that is, for Sunday mornings, cleaning and polishing the car. Now, I don’t really want to argue that car cleaning is a religion. It just sometimes feels that it makes time stand still and all the cares of the world vanish.
Before you scoff at the notion, have you ever cleaned a car? I mean, really start to finish polished it? Started with the basics – soap and water and worked your way through wax, polish and all the finishes.
I would argue it’s one of life’s rituals that keeps me on the straight and narrow – and a morning of cleaning and polishing is akin to hours of meditation.
To start with, you do the simple stuff. Working your way through removing tar splatter, hardened brake dust, and all the grit and dirt from the life travails until you have a completely clean car.
It’s a ritual and an art which cannot be hurried. There’s a step by step routine which is the most logical way to get grit off without scratching the finish. It starts with sunny afternoon and a coating of snow foam to soften any hardened dirt. Not forgetting to spray under the wheel arches and sills to remove road salt, gravel and other trapped grime.
As the car gently soaks, brush out wheels and wheel arches. The idea is to get the grit off without redistributing it onto the rest of the vehicle before the real washing begins.
Jetwash away the bulk of the grime before cleaning them properly with soap and water. You do know the soap and water ritual, don’t you? Two buckets (and ideally a third for the wheels), one for the soapy suds and the second so that you can rinse your wash-mitt after each soaping. The rinse bucket has a little grit guard at the bottom so that grit rinsed off the cloth falls through it and can’t accidently be scooped back onto the cloth on subsequent rinses.
Getting rid of grit is a serious business – after all, every little speck can score a sharp line into the surface if it gets caught between the cloth and the paintwork. Once the bottom of the car is secured so that the pesky grit can’t be spread, it’s time to start on the car from the top. The rhythm of soaping the cloth, cleaning in wide circles, rinsing the cloth, soaking it in soapy water before resuming the wide circles. Soap, clean, rinse, soap, clean and repeat. Nose to tail.
Then there’s the rinsing. Two buckets again. Rinse the car with clean water, rinse your cloth before the next patch is rinsed. And it’s the rhythm that gets you out of thinking about the to do list or in fact anything at all apart from the wash, rinse ritual. Using the right cloths for each stage.
It’s the mindfulness of cleaning that I like, emptying the niggly thoughts from my head. I guess the modern thing is ‘being in the moment’.
But it’s not over yet. Once the car is soaped and rinsed, bottom to top, top to bottom, nose to tail, it’s clean. And once it’s really really clean, it can be polished. Cleaning is the necessary first step before you can start the never ending processes that is polishing.
by Chipps Chippendale at 2 Apr 2018, 00:00 AM