Detailing your vehicle is essential for keeping it in pristine condition. But sometimes, it can be too much of a hassle to take it into the auto salon. Luckily, we’ve compiled some practical DIY vehicle detailing tips that can help you achieve an illustrious look for your car, all from the comfort of your own home.
Start With the Exterior
When discussing the process of detailing your vehicle at home, it’s wise to take a page from the pro-detailing handbook and start with your exterior first. The outer parts of your car are likely going to require the most effort and attention to detail. Plus, it’s likely going to take a bit longer, which is why it’s a good idea to address these areas and make them high-priority.
Pre-Rinse the Body
The first step in this ultimate guide to detailing your car at home is one that many tend to overlook; the exterior pre-rinse. Taking a moment to give your vehicle a water-only rinse bath is one of the simplest ways to ensure that all those excellent pro-detailing products you’re about to use on your car work their magic as effectively as possible.
Something as simple as running a high-pressure hose over your vehicle can help remove excess dirt, debris, and other residues that might be stuck to your paint. This promotes a safer wash when doing your contact wash since there is less physical debris on your paint.
Pre-Wash With High-Suds Snow Foam
After you perform a water-based pre-rinse, it’s time to move on to the next step: giving your vehicle’s exterior a nice soak with a high-suds Snow Foam. Detailers will typically fill a high-pressure foam cannon with specially formulated car shampoo and fresh water in a professional setting. Then, they’ll spray the mixture over a vehicle’s body.
However, if you don’t have a foam cannon on hand, you can create this mixture in a bucket and apply it with a microfiber mitt. Just make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies and that you do so with care, as an even coating is the only surefire way to get the full effect of a shampoo pre-wash. Then, you’ll let the foam sit for a moment before rinsing it off with a hose.
Perform a Thorough Hand-Wash
Next, it’s time to prepare for the hand-washing stage of your vehicle detail. We recommend using the tried and true two-bucket method for this portion of the process. You’ll want to fill one bucket with more car shampoo and another with fresh, clean water. The idea is to wash the vehicle using soap from one bucket, rinse your wash mitt with the water from the other, and repeat the process until you’ve scrubbed every inch of your vehicle.
Using this technique significantly reduces the chances of dirt collecting on your wash media (microfiber mitt) and scratching your car’s paint as you wash. it’s a good idea to work in small sections focusing on covering every area of the wash. There is nothing worse than rinsing off after your hand wash and realizing you forgot a spot!
Rinse Again and Dry
Finally, you’ll take your hose and spray your vehicle down one last time. Once you feel confident that all excess soap is gone, it’s time to take your microfiber towel and begin drying your vehicle’s exterior. Another safe option is to use a blower, or dedicated car dryer to remove excess water.
During this drying stage you will want to be sure to check even the tiniest areas of your vehicle for excess moisture to avoid spotting and water stains on the paint. And remember to use long, even strokes as you dry.
Move On to the Interior
Once you’re satisfied with your vehicle’s exterior, it’s time to move on to the next area of focus in your detailing process: the interior. This aspect of car detailing is slightly different than that of the exterior, as the inside of your vehicle has lots of different textures and materials to address. Plus, there are numerous detailing products you can use to clean each interior feature. However, the general process of interior detailing holds the same basic structure.
Pre-Clean and Vacuum
First, you’ll want to take a moment to perform a pre-clean and vacuum on the inside of your vehicle. This is a pretty simple concept; you’re just removing excess trash and personal items. You’ll want to be sure to check under your seat, in your center console, and your trunk for any debris you might have missed.
And once you feel confident you’ve cleaned it all out, it’s time to vacuum your seats and carpets. Doing this will ensure that you’re working with a tidy interior that won’t compromise the effectiveness of the products you’ll use to take care of the deep cleaning.
Deep-Clean Seats and Upholstery
After you finish your pre-clean and vacuum, it’s time to break out the upholstery shampoos and get to work. This part of the process is slightly more advanced, but it’s still relatively simple and doable with the right tools. First, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools for the job:
- Upholstery shampoo
- Bristle Brush
- Terry-cloth towel
Once you have your supplies ready to go, you will spray your upholstery shampoo into your bristle brush and scrub it into your vehicle’s carpets and seats, drying the excess moisture with your terry towel as you go.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to focus on one area of upholstery at a time. This will ensure you get the best coverage possible. Once you finish sopping up the excess product with your terry towel, you’ll let the rest air dry and enjoy your squeaky-clean interior. Consider adding a small airfreshener for a nice touch and lasting scent too!
Add Finishing Touches and Enjoy
The final step in this ultimate guide to detailing your car at home is to add any finishing touches to your vehicle that you desire and enjoy the benefits of a job well done. These finishing touches can include spraying your interior’s leather or plastic features with quick-polish or maintenance sprays if you haven’t already.
You can also add an excellent wax or sealant to the exterior of your car to give your paint more depth, vibrancy, and protection. But most importantly, take a moment to step back and marvel at the lovely detailing you’ve done on your vehicle from the comfort of your own home.