Detailing a Car: Everything You Need to Know (2021)

Oct 15, 2021 - 6 Min Read Time

Detailing a car is important if you want to add value to your vehicle and improve its appearance. Unlike a car wash, car detailing involves a more thorough cleaning of both the interior and exterior.The only challenge is getting started if you are new to the car detailing process. This guide for auto detailing will help you make the proper steps in giving your car the love and care it deserves.

Male Cleaning a Car with Sponge and Bubbles

How often should a person clean and detail their car?

This is a difficult question, and many people have different opinions. Some people want to keep their car spotless and will wash it every week or two. Others think that washing your car too frequently will dry out the paint and hurt its finish. The reality is that how often you wash your car really depends on your personal preference because there are many factors that go into the answer.In general, you should be washing your car at least once a month or every 8-10 weeks if you live in a rainy city like Seattle or Portland.

1. What are the first steps of detailing a car? - Conduct a quick assessment

As a first step, you need to know the kind of work that needs to be done. Detailing a car is a time-consuming process. Therefore, you will need to make the most of your time by assessing your car both inside and out.

Check the interior and note any lingering odors and stains on the seats and upholstery. For the exterior, see if there are any scratches, stains, and water spots on the surface. You should also check your tires for stains and road tar.

Take note of what needs attention so you can prepare yourself with the right car detailing materials and tools.

2. Set your eyes on the interior

BMW Interior with Sunroof

What should be done before working on the interior of the car? Clearing out clutter is the first thing you will need to do before actually cleaning your car. Glove boxes and other compartments should be emptied of any trash.

Next, take out the floor mats and clean them using a regular car wash soap. You should also clear out any dust in your radio unit, vents, and other narrow openings. Use an air duster to blow away the tiniest specks.

A hand vacuum is best on leather surfaces and upholstery. You can also use a lint roller to remove hard to get pet hair and lint from the fabric. For thorough cleaning, use an all-in-one interior cleaner that comes with a deodorizing agent.

Wipe down the inside of the windscreen, windows, and sunroof using a microfiber cloth and glass cleaner.

TIPS

  • Nooks and Crannies - There are many different ways to clean your air vents. To do so, you can use a foam brush or cotton swab. However, if the dirt is especially stubborn, moisten it to loosen and make it wipe off. This also works well for spaces like ashtrays (where all of your spare change resides) and inside cup holders – cubbies with difficult angles and hard-to-reach crevices try using a moist foam brush or Q-tip.
  • Floor Mats - The laundromat! Yes, you could use your washing machine, but large, bulky items might be too much for your washer. The industrial washers are just made for this. Pretreat your mats with a stain remover carpet cleaner meant for cars. Then, just put them in the washer and they might clean up and look almost new!
  • Pen Ink Leak - Have you had a pen explode and leak onto your carpets or seats? Believe it or not, salt might work. Or – try this – hairspray! Whichever you desire, put it over the ink stain, let it soak, brush and then vacuum away.

3. Work on the exterior

Washing Car Window with Ethos Mitten

When it comes to detailing the exterior, start by loosening up any caked mud, dust, and bug stains. After that, a pressure washer should do much of the remaining work.

Use a car shampoo and sponge and clean the vehicle from top to bottom. Lastly, give your vehicle proper waxing using the right type of wax. For better protection, use a ceramic wax that can do better than regular wax and sealants.

Spray wax is also great if you want to do a quick job. Just make sure that the vehicle is thoroughly dry before applying. 

TIPS

  • Rince before washing -Starting with clean water will enable you to remove most dirt and debris before proceeding with the soapy water. Professional car detailers always start like this, it helps remove the surface dirt.
  • Did you know that dirt and grime accumulate on the tops of windows? Take a moment and roll down your windows and wipe away the grime. That way the next time you roll down your windows you will not see a line of grime.
  • Have you ever lubricated your hood hinges? Using a clean rag and use a little bit of white lithium grease spray or a few drops of ordinary motor oil. Then move the hood up and down several times to work the grease into the hinge.

4. Finish it off with the wheels and tires

Freshening up your wheels is an important part of detailing a car as they are most prone to wear and tear. The wheels should be regularly washed and shined for an optimal clean car look.

With a brush, thoroughly clean in between the wheel’s spokes and around the rims. Use our quality wheel and rim cleaner it works best against grease.

After brushing, follow it up by adding tire shine. This will give your tires extra protection against natural elements.

TIPS

  • Wash wheels first - If you are working on a full detail, we highly recommend cleaning the wheels & tires first. Not only can they be the dirtiest, but taking care of them first allows any dirt stuck on them to be washed off when you are detailing the rest of the car.
  • Remove the wheels - This tip might not be for everyone especially for those doing a lite detailing. By removing the wheels, you are able to get them much cleaner because you can easily clean the backside. You can lay the wheel on a flat surface and make sure all the dirt is fully removed.

Knowing how to detail your car is crucial to being a motorist. Keep these car detailing steps in mind to make your car look fresh and new!

To see our full list of car detailing products, check out our online shop.