How to Detail a Car

Car detailing isn’t something you need to do that often. You might roll up your sleeves once a year to perform a top-notch cleaning – sweeping, scrubbing, wiping every nook and cranny – on your car. The level of clean you need? It’s really whatever you prefer. Here’s a helpful guide to get you started.

Man detailing the interior of a car

Before you begin

The difference between an “OK” and an “incredible” result is tied to the tools you use and the time you spend on the job. It helps to use specialized car detailing products for specific tasks. For instance, toothbrushes come in handy for small areas that are harder to clean, like vents and grilles. Cotton swabs are useful in these spots, too.

Also, try to use name brand products to play it safe, but be certain to read the labels. Even name brand products aren’t suitable for all paint finishes. If the product does not list that it’s safe for clear coat finishes, it’s probably not. And keep in mind that this likely won’t be a five-minute commitment; a high-quality car detailing job can take between four and eight hours.


Step 1: Getting the hard-to-reach placesWork on the interior first. Use compressed air in a can to blow dirt out from the tiny crevices. Save exterior cleaning for later. By taking this approach, you’ll prevent all the dirt you brush out from undoing exterior detailing efforts.


Step 2: Working from the top downCloth headliners present a problem since they’re glued to the roof. Removing marks and stains can be tough, but it’s important to remember that headliners shouldn’t get wet. Use a microfiber cloth and an upholstery cleaner designed for use on velour or suede.

Brush the entire headliner lightly with a dry part of the cloth. Then, apply cleaner to the cloth – not directly to the headliner – and continue to gently brush everything. For stubborn spots, wet only one corner of the cloth with cleaner, brush lightly and dry off with the rest of the cloth.

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