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 time, use a brush. The dirt particles will rise to the surface and produce much cleaner results.


14. Use a Non-Silicone Matte Finish Dash and Vinyl Protectant


A glossy, silicone finish on your dashboard can attract more dust and reflect onto your windshield.

This can leave you cleaning more often, and impairing vision at night (yikes!). Instead, purchase a non-silicone matte finish for a clean look without creating glare.


15. Lubricate Door Seals


Especially considering the changing seasons here in New Jersey, silicone spray will make doors open smoother and prevent tears in weather stripping.

You can spray on locks, latches, hinges, window channels, and weather stripping. Spread with a microfiber cloth.


exterior, shine, detail, wax, ceramic coating

16. Finish with the Glass


Wait until the very end! Again- speaking for efficiency here, clean your windows too early in the process and you will need to clean them again.


Waiting to finish with the glass will remove all cleaning and vinyl treatment overspray. Ahh the satisfaction of being able to see through your windshield again!


17. Compressed Air to Vents


Looking for that new car scent? Have you tried a range of products without success? Use a can of compressed air for a quick blast to your air vents.


Dust, dirt, and moisture can build up over time and cause stale odors to circulate through the interior cabin. Compressed air will remove dirt, grime, and bacteria for a new car smell!


18. Treat the Trim


Plastic trim requires special care and attention compared to the rest of the body. Try using a black restoring product before applying wax and polish to your vehicle.


This will restore the color of the plastic and protect from dirt and abrasion. Treat the trim first, as waxes and polishes can stain the plastic.


19. Check the Surface with a Plastic Bag


After you have meticulously removed all dirt and debris from your vehicle, it’s a good idea to check to make sure all areas of dirt and abrasion have been removed.


Using your own hand to feel for any missed spots can cause annoying fingerprints. The quick solution: using a plastic bag to run over the surface. No greasy fingerprints!


car, winter, exterior, detailing

20. Watch the Temp


Not too cold, not too hot. Be careful not to wash your car in direct heat as the water and soap can dry a lot quicker leaving water spots.


Keep your car cool with a regular spray of water. In the winter, when it’s too cold, your product could freeze and make your job a lot more difficult.



interior detailing, before and after, precision mobile detailing

exterior, before and after, precision mobile detailing

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Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry- we’re here for you! Checkout our website for affordable detailing packages to fit your needs. We offer detailing and restoration services that include: interior detailing, exterior detailing, deep cleaning, leather cleaning, care for wheels and tires, clay bar application, motorcycle detailing, odor removal, ceramic coatings, and more!