18 Steps to Detail Your Car


Detail a Car's Interior

  1. Remove floor mats and vacuum the mats, floor, trunk, upholstery, rear parcel shelf, if you have one, and the dash. Slide the seats all the way forward and then back to thoroughly vacuum the carpet underneath.
  2. Clean carpet or upholstery stains by applying a foam cleanser and rubbing it in with a damp cloth or sponge. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before blotting dry with a towel. If the stain doesn't come out, repeat. After your final cleaner application, wash the area with a damp sponge and do a final blotting.
  3. Repair carpet holes, burns or small permanent stains by cutting the spot out with a razor blade or scissors and replacing with a piece you've cut from a hidden place, such as underneath the seat. Use a water-resistant adhesive to keep it down.
  4. Wash rubber floor mats and apply a non-slip dressing.
  5. Wipe hard interior surfaces with a mild all-purpose cleaner and armor all interior dressing.
  6. Use compressed air and detailing brushes to get out accumulated dust from the buttons and crevices on the dash and interior doors.
  7. Detail car air vent grilles with detailing brushes, then lightly mist some spray-on vinyl dressing to make them look brand new.
  8. Spray glass cleaner on windows and mirrors and wipe clean. For stronger build-up removal, use 4-ought steel wool on windows. Use plastic cleaner if the gauge cover is made of plastic.
  9. Apply leather or vinyl conditioner, if your car seats are made of either.

Detail a Car's Exterior


  1. Wrap electronic components in plastic under the hood. Spray degreaser on everything, spray down with pressure washer.
  2. Dress up non-metal areas under the hood with vinyl/rubber protectant. For a glossy look, allow the protectant to soak in. For a more matte finish, wipe it off.
  3. Wash your car's exterior with a car wash soap (not dish detergent). Use a deep-pile terrycloth microfiber towel which will trap contaminants and not grind them into the car's surface.
    • Dishwashing detergent strips the polymers off the paint surface and accelerates the oxidation process.
    • Park in a shady spot and wait until the car's surface is cool to the touch.
    • Work from the top down, washing and rinsing a section at a time. Do NOT allow soap to dry.
    • Take the spray nozzle off the water hose before doing a final rinse to minimize spots.
    • Use a chamois or terry cloth towel to dry.
  4. Clean the outside of windows with glass cleaner.
  5. Get the caked-on dirt and mud off the wheel wells with an all-purpose cleaner and high-pressure water spray. Add a vinyl dressing to the wells for a dazzling effect.
  6. Brush the wheels clean with a wheel brush and wheel cleaner or degreaser.
    • Acid-based cleaners should only can be used on rough-textured alloy wheels, if needed, but not on polished alloy wheels or clearcoated wheels.
    • Gleam up chrome wheels with metal polish or glass cleaner.
  7. Wash the tires with whitewall tire cleaner (even if you have blackwalls). Apply tire dressing. For a glossy finish, let the dressing soak in, or wipe it on and off with a cotton cloth for a matte look.
  8. Remove bonded contaminants on the car with a clay bar.
  9. Apply polish or wax (if using both, apply and remove polish first) with a dual-action polisher or orbital buffer or by hand. Rotary buffers should be left to the professionals.
    • Polish is for a glossy look. Wax is a protectant.
    • Use in length-wise sections. Do not move the machine in a circular pattern.
    • Pay attention to doorjambs, around door hinges and behind bumpers, which you will need to do in a circular motion by hand.
    • Let it dry to a haze. Then finish the auto detailing by buffing with the machine. The hard-to-reach areas can be buffed by hand.

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  • Car Detailing in Baltimore, MD

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  • Car Detailing in Towson, MD

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