There is no question that a professional car detailing can be considered both necessary maintenance and a luxurious treat. A lot of work goes into auto detailing, and choosing a good car detailer is important. However, if you decide to detail your car on your own between visits, here are some tips to give you that professional look from home.
- Whether detailing your car at home or at a self-serve carwash, choose a location that is shaded from direct sunlight. This will minimize water spots on windows and swirls when you apply wax.
- Clean the engine bay before washing the rest of the car so any mess that is created gets washed completely away by the time you're done.
- Wash the interior before the exterior, starting with the driver's section, so that if you shampoo or otherwise treat the carpet or seats, they'll be dry by the time you're done with the detailing. That way, you're not dragging your vacuum cord through runoff water, either.
- If the interior has deeply ingrained dirt or stains, actually removing the seats may save more time. It will definitely make reaching soiled areas easier and more comfortable. If you do remove the seats, remember to disconnect (and reconnect) the wiring harnesses underneath. This isn't complicated. Just don't forget!
- For interior nooks and crannies, try a cotton swab to collect dust and dirt. An old, soft toothbrush works well for the exterior nooks and crannies.
- If you shampoo mats, carpets and seats, be sure to rinse them well. Residue from cleaning products actually attracts dirt and deteriorates fibers in the fabric if not washed away properly.
- Clean windows after you've cleaned the interior. Start by lowering the windows slightly and cleaning the top edge. Then, close the windows and clean the rest. If you have aftermarket window tint film, avoid cleaners containing ammonia or vinegar, as they may damage the tint.
- Dress tires and trim before polishing and waxing the car. You don't have to be as careful when applying the dressing if you haven't waxed yet. When you do wax, it will clean off any excess, and if the trim's already been treated it won't absorb as much wax, which means buffing the wax off will go more quickly, too!
- Cleaner and polish, used between washing and waxing, actually treat oxidation and minor scratches already in your paint, improving your car's look as well as protecting your paint.
- If you don't have time to wash, clean, polish and wax your car, try this: Immediately after your final rinse, lightly spray a "quick" liquid wax directly on the wet surface of the car. Then dry and lightly buff to remove water spots and give added depth and shine in a fraction of the time!
Home car detailing is a meticulous but rewarding process, and it will give you added insight and appreciation the next time you have your car detailed by a professional.