Car dealers have crews of detailers on their team who do a spotless job! You can hire someone to detail your automobile after you buy it, but doing it yourself could save hundreds of dollars! Would you like to know their secrets? All you need to do is set aside a couple of hours and gather some basic tools, such as vehicle washing detergent, a couple of buckets, a cleaning mitt, wax, a bristle brush, coffee pot brush, microfiber towels, latex gloves, and a vacuum. You will also need leather conditioner if you have leather seats, and a clay bar system if there is tar, paint, or bug splats on your car. Keep reading for pro tips.
The very first thing you should do is take everything out of the car. Remove loose change, floor mats, the ice scraper, and anything in the trunk. Make sure the vehicle is completely empty.
Work on the Interior
– Dust the dash and anywhere else you see fine debris collecting with a microfiber towel.
– Clean spots and spills with mild soap and water. Use a cleaner on all plastic and rubber pieces. Be sure to check inside the door jam and around the trunk lid.
– Use a coffee pot brush to clean the louvers in the heating vents.
– Clean leather with a conditioning solution.
– Brush carpeting to loosen crumbs and straighten fibers. If pet hair is an issue, put on a latex glove and rub the furry spots; the static will pick up the hair. Don’t forget about the floor mats. Soon you’ll be ready to vacuum. Take care to leave the headliner alone, because its delicate glue can be easily separated. Car dealers say that a hanging headliner always looks worse than a dirty one.
Work on the Exterior
– Start by washing the vehicle with two buckets. First, dip the mitt in clean water and rinse your car, and then use the second, sudsy bucket to wash your car. This prevents you from reapplying dirt to the vehicle. Dry with a clean microfiber towel.
– If there are surface contaminants like bug splats, tar, or paint, you will need to use a clay bar system. Follow the instructions on the package. Test the surface of the paint afterward by placing a plastic grocery bag over your hand and sliding it across the surface. Any remaining bumps will be amplified and easier to feel.
– Next, work on the trim. Use a sealant on the trim to help protect it from wax. Then get the buffer out. A common mistake that people make is using the buffer after they’ve applied the wax. Buffers should be used to apply wax, not remove it. Once the wax is dry, use a clean microfiber towel to buff the wax off the paint.
Car dealers check for these commonly overlooked areas when performing trade-in inspections. Remember to clean the wheels and trunk as needed. Also, don’t forget to check under the hood. Take your automobile to the local car wash and carefully spray sudsy water with a medium-pressure hose across dirty and greasy parts. Hoses can then be treated with a cleaner. The battery connections can be cleaned with a toothbrush and a mixture of water and baking soda.
It may take some time and a lot of effort, but these simple tricks and an investment in good quality supplies can save you hundreds of dollars on car detailing every year.