Some say that Guido da Vigevano built the first car in 1335 that used a windmill type assembly to drive a set of gears to turn the wheels. I would say that if that is the case, that he probably was also the first one to clean a car. Now the car wash/detailing industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Although why would you want to spend you hard earned money on having some one else detail your car? When you could do it yourself, and make sure it is completed correctly and the way you want. Besides I know a lot of car enthusiast out there who would really prefer to detail their cars themselves.
After years of experience and talking with some of the best product/technical representatives around today, I have compiled a how to guide for car owners that want to do there own work. This guide is intended for all car enthusiasts on all levels. Maybe you are new to ceramic coating for cars or you are just looking for some new “tricks” to give you the advantage at your next car show. Either way I hope that this guide helps you on your journey.
First off detailing is hard work and time consuming. No matter what your reason for wanting to detail your car from wanting to attend a car show to selling your vehicle detailing will be well worth your time and effort. Now there are products out there that say that it will cut your time in half, and that you only need to do it once a year. However, several professional detailers I talked with said that many of the new cheaper products are indeed too good to be true and can damage paint jobs. This is why I suggest staying away from low quality products and sticking with the known products. There is nothing that works as well as hard work and some elbow grease. I will make some suggestions as I continue through the guide, but if you have a product you really like, go ahead and use it.
Before you get started you will need:
Paper towels, rags, and chamois. Old t-shirts work well, and if you can find any old “clean” cloth diaper use them because they make excellent rags for polishing the finish and are great for windows.
Brushes. You’ll need a few different varieties and sizes to get into the hard to reach areas. An old toothbrush works well, and several cotton swabs.
Wash bucket. Make sure it is clean, and you may want to keep is as your car washing bucket only. This may help prevent getting unwanted dirt and chemicals in a bucket you use to clean your car with.
Wash mitts and or a good quality sponge.
Bug removal sponge
Power Washer or a good hose nozzle with different head types. Power Washers are getting pretty reasonably priced now and you can pick them up at any hardware store.
Shop Vacuum or equivalent.
Orbital Buffer. Again these are getting pretty reasonably priced.
Now where to begin? Most professionals I talk to suggest starting on the interior first, so the dust and dirt you brush out won’t settle on a cleaned exterior. Remove any floor mats and give the carpeting and upholstery a good vacuuming. Move the seats forward and backward to get all the dirt including in the tracks, and door jams. You should also use one of your harder bristled brushes to get any dirt out from the cracks; it is also good for stirring up the carpet mat so you can get most of the junk out of the carpet.
Now if you have any stubborn stains in the upholstery or carpet this is the time to deal with them. Use an all purpose cleaner to get the stubborn stains out. Saturate the stain with cleaner, working it in with a damp sponge. Let it sit awhile and then blot it out with a dry towel. Make sure to read the direction on the cleaner for specific precautions. You can also use a window cleaner sprayed on a rag to get the headliner clean. Don’t forget the trunk/hatchback areas as well.
You can repair burns and holes in your carpet by cutting out the area with a razor blade. Then cut a similar size piece from a hidden spot, such as underneath the seat, and cement it in place using a water resistant adhesive. Blend in the repair by brushing the repaired piece with the old. You can also go to a carpet outlet and can buy a carpet sample for pretty reasonable price that could match the carpet of the car. If your carpet is still looking bad you can shampoo it to get any remaining dirt and grease out. You can usually rent these machines at a carpet store or even you local grocery/retail chain. Start with the carpets on the driver’s side then the seats; this keeps the water to a minimum. Move around the whole car until you’re done. Again make sure you read any precautions from the manufacturer.
Now move on to the interiors hard surfaces, clean them with a damp cloth and a mild all-purpose cleaner. If you have leather upholstery, dress the surfaces with a leather conditioner; spray it on a rag for tight areas. Never use a vinyl product on leather. Worn or torn areas of vinyl can be repaired using kits made for this purpose. Repairs are made with a patch that lets you match the color and grain of your upholstery. Worn areas of leather can be touched up with dyes or a high grade shoe polish.