Detailing your vehicle goes beyond a simple wash and vacuum. Detailed cleaning involves a deeper approach with the addition of specialized products to protect the vehicle from future dirt, keeping it cleaner longer. The finishing touches of a good detail will protect the appearance overall, both outside and inside, and can make even decades-old vehicles look like new.
Start your detailing project by removing all the garbage that is too big for a vacuum to pick up. Check door cubbies and cup holders too. Then you’ll want to remove the floor mats and clean those separately. This allows for you to get underneath the mats for a more in-depth cleaning. Rubber mats can be cleaned with a stiff brush, but carpeted mats need a softer approach. When completed, hang the mats so they can completely dry. The next step is to dust and wipe the interior surfaces, taking care to get into crevices as best you can. A can of compressed air helps to force out dirt in tight, hard-to-reach spots, and craft paintbrushes are great for air conditioning vents. You will then want to address the smell and treat it with a deodorizer if needed. Don’t mask smells with fragrance sprays, use a deodorizer before adding another smell on top.
Upholstery is next, and if your seats are in good shape, you don’t need anything harsh. For light upholstery cleaning, some deodorizing cloth wipes will do the trick, but for heavier cleaning, you may need a stiff brush and a specific cleaner for the entire seat. Spot treat stains and consider a steam cleaner to really work wonders. Leather seats need special care. Do not use typical soaps and cleaners because they dry out the leather causing it to crack and fade. Use soft brushes for stains and grime, but gentle is key with leather. For the floors, try a carpet shampoo and a wet-dry vacuum to get all the dust and dirt out. Make sure you move the seats to get as far underneath as possible.
For the exterior, a pressure washer is best. Start from the top working your way to the bottom. Pre-wash to loosen dirt and bugs, then wash again with a quality soap and a soft, microfiber cloth. Clean the tires and wheels to make them look shiny and new. For an extra clean car, consider power washing the engine bay. Don’t air dry your car, but rather use a chamois to wipe it down for a spotless finish. Then you can apply a detailing polish or wax to help protect the car from future dirt buildup. The glass and windows should be last on your list because they pick up debris from other cleaning processes. Spotless windows, light covers, and mirrors really finish off the look of a clean vehicle. Use a quality glass cleaner with a microfiber cloth to prevent streaks.