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20 Cleaning Secrets Only Car Detailers Know

Want to know the top secrets only car detailers know? Has your own attempts at DIY detailing left you feeling less than satisfied?

Wondering how professional car detailers produce stunning, long lasting results?

Read on to learn the top tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of your detailing routine and maintain your vehicle’s longevity and value.

car wash, car detailing

1. Rinse Before Washing

Always rinse your car before washing! Otherwise you will grind the surface contaminants into your paint finish causing scratches.

Professional car detailers always start with a fresh water rinse to remove as much dust, dirt, and grime as possible.

2. Use the Right Soap

Be very careful with the products you use on your vehicle. Many DIY car enthusiasts will use dishwashing liquid instead of car wash soap.

Dishwashing detergent can remove oils from your car's finish that will shorten the life of your paint. Make sure to find the right soap for the job.

microfiber cloth, interior detailing, cabin

3. No Sponge, Use Microfiber Cloths

Professional car detailers will never use a sponge. Using a sponge on a vehicle will hold the dirt and grind it into your paint surface.

Any time you touch your car’s paintwork, you must preserve the integrity of the paint by avoiding accidental scratches. Use a microfiber mitt or cloth in back and forth motions, never in circles.

4. Use Two Buckets

Don’t double dip! Make sure to use two buckets when washing your vehicle. One for clean, soapy water and one for rinse water with a grit guard at the bottom to catch the dirt and hold it in place.

clay bar, detailing

5. Don't Skip the Clay Bar

Use a Clay Bar to remove dirt and contamination that is embedded into the clear coat. A Clay bar is an amazing tool. Not only does it remove the contamination, but it also leaves behind a nice beautiful shine when you’re finished.

6. Dry with a Chamois Cloth or a Microfiber towel

Like a microfiber towel, a chamois is a soft cloth that won't scratch the surface of your vehicle. Most chamois is made of animal leather (goat or sheep) or a synthetic chamois blend like polyvinyl alcohol. This helps the cloth cling to the surface to absorb as much moisture as possible.

swirl mark, scratches, exterior

7. Remove minor scratches with compound

For a pristine finish, always remove minor scratches before polishing. You can find a scratch removal kit at your local auto store to use with a Dual action polisher or a polishing tool made for a drill.

Make sure to use the correct grit of compound and the right compound pad. Remember, polishing will not remove the scratches.

8. Use a Dual Action Polisher

Polishing with a specific polishing pad and the right polish before waxing makes a huge difference in the clarity of your clear coat.

wax, ceramic coating, exterior, detailing

9. Apply a Synthetic Wax

Get the “wet” look and make your wax last longer! Make sure to find a high quality synthetic wax when washing your car.

Unlike natural wax, synthetics are made to bond chemically with car paint giving a deeper and longer lasting protection. Though not as shiny as the traditional Carnauba wax, the synthetic wax is a great solution for car owners who do not have the time to wax their cars often.

Apply in small sections using a wax applicator sponge.

10. Remove Wax Haze with a Microfiber Towel

Again with the microfiber towel! Are you convinced yet? Professional car detailers never leave home without them!

Remove wax haze with a microfiber towel in a back and forth motion. Refold and switch towels often for a mirror finish.

Work on a very small area- most people will try to work on too large a surface area, which does not yield great results.

Another common mistake is using too much pressure on the polisher. For the best results, the polisher should be spinning freely on the paint. Continue to work on small areas of your car and use an LED light to check if you have removed the scratch or swirl mark.

11. Start at the Top

DIY detailers typically start by vacuuming the carpet. But once you start cleaning the dash, seats, and door panels, you push dirt right back onto the carpet. Detailing can take all day- so we are aiming for efficiency here.

detailing brush, vacuum

12. Vacuum as you Dust

It’s all about the details! Use a small detailer’s brush to remove dust and dirt from the small nooks and crannies on your dash and console while holding your shop vacuum nearby.

vacuum, interior, cabin, detailing

13. Brush and Vacuum your Carpet

Have you ever vacuumed your car’s carpet to see you have left plenty behind? Next