How To Detail A Car: Tips, Techniques, & More

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How to detail a car properly involves careful technique. Detailing your vehicle involves more than just vacuuming the carpet and washing the exterior. It means cleaning every detail, piece of trim, and every crevice. How to detail a car the correct way involves learning the tips and tricks used by professional detailers, so you miss nothing and so you don’t improperly clean your vehicle.

Detailing your car does take time, but it’s not just time spent keeping your car clean. How to detail your car requires understanding that detailing it helps it last longer and retain more value. A well-maintained car is evident, and it’s something that makes it more valuable. If you trade in your car or sell it down the road, a dealer or potential buyer might consider your vehicle more valuable if it’s been regularly detailed and still looks brand new on the inside. Your car looks newer longer, and that’s more valuable than you realize.

The Materials You’ll Need

If you want to know how to detail a car the correct way, the professionals will tell you it begins with having everything you need on hand. When your supplies are near, you can detail your car correctly the first time and without missing a thing. How to detail a car correctly involves these materials.

  • 3-4 microfiber cloths
  • Towel
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Glass cleaner
  • Vacuum
  • Heavy wire brush
  • Tire cleaner
  • Car wash
  • Wax
  • Polish
  • Polish brush
  • Water hose
  • Cold water
  • Q-Tips
  • Cupcake liners
  • Trash bags

Tips And Tricks For Car Detailing

Detailing your vehicle requires meticulous attention to detail. It also requires a few tips, tricks, and advice from those who do this for a living. How to detail a car involves knowing where to start, what to use, and how to make sure you get the best possible clean. Let these tips help you detail your own vehicle with the precision of an expert.


Interior Tips

Start with the driver’s seat. Experts always begin with the driver seat so you can get back into your car without any wet seats or floors. Now it’s time to start with the cleaning. The best way to clean is to start from the top and work your way down. This allows you to clean the floors and seats once rather than multiple times as dust falls.


Work From The Top Down

Start with the sunroof. Wash it with a glass cleaner and wipe it in two directions to prevent smears. Once you’re done with that, check the roof and the visors for stains. It’s easy to accidentally get makeup from your hands on the visor when you pull it down to do a quick touchup, and these stains can be cleaned with a magic eraser, carpet cleaner, or even a laundry pen.


Dash Details

The dash is next. A foam trim brush used for painting corners can help tremendously when you’re cleaning dust from air vents. Use Q-Tips to get inside cup holders, cracks, and in that little area where your gear shift is located. Once you’ve cleaned all the cracks and crevices, use olive oil on a rag to wipe down your dash. This helps you give the car a perfect shine, but it also provides moisture to the dash. This helps prevent the cracking that appears over time thanks to all the time your car spends in the sun.


Carpet Cleaning

Brush your carpet before you vacuum it. This helps you remove any deep down dirt and grime by brushing it all to the surface. Once it’s on the surface, it’s easier to clean the floors with a vacuum. Don’t forget to move your seats all the way forward when you vacuum the backseat to get all the carpet and move them back when you’re vacuuming the front so you don’t miss anything. If you have a vacuum with a thin hose attachment, use this to reach in between seats and the dash to get all the small pieces of dirt and the little things that fall in between the crack.


Exterior Tips

The best tip you can receive from the pros regarding the exterior of your car is to wash it when it’s not in the direct sunlight and only after it cools. A hot car can evaporate the cleaning supplies you use, and that leaves more stains than you began with.


Clean Your Headlights

Headlights quickly become dingy and appear foggy over time. Rubbing them down with toothpaste can remove that dingy fog and make them look brand new. The key here is to use a heavy paste rather than a gel toothpaste. Rub it all over the lights, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it off with a dry cloth. Once it’s wiped off, then you wash the headlights with more traditional cleaning supplies to remove the toothpaste.


Remove Bugs

Bugs are dangerous to leave on the car even if they don’t come off after you scrub them. You can get them off easily with a dryer sheet and a little elbow grease. It’s not damaging to your paint to use this on the front of your car, but leaving the bugs on the car can eat the paint right off. The acid and other chemicals in their deceased bodies can eat through paint over time. This is why it’s imperative you regularly wash the exterior of your car or at least remove the bugs after a trip.


Always Rinse First

Spray the entire car with cool water prior to washing it. This allows the dust, dirt, and grime to fall off the car if it’s not stuck on. It also makes it easier to clean everything else off the car. Attempting to wash a dry car with a car wash and a rag can cause serious damage to the exterior. A dry surface allows dust and grime to quickly scratch the paint and cause serious damage.

Best Methods to Use to Detail Your Car

The best method for detailing your car is to understand what works best for your specific vehicle. Your car might not be made using the same materials as other cars, which is why every vehicle must be considered independently. For example, you will not use the same materials on a car with rubber trim as you would a vehicle with stainless trim. Know your car and research the materials you should use on your specific vehicle.


The Polishing Method

Do not confuse polishing with waxing. Invest in a polishing brush. It’s time-consuming, but it removes small imperfections and promotes a better shine once the vehicle is waxed. Once the car is clean, run a polish over it before you move on to the waxing portion of the detailing. Once your car is polished, then you move on to the waxing method.


The Lubrication Method

You want to clean under the hood for maximum cleanliness when you detail your car. Start by lubricating your hood hinges. You can use lithium grease or motor oil. Just use a few small drops, and your hood will open like it’s brand-new. Do this each time you detail your car for a maximum clean.


The Correct Method

Detailing your car can be done any way you like, but the correct method is to start inside and work your way out. You aren’t required to do this, but it’s helpful to begin inside. Start from the top and work your way down and then out. This helps you maintain the best detail finish by ensuring each section of your vehicle is thoroughly cleaned.


The Prevention Method

How to detail your car correctly involves learning how to prevent messes. Keep a trash bag in your car and use it every day. Put cupcake liners in your cup holders to keep messes to a minimum. You can exchange them weekly to keep your car as clean as possible. A drop or two of your favorite aroma on a clothespin on a discreet air vent keeps your car smelling lovely. Finally, you can make a difference in preventing serious mess by keeping a small Shop Vacuum on hand to use every few days. It takes seconds to vacuum up a mess on the floors, and it prevents deeper stains and bigger problems. It also helps your car look cleaner on a regular basis. 

What You Need to Know about How to Detail a Car Correctly

The most important reason to detail your vehicle has nothing to do with cleanliness or resale value. While both important for people who spend time in their vehicles and who spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle, it’s protection that makes it imperative you learn how to detail a car. Detailing your vehicle protects it from the elements. Sun, rain, snow, sleet, and everything else your vehicle encounters on the road break it down slowly. Detailing adds a layer of protection against the elements.

Detailing the interior of your vehicle is important because it reduces germs and allergens. Dust, pet dander, dirt, and other things that get into your air vents, carpet, and more make it difficult to breathe. Germs spread quickly in the car, and it’s important you regularly remove these problems from the vehicle. It makes it easier for anyone with respiratory issues or a weakened immune system to maintain good health. A clean car with a pretty shine is just a bonus.

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