How to Detail Your Car Like a Pro

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Feb 17, 2016

Having your car professionally detailed is expensive. Instead, embrace your DIY spirit: learn how to detail your car from the comfort of your driveway. 

Having your car professionally clean and detailed is an unnecessary expense. Instead, get in touch with your DIY spirit: learn how to detail your car from the comfort of your own driveway

Remember the first day you picked up your car from the dealership? It looked pristine: jet black tires, shiny paint, and that new car smell every time you opened up the door. Everybody wants a new car look, but paying a cleaning service top dollar is not always in the budget. If you have a DIY spirit and are ready to put in the work, we can teach you how to detail your car at home.

The process is not difficult at all. You've probably washed and cleaned your car a few times, right? With the right tools and techniques in place, detailing your car is simple. It just takes a little bit of elbow grease and an eye for fine details.

How to detail your car: the interior process

1. Remove all loose items  

The first step in cleaning the inside of the car is to remove all the loose items. You want to get everything out of the way so you can easily move from one area to the next. Also, it's better to have the interior stripped down to focus on the carpets underneath the seats and floor mats. 

  • Remove the floor mats and place them together on the ground. 
  • Reach under seats and discard items in a plastic trash bag. 
  • Remove any seat pillows, decorations, or items in compartments. 

2. Use air pressure to get in the nooks and crannies 

Compressed air is the best way to move dirt and dust from unreachable or hard-to-clean areas. You can rent a portable air compressor with hoses and nozzles relatively cheaply. The aim is to blow out the debris into an open area that is easy to suck up with a vacuum. 

  • Get underneath and in between the seats. 
  • Use the compressor to remove dust from air ducts, electronics, speakers, and corners of windows. 
  • If you want, run the vacuum at the same time to suck up the exposed debris right away. 

3. Use a brush to loosen up dirt in the upholstery 

A stiff brush will loosen up any dirt caught in the fibers of your seats. Run it over the seats thoroughly before vacuuming the car. If you see any spots or stains, spray an upholstery cleaner on the area and use the brush to it scrub it out.

You can also use a brush to scrub down the carpets for stains or loosen up dirt. If you have leather seats, use a brush that has softer fibers. You can also apply a conditioner or aloe to clean the leather.

4. Vacuum the inside of the car entirely 

If you have an industrial vacuum at home, that's the best bet for cleaning the interior of your car. The machines you pay a dollar to use at the gas station are powerful, but the hoses are usually too big and wide to clean all the spots underneath your seats. A mid-size industrial vacuum for home storage will come with adjustable heads and reach those pesky in-between spaces. 

  • Move the seats forward and backward to reach all the spots. 
  • If you have it, use a nozzle with a brush to scrub and suck up dirt in the carpet and seats. 
  • Be sure to reach the space behind the back seats and underneath the rear window. 

How to detail your car: the exterior process 

1. Give it a nice hand washing 

The best wash you can give a car is by hand. No drive-through machine or service will clean better than going over it with a sponge. You want to hit all the surfaces: windows, body, lights, license plates, bumpers, side mirrors, tires, etc. Don't let anything go untouched. 

  • First, use your hose to spray the car and get it wet. 
  • Use a quality car cleaner, not dish soap. 
  • Go over each place slowly and scrub out any bird droppings or visible dirt. 

2. Spray down the exterior with a power hose

If possible, use an air compressor and hose extension to clean the exterior of your car. A hose will probably get the job done, but a power hose will obliterate any dirt on the surface. You can also use a power hose to blast the spaces around your tires for dirt and insects. 

  • Be sure to rinse the entire car, leaving no trace of suds (soap will leave marks if dried). 
  • Start with the roof and work downward. Use gravity to your advantage. 
  • Spray your tires, rims, and the space around them for dirt. You can spray behind the tires as well. 

3. Use acid-free cleaner on rims and tires

Out of every surface of your car, the tires and rims will always be the dirtiest. Use an acid-free rim cleaner to loosen up the dirt, let it sit, and then blast it with the power hose. The difference is immediately noticeable for most cars.

Pro tip: it's best to clean your tires and wheels first, before washing the exterior paint. You don't want the dirt from your tires to spray up onto your newly clean surface!

4. Polish, buff, and wax your paint job

You can usually purchase a 2-in-1 formula with polish and wax together. This will save a little time for this step. Either way, be sure to use an oscillating buffer to polish up your paint job and make it shine. But, be careful: if you stay on one area too long, you might damage the paint.

For waxing, you can use a spray wax or paste wax to get the job done. Go over the surface by hand and rub in the wax thoroughly. It's smart to do this process once every few months because the wax will deteriorate over time.

Do you want to do the job right? Then learn how to detail your car at home. 

With these steps in mind, now you can fully embrace your DIY spirit and detail your car in your driveway every season. Don't forget to go in logical order: clean your tires first, so the dirt doesn't spray onto your waxed and buffed paint! Then, wash from the top down.

Protecting your car and keeping it looking nice is great, but are you protecting yourself from an accident? At Pekin Insurance, we take special care to provide families and individuals with affordable car insurance and quality coverage. Play it safe and contact us for more information.  

What's your opinion? Do you have any details to add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Subscribe to our Blog