How To Professionally Detail A Car: 11 Tips For A Flawless Finish

So you want to become a car detailer, but first, you need to know how to professionally detail a car.

You might have practiced car detailing on your own car, but there’s a big difference between at-home detailing, and professional car detailing.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to professionally detail a car. Take your car cleaning skills to the next level, and possibly even make money doing it.

How to professionally detail a car: 11 tips

1: Don’t wash the car in direct sunlight

When the sun is out, it can be tempting to get outside and start cleaning your car. But ideally, you should wait until the bodywork is cool.

If your car is in direct sunlight, or the bodywork is still warm from the sun, water is going to dry much more quickly, and probably leave water marks.

So for a flawless finish, wait until the bodywork is cool, and work on your car in a garage, or in the shade.

2: Rinse the car before washing

Before applying pre-cleaner or shampoo to your car, give it a rinse with some water. This should remove some of the dirt, so you won’t be rubbing in grit, dirt and contaminants when you start shampooing.

3: Swap sponges for microfiber cloths

If you currently use sponges to clean your car, swap them out for a collection of microfiber cloths. Microfiber will leave you with a cleaner finish, and won’t scratch up your car.

Sponges can often hold grit in their large pores, so when you rub them against the paintwork, there’s risk of scratching. But grit falls out of microfiber when you rinse it.

Microfiber is great for both interior and exterior detailing, so you’ll need more than one cloth!

4: Invest in a dual action machine polisher

A machine polisher will give you a finish that couldn’t be achieved by hand. Most polishers will also have variable speed settings, so you can adjust the speed for the project, to reduce risk of damage.

While machine polishers give the car a more professional finish, you should research how to use them first. You don’t want to accidentally damage the car you’re working on.

Having the right equipment not only creates better results, but you’ll also look much more professional. And if you want to start a professional car detailing business, you want to show your clients you’ve got the knowledge and equipment to create stunning results. 

5: Start at the top and work your way down

This is a rule that applies to both interior and exterior detailing. If you start at the bottom, then once you start cleaning the top, dirt will drop down onto the parts you’ve already cleaned. 

6: Brush the carpet before vacuuming

If you want to make sure the car is as clean as possible, you should brush the carpet before vacuuming. Vacuuming doesn’t always pick up every bit of dirt, as some dirt remains trapped in the carpet fibres.

By brushing the carpet first, you’ll loosen dirt and contaminants, which will make vacuuming much easier and more efficient. 

7: Make use of compressed air

Compressed air can be useful in getting dust and dirt out of hard-to-reach place. For example, in the air vents, dust might have built up. This is an issue because any time the air conditioning is used the car is going to smell dusty. Use compressed air to blow dust out of the vents. 

8: Dry glass in two directions

When you dry glass, there’s always going to be a streak or two after you’ve just cleaned it. But it can be hard to know whether the streak is on the outside of the glass, or the inside.

Drying glass in two directions means on the outside, you dry in one direction, and on the inside you dry in the opposite direction.

By doing this, you’ll easily be able to spot any streaks, and you can quickly identify what side of the glass they’re on

9: Remember the top edges of the windows

Cleaning the windows of a car seems easy enough, but many people forget about the window edges. The only way you can properly clean the whole window, edges included, is to roll them down slightly and give the tops some TLC.

Windows are no exception to the ‘start at the top’ rule, so it’s a good idea to start with the top edges. 

10: Invest in a carpet cleaning machine

A purpose built carpet cleaning machine is going to leave carpets in a much better condition than if you wash them by hand.

Carpet cleaning machines suck up dirt and grime, and store them in a reservoir until emptied. Meanwhile it also sprays the carpet with a cleaner and water solution.

It makes the job easier, saving you time and effort. If there are any stubborn stains, you can still use a brush to scrub the carpet, or add a different head to the carpet cleaner. This bit of kit can also be used for cleaning the seats and upholstery.

11: Create a detailing schedule

Professional car detailing involves a lot of different stages, and can be a job that stretches to fill a few days. To make best use of your time, it’s a good idea to create a schedule.

Start with a schedule of a one-car detail. Plan what you’ll do first, how long you’ll spend on each stage, and this way you can estimate how long it’s going to take.

Then, if you’re starting to get clients, you should make a weekly plan. Think about how and when you’re going to work on different cars, and make time slots for different cars and different stages.

This will also help you give the client a realistic expectation of when they can expect their car to be finished.

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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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