15 Cleaning Secrets Only Car Detailers Know
Save hundreds of dollars and detail your car yourself in half a day. Get professional results using these tips from experienced detailers.
Rinse before washing
If you hit your dry paint with soapy water, you’ll just grind the surface dust and road grit into your paint finish. Professional detailers always start with a clear water rinse to remove as much dust and dirt as possible. Check out these weird tips that’ll help you better clean your car.
Forget the sponge, use a microfiber mitt
Sponges capture and hold dirt and grit in their large pores. You can wring it out, but the grit will stay put. Once grit is embedded, you may as well wash your car with sandpaper. Detailers use a microfiber car wash mitt because the grit falls out when you rinse.
Use two buckets
One for clean soapy water and one for rinse water. After each wipe, dunk your dirty wash mitt in the rinse water bucket and swirl it around to dislodge the dirt and grit. Then dunk it in the soapy water and pick up where you left off. Dump the dirty rinse water and refill with clean water before you move to the other side of the car. That’ll keep the soapy water clean. By the way, here’s why you should never go to another car wash.
Forget the chamois, dry with a microfiber towel
Chamois soak up water, but they don’t pick up any grit that’s left after rinsing. Instead, they just grind those particles into your paint. A microfiber towel, on the other hand, collects the particles. Rinse the towel in clean water to remove the grit. Then wring and keep drying. Here’s why microfiber cleaning cloths work so well.
Remove minor scratches before polishing
This step is what separates the DIYers from the professional detailers. Polishing increases the shine, but it doesn’t remove scratches. However, if you remove the scratches first with a scratch removal kit and then polish, you’ll get even more shine. Find scratch removal kits at any auto parts store. Here’s how to remove minor scratches yourself.
Buy a dual-action polisher
Detailers wouldn’t be caught dead without a dual-action polisher. Don’t confuse this incredible tool with a high-speed buffer! Buffers run at much higher speeds and can burn the paint right off your car if you stay in one place too long or press too hard. Polishers are different. They run at lower speeds and oscillate as they rotate. Any DIYer can get the hang of polishing in just a few minutes. Polishing before waxing makes a huge difference, so your investment really pays off.
One more polishing tip from professional detailers—apply the polish to the machine’s pad. Then wipe the pad across your paint. That’ll prevent all the polish from flinging off the pad as soon as you hit the trigger. Learn how to repair chipped paint yourself.
Use synthetic wax
Old style paste waxes look great on antique cars. But they don’t produce the same “wet look” as modern synthetic wax, and they don’t last as long. When car dealers sell paint sealant, they’re really just applying a high-quality synthetic wax, which is something you can do yourself for a fraction of the price. Apply synthetic wax in small sections using a wax applicator sponge.
Remove wax haze with a microfiber towel
You guessed it, microfiber towels are the heroes of car detailers everywhere. Wipe off the wax haze using circular motions. As the towel loads with wax, refold it to a cleaner section. Use a second towel when the first one is fully loaded. Fix a car dent yourself for less than $40.