Detailing your car is time-consuming and labor-intensive — so the last thing you want is a result that isn't what you hoped for. Follow these simple dos and don'ts to avoid disappointment and dull paint!
Has it been a while since you've given your car a good scrub down? A driveway car wash using a washcloth and dish detergent won’t remove months of grime, dirt, and salt that has probably accumulated on the exterior of your car. In fact, it might make it worse!
Before you fill up a bucket with soap and water, check out a few of our dos and don'ts of auto detailing.
What’s in this article?
Let’s Start With The Car Detailing Basics
To detail and wash your vehicle, you need a few auto detailing supplies, and you may already have most of what you need at home. Everything else can be purchased at your local auto parts store or online.
However, it's important to note that while you might have to fork over a pretty penny in the beginning, you'll be able to use these same supplies for quite a few washes in the future.
Here’s a list and a short explanation of the detailing supplies you need to get started.
Bucket: You need a bucket to hold your soapy water. Automotive detailing experts suggest using two: one for soapy water, and one for clean water.
Wash mitt or microfiber towel: Whatever you do, do not use a dish sponge! Sponges trap dirt and debris, causing it to scratch your paint.
Soap: This one is tricky! You must make sure that you purchase a soap specifically for cars — these types of detergents and soap protect the paint and aren’t as harsh as dish soaps.
Wheel Cleaner: Wheel cleaners have chemicals specific to removing brake dust and road grime from the wheel wells.
Glass Cleaner: A glass cleaner that’s ammonia-free gets the job done. Don’t forget to wipe down the windshield and side mirrors!
Apply car wax with foam applicator: Automotive wax will keep your car looking shiny and new while also protecting your paint.
Carpet shampoo or fabric cleaner: Do you have cloth seats? These cleaners help remove stains from both your floor mats, upholstery, and carpets.
Leather conditioner: Leather conditioner not only cleans the leather areas in your car but also helps protect against fading and cracking.
Brushes: The interior of your car is filled with hard-to-reach places. A variety of brushes will help you clean every nook and cranny inside your vehicle.
Vacuum: Any vacuum with a flexible hose extension should do the trick!
Hot Tips: Should You Do This Or That?
Detailing your car is not as simple as it might sound — a few missteps and your car can go from “shiny and new” to “has that thing ever been washed?”
Do This: Detail In The Shade
When possible, wash your car in the shade. This prevents water from evaporating too quickly. If the water evaporates before you can dry it off, it causes water spots. And if the spots are hard water spots — kiss your paint job goodbye. The minerals in hard water can eat into your paint or leave etch marks.
Don’t Do That: Wash On A Hot San Diego Day
We love San Diego because 80% of the time, the weather is sunny and beautiful! But when you wash your car on a hot day, soap residue can leave spots, drip marks, and streaks that are hard to remove. Baked-on soap is one of the hardest things to clean off your car.
Do This: Use A Car Mitt Or Microfiber Towel
Use a mitt or microfiber towels to wash your car by hand. Sponges trap dirt and particles on the surface of the sponge, which scratches the surface of your car. A car wash mitt is not flat like a sponge — and as a result, the dirt and grime are absorbed into the mitt and away from your paint job!
Don’t Do That: Drive Through An Automated Car Wash
Automated car washes are a breeding ground for swirls and scratches. These types of car washes use harsh brushes and spinners that can cause serious damage to your paint. Some automated car washes use humans to dry your car after it comes out of the drive-through, and it’s highly doubtful that they change towels between cars.
Do This: Use Specialty Cleaners
Always use dedicated car care products. These cleaners are milder and specially designed for the paint of your car. And, as mentioned before, be sure to apply the cleaners with a car mitt or microfiber towel.
Don’t Do That: Use Household Detergents
Household cleaners and dish soap will oxidize your paint job and strip the clearcoat, making your paint look dull and unappealing. They don’t offer any protection against road grime, debris, or moisture.
Do This: Use The Two Bucket Method
You’ll harm your paint if you use dirty water or tools. Keep your mitt as clean as possible with the two bucket method. In one bucket, put your cleaner and water mixture, and in the other bucket, fill it with clean water. Always use the clean water bucket to rinse your mitt after every section of your car.
Don’t Do That: Reuse Dirty Water
Pay close attention while you wash your car to make sure that you don’t reuse dirty water. Your mitt will go from your car to the clean water bucket for a quick wash — this ensures that contaminants are cleaned from your mitt before it returns to your car. And while we refer to the second bucket as your “clean water bucket”, yes, it will eventually end up the dirty one.
Do This: Choose A High-Quality Wax
Not all car wax offers the same level of protection. Read the label carefully — look for how long the wax lasts, what the application process is, and the cost. As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” While a high-quality car wax might cost more, it’ll be worth it for the health of your car’s paint.
Don’t Do That: Wax In Direct Sunlight Or The Rain
Extreme weather is not the right time to wax your car. If you’re in direct sunlight, the UV rays will cook the wax into your car’s paint at a rapid speed, faster than you can wipe it off. If you wax your car in the rain, the wax will mix with the rainwater and slide off before it can be absorbed. Your best option is to find a nice, shady spot on a typically beautiful San Diego day.
Contact Us For Your San Diego Auto Detailing Needs
Remember, auto detailing is a very thorough cleaning of both the interior and exterior of your car. If you want your car restored to a like-new condition, you’ll need to carve out a few hours in the day to clean your car inside and out.
But not everyone has the time or desire to wash their car themselves. If you find yourself in that category then you're in luck! At Passion Driven Auto, we have the best auto detailer with the knowledge, time, and know-how to make sure your car is in its best condition at all times. We take pride in providing the best products to clean your ride.
Reach out today, we are available for all your mobile car wash needs. Your vehicle will be showroom-ready before you know it!