Car Washing Grit Guard

Picture of Car Washing Grit Guard
Runner-up Copy Cat Reverse Engineering Challenge

I made it at Techshop

This instructable was Runner Up in the Copy Cat Reverse Engineering Challenge.

Commercially available Grit Guards (http://www.gritguard.com) fit in the bottom of your car wash bucket and clean your wash mitt, brush, or towel, to save your paint from swirl marks and scratches. Once the grit is removed from your mitt, the guard acts as a settling filter, keeping the grit away from your mitt, so that you don't recontaminate it.

Grit Guards may be purchased for $9.99 + shipping and handling, and according to their website, is the "most cost effective method for protecting your precious painted surfaces from being scratched while washing your vehicle."

However, this instructable will show you how to make your own grit guard for FREE*, making THIS the most cost effective method to protect your vehicle!


(1) 5 gallon plastic bucket.
*Used pickle buckets from restaurants, paint pails, and cat litter containers are FREE.
If you must purchase one, Home Depot sells theirs for $2.60, which is still 1/4 of the price of a Grit Guard.
Masking/painters tape (optional)

Tools (available at TechShop):

Drill press
1" or 1-1/8" hole saw
Time to make:  < 30 minutes

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Step 1: Mark the holes

Picture of Mark the holes
On the bottom of the bucket, mark 8 lines, evenly spaced in a radial pattern (like spokes of a wheel). You don't need to be super accurate, just eye-ball it. You may use a marker and straight edge and draw the pattern, or you can do like we did, and use painter's tape.

(You may notice our bucket started out with a few saw cuts in it, after it was used as a makeshift sawhorse, making it the perfect donor bucket for this project!)

Step 2: Drill the holes

Picture of Drill the holes
Using the hole saw in the drill press, drill holes all the way around the bucket, as close to the edge as possible, on your marked lines. (You could use a hand drill here, but the drill press makes it much easier.)

Then drill holes all the way around, near the center, then add a third set of holes in between the others.

You can go ahead and add another hole in the center if you wish, and you are done!

Step 3: Using your Grit Guard

Picture of Using your Grit Guard
Avoid washing with sponges. Sponges trap dirt and grit in their pores, making your "cleaning tool" a scratching tool. Desirable washing tools are lambs wool mitts with a long nap (length of fibers) or microfiber mitts.

Place your new grit guard in your 5 gallon wash bucket, and fill with water and your favorite car washing soap. Because of the way the buckets nest, the bottom of your grit guard will sit a few inches above the bottom of the wash bucket.

Start washing your vehicle, and each time you place the mitt back into the bucket, rub it on the bottom of the grit guard to release the dirt, grit, and grime. The soild particles will pass through the holes in your grit guard and sink to the bottom of the wash bucket, keeping your mitt clean and grit free.

Note: Many people (including the Grit Guard company) recommend using the two-bucket method for washing vehicles. This involves having a rinse bucket with clear water and a grit guard, and a second bucket with the soap (and possibly another grit guard). The idea is that after each use of the mitt, you clean it in the rinse bucket, then load it up with more soapy water in the second.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the two-bucket method, and for the price (FREE), it is worth making a second grit guard if you choose.

Tip: Automatic dishwashing liquid works like magic to clean whitewall and raised white letters. You probably already have it under your sink anyway, and it is way cheaper than 'tire bleach' and way easier to use than steel wool soap pads, like my father used to do. Just squirt a dap on a wet rag and wash the tire, but be sure not to get any on your paint, and do not rinse it in your wash bucket, as it will strip the wax off your vehicle!

Step 4: Storage

Picture of Storage
The commercial Grit Guard is designed to fit inside your 5 gallon pail, so it takes up some of the volume. Your new FREE grit guard is itself a 5 gallon pail, so none of the interior volume is lost.

This lets you store all of your favorite soaps, cleaners, mitts, chamois, brushes, etc. inside the pail, and also provides a 'drip rack' for your wet stuff.

If you want, you may even add a lid, to keep all of your car washing supplies clean and organized.

By the way, that is my 1977 Chevrolet El Camino SS.

About lime3D:

I have been designing products in the automotive, aerospace, medical, defense and consumer products industries for over 30 years. I am an "Inventor for Hire", so if there is something you need designed or built, just send me a message, or stop by http://www.lime3D.net, and maybe we can do business!