Does car detailing get rid of scratches and stains?

A car detailing session, as you’re probably aware, will thoroughly clean your car inside and out (although some places clean just the outside – check first). Now, does it only include cleaning, or does it also take care of scratches, stains and bumps? Some people think these come under the umbrella of ‘cleaning’, since that’s a rather broad term.

At, we hope to inform and educate our readers on everything to do with car detailing. So in today’s blog, we’ll discuss whether car detailing includes scratch and stain removal.

Does a car detailing session include scratch removal?

No. The usual car detailing package at most places includes only cleaning. However, a car detailing place will usually be able to fix scratches for you. They are professionals with an array of specialist tools, so they can do a lot more than just clean your car. Make sure to ask them about it at the desk, and communicate clearly to make sure there is no misunderstanding.

So, while a car detailer can remove scratches, scratch and dent removal isn’t included in the average car detailing package. It’s a service you’ll have to explicitly request, and pay extra for.

Can car washes buff out scratches?

Again, no. Car washes are different from car detailing in many ways. The latter is more expert, more intense. A car detailer is a professional who goes over your car with a fine-tooth comb (so to speak), and cleans and generally enhances its appearance. A carwash, on the other hand, will clean your car to remove dust, dirt, bird droppings etc. It’s a lot more basic and exterior-focused.

Can a car detailer remove stains?

Car detailers clean and prepare cars for shows and such, so they have tools for cleaning, finishing, painting, plating, tinting etc. So yes, they should be able to remove stains as well. However, as with scratch removal, it won’t be included in the basic package, so you can expect to pay extra for the service.

Of course, if the stain is really easy to remove and/or if you’re ordering a deep-clean, you probably won’t have to pay extra for it. Water stains, for instance, can usually be cleaned without specialist tools. For other, more stubborn stains, you’ll have to consult the detailer and get a quote.

Sometimes, however, a car detailer may not be able to remove stains if they’re particularly bad. This will depend on the extent and the type of stains. Smaller businesses may not have the tools and cleaning agents required to get rid of certain stains, in which case you’ll have to consult a dealership and possibly consider replacement if the stain is on your carpet or car seat.

How much does it cost to fix scratches and dents?

Places that buff out scratches are often a little vague about the charges. This is because it’s hard to name an amount without seeing the problem and inspecting it (if you’re asking for a quote online, for example). It’s a little like telling a doctor your symptoms via an email, and expecting a pinpoint diagnosis.

So while we see the matter from their perspective, it’s certainly a little frustrating as a customer to not know what to expect. Can you afford this repair job or not? Is it going to cost $20, $200, or $1000? You want some idea of the cost. Well, here’s what we’ve found:

Fixing dents is fairly cheap – most places will charge $50-120 for a small (1-inch) dent. If the dent’s bad you may need to get more repair done, but the repairer will usually be able to tell you at the outset if that’s the case.

Fixing scratches, however, can be rather more pricey. Most car detailers will charge $150-200 for a smallish job, and $500 or thereabouts for major repairs. You’d have to pay higher still at a car dealership or a professional collision repair service. Why is it so expensive? It’s because scratches are both harder to repair (unless they aren’t deep), and car paint is very expensive. In addition, deep scratches might necessitate part replacement. Add to that their professional fee, and you can see how it adds up.

Stains are a lot cheaper to remove. You can get most interior stains removed for $50 or below, unless they’re massive.

How to remove and/or avoid scratches

Most cars have a couple scratches. It’s natural to want to keep a new car safe from scratches, but over time people care less, and occasionally your car will get scratches against fixtures or other cars. It’s impractical trying to avoid scratches forever, because you’d have to constantly be on the lookout for, some would say, no real purpose other than vanity. Scratches don’t damage your car unless they’re very deep.

However, for new car owners, keeping their car scratch-free is very important. Here are some of our best tips:

– Get your car waxed, or get a plastic paint protection film

– Use a car cover when it’s parked overnight

– Park your car carefully so others don’t brush against it while parking

– Dip your washing mitt in water every couple minutes while washing your car. Dirt trapped in the washing mitt is what causes swirl marks.

Now, if you do end up with a scratch and want to try fixing it at home, here’s some advice from places that buff out scratches:

– For very light scratches, apply a tiny bit of toothpaste to a cotton swab and rub it gently over the scratch. Repeat if necessary. It works like magic!

– For moderate scratches, buy a scratch-removal product, and apply as per the instructions

Deeper scratches will require sanding, cleaning, filling, priming and painting. This should be done by a professional. We definitely don’t recommend trying this at home.

Common stains, and tips for removal

Different stains may require a different approach. Here are some of the worst offenders found on (or inside) cars, and tips for avoiding/removing them:

Water stains occur on just about every car. The easiest way to avoid them on windows and the windscreen is by using a squeegee after washing. Never wash your car in the sun. To remove existing stains, spray them with vinegar, let it sit for a while, and then wipe off. A few applications will be necessary.

Food stains are common on car seats and carpets. Avoid them by not eating inside the car – especially items which stain easily, like coffee, wine and oily food. Use a normal cleaning product to get rid of them.

Sap stains are often found on the exterior, and they can be very hard to remove! Specialist products are ideal, but you can also use bacon grease, WD-40, lighter fluid or rubbing alcohol. Remember to dilute them, as full-strength chemicals can damage your car’s paint (which is very expensive to fix).

Ink stains are a major headache. While not very common, they look horrific and get worse if you try to clean them. If you spill ink in the car, immediately use a rag or napkin to blot as much of it as possible, and wipe off using a moist cloth. For older stains, you will have to buy a specialist product and apply it multiple times.

 We hope this article was helpful. Your local businesses may have a different policy, however, so treat this article as a general guide and consult car detailers nearby for more information.




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About Me

Hi there, I’m Rod. Honestly, I don’t do much cleaning around the house (and until recently – my car)…

But I’ve always been strict and disciplined in keeping with my workspace clean and organized; my office, my desk, my bookshelfs, etc. A lot of that discipline comes from studying Lean methodologies in the past.

One thing I’ve struggled with has been keeping my car clean! So lately I started buying a few items and putting in some work!

I became interested with “best practices” for detailing a car, and that’s what you’ll find on this website. Hope this information helps you!

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