Ever wondered how the body shop makes your car look better than it has for years? It’s not just body work expertise; it’s also because of the detailing crew. These guys have quite a few tricks up their sleeves, and we recently talked the pros at Auto Craft Collision Repair, Tulsa, out of their best-kept secrets, so we could share them with you.
Let’s start with the interior
- Remove the floor mats. Vacuum carpeted mats, and scrub rubber mats with detergent and a car-wash mitt and cleaning brush.
- Vacuum every part of the cabin and trunk interior, working from high to low.
- Use a spray-type, foam carpet and upholstery cleaner on stained parts of the floor, seats, etc. Use a dry towel to wipe and blot these areas clean, repeating the process as many times as needed. Then rub again with a dampened cloth and blot again with a dry towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
- On leather or vinyl seats, apply leather cleaner and scrub with a leather brush, wiping away buildup with a microfiber cloth. Vinyl doesn’t need any further treatment, but you can finish up leather seats with a leather conditioner.
- If you have fabric upholstery, spray it with fabric shampoo in one-by-one foot areas. Let it set for three minutes in each section, then work it into the fabric with a clean, wet cloth, changing directions as you scrub. On dirtier areas, you may need to work the shampoo in with a small, stiff bristle brush. Rinse the brush often to keep it wet. Once it’s clean, use a wet vac to suck the dirt and water out of each area.
- Clean hard surfaces with a cloth and an all-purpose cleaner. Coat everything with interior dressing to bring out a like-new shine.
- Use a detailing brush on all grates, then spritz them with interior dressing.
- As you might expect, you should use glass cleaner on window interiors, wiping clean with a microfiber cloth. But beware: if you have add-on window tinting film, check the ingredients of your cleaner, and don’t use anything that contains vinegar or ammonia.
Detailing the Exterior
- Move the vehicle to a shady spot and, if the body is warm, let it cool down before you begin. We don’t want things to dry too quickly during this process, potentially leaving soap and water spots.
- Start with a good washing. Fill one wash bucket with soapy water and another bucket with plain water. Suds up small areas, scrubbing with a microfiber cloth (not a towel, which is more likely to push soil back into the paint finish), rinse the cloth in clean water, and rinse away the soap. Don’t let the soap dry anywhere as you work. When the soap is rinsed away, quickly dry each area with a towel or chamois. Don’t let it air dry, or you’ll get water spots.
- Apply a spray-type wheel cleaner to the wheels and tires. Let it soak in for 30 seconds, then scrub with a wheel brush. Avoid acid-based products, as they can damage wheel finishes. Spray on wheel dressing and either leave it for shiny gloss or quickly rub it with a towel for matte finish.
- Use a clay bar to clean the dulling, microscopic contaminants that washing doesn’t remove. As always, work in sections. Pour clean, soapy water over about a one-by-one foot section, and glide the clay bar firmly over the soap film. This film keeps the bar very slightly raised above the finish, but it pushes deep enough to remove contaminants. Turn the clay bar as it gets dirty, then rinse and dry each section.
- The final step is waxing, which you can learn about in another article on the Auto Craft blog.