Sending your car through a car wash is simple and fast. Sometimes, though, the rough rollers don’t get everything off, and most likely leave swirl marks. They might even miss whole sections, leaving streaks of mud, debris, dried-on soap, and road grime. Instead of spending money at a car wash, why not just detail your car yourself?
How long does it take to detail a car? If you do it right, it should take a few hours. While you can pay someone else to do it, learning how to detail a car will save you a lot of money in the long run.
What Is Car Detailing?
Auto detailing is much more than merely preparing a car for washing with soap and water. There’s a reason why auto detailers charge such a lot for the work they do. Car detailing refers to the process of cleaning every inch of your automobile one section at a time.
Car detailing does include a good wash and rinse, but it is also vacuuming, dusting, polishing, and even waxing. However, detailing doesn’t incorporate bodywork or dent repair.
It does sometimes include cleaning out the engine bay, but not always. If you need to clean your engine bay, take extra precautions, which we will discuss below.
What Are the Benefits of Auto Detailing?
Detailing your car has numerous advantages for your automobile. Car wax, for example, increases the shine of your paint. Cleaning cloth seats on a regular basis prevents stains from accumulating. Washing the outside of your vehicle removes all dirt and filth, giving it a fresh, new look.
Detailing your car will also help keep the resale value high, as the new owners will see the care you put into it. Also, regularly washing the undercarriage and engine bay keeps oil and other fluids from building up around lines.
How to Detail a Car at Home
Detailing a car can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but it’s also a very rewarding one. Not only will your car look great after detailing it, but you’ll also feel good knowing that you did the job yourself. In this article, we’ll teach you the basics of how to detail a car at home.
Detailing your automobile at home can extend its life, help you save money, and even strengthen the appreciation you have for your car. The process of detailing the outside and interior surfaces is a little more complicated than it looks, but it will be well worth your time.
Keep reading to learn the basics of how to detail a car at home.
How to Detail a Car Interior
Before you work on the outside of the car, you need to clean the interior. Working on the outside will get you dirty, so working on the inside first will keep you from tracking the dirt and mud inside the car while you clean. Cleaning the inside of your vehicle will be easier if you do it more frequently.
Empty the Interior
- Start by removing all of your travel items from inside the car. If you have loose cups rolling around, move them out of the floorboard.
- Go ahead and take out the floor mats.
- Remove change from the cup holders, throw away food wrappers, and take all manuals and essential documents out of the car.
Vacuum and Dust
- Use compressed air to force any dust out of tight places, and wipe everything down with a microfiber towel to wipe the dust away.
- Vacuum the dirt off the floorboards, seats, floor mats, and the trunk. Move your seats fully forward and backward while working on getting everywhere under them.
- Clean any carpet stains with a foaming cleanser.
Clean Hard Surfaces and Inside Glass
- Wipe down the dashboard, cup holders, steering wheel, and other hard surfaces with a microfiber cloth and some all-purpose cleaner.
- Use a quality glass cleaner and clean microfiber towel to clean the glass on the inside. Ammonia-free glass cleaners should be used vs. the cheaper kinds. Ammonia-free glass cleaners are gentler on surrounding components and don’t harm seals, vinyl, or the interior of your vehicle.
Clean the Seats
- Shampoo cloth or nylon seats with a regular carpet shampooer.
- Wipe down vinyl seats with an all-purpose cleaner, then dry with microfiber cloths.
- Use a dedicated leather cleaner on leather seats and a leather conditioner to keep the leather on the seats from cracking.
- Vacuum the car once more to remove excess debris.
How to Detail a Car Exterior
Cleaning the car’s exterior is about as intricate as cleaning the interior. The only difference is that the body tends to get dirtier and has some smaller areas that need a more thorough cleaning.
A car’s exterior paint is also very delicate, especially when exposed to the chemicals used in auto detailing. So, be extra careful when cleaning the trim. Let’s look at how to detail a car’s exterior.
Clean Tires and Rims
Besides the undercarriage, the tires are often the dirtiest part of the car’s exterior.
- Make sure to scrub off any brake dust with a fine brush.
- Scrub the tire walls and wash inside the wheel wells to remove any mud.
- Use wheel cleaner and degreaser on tough rim stains, and use glass cleaner to polish chrome wheels.
Wash the Car
- Rise the body to loosen dirt.
- Mix a quality car wash soap and water in a bucket.
- Soak microfiber wash mitts in soapy water and apply to the paint. Start at the top, working your way down.
- Don’t use dish soap because it is an abrasive cleanser that may remove a vehicle’s protective top coat.
- Also, dry the vehicle with an ultra-plush, edgeless microfiber cloth to avoid water spotting.
Polish the Exterior
- Treat the car’s paint by gently applying a clay bar to remove any built-up sap, excess adhesive, or other debris stuck to the vehicle.
- Apply polish to a buffing pad and spread in a side-to-side motion on the area until the polish disappears. Be extra careful with a power polisher to avoid leaving swirl marks.
Clean the Trim
- Using a clean microfiber cloth and metal cleaner, wipe down all metal trim on the car’s exterior.
- Air-dry the cleaner and wipe the surface with a dry cloth. Don’t let any metal cleaner get on your vehicle’s paint because it might damage the paint.
Wax the Car
Before you start waxing, ensure your car’s exterior is dry.
- Put car wax on a waxing pad, then apply the wax in circles on one section at a time.
- Allow 5 minutes for the wax to dry, then wipe off excess with a cloth.
Clean the Outside Glass
- Spray ammonia-free glass cleaner onto the glass and wipe it off with a clean microfiber towel. Be sure to clean all of the windows, including the windshield, side windows, and rear window.
- Wipe in tight, circular motions for best results.
Clean the Engine Bay (Optional)
- Make sure to clean the engine before you start on the exterior.
- Cover up all electronics and electrical components, then spray degreaser on the engine.
- Rinse the degreaser off with a low-pressure hose.
Now that you know how to detail a car, your car should be shining bright in no time!
Hiring A Professional Car Detailer
If you’re not comfortable detailing your car yourself, you can always hire a professional car detailer to do it for you. Professional detailers have the experience and know-how to get your car looking its best. If you are willing to invest money into car detailing costs, it is well worth it. They can clean the exterior and interior of your vehicle, as well as apply a protective wax coating.
Visit our dealer locator to find a Rayno dealer that offers detailing services.