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The “best” product

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It is often asked on detailing fora and social media: “what is the best XXXX”. Off course there is a difference between certain products and brands, but it is important to know what you are asking. In this guide I will try to explain what the problem is with this question unless it is asked more in-depth.

The general problem

When somebody asks what the best shampoo is, they are not letting other people know what they mean with “best”. A shampoo is developed with several characteristics in mind. It has to be slick, good soluble in water, good cleaning properties, wax/sealant-safe and several more. These properties can be very different between products and/or brands. In the question “What is the best shampoo”, it is nowhere specified if that person is looking for a shampoo that is very slick, if it just smells nice or if it is the least protection-affecting.
So it is almost impossible to give an answer.

What to keep in mind when you ask the question

Many detailers are searching for a certain product that offers good quality. This could mean that they are looking for a cheap product, one that smells good, etc. Before you ask the question which product is the best it is important to know what you are looking for. Are you looking for a wax that offers mainly gloss? Or is easy to buff off? Or one that offers as much gloss?

It is important to know what you are looking for, and to know that there will be cases in which 2 properties can not be combined. A shampoo that is really awesome at washing away stubborn grease can not be wax safe. Simply because you need a certain harshness to remove the grease, harshness that is more then the wax can handle. Even sealants are likely to be affected by this.

A list of things to consider

Here is a list of properties you might consider including in your question. These can be your own preferences, or just things you find important. This list is simply made to help you find out what you excactly want to ask, so you will get better answers that suit your search.

Wax

  • Price
  • Easy to buff off
  • Easy to apply
  • High gloss
  • Good durability
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Nice smell
  • Size of the jar
  • Gloss or glow
  • Liquid or paste

Sealant

  • Price
  • Size of ht bottle
  • Good durability
  • Can be used on top of wax
  • Can be used on top of a coating
  • High gloss or warm glow
  • Good durability
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Easy to apply
  • Easy to buff off
  • Needs a buff or just a wipe

Coating

Shampoo

  • Dilution rate
  • Price
  • Size of the bottle
  • Smell and color
  • Suds
  • Cleans dirt
  • Slick
  • Water solubility
  • Can be used as snowfoam
  • Sheets easily
  • Wax safe
  • Sealant safe
  • PH neutral
  • Has gloss-enhancers
  • Leaves a layer of protection

Snowfoam

  • Dilution rate
  • Price
  • Size of the bottle
  • Smell and color
  • Suds
  • Cleans dirt
  • Water solubility
  • Sheets easily
  • Wax safe
  • Sealant safe
  • PH neutral
  • Has gloss-enhancers
  • Leaves a layer of protection

Dressing

  • Size of bottle
  • Glossy effect of satin effect
  • High durability
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Level of darkening
  • Needs preparation
  • Price

TFR, Fallout remover or Engine Bay cleaner

  • Chemical based or polymer based
  • Removes stubborn grease (be more careful with the product)
  • Removes general grease (easier to use in more situations)
  • Acidic, pH neutral or alkili
  • Price
  • Size of bottle
  • Can be used as a snowfoam
  • Can be diluted

Fabric protector and convertible protector

  • Needs preparation
  • Price
  • Size of bottle
  • Durability
  • Chemical resistance
  • Easy to apply
  • Needs after-care
  • Can be washed afterwards
  • Improves look of soft-top
  • Needs to cure
  • Needs special aftercare

Leather cleaner

  • Price
  • Size of bottle
  • Removes protection
  • Removes ink and or jean-stains
  • Safe to use with dyed leather
  • Adds smell
  • Feeds leather

Leather protector

  • Affects protection
  • Price
  • Size of bottle
  • Affects leather dye
  • Protects against ink and jean-stains
  • Needs aftercare
  • Feeds the leather
  • Attracts dust and dirt

Glass cleaner

  • Easy to use
  • Leaves stripes/streaks
  • Smells good
  • Price
  • Size of bottle
  • Dilutable
  • Removes oil, nicotine etc.
  • Alcohol or polymer based

Micro fiber towel

  • For buffing or drying
  • Suede, long pile or short pile
  • Size
  • Amount of water it can absord
  • Leaves lint
  • Needs to be washed first
  • Price

Polish

  • SMAT or DAT
  • Compound or polish
  • To remove swirls
  • To remove scratches
  • To remove revere paint defects
  • Can be used in the sun
  • Can be used by hand or by machine
  • Size
  • Price
  • Very slick

Polishing machine – Dual Action

  • Price
  • Speed control
  • Size of the pad
  • Amount of throw
  • Expected life span
  • Power
  • Length of cable
  • 5/16″ thread
  • Different backingplates
  • Amount of vibration

Polishing machine – Rotary

  • Power
  • Speed control
  • Size of the pad
  • Expected life span
  • Length of cable
  • M14 thread
  • Different backingplates
  • Weight

Claybar or claymitt

  • Fine, medium or heavy clay
  • Size
  • Price

Claylube

Wheel brush

  • Hog or horse hair brush or nylon hair
  • Form
  • To scrub of agitate
  • Long hair or short hair
  • For wheels or arches

Detailing brush

  • Brush or handle
  • Short hair or long hair
  • Hard bristles or soft bristles
  • Big or small

Washmitt

  • Lambswool or microfiber
  • Long or short hair/fibre
  • With elastic wrist
  • Price
  • Color
  • For wheels or paint
  • Size

Lights

  • Power usage
  • LED or halogen
  • Full color spectrum
  • With stand
  • For mounting or moving around
  • Big or small
  • Length of cable

Sprayheads

  • Adjustable spray
  • With foam attachment
  • Can handle thick liquid
  • With filter
  • Can be used upside down
  • Chemical resistant

Pressure washer

  • Amount of pressure
  • Attachments
  • Power usage
  • Length of cable
  • Warm water
  • Electricity or generator
  • Bottle for cleaning liquids

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