How to Wash and Care for a Car With Paint Protection Film

You’ve made the wise decision to have paint protection film applied to your car—but what comes next? 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about maintaining and preserving your vehicle’s PPF to ensure it remains in top-notch condition for years.

Key Takeaways

  •  Proper PPF care is essential for protecting your car's appearance and investment.

  •  Gather PPF-friendly supplies: car wash soap, microfiber wash mitt, two buckets with grit guards, and a soft microfiber drying towel.

  •  Pre-wash inspection and spot cleaning for stubborn contaminants are crucial.

  •  Use the two-bucket wash method with gentle, straight-line motions and frequent rinsing.

  •  Consider applying a ceramic coating for PPF longevity, avoid abrasive cleaners, inspect PPF regularly, and watch for haze or discoloration.

Why Care for a Car with Paint Protection Film?

You’ve put your hard-earned money into preserving the beauty and value of your vehicle, so it’s only logical to want to protect that investment. Here are compelling reasons why caring for your vehicle with PPF is not just essential but also a smart choice:

1. Safeguard Your Valuable Investment

  • Protect Your Financial Commitment: You’ve made a substantial investment in clear bra to safeguard your vehicle’s paint. Proper care ensures that your investment pays off by providing long-lasting protection for your car’s finish.
  • Maximize Your Investment: Caring for your PPF ensures it remains effective, allowing you to maximize the benefits of this valuable addition to your vehicle.

2. Preserve and Enhance Your Vehicle’s Beauty

  • Retain That Showroom Shine: PPF maintains your car’s “just off the showroom floor” appearance. After all, you’ve invested in clear bra to keep your car looking its best.
  • Uncompromised Clarity: Regular maintenance ensures your PPF remains clear, allowing your vehicle’s paint to shine without distortion or cloudiness.

3. Long-Term Savings

  • Avoid Costly Repairs: Neglecting PPF care can lead to premature wear and tear, potentially resulting in expensive repairs or even PPF replacement. By taking care of it, you can avoid these unnecessary expenses.
  • Protect Your Resale Value: A well-maintained clear bra can significantly increase your car’s resale value. When it’s time to sell or trade-in your vehicle, you’ll reap the benefits of this investment.

4. Maintain Warranty Coverage

  • Preserve Warranty Benefits: Many PPF manufacturers, such as XPEL, offer warranties to back the quality of their products. Proper care and maintenance are typically requirements to maintain warranty coverage. By following recommended care procedures, you ensure your warranty remains intact.


Caring for your car with paint protection film is about safeguarding your investment, maintaining your vehicle’s appearance, and ensuring long-term value. You’ve put in the effort and resources to protect your car—now, let’s make sure it serves you well for years to come.

How To Wash Your Car With Paint Protection Film

Properly washing your car with PPF is essential to maintaining its appearance and longevity. To help you achieve the best results while ensuring the safety and cleanliness of your PPF, follow this step-by-step guide:

1. Gather Your Supplies

Before you begin, it’s crucial to have the right tools and products on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

Car Aftercare Washing Products

Check out the following XPEL products to maintain your car’s pristine condition or just stop by Elite Window Tinting to stock up.

  • Wash Solution: A premium shampoo concentrate, designed specifically for vehicles. Simply dilute it with water, apply to your vehicle, and rinse off effortlessly for a sparkling finish.
  • Rinse-Free Wash: This concentrated solution offers a hassle-free cleaning experience. Mix with water, apply, and there’s no need to rinse off. Ideal for a quick and efficient clean.
  • Waterless Wash: The ultimate convenience in vehicle care, ready to use right out of the bottle. Spray directly onto your vehicle and wipe off with a high-quality microfiber cloth. No water, no rinsing required. Perfect for maintaining your vehicle’s cleanliness between deeper washes, providing a balance between a detail spray and a ceramic boost.
  • Foam Soap: Specifically designed for use with a foam cannon and pressure washer, this soap creates a rich, lubricating foam that clings to the surface to lift dirt and grime away, ensuring a thorough and gentle clean.

Microfiber Wash Mitt

Choose a soft and plush microfiber wash mitt, like this one from XPEL. This mitt’s soft fibers are less likely to cause scratches or swirl marks on the PPF than traditional sponges or brushes.

Two Buckets

Prepare two buckets for the wash process. We’ll explain more in the next couple of steps.

Grit Guards

Place grit guards at the bottom of both buckets. These guards act as barriers, trapping dirt and contaminants beneath them and preventing them from reattaching to your wash mitt.

2. Pre-wash Inspection

Before you start washing, take a few moments to inspect your PPF for any visible contaminants. Look for issues such as bird droppings, bug splatters, or tree sap. If you notice any of these, address them before proceeding.

For stubborn contaminants like bird droppings or insect residue, use a PPF-specific cleaner or isopropyl alcohol to spot-clean the affected areas. Apply the cleaner or alcohol to a microfiber cloth and gently blot the area until the contaminant is removed.

3. Rinse Thoroughly

Begin the wash process by thoroughly rinsing your car with a hose or a pressure washer. This initial rinse helps remove loose dirt and debris from the vehicle’s surface, preventing them from scratching the PPF during the washing steps.

4. Two-Bucket Wash Method

The two-bucket wash method is a fundamental technique that minimizes the risk of inflicting swirl marks and scratches on your PPF:

  • Bucket 1: This is your primary wash bucket. Fill it with the prepared soapy water. Dip your microfiber wash mitt into this bucket to apply soapy water to the car’s surface. It’s important to note that you should use a separate wash mitt only for your wheels and ensure that it never touches your paint. 
  • Bucket 2: This is your rinse bucket, filled with clean water. After washing a section of your car, rinse the wash mitt in this bucket to remove dirt and contaminants. Grit guards in both buckets help trap debris and prevent cross-contamination.

5. Wash Gently

With your microfiber wash mitt saturated with soapy water, wash your car using gentle, straight-line motions. Avoid using excessive pressure or circular motions, as these can potentially damage the PPF. Focus on one section at a time, starting from the top and working your way down.

6. Rinse Frequently

Frequently rinse your microfiber wash mitt in the clean water bucket. This step is crucial to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating on the wash mitt’s surface. A clean wash mitt ensures a safer washing process.

7. Dry with Care

After washing, dry your vehicle gently with a clean microfiber towel, taking care to pat rather than drag the towel over the PPF to avoid micro-scratches. For an added layer of protection and shine, apply XPEL Ceramic Boost. Suitable for cars with or without a ceramic coating, Ceramic Boost extends the longevity and enhances the appearance of your PPF. Its hydrophobic properties add extra protection against contaminants, maintaining the film’s clarity. Spray a small amount on the surface and wipe with a microfiber towel for a lasting shine. 

4 Simple Maintenance Tips for Clear Bra

Caring for your clear bra goes beyond washing your car. To ensure your PPF remains in top condition, consider these comprehensive maintenance tips:

1. Utilize a Ceramic Coating

Applying a ceramic coating to your PPF is a smart move to enhance its longevity and simplify cleaning. However, it’s crucial to select a coating that is compatible with your specific PPF to maintain warranty coverage. Here’s how a compatible ceramic coating benefits your PPF:

  • Hydrophobic Properties: Ceramic coatings create a hydrophobic surface on your PPF. This means water, dirt, and contaminants are less likely to adhere to the film. Instead, they bead up and roll off, reducing the risk of staining.
  • Enhanced Protection: In addition to repelling water, ceramic coatings offer an additional layer of protection against UV rays and chemical contaminants. This added protection helps preserve the clarity and appearance of your PPF.
  • Easier Cleaning: With a ceramic coating in place, routine cleaning becomes more efficient. The coating minimizes the effort required to remove dirt and contaminants during washing.

It's important to note that using a ceramic coating not endorsed by your PPF manufacturer can void your warranty. For instance, applying a non-XPEL coating on XPEL PPF will immediately void the warranty. Always ensure the ceramic coating you choose is fully compatible with your PPF brand to keep your warranty intact and get the most out of your protective film.

If you’re not familiar with ceramic coating and want to learn more, check out this video.


2. Avoid Abrasive Cleaners

Never use abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals on your PPF. These products can compromise the film’s integrity and diminish its protective properties. Instead, adhere to the following guidelines:

  • PPF-Friendly Products: Use cleaning products specifically designed for PPF maintenance. These products are formulated to be gentle on the film while effectively removing contaminants.
  • Avoid Abrasive Tools: Avoid using abrasive brushes, scrubbers, or abrasive pads during cleaning. Stick to soft microfiber towels, wash mitts, and applicators to prevent scratching or damaging the film.

3. Regularly Inspect Your PPF

Frequent inspections are crucial to catch any issues with your clear bra early. Here’s how to conduct a thorough inspection:

  • Well-Lit Environment: Examine your PPF in a well-lit area to easily detect imperfections.
  • Look for Damage: Carefully examine the PPF for any scratches, chips, or punctures. Remember, while PPF is a robust layer of defense, it’s not impervious to all forms of damage. Each blemish on the PPF is damage your vehicle’s paint has avoided. These imperfections highlight the film’s effectiveness as a protective layer.
  • Check Edges: Pay special attention to the edges of the PPF. If you notice any peeling or lifting, address it promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the film remains securely in place. Additionally, avoid pressure washing edges of the film.
  • Haze or Discoloration: Keep an eye out for any haze or discoloration that may have developed over time. While PPF is designed to be clear, aging or improper maintenance can sometimes lead to these issues.


4. Professional Maintenance

Consider having your PPF professionally inspected and maintained by experts like Elite Window Tinting. Here’s why professional maintenance is valuable:

  • Expertise: Professionals have the expertise to identify and address potential issues with your PPF, ensuring it stays in peak condition.
  • Specialized Tools: Professional maintenance often involves using specialized tools and equipment that can provide a more thorough assessment and repair, if necessary.
  • Warranty Preservation: Maintaining your PPF through a certified dealer like Elite Window Tinting may be required to preserve your warranty coverage. Failure to do so could void your warranty.
  • Peace of Mind: Professional maintenance provides peace of mind, knowing that your investment in clear bra is well taken care of by trained experts.

Elite Window Tinting: Your Trusted Partner for Clear Bra Excellence and Maintenance

Paint protection film is a fantastic investment to safeguard your vehicle’s paint from various hazards. By following these washing and care guidelines, you can ensure that your car with PPF stays pristine. Remember, regular maintenance and attention to detail will pay off in the long run, preserving your vehicle’s beauty and value. For the highest quality paint protection film installation and maintenance services, trust Elite Window Tinting – contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Kenley Wallis