Detailing your car takes a lot more than just an average car wash or interior vacuuming; it involves paying closer attention to the little things and making sure that both the interior and exterior look completely immaculate. Usually when you think of getting your vehicle detailed, you think of taking it into the car wash for an expensive wash and wax and interior cleaning, but there are numerous easy ways to detail your vehicle at home and have it looking better than new.
Here are just a few tips to have your car looking like it was cleaned and detailed by a professional and doing it yourself at home.
Carpets – When cleaning your carpets, start with compressed air to blow dirt and debris from all the recesses of your interior up onto the middle of the carpet where they can be more easily vacuumed up. You can also use a stiff scrubbing brush to shake dirt loose from your carpets or upholstery.
A/C Ducts – Still have that air compressor handy? Good, you can use it to blow dirt and debris from the heating and air-conditioning vents. Aim more for the walls of ducts behind the vents to eliminate bad smells and if your vehicle has a cabin air filter, you can always clean that with the compressor as well.
Deep-Clean Fabrics – Using just a simple cleaner on carpets and cloth seats will give your interior a deeper cleaning and will eliminate unwanted odors or unsightly stains.
Leather Treatment – If your vehicle has a leather interior, make sure you use proper leather cleaner. If it’s not dedicated to leather treatment, it can strip the oils on your seats and panels. An added bonus is that most leather cleaners will also moisturize as well as leave sunscreen to help reduce and avoid leather fading.
Final Vacuuming – After you’ve cleaned the interior thoroughly, vacuuming once again to make sure any leftover excess dirt and debris has been cleaned will have your interior looking better than any professional could make it.
Tires – While most professionals will use an acid-based mixture to clean dirt and residue off of tires along with cleaning brake dust, it’s recommended that if you’re going to detail your exterior from home, use a nonacid solution. With acid based products you run the risk of causing bare alloy wheels to oxidize while also damaging wheels painted with colors or coatings. You can also use degreaser on your wheels but detergent based solutions can cause damage to your paint if there’s a spill. Also note, before working on detailing the body and paint, wheels and tires should be cleaned first.
Wash By Hand – Don’t underestimate the benefits of hand washing your vehicle, most vehicle owners prefer washing their car by hand because it allows them to inspect more closely for blemishes or scratches. One common mistake to avoid though is using dishwashing soap to clean your vehicle. It will clean the car, but will also strip all of the protective wax coatings, which will make it more susceptible to, stains and scratches. Using an actual car washing solution will keep the shiny finish in tact, giving your car a cleaner appearance.
Deeper Clean the Paint – After washing your car, if your paint still feels rough, there’s a high chance the paint needs to be cleaned as well of contaminants. The best way to clean these contaminants is to get a paint cleaner that will remove wax and also clean the top layer of paint by removing unwanted chemicals and small swirl marks from the paint as well.
Polish Your Paint – Polishing your paint is an easy way to smooth the surface of your paint and make it look newer. Using an oscillating polish machine will be an easy and much safer way to avoid making costly mistakes to your paint.
Wax on, Wax off – Using wax is a great way to preserve the integrity of your paint as it will absorb stains and small scratches. It does wear off over time however and will need to be reapplied every few months. Most professionals will do two coats; usually with the second being solely to cover any previously missed spots. Any more coats than that is going to be simply wiped away by a buffer and viewed as a waste.
Clean the Glass – Save this for last, as your windows will likely have dirt from the other steps of cleaning. Using a cleaner without ammonia will protect your vinyl upholstery and will also help you avoid its’ nasty smell. Use a microfiber cloth to help eliminate residue and natural oils from your skin that causes streaks and spots.
Detail cleaning your vehicle yourself may seem like a daunting task that requires years of experience but armed with just a few simple products, it can be done in a few hours over the course of a weekend. Spare yourself the extra trip to the car wash and follow these steps to have your vehicle looking as new as the day you brought it home.