How to detail your car

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Detailing gets your car squeaky clean -- on the inside and out.
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It's all about the details when detailing your car

If your first question is "how to detail your car," the second might be "why?"

After all, isn't a nice washing every now and then all your car really needs? Sure, if you just want to get by on the bare minimum. A quick sudsing does remove exterior dirt and salt; however, the inside needs some care, too. If you take care of your vehicle in this way, it will surely pay you back with good performance and lots of admiring stares from those sharing the road with you.

Gather your supplies:

Before you start detailing, make sure you have the supplies and tools you need on hand. For most cars, you'll need:

  • A car vacuum or a shop vac with an outdoor safe extension cord 
  • Cloths for cleaning the dash (microfiber works great, but old t-shirts or towels are good too.)
  • Leather or vinyl cleaner
  • Auto upholstery cleaner
  • Soft cleaning brushes
  • Soft toothbrushed
  • Car wash liquid
  • Scratch-free sponge
  • Soft cloths for drying the car
  • Wheel clean
  • Window cleaner 

Start inside

To start things off, start the detail of your car by giving the interior of your vehicle a good vacuuming and wipe down. Doing this step first prevents any of the unwanted material from getting on the outside of you clean car. Take out your floor mats and blast them with the hose. Wash the dirt away with a cleanser. Avoid using anything slippery, as you don't want your feet sliding around all over the place.

 If your floor mats are worn, replace them. Make sure you move your car seats back and forth to vacuum all the areas of your carpet.

Your dashboard has likely collected its fair share of dirt and dust, so give it a good wipe down with an all-purpose cleaner. Go over the console and any other location in which dirt and dust have made their homes. If you want to get things really clean, use a cotton-tipped applicator to remove any gunk that has built up in your door handles and other hard-to-reach areas. You can also use a can of air to remove build-up from your vents and other tricky spots. And don't forget to wash the inside of your windows.

Let the washing begin

Now that the inside is nice and clean, it's time to move onto the outside. This is the most obvious part of detailing your car, but probably won't take as long as the interior. 

Park your ride in the shade and make sure your car is cool before beginning your cleansing session. Begin by rinsing the car thoroughly, then begin to use the soapy sponge to scrub. Make sure you're using a quality car soap - not house soap. Ordinary dish or household soaps can damage the finish, and could even scratch the paint. 

Wash your car in sections and begin at the top, since the dirty water will run down onto the rest of the automobile. Once you're done scrubbing an area, rinse the soap away with water. And keep an eye on the water in your bucket; change it when it starts to look dirty, or else you'll wash the rest of your car with grimy suds. Rub your car down with a terry-cloth towel or chamois to get it dry without those pesky water spots.

And then there are the wheels

Don't even think about forgetting your wheels. After all, they are the only component of your vehicle that actually makes contact with the road, so they are likely uber-dirty. Use a scrub brush to get them nice and sparkling and give the wheel wells a good rinsing, too.  

Treat yourself...and your car

Once you are finished sprucing up your car, why not finish the job by adding a nice auto accessory? Of course an air freshener makes it smell delicious inside, but covers to keep seats safe from pets, or a steering wheel cover that can help you grip better? 

Now that you know how to detail your car, you've got no excuse for having a dirty ride. So make sure your automobile looks as good as you and detail it frequently.

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