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A guide in detailing Steps

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There are many different steps you can take while detailing. A maintenance wash has different steps than a deep-clean wash or a 3 stage polish. In this guide I will give a very general idea on the order of those steps. More in-depth articles regarding every step will follow. This articles serves to give people a quick overview.

Why are there steps?

In the process of detailing it is very important to know when a certain product needs to be used. Just like you have to sand before painting. There is only one way of doing these 2 steps. Some things can be done in any order with detailing, but some need to be done in the same order every time.

Weekly wash

Just a normal wash to keep the grime at bay. In this quick and simple guide I did not take into account whether it is winter or summer.
Items with a * are optional.

  • *Rinse off dust and superficial dirt
  • *Apply snowfoam (if possible)
  • *Leave snowfoam for the desired time
  • *Rinse off snowfoam
  • Wash wheels with separate bucket
  • *Wash wheelarch
  • Rinse wheels and arches
  • Wash with 2-bucket method
  • Rinse off suds
  • Use sheeting to let the car dry itself
  • Dry the car with a MF drying towel, start at the top of the side and finish with the roof, bonnet and back
  • *Dry wheels and arches with separate MF towel
  • *Open the doors and dry the inside of the doors with a separate MF towel
  • *Open the boot and bonnet and dry the inside
  • Inspect your work and wipe off fingerprints
  • *Use one of the moist drying towels to give the dashboard a quick wipe
  • Apply dressing to tyres

3 months wash

A slightly more intensive wash to clean off build-up dirt.
Items with a * are optional.

  • *Rinse off dust and superficial dirt
  • *Apply snowfoam (if possible)
  • *Leave snowfoam for the desired time
  • *Rinse off snowfoam
  • Wash wheels with separate bucket
  • *Wash wheelarch
  • Rinse wheels and arches
  • Wash with 2-bucket method
  • Rinse off suds
  • Apply iron fallout remover
  • After dwelling time, rinse off iron fallout
  • *Wash car again and rinse off
  • *Use sheeting to let the car dry itself
  • Spray claylube on surface
  • Use clay to deep-clean surface
  • Wash car again to wash off the claylube
  • Dry the car with a MF drying towel, start at the top of the side and finish with the roof, bonnet and back
  • *Dry wheels and arches with separate MF towel
  • *Open the doors and dry the inside of the doors with a separate MF towel
  • *Open the boot and bonnet and dry the inside
  • Apply pre-wax cleaner, chemical cleaner or finishing polish to remove marring from claying
  • Buff off and consider using IPA to remove residue
  • *If you are not happy with the finish you can apply glaze
  • *Work the glaze till it is almost gone and then buff the surface with a clean MF
  • Apply wax, sealant or coating
  • Leave for the recommended time and buff off
  • *Apply a second layer if wanted
  • *Apply coating/sealant windows
  • *Apply coating/sealant/wax to wheels
  • Inspect your work and wipe off fingerprints
  • Use one of the moist drying towels to give the dashboard a quick wipe
  • Apply dressing to tyres
  • *Wipe down tire dressing to get a more matte effect

Full exterior detail

A guide when you wanna do a full exterior detail.
Items with a * are optional.

  • *Rinse off dust and superficial dirt
  • *Apply snowfoam (if possible)
  • *Leave snowfoam for the desired time
  • *Rinse off snowfoam
  • Wash wheels with separate bucket
  • *Wash wheelarch
  • Rinse wheels and arches
  • Wash with 2-bucket method
  • Rinse off suds
  • *Use sheeting to let the car dry itself
  • Spray claylube on surface
  • Use clay to deep-clean surface
  • Wash car again to wash off the claylube
  • Dry the car with a MF drying towel, start at the top of the side and finish with the roof, bonnet and back
  • *Dry wheels and arches with separate MF towel
  • *Open the doors and dry the inside of the doors with a separate MF towel
  • *Open the boot and bonnet and dry the inside
  • Tape off small crevices, rubbers and unpainted trims
  • Choose the pad and polish you are going to use (via a testspot for example)
  • Prime the pad by adding a bit more polish then normal and rub it in with your fingers
  • Apply the polish to the pad and start polishing (either by machine or by hand)
  • Keep repeating these steps, going from rough to the finest polish you have
  • *Apply pre-wax cleaner, chemical cleaner
  • Buff off and consider using IPA to remove residue
  • Apply wax, sealant or coating
  • Leave for the recommended time and buff off
  • *Apply a second layer if wanted
  • *Apply coating/sealant windows
  • *Apply coating/sealant/wax to wheels
  • Inspect your work and wipe off fingerprints
  • Use one of the moist drying towels to give the dashboard a quick wipe
  • Apply dressing to tyres
  • *Wipe down tire dressing to get a more matte effect

Interior top-up

Cleaning the interior on a regular basis, like monthly.
Items with a * are optional

  • Spray glass cleaner liberally on a clean MF towel
  • Wipe the glass from the inside
  • Before the glass cleaner evaporates, wipe the glass dry with a waffle weave glass towel
  • Repeat if necessary to get a clean windows
  • Take a damp cloth and spray diluted APC on it
  • Wipe dashboard, steering wheel, console etc.
  • Take another damp MF towel and spray some APC on it
  • *Wipe the roof if needed
  • *Wipe cloth seats (skip if seats are leather)
  • *Wipe back seats
  • If seats are leather, wipe off with a clean damp MF towel with only water
  • Wipe doorcards
  • Take out the floormats
  • Vacuum the car
  • *An attachment can help to get in difficult places
  • Vacuum the floormats
  • *If floormats have very light stains on them, rub them with a damp/wet MF cloth with a bit APC
  • *If floor has very light stains on it, rub it with a damp/wet MF cloth with a bit of APC
  • Spray QD on a clean MF towel
  • Wipe dashboard, console, doorcards etc. with MF towel with a bit of QD (this shouldn’t need buffing)
  • Spray air freshener on floormats
  • Put floormats back in the car

Full interior detail

Giving the interior a deep and thorough clean, can be done once a year.
Items with a * are optional

  • Spray glass cleaner liberally on a clean MF towel
  • Wipe the glass from the inside
  • Before the glass cleaner evaporates, wipe the glass dry with a waffle weave glass towel
  • Repeat if necessary to get a clean windows
  • Take a damp cloth and spray diluted APC on it
  • Wipe dashboard, steering wheel, console etc.
  • Use a brush to get into difficult areas
  • If possible, use a Tornador to clean out small spaces
  • Take out the floormats
  • Vacuum the car
  • *An attachment can help to get in difficult places
  • Vacuum the floormats
  • Remove front seats if possible
  • Spray seats with just water (only with non-leather seats)
  • Spray seats liberally with APC (only with non-leather seats)
  • Rub in, and agitate APC with a brush (only with non-leather seats)
  • Use extractor/wet-vac to suck off the dirty liquid
  • Repeat steps if needed until seats are clean
  • Repeat these steps for rear seats and/or carpet if needed
  • Repeat these steps with the floormats
  • Take another damp MF towel and spray some APC on it
  • *Wipe the roof if needed
  • *If seats are leather, spray with special leather cleaner
  • *Wipe off the leather seats
  • *Apply leather conditioner
  • Wipe doorcards with damp cloth sprayed with a bit of diluted APC
  • Spray QD on a clean MF towel
  • Wipe dashboard, console, doorcards etc. with MF towel with a bit of QD (this shouldn’t need buffing)
  • Spray air freshener on floormats
  • Put floormats back in the car

Wheel arch detail

Giving the wheelarches a thorough clean.
Items with a * are optional.

  • Put car on axle stand(s) (think about your safety!!)
  • *Remove rims for better access
  • *Snowfoam the wheelarch and possibly the rim
  • *Leave the snowfoam for a few minutes before you rinse it out
  • Spray APC inside the wheelarch and the inside of the wheel
  • Agitate the APC with a brush (or similar)
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • *Use tar- and/or fallout-remover in places where there is tar and/or fallout
  • *Rinse thoroughly
  • Use heavy duty- or engine-degreaser to deep clean the suspension, brakes, wishbones etc
  • Agitate with a brush where needed
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • *Use clay with claylube to deep clean painted parts
  • Dry area with a MF towel
  • Use a (finishing) polish to get the shine back in painted parts
  • Plastic parts can be treated with a dressing or plastic-coating
  • Painted parts can be treated with wax, sealant or coating
  • Tire can be treated with a dressing
  • *Check if grease is needed for moving parts such as brake caliper, suspension and wishbone bushes

Deep clean wheels

Giving the wheels more then just a weekly wash.
Items with a * are optional.

  • Remove wheel from car
  • Spray the wheel with APC and agitate with a brush
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Spray the wheel with a wheel cleaner and agitate with a brush
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Spray the wheel with a heavy degreaser or engine bay cleaner
  • Agitate especially the tire to clean the rubber
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Spray the wheel with a tar- and/or fallout remover
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Repeat these steps until the rim is clean
  • (remember that corrosion and damage can’t be cleaned away)
  • Spray the rim with claylube
  • Clay the spokes, inside, outside etc.
  • Wash the wheel and rinse thoroughly
  • Dry the wheel with a MF towel
  • Use a (finishing) polish to make any surface corrections
  • Use a metal polish on unpainted metal surfaces
  • Take into account that aluminium might require more effort to get the desired result
  • Wipe down the rim with IPA (or similar)
  • Apply a wax, sealant and/or coating for protection
  • Apply dressing to the tire
  • Leave protection to fully cure for about 24 hour
  • Make a final inspection and wipe off fingerprints
  • Put wheel(s) back on car

And finally:

Never forget to take a few steps back, look at the result and enjoy the quality work you have done!

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