Automotive detailing is the process of getting a car to look as good as it possibly can by paying close attention to every aspect of the vehicle as it’s being cleaned. Automotive detailing is a very involved skill set that some people spend their entire careers mastering.
However, while it may be a difficult art to master, detailing your own car, at home, is something that is very doable. Like any other project, you’ll want to spend a little time making sure you have all the necessary information, tools, and products before you begin.
Getting Your Car Clean
The first step in any auto detailing job is making sure your car has been properly washed first. When washing your car, you need to use automotive shampoo (also called soap) to be sure you aren’t damaging your vehicle’s paint. Using acidic soaps will wear your paint out faster and make small scratches more noticeable.
Speaking of scratches, you want to make sure you avoid making new scratches however you can. This means trading out the rag bucket for a set of soft microfiber shop towels and being as careful as possible when scrubbing. The general rule of thumb is that you want to wash in straight motions to avoid grinding the dirt in and scratching your car.
Washing the Windows
Another important step in detailing your car is cleaning the windows and not leaving behind any streaks or stains. If you leave your windshield to air dry after washing the car, it’s very likely going to have water stains, mineral deposits, and streak marks left behind. Instead, you should treat all of the glass and mirrors as a separate step from washing the car.
One easy trick is to take a saturated, but not dripping, sponge and spray the cleaning agent of your choice on the surface of the sponge. Then, gently and evenly scrub the surface of the glass moving from top to bottom. Once the surface is debris-free, quickly go back over it with a clean glass towel.
Treating the Interior
When detailing your vehicle, the interior is just as important as the exterior. This includes vacuuming, shampooing, dusting, and polishing. You should treat each interior task as its own job and take the necessary steps. When vacuuming, you should take the time to pull out your floor mats, remove any items like loose coins or sunglasses, and vacuum every nook and cranny that you can reach.
Cleaning and polishing your dashboard should get a similar amount of attention. Depending on the material of your dash, be it vinyl, leather, or even wood, you will want to find a specific product meant specifically to clean it safely.
Be Careful With Chemicals
When applying any new chemical to your car’s interior, you should always read the label carefully and test in an inconspicuous spot first. The duster that you use on a vinyl center console is not the same product that you use when cleaning leather. The last thing that you want to do is risk permanently discoloring your interior and lowering the value of our vehicle.
Detailing Done Right
Taking the time to detail your car can be a very rewarding experience. While it is true you could take it to a professional and have them do it for you, with a little time and effort you can detail your own vehicle for a fraction of the cost.
Each step in detailing can be thought of as its own mini-project with its own techniques and goals. Whether you’re just quickly washing the car, or taking an entire afternoon to detail it, the most important thing is that your car is well taken care of and looks as good as it can.