DIY vehicle detailed cleaning and polishing

Do you know that feeling when you ride a new car? A car just out of an agency has that particular, pristine and perfect appearance that delicious new smell that gets lost as the car is used. That feeling, that level of cleanliness, detail, and finishes is what is sought with the detailed cleaning and polishing.

There is a big differ!

Ence between cleaning and conventionally polishing your car and doing it with care. While vacuuming the interior and washing and polishing the exterior of your car will make it look clean, a careful, detailed cleaning involves going a step further, that is, taking care of each and every one of those small details that usually go unnoticed but that makes the difference. That's precisely the objective of car detailing: paying attention to details, taking special care and cleaning up the last bit of the car; making it look perfect, like if it's just out of the agency and ready for a showroom.

It's important to detail your car.

Most people think that taking their vehicle to a car wash is enough to keep them in perfect condition and this is true up to a certain point. While a car wash can be used for quick maintenance, getting rid of debris and dust, it is advisable to make a thorough detailing of the car every so often, as it is the only way to preserve the interior and exterior in perfect condition. Detailing isn't just about cleaning, it prevents damage and protects surfaces and finishes from sun damage and other elements.

Detailed cleaning protects your investment: The detailing allows to preserve, increase and preserve the value of the vehicle, insofar as it allows to keep all its components in perfect condition. In fact, if you have a classic car it is essential to do detailing with some frequency because it is the only way to guarantee that its original appearance will be maintained.

Detailed cleaning restores: A car wash, for example, is not the best option to take care of the exterior and car paint, because the automatic rollers cause small scratches in the paint, known as swirl marks, which can deepen and become permanent. Also, this type of process, although it's fast, offers an exterior cleaning and does not have the same restorative function that the detailing can have. Detailing polishing can get rid of those pesky marks, restores color and texture of leather seats, mend carpets, among other small cosmetic repairs.

Car Detailing Prevents damage: the detailing prevents damage to paint, upholstery and interiors, as all particles and elements that can damage the materials are carefully removed. Also, the detailing includes the use of specialized products that prevent and protect the different surfaces from the action of the sunlight and other elements, so that the upholstery and interiors will look like fresh out of the agency.

DIY Detailed cleaning: tips and tricks

It is easy to convince yourself about the importance of detailed cleaning and polishing. However, most people dismiss it as it's an expensive procedure. It is not surprising since detailing can take between 4 to 8 hours, depending on the type of vehicle and the type of treatment that will be done. However, its high cost should not be an impediment to protect and care for your car, because if you have the time, it is possible to do it yourself.

Doing a detailed car cleaning at home is simple and economical. Although you need to buy specific materials, then you will only need to invest your time and dedication to make your car look like new. However, it is essential that you follow certain guidelines to obtain the best possible outcome.

Before cleaning:

- You'll need specialized detergents and products to polish and protect surfaces. This is not negotiable, so do not skimp on expenses. There are a lot of products; you can compare prices and reviews to find the one that best suits your budget and type of vehicle needs. Household detergents aren't suitable for cleaning your car, because they are too harsh on the paint, eliminating the protective wax, leaving it exposed to the damage that can be caused by weather conditions.

- Gather all your implements: keep in mind that you will need two or three buckets, detergents, waxes and specialized products to clean and protect al surfaces. In addition, you must have microfiber cloths, cotton rags, chamois, old newspapers, Q-tips, brushes, canned air, in addition to a vacuum cleaner, among others.

- Avoid washing your car in full sunlight, because the hot surface will cause soap and other products to dry faster, which can cause stains on the paint and expose it to cracks, blemishes and other complications that would damage the surface. Wash your car on cloudy days, early in the morning or at the end of the day and always park in the shade.

- Remember that detailed washing is a time-consuming activity, you must dedicate time to do It right. It is not a quick process; it will take at least 3 hours or more if your car has never been thoroughly cleaned; so be prepared for it. Make a nice playlist with your favorite music and get down to work.

Detailing a car's interior

- The first step is taking out everything inside the car: old gum wrappers, Lil' debris, coins, chargers, receipts. Everything. Clean the glove compartment, throw those old cups and water bottles. If there's something inside cup-holders or compartments, there's the chance that you can't clean that space as thoroughly as you should.

- Take out all rubber mats, shake or vacuum them to remove dust and wash them thoroughly, using soap and a brush. You can use water pressure to do a better job. Let them air- dry correctly before placing them.

- Slide the seats and vacuum the carpet using the nozzle with smaller brush, without leaving any crack behind. Pay attention to small crevices, under the seats and sides. Once you have removed all the dust, you can take care of the stains using a specialized cleaner. As long as possible, try to avoid getting water on the carpets, because moisture will create mold and an unpleasant smell that will be almost impossible to remove.

- Use the vacuum to clean dust from the dashboard, paying attention to reach as far as possible. Traditionally, dashboards are made of leather, vinyl or some other material, so take that into consideration before applying some cleaner. Spray generously, and wipe with a microfiber cloth the use an interior dressing, appropriate for the material, to protect it firm cracking from exposure to sunlight or fading.

- Clean the console. Instead of spraying cleaner on the surface, spray your cleaning tool (brush, Q-tip, rag) and clean. It's easier if you use the vacuum cleaner with the smallest nozzle and the use Q-tips and small brushes to detail each button, control and tightest spots. Don't forget to clean air vent grills, using a bristle brush and a can of compressed air. A damp cotton swab is also a good tool.

- Clean door panels. Check the material; there are some that are made of upholstery and plastic, others just plastic or vinyl, use the appropriate cleaner. Once again, take out the trash you may have, vacuum the dust and clean it. Pay attention to cup-holders, ashtrays and other small spots that can hold a lot of dust.

- Cleaning seats and upholstery are a fundamental part of the detailing. Vacuum it thoroughly to get off as much dirt as you can, then apply the cleaning product, that will vary based on the material that seats are made of, so you must purchase a specialized cleaner.

- Don't wet the leather seats; you will crack and stain them; use a microfiber or cotton rag to rub the leather-cleaning compound and let it dry. You may use a specialized conditioner to protect the leather.

- Vinyl seats are easy to clean, using a multi-purpose cleaner (hey, even glass-cleaners can work well), wipe with a rag and let dry. There are some protective products for vinyl that would make them look like new.

- Cloth upholstery is a little bit trickier but isn't difficult to clean. If your seats don't have a big stain or an unpleasant odor, then you can use a generic upholstery cleaner. It there is some stains, use a stain remover. Be cautious, you don't want to damp the seats too much, there's a risk that it won't dry completely, mold would grow and it'll leave your car with a musty smell.

- To remove pet hair from upholstery, just use a rubber glove. Damp it a little and rub it over the seat. It's easy and quick.

- Eliminating bad odors can be complicated, especially cigarettes smoke or pets. Avoid using deodorants that will only mix with the real smell and will create a disgusting mixture. Ventilate the vehicle well, then use a specialized product that eliminates the odor. A trick is using plain baking soda. Sprinkle it generously and let it sit several hours, then vacuum it.

Detailing a car's exterior

- Start with the wheels, because they are usually the dirtiest part and need more work. Use a pressure hose to remove as much dust, grease, and dirt as possible, apply directly on the tire, paying attention to the inside. Then, apply a special degreaser, although you could use the same soap solution that you use for the rest of the vehicle. Let act a few minutes and brush, paying attention to the slits of the wheels. Remove using water under pressure with a hose.

- You can use a tire dressing if you want a glossy look. If you wish to shiny chrome wheels, polish them with metal polish or glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth.

- Never try to remove dust from the car with a dry cloth, this can scratch the paint permanently. Use a special microfiber glove or a special cloth for this task, always wet. I recommend using a hose without a nozzle to remove the larger particles of dust, just letting the water flow over the car.

- Use two buckets of water, one with the soapy water and another one to rinse the glove or cloth you are using to apply it. This prevents dust particles from contaminating the soapy water, accumulating in the glove and scratching the paint.Â

- Use a brush to clean the lights; door handles and side mirrors. One more time, pay attention to spots and crevices. Take your time.

- Dry the car carefully with a chamois or microfiber cloth. Work in sections, if the car dries before you get to wipe it, use the hose to wet the areas that you haven't touch gently. Aforementioned will help you to prevent water spots.

- Clean the windows and crystals, inside and outside. Use an ordinary glass-cleanser and a cotton cloth to clean and dry. Finally, buff those windows using wrinkled newspaper moistened with a few drops of water. You will be surprised by the result.

- The last step is to apply wax to maintain the shine, protect the paint and condition the surface. Work in small sections, apply and polish immediately.

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