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Detailing 101: Some Helpful Hints
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Detailing your car can seem like an overwhelming chore, but the rewards are obvious when done. Detailing is exactly that: concentrating on even the smallest of details. It may take a lot more time and effort, but the results can be nothing short of breathtaking. Professional detailing can be expensive, and they have developed their own practices to get the best results. Although taking care of every detail of the car makes a huge difference, to get that professional look, you need professional tools. Use products designed for specific areas such as the wheels, windows, body, etc. If you can’t improvise to the best of your abilities, but be sure to read label of any products you do use, to get the best finish possible.


The exterior makes the biggest impression when detailed. It is the first impression people have of the car, and can also be the most time consuming.

  • Wash/Dry - To any finish or to touch-up a good wash is need. Mix detergent according to the manufacturers' directions and use a sponge or mitt. When you wash a car, do it in sections. Start with the roof, which will make rinsing easier.
  • Tires - Wash the wheels with a brush made for this purpose. Be sure to clean your tires, rims and hubcaps. Use old toothbrushes, Q-tips and scrub brushes to get every single speck of dirt and grease from your tires. Chrome wheels can be gleamed up with metal polish or glass cleaner. Wash the wheel wells to get out all excess dirt with an all-purpose cleaner and a high-pressure dousing.
  • Smaller Body Parts - Areas such as your grill, bumpers, the lower part of your windshield where leaves, and etc. can accumulate, must also be thoroughly cleaned. You may need to use Q-tips, toothbrushes in order to reach small areas where dirt and grease and debris reside.
  • Inspect Paint - Upon washing vehicle, look for obvious stains and scratches. These may be able to be removed with polish or cleaner.
  • Touch Up - Scratches or nicks may also need to be repaired with touch-up paint, match the colour as closely as possible
  • Polishing - Refers to the restoration of gloss by removing contaminants, restoring valuable oils and smoothing the paint surface. This takes off the least amount of paint Be sure to include doorjambs, and the areas beneath door hinges and behind bumpers.
  • Cleaners - Deeper scratches can be cleared with a clear coat-safe cleaner, which removes more paint than polishes. For bad stains and deeper scratches, a more aggressive cleaner may be needed. If these do not work, the body may require the run of a machine buff.
  • Wax - available in three forms: liquid, paste and spray. Generally liquid wax is more user friendly, but does not last as long, as paste. Sprays typically coat very thinly, and do not provide adequate protection. You can use a damp applicator or a kitchen sponge. When the wax is dry, remove the residue using only a very soft cloth or an orbital buffer.

  • Trunk - clean it out and vacuum it. If there are a lot of things you need to keep in it, organize it, using medium sized inexpensive bins
  • Carpeting - remove any floor mats, and use baking soda or deodorizing powder while vacuuming the interior carpeting and upholstery. Move the front seats back and forth to shake out dirt and vacuum the small nooks and crannies typically unseen. Use a carpet stain remover on any stained carpeting.
  • Carpet Holes - For carpeting, you can repair holes by cutting out the small piece with a utility knife. Cut out a piece of similar size from a hidden spot, such as under the seats, and fortify it in place using a water-resistant adhesive. Brush the carpet nap, so it will blend in.
  • Floor Mats - If they are rubber, wash them thoroughly and you may need to use a scrub brush to get winter salt out of the matt cervices.
  • Upholstery - Once vacuumed you may need to use an upholstery cleaner for stains. If stains are stubborn, you may need to use a steam cleaner with an attachment to shampoo it. For vinyl or leather, use the proper conditioner, specifically for the upholstery type
  • Worn/Torn Upholstery - Can be repaired by using a kit from an auto accessory store that includes patches and instructions. Leather upholstery can be touched up using dyes or good quality shoe polish
  • Dash - Use a damp cloth and a mild all-purpose cleaner that is diluted, so that it is mild on all hard surfaces in the car. For harder to reach or smaller places use small cans of compressed air made for cleaning camera and computer equipment. You may also need to use an old toothbrush or cotton swaps for finer detail.
  • Air Vents – Use cotton swaps to clean out the grilles thoroughly with a mild cleanser.
  • Interior Windshield - Be sure to use a glass cleaner on the interior windshield. If really dirty, you may need to pre-wash with an old fashioned cleanser such as vinegar prior to the glass cleaner. Note: if you have aftermarket window tint film it may be degraded by using vinegar.

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