Have you been through a car wash or auto detail lately? Plenty of shops offer car wash, exterior detailing, or interior detailing, but why is car detailing so much more time-consuming than a car wash? The truth is, auto detailing is a bit more complicated than a car wash, but with the right Turtle Wax products, you can even detail a car at home. Truly, there is a certain satisfaction that comes with DIY auto detailing, so let’s get started!
It can be confusing when people use the terms “car detailing” and “car washing” interchangeably, but there are major differences between the two. There are similarities between auto detailing and car washing, but auto detailing goes much deeper than simply cleaning your car inside and out.
When considering auto detailing, one starts with car washing and vacuuming. Then, using more specialized tools and car detailing supplies, auto detailers give your car a much deeper cleaning. This might even include removing parts of the car to get into cracks and crevices that have never seen the light of day.
Finally, once a highly detailed cleaning has been achieved, car detailers will apply specialized products to enhance your car’s appearance and protect it from future dirt and damage. As a result, a detailed car can look and smell like a new car, even if it’s aged over a decade!
To detail a car at home, you’ll need several car-specific tools and car detailing supplies, as well as a few things you might have at home. The first time, especially, you might need to set aside a few hours. If your car is only a couple years old and has been regularly washed and vacuumed, a full car detail might only take an hour or two. On the other hand, if your car is older and hasn’t seen a vacuum in years, auto detailing the first time could take a whole day.
At this point, you might think, “Why bother auto detailing myself when I can pay an auto detailer to do it for me?” It might be tempting if your car is going to need a whole day of auto detailing, and the initial investment might seem daunting, but it pays for itself by the second time you detail your car. Also, consider these other benefits of car detailing at home.
Professional auto detailing and DIY car detailing follow pretty much the same steps for a showroom finish, though the tools and supplies may vary. Interior detailing will require opening doors and getting in and out of the car often, which will likely dirty the outside of the car. Therefore, many auto detailers start by detailing the interior of the car. When, once the inside is clean and protected, they close the doors and windows and focus on exterior detailing.
Now, let’s go through some of the steps, useful car detailing tools (bold), and car cleaning products (underlined) you’ll need to get professional-looking auto detailing at home. We’ve even included tips from car detailing professionals (italics).
Pro Tip: Use a wet-dry vacuum to suck out as much water from carpeted mats to accelerate drying.
Pro Tip: Spray your cleanser of choice on a microfiber cloth, then use the cloth to clean the surface. This prevents overspray and drips.
Pro Tip: Always clean from top to bottom, because loosened dust and dirt fall – gravity is great that way.
Pro Tip: Use a stiff brush to agitate the carpet just ahead of where you’re vacuuming to get even more dirt out of it.
Pro Tip: If your doors have upper window frames, roll the windows down a few inches and clean the top edge of the glass, first. Then, roll the windows up and clean the rest of the glass.
Like interior detailing, exterior detailing involves a few more steps than simply washing and rinsing, but the results can be significantly better. Exterior auto detailing should be done out of direct sunlight to prevent water spotting and make everything easier to work with. Now that the interior detailing is done, pop the hood and fuel door and close the doors and windows.
Pro Tip: If you clean the wheels last, you might splash road grime to the body of a clean car.
Pro Tip: Detailing clay also works great on wheels, glass, and chrome, too, but never use clay bar on rubber, plastic, or polycarbonate.
Pro Tip: Use masking tape to protect plastic and rubber trim, emblems, headlights, and marker lights.
The first time your detail your car at home, it might seem like a lot of steps. As with all things, detailing your car quickly and efficiently takes practice. Once you see, feel, and smell the results of a freshly detailed car, though, it’ll have been a worthwhile experience.
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