Introduction: How to Detail a Car

Have you ever wanted to detail your car, but had no idea what to do? Look no further than this in-depth, basic cleaning guide that will leave your car looking good both inside and out.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

In order to properly detail your car, you will need the following:

  • Hose
  • Car Soap
  • Large Sponge
  • Large Bucket
  • 2 Large, Clean Drying Towels
  • Plastic Bags
  • Access to Electricity
  • Extension Cord
  • Vacuum with a Crevice End
  • All Purpose Cleaner
  • Glass/Window Cleaner
  • 4 Microfiber Cloths

Step 2: Wetting the Car

The first thing to do when detailing a car is to wash the outside. Using a hose, rinse the car from top down, being sure to get the roof and wheel wells.

Step 3: Washing the Car

Put some car soap in your bucket, and fill the bucket with water. By putting the water in second, the soap should mix throughout the water and give you some suds. Take your sponge, dip in in the bucket, and scrub the entire vehicle. Make sure you work from the top down, scrubbing off any heavy soiling, and work your way around the entire vehicle.

Step 4: Rinsing the Car

Now that the entire car has been scrubbed, hose down the entire vehicle again. Make sure to get all of the soap off.

Step 5: Drying the Car

Using two clean drying towels, one for each hand, dry off the vehicle. Start on the driver side of the windshield, and work your way down the hood and quarter panel to the passenger side. Dry around the vehicle until you are back to the driver's door.

Step 6: Removing Personal Items

The first thing you want to do when detailing the inside of your car is to remove everything that is not garbage from the center console, glove box, door pockets, trunk, and anywhere else where you may have things stored. Put everything into plastic bags so that you do not lose anything. Removing personal items makes the rest of the process much easier, because you will not need to work around anything.

Step 7: Vacuuming

Start by removing all of the floor mats from the vehicle. Then, move the passenger seat all the way back and vacuum that area, being sure to get under the seat and between the seat and the center console. Once you have finished the passenger area, move the seat all the way forward and vacuum the back seat area. If there is a third row, fold the back seat down and vacuum the third row. Next, move to the trunk area and vacuum. Move the driver seat all the way forward, and repeat the process from the third row to the front seat, making sure that you move the driver seat all the way back when vacuuming the driver's area.

Step 8: Cleaning the Floor Mats

If you have carpet floor mats, vacuum them. If you have rubber mats, wet them with the hose, scrub them with the sponge and water you used for the car, and them rinse them off. Let them dry while you finish the rest of the car.

Step 9: Wiping Everything Down

Now that everything has been vacuumed, you can begin wiping everything off. Starting in the driver's compartment (since the seat is already all the way back), spray some all purpose cleaner on one of your microfiber cloths and begin wiping all surfaces. If needed, switch to a new cloth halfway through, or as needed. Be sure to get the cupholders, center console (inside and out), radio, dashboard, air vents, steering wheel, and gauge cluster. Next, wipe down the door, as well as the door jambs. Apply more all purpose cleaner to the cloth as needed, and for any areas with heavy soiling spray the cleaner directly on the surface. Once the driver area has been completed, move the seat all the way forward and proceed around the rest of the vehicle, being sure to get all doors, door jambs, any vinyl on the backs of seats, any pockets, and the trunk. When you are finished, you should be back to the passenger area with the seat all the way back.

Step 10: Cleaning the Windows

Crack all of the windows. Grab two microfiber towels and your glass cleaner. Starting with the passenger window, spray some glass cleaner on the top of the window, both inside and out. Using the first towel, wrap it over the window edge so that half the towel is inside and half is outside, and wipe the window. Do the same with the second towel to dry the window. Do this clockwise around the vehicle.

Roll up all of the windows. Start with the passenger window, and work your way clockwise around the car until you end on the front windshield. Spray the window cleaner on the window, so that the entire window has been misted. Using the first microfiber tower, box out the edges of the window. Then wipe the entire window side to side. Use the second microfiber tower and repeat the box/wipe process to dry the window. Before doing the front windshield, do the rear view mirror, in case there is any overspray onto the front windshield. To do the windshield and trunk window, spray the entire window, but when you box it out split the window into two halves.

Repeat the process for the outside windows. However, instead of wiping side to side, wipe top to bottom. This way, if there are streaks, you know if they are on the outside or inside of the vehicle. Also, clean the side view mirrors.

Step 11: Quality Inspecting

Now that your car has been detailed, check everything over to make sure nothing was missed. If there are any spots that need to be re-wiped, re-vacuumed, or if there are any streaks on the windows, go over them again.