Beginner’s Guide To An Afternoon Detail

Car Wash Soap on Black Car

It’s a Sunday morning and it’s 70 degrees outside. With coffee in hand and the newspaper read, what do you do with the rest of your day? How about we detail that pretty four wheeled work horse you have in your driveway?

Before you go whip out your old bucket and dirty rags, here is what you need to know to get a quality car wash and detailing that will clean, protect, and shine your car. This will be your prescription for what you need to get started to get your car to shine bright.  Follow our previous and future articles for a more in-depth look into these processes and others in more detail.

The List

  • A Hose

  • 2 Buckets

  • Wash Pads

  • Car Wash Soap (pH balanced)

  • Waffle Weave Microfiber Towels

  • Tire Conditioner

  • Poly Sealant and/or Wax

  • Foam Applicator

Starting with the Car Wash


Why two Buckets?! To get your car as clean as possible, we recommend a car wash system widely used to prevent the wash pad from retaining contaminants on it.  If you have two buckets, one filled with your soap and one with just water, after each application of soap to your car, rinse the wash pad in the rinse bucket before dipping it into the soap bucket.  This prevents the soap bucket from becoming too contaminated and resulting in you washing your car with dirty soap that could scratch your car and leave it less than stellar.  Then remember to use your microfiber cloths to dry your car. We recommend the waffle weave plainly because they’re more absorbent.

To go above the rest and treat your car like a professional, we always recommend putting a grit guard at the bottom of each bucket. This allows you to scrub the pad on the guard to release more contaminants and keep them at the bottom of the bucket.

Do Not:

Let’s keep that old dish sponge in the cupboard for cleaning sinks and showers; there’s a reason why we recommend wash pads. Sponges have larger pores that trap contaminants in them and when applying pressure during the wash, you’re pressing out the contaminants on the car that can leave micro-scratches and dirt on the car.

Remember those dirty rags? Don’t use them, spend the money and get microfiber cloths. The bath towels, and shop rags have rough fibers that can scratch your car because they’re too abrasive.


How About the Wheels and Tires?

A simple car wash soap will work well for most wheels. However, there may be times where you have caked on brake dust or road tar that is giving you a cramp from scrubbing so hard. Look into a wheel cleaner that is more effective at breaking down those build ups and make your life a tad bit easier.

If you’ve gotten this far and your car still doesn’t look quite right, it’s because a car wash HAS TO include a formal tire conditioner. Your car will look 100% better with properly treated tires. Now there is a difference between tire dressing and tire conditioner. In short, tire dressings (most tire products in the market) are surface products that just sit there and make the tire look shiny, while tire conditioner treats the tire by being absorbed and provides protection as well as shine.

Going One Step Further for That Shine

I’m certain you’ve heard of waxing your car. This gives your car protection for your paint as well a beautiful shine to turn heads while getting your morning Starbucks. This is a viable option, but you do have a choice between Poly Sealant and a Carnauba Wax.  Most experts and car detailers will recommend a poly sealant for the average everyday owner, but the bullet points are such:

Poly Sealant

  • Longer Lasting Bond (6-12 months)

  • More Durable in Adverse Conditions

    • Negative – Colder Mirror Shine

Carnauba Wax

  • Warmer Deeper Shine (usually)

    • Negative – Need to reapply every 3-4 weeks

Putting that sealant or wax on you car is a great way to truly show it off and step up your game in the detailing world.  The application needs only a foam applicator and some time. But if you devote the time, your car will shine bright, feel great, and be protected.

This is only the beginning, continue to check back for more featured articles on the interior and more advanced techniques and products.