The proper way to wipe down a vehicle prior to paint

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
I've written this a while ago but never posted it. Maybe this will help some folks and help to clear up any confusion someone may have over how to wipe something down.

The proper way to wipe down a vehicle prior to paint.

First before the wipe down stage you want to have as clean a vehicle as possible. In collision repair this isn't always possible, but with Restoration type work it is and should be considered mandatory.
After your final sanding when you have your vehicle or part ready for paint, the first step should be a good detergent wash with Dawn or similar dishwashing soap. Dawn has always been my favorite. Wash all panels or parts to be painted thoroughly.
You want to get any sanding scum, dirt or whatever, cleaned form the panels. While you are doing this concentrate on getting all the nooks and crannys wet trying to wash away any dirt, accumulated dust etc. If you are doing just a re-paint this is especially important as what is being painted is where the majority of trash comes from, not the air, floor, or you, but the vehicle or part itself. One area that is especially bad is the underside lips of quarter panels and fenders. Inside bottoms of doors are another area. Basically get the vehicle or part as clean as you can including the areas that are not getting painted.

Once you have done this and the vehicle has dried (sitting in the sun for several hours is the best way) then the next step is to blow it off with compressed air. If you are painting in a booth this should be done outside the closed booth to guard against any areas that you may have missed blowing trash into the air and the booth. I've always done it lightly just to get any dust that may have accumulated on the vehicle while sitting in the shop drying.

Once it's dry and blown off move into the booth or your painting area. After masking and when you are ready now finally we get to how to wipe it down. Now is the time to put on your nitrile/latex gloves. This is not an option, your hands will contaminate the surface, plus the gloves protect your skin.
You need to use a dedicated paint wipe. Not paper towels, not microfiber cloths, not blue towels from the HomeDepot/Lowes. Dedicated Paint Prep Wipes that you purchase from your local jobber or a trusted source online. Only use "name brand" wipes. If in doubt google the names. I'll list some of the ones I like later in this thread. Yes they are more expensive but a whole lot less than redoing something because of contamination. Plus after you wipe a car down you can re-use them for other things. (wiping up a spill, cleaning tools, etc etc)

I always favor a 2 step process. First I will pull off several wipes and fold them neatly (flat). My first step is always with a waterbased cleaner like SPI 700. Spray it on the panel or area taking care to completely cover the area then wipe that area off. Move onto the next area. Change your towels often.
Second step is to use a solvent based W&G remover like SPI 710 or PPG DX330. Personally I find 710 a little too quick (sorry Barry) so I like DX330 cause it evaporates slow. I do it the old fashioned way. I'll take several wipes fold them flat and then take several more and fold them flat again so I have 2 sets of wipes. I then soak one set with W&G remover and grab the dry set in my other hand. I then proceed to methodically wipe down one section/area, then with the dry wipes while it is wet wipe down that same area. Solvent based W&G remover is designed to be used this way. It lifts the contaminates off the surface and the second set of wipes removes the contaminates. Change your wipes fairly often and do the entire vehicle or part. When finished give it enough time to completely dry. If you are in a booth now is the time to turn your fan on. If you are not wait 30 minutes before proceeding with things.

Hope this helps someone.
 
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Chris111

New Member
No I do not. I am just learning the trade doing some repairs on sealing up a Cab on a 70 Chevy pickup.

I will however in the future! Thank you!
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
Thank you Chris. Do you wear gloves when sanding your vehicle getting ready for paint?
I'm assuming this is directed at me. If not I'll answer it anyway.:) No I don't. Never liked the feel of gloves when sanding. Especially when dry sanding my hands are critical in feeling the surface. Gloves take that away. (from me at least) At that point I'm not worried about contamination from my hands. If there is any it is taken care of with the detergent wash and the 2 W&G remover steps.
It is a good idea though to have clean hands when sanding. By that I mean no grease, grime etc.
 

EddieF

Top Banana
I'll add Don't touch your face. Use your arm to scratch the itch you almost always get when you can't :)
If you sweat, use headband or wrap something around. Friend of mine sweats like a dog & it's got him more then once.
 

Machspeed

Member
Thank you, Chris!

Years ago I had an on-line business replicating Muscle Cars for owners using high end 1/18th and 1/24th scale diecast cars. I used all automotive paint products in this. As a matter of fact, my first post here back in 2013 was how to make paint stick to diecast. Guess what, SPI epoxy, from our very own, Barry! Anyway, reading through this I recall using those blue paper shop towels to wipe down the body of a car I painted. Big mistake!!! Make that mistake on the real deal and it is painful.

Now Chris, what are those wipes you speak of? Didn't see them mentioned above.
 
I use the blue shop towels but blow the car off with air and wipe with a tack rag before painting. No issues so far.
Used to buy the expensive towels but ran out during a job and tried the blue shop towels. Not saying my way is correct, just saying it can be done.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
I've been using Sontara E-4584 (pretty sure that's the # I'll double check though) for the last 4 years or so and really like them. They are marketed as a maintenance wipe but are nearly as lint free as the dedicated Sontara paint prep wipes. They have just a touch of lint which really isn't a big deal cause I tack thoroughly. They come in a centerpull box of 375 and are roughly 70 bucks. One box goes a long way.

Merfin is a good brand as well. : https://www.autobodytoolmart.com/merfin-pro-prep-auto-body-wipes-p-12916.aspx
They are good ones.


I don't like the pre-soaked ones out there, because you still have to wipe the area down with a dry wipe after you wet wipe it. And I'd rather use W&G removers that I like and know work well.
 
After you initially posted this, I checked our local body supply store. They only sell blue Tork shop towels for prep, and said that is what everyone uses. They never heard of a dedicated paint prep wipe. They are a woven cloth like towel. So far, they seem to work good enough. Minimal lint and hold up really well. At $3 per roll, I'm not afraid to use them wastefully.

I found another paint supply store since then and will see if they have Sontara or Merfin. Thanks!
 

EddieF

Top Banana
I've only painted my own stuff & Bounty never let me down. As said before, never use first & last few with the adhesive they use to stick to roll. Does it lint? Yes. Do i forget to blow off area before spraying almost every time? Yes! Does it all cut & buff out like mirror good enough for me? Yes. After final prep sanding grit, i spray everything with water till it looks like its painted to check. Then i'll dry it or let it air dry if no sanding dust, spray next day.

Sweat like a dog (tounge)- been near 90F every day this month.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
After you initially posted this, I checked our local body supply store. They only sell blue Tork shop towels for prep, and said that is what everyone uses. They never heard of a dedicated paint prep wipe. They are a woven cloth like towel. So far, they seem to work good enough. Minimal lint and hold up really well. At $3 per roll, I'm not afraid to use them wastefully.

I found another paint supply store since then and will see if they have Sontara or Merfin. Thanks!
The blue torks will work fine . I've used them in the past. Surprised that your jobber has never heard of paint prep wipes though. Every manufacturer sells some variation of them. Axalta sells Sontara. PPG has their own prep towels. Sikkens, Glasurit, BASF, all market dedicated prep wipes. Basically what you want is something that is non linting or low lint, woven, and is known to be consistently clean. For me it is all about eliminating any chance of contamination. Doing this as my profession I have tried to develop a consistent series of steps that I follow to the "T" each time I paint. Not just in cleaning the surface but from start of the job to the finish. Doing the same thing in the same order every time helps eliminate a lot of issues and allows for much more consistency and as a result success.
 
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