The devil's in the detailing. Detailing is like an extreme makeover for your car. But it doesn't have to cost a mint and doesn't require any special expertise. What it does require is time, effort and just a little bit of know how. Here's a guide to help you detail your car like an expert.
What you'll need
- Vacuum cleaner
- Small brushes (toothbrushes work best)
- Canned air
- Liquid spray bottles
- Cleaners: upholstery, carpet, glass, wheel and all-purpose
- Car washing soap
- Sponge or mitt
- Soundtrack to Car Wash (optional)
Start with the interior of your car. Take out your car mats. Vacuum and shampoo, if necessary, and set aside to dry.
Remove everything from the car, including those dried out Bic pens and stray French fries under the passenger seat. Toss the trash and decide what should go back in.
Work on the dash, doors and steering wheel before you clean the upholstery and carpets. Use Q-tips to dig into crevices on the dash. For areas you can't reach, try the compressed air.
Work your way from top to bottom. The key to a good detailing is, not surprisingly, attention to detail. Clean everything. Then clean the areas you skipped. Wipe the vents and the door jams. Use a soapy cloth to get things really clean. Every nook and cranny should be wiped, sprayed and cleaned. Get as OCD as you can.
Clean the interior windows. Use newspaper to minimize streaks.
Now, it's time to clean the carpets and upholstery. Vacuum between and under the seats. (Yes, that's what those little attachments are for.) Then use an upholstery cleaner appropriate to your interior and work out any spots.
Baby, you can wash my car
Now that you've detailed the interior it's time move to the exterior. That means, giving your car a good wash. For a quality wash, here are some basic rules to follow.
- Wash it in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight.
- Give it a rinse first.
- Wash and rinse one section at a time. Don't scrub too hard or you might scratch the paint. Take your time to work out stubborn areas.
- Work from top to bottom.
- Rinse your sponge or mitt often.
- Save the tires for last and don't forget under the wheel wells.
- Dry quickly using 100% cotton towels, micro fiber towels or chamois.
- Apply wheel cleaner.
Be sure you pay attention to the small things. Use small brushes to get into the little spots on your wheels. And don't forget to polish the mirrors.
Wax on, wax off
Make sure your car is cool to the touch before waxing. Using a small foam pad or soft cloth apply the wax in small sections using overlapping, circular motions. Watch Karate Kid I, if necessary, to perfect technique. Let the wax dry to a haze before wiping it off. Shake out and flip your cloth frequently to get rid of waxy bits. Then give the whole shebang another wipe down.
Finally, clean the exterior windows. Now you can empty the soapy water from the bucket, fill it with ice and soak your sore elbow. You just detailed your car.