How to Clean and Detail Your Car

Clean and Detail Your Car

Your automobile probably has some scrapes and scratches after the long winter you just got through. A car can gather months’ worth of salt, dirt, and grime in places that a drive-through car wash doesn’t reach, regardless of how often you wash it. The inside is probably just as dirty, with cookies and coffee stains to match.

One approach to safeguarding your vehicle is to purchase the appropriate insurance policy, but another is to give it a thorough cleaning regularly. A simple car wash won’t do the trick if you want your automobile to look brand new again. Extensive detailing is required.

What Is Car Detailing?

There are significant distinctions between automobile cleaning and car washing; however, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Auto detailing is comparable to car washing in that both involve cleaning the interior and outside of a vehicle. It also involves several additional services that are not included in car washing.

To begin the process of auto detailing, it is customary to wash and vacuum the vehicle. Then, they’ll use more specialized equipment and automobile cleaning materials to give your vehicle a thorough, shining scrub down. This could require taking apart the vehicle to access previously inaccessible areas.


Wheels should always be the first thing checked. We can’t stress this enough. Wheels are the dirtiest part of your vehicle and should be pre-soaked with a high-quality wheel cleaner. You’ll need a different wash mitt and finishing bucket to clean the interior than you would use on the outside paint.

Pre-Cleaner, Stage One

Pre-cleaning is a must. One made to get rid of pests and grime that won’t budge. With its citrus-infused cleaning characteristics, our Citrus Power Bug and Filth Remover safely and effectively lessen road grime while being kind to car wax or sealant layers. This is especially useful at car washes in the future. To use, spray the undercarriage and any other bug-splattered vehicle portions.

Snow Foam, Stage Two

To prepare the car for the physical contact wash, snow foam is used to loosen and remove any tenacious dirt. Swirl markings on a paint job can be avoided, or at least diminished in severity, by pre-cleaning with a vacuum to remove as much debris as possible before contact washing.

Blast Out Crevice Dirt

If you look in the crannies of a car, you might find a pen, some loose coins, some keys, some mud, and other random items. Once the larger items have been removed, use a barbecue skewer to extract anything stuck between the sill lips and the matting.

Then, use the flat end of the vacuum’s crevice tool to clean the region. Apply glass cleaner and wipe down the surface with a microfiber towel to complete the cleaning.

Get Into Corners

Tight interior spaces can be cleaned without the need for any specialized equipment. For tight spaces like vents, seams, buttons, and switches, wooden skewers and cotton swabs work wonders. You can also clean louvers and vents with old makeup brushes.

Deep-Clean Fabrics

After using a vacuum cleaner, give the carpets (and any fabric car seats) a little misting with a foamy aerosol cleaner. Vacuum it up once it dries out. Rent an extractor from a hardware or grocery store for a more thorough carpet cleaning.

Disinfect the Steering Wheel

Use a disinfectant wipe to remove the germ and bacterium buildup from your vehicle’s steering wheel and gear shift knobs. Dry off with a clean microfiber cloth and buff.

Clean Leather Car Seats

Carefully remove dust and filth from the needlework and the region where the backs and bottoms of the seats join by using the vacuum crevice tool if you have leather car seats. Use a commercial leather cleaner designed for automotive care or a solution of saddle soap and water to clean each seat.

Some cleaning lines, such as Lexol, are designed specifically for automobiles; their conditioners absorb in less than 15 minutes, allowing you to get back on the road quickly. If the leather seat has lost its suppleness or sheen after being cleaned, a leather conditioner may help.

Don’t Wash in Direct Sunlight

You can protect the paint from being too hot while cleaning and waxing. (Overcast skies are acceptable, too.) In addition, use a lamb’s wool mitt, mild soap, and water to meticulously clean the entire thing, beginning at the very top. The dirtiest areas are the bottom ones, and playing in them can scrape your mitt if dirt gets stuck there.

Clean and Maintain Door Panels

Use a soft brush dipped in household cleaning or interior car cleaner to scrub the door handles, window buttons, or cranks. It is also possible to use a sponge, but afterward, you will need to dry the door thoroughly with a clean microfiber towel.

Use a proper protector for your door panel materials, whether leather, vinyl, or fabric. Always leave a dry surface after cleaning, like the handles and window buttons.

Vacuum the Mats

A strong vacuum cleaner with various attachments and brushes is essential for thorough automobile vacuuming. Start by vacuuming up any loose dirt that can be seen. Take the mats out of the rooms you’re cleaning if you can.

Once the major areas have been cleaned, you can use the attachment brushes to get the dirt out of the upholstery. You should use a stiff brush since it can reach deeper into the carpet’s fibers and loosen dirt and debris from the carpet’s surface. Remember to vacuum the floor space beneath the seats as well.

Deodorize the Interior

You can keep your automobile smelling clean and fresh with a homemade deodorizer, which will also help to cover up any unpleasant aromas. One solution is to mix white vinegar with water in a spray bottle and use it to mist the interior of the vehicle lightly. Since white vinegar eliminates odors when it dries, the unpleasant aroma should go.

Baking soda, which can absorb moisture and neutralize mold odors, is another option. Give it a few minutes to settle, and then give it a good vacuuming.

Final Thoughts

Car detailing is a deep cleaning process beyond just washing a car. It includes washing and vacuuming and using specialized tools and supplies to clean hard-to-reach areas and remove dirt, grime, and stains. Tires are washed, a pre-cleaner is used to eliminate bugs and filth, and snow foam is used to loosen dirt before contact washing to lessen the chance of swirl marks.

After that, you’ll have to clean the cracks and tight spots inside, vacuum the upholstery, vacuum the leather, and disinfect the steering wheel. It’s crucial not to wash in direct sunlight to preserve door panels and vacuum the floor and floor mats.

Chris Turner

Written By

With a lifelong passion for automobiles, Chris brings a wealth of knowledge from his years as a mechanic and a car reviewer. He’s dedicated to providing in-depth, practical advice to car enthusiasts and novices alike.

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