Downtown Detailing: Keeping Your Car Clean In A Major City

Silver Mercedes AMG in the City

Lately I have received a number of questions regarding detailing from city-dwellers, most of which (whom?) show concern that there’s really nowhere to detail if you don’t have your own garage/driveway. If you live in a big city like Chicago, San Francisco, or New York then you probably understand that private garages are hard to come by, and come at a premium. Fortunately, regardless of what city you’re in, there are ways to solve this issue and keep your car looking great all year round. Keep reading and learn that with better knowledge of your local resources, this task doesn’t have to cause problems.

I live downtown. Can I detail my car on my own?

The answer is absolutely, yes. The big setback is the obvious fact that driveways do not really exist downtown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find them. Chances are you have a friend who lives on the outskirts of town, typically just a short ride away, who’s driveway you could use if you really wanted to. Granted this may get annoying over time, it might work every so often and save you a trip to the detail shop.

If a driveway is unattainable, I’m sure you’re familiar with those self-service wash booths—you know, one of these (viewer beware – courtesy of Jalopnik). You can always pop into the booth for a few bucks, use your own supplies and car care products, and get the job done by hand with relative ease. Similarly, there are public garages in most major cities that will not bat an eye if you start to apply a paint sealant while paying them to park in their facilities. Just make sure you’re not rubbing up against other cars, and be sure to get the car washed first at a local hand car wash. If it were me, I’d park fairly far away from other cars if possible.

Speaking of car washes, don’t forget about the pros. Professional detail shops exist in major cities for a reason, and by living in one, chances are you will find yourself requesting their assistance at some point in time. This doesn’t mean you have to give them all your business… you can still wax, wash, condition your leather, and more using some of the tips I just mentioned, but some detailing needs just can’t be done by hand in a big city. Things like carpet shampooing, machine polishing, and deep wheel cleaning details really require added equipment, attention, and, you guessed it, space. Take my word for it and find yourself a reputable detailer that can be trusted to help you out when you need it most.

And so…

Despite what seems to be a daunting task, in reality you can detail your car by hand in a major city and do so easily. It’s not that hard, but in my opinion you should definitely associate yourself with a local professional who can lend a hand if and when you run into a stickier situation. I can tell you right now that if milk were to be spilled in your car and left to spoil, it will be tough to tackle on your own (even in rural areas). Striking a balance in your urban resources (above) is key: when combined—a friend’s driveway, a self-serve car wash booth, and a helpful local professional—you’ll find your car looks better than ever and is much easier to keep clean while you hustle and bustle in the big city lights.

How do you keep your car clean in the city? Share below!