Good man, washes really suck and I avoid them at all costs. A good practice is to preshade your parts to assist the wash blending, the wash doesn't have to work as hard to create the effect.
If you really want to see a different approach to washes and emphasizing detail take a look a work from JM Villalba. He hardly uses washes and employees the airbrush to shade.
And there is the rub, you trade controlling washes to controlling the airbrush! Its hard to argue with his results though.
I like the outlining and style he uses and you see that in my work, but the only way I can pull it off is with the enamel wash and then surgical clean up.
Red Baron by The 3rd Placer, on Flickr
Untitled by The 3rd Placer, on Flickr