Detailing Safety Tips From Dr. Beasley’s

Nitrile glove and respirator maskSafety tips? What is this, high school chemistry? Wrong. It’s Detailing 101! While detailing may not seem like an inherently dangerous activity, it does present a set of safety concerns that should be addressed by newcomers and veterans alike. In our detailing safety tips, we’ll take a look at what protection you should have, what you should know about the products you’re using, how to maintain situational awareness, and how to reduce physical strain while detailing. 

Protection 

The number one thing to consider safety-wise is proper protection. As you well know, detailing often involves chemicals that can cause harm to your body both inside and out. Between noxious fumes and acidic compounds, you’ll want to make sure your body is shielded. What can you do? Here are the basics:

  • Gloves: A quality nitrile glove is essential when detailing. It’ll shield against acid, staining, and skin cracking. Beyond hand protection, it will also protect your paint from any particulates stuck to your skin. 
  • Mask: Because of the fumes and particulates associated with detailing, you’ll want to use some form of respirator mask to block these from entering your lungs. 
  • Glasses: Detailing inevitably involves particles and chemicals getting kicked up, which if you’re not careful can get stuck in your eye. Avoid having to rush to the eye wash station and make sure you have some kind of protective glasses on before you start detailing. 
  • Long Sleeves, Long Pants: Detailing is not the time to break out your short-sleeve Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts. With your arms and legs exposed, you’re open to acidic chemicals burning your skin. Stay safe and stick to long sleeves and pants. 

Knowing Your Chemicals 

Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s) provide valuable safety information for chemical products. They tell you about the product’s chemical properties, health hazards, what protective measures to take, and any safety precautions for handling, storage and transport. It also informs you of the proper procedures for first-aid and spill clean-up, as well as any necessary protective equipment. Most companies that sell chemical products should have their SDS’s on their website. 

Situational Awareness

Since detailing requires a high level of precision, it can be easy to get tunnel vision and lose consciousness of your surroundings. Take this example: you’re so engrossed in applying a ceramic coating to your car that you don’t notice the puddle of water right next to you. You step to the right to start coating the next panel when BAM, you’ve slipped and broken your back. That’s why it’s always important to practice situational awareness while detailing. Here’s what to do:

  1. Note your surroundings before you start detailing. Identify environmental hazards ahead of time and take whatever steps necessary to minimize their impact. 
  2. Consider what interference could occur while detailing. Have young kids or a nosy spouse? Make sure they know to announce their presence so you can inform them of any immediate hazards. If you have a pet you’re concerned about, make sure they are properly restrained before starting your detail. 
  3. Make sure your car is totally immobile before beginning your detail. Just two years ago Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was killed by his Jeep Grand Cherokee after it slid down his inclined driveway and pinned him against his property’s gate. Avoid detailing on an incline and always make sure you are in park and have the parking brake on. 
  4. Every so often take a moment to reacclimate yourself to your surroundings. Take stock of any new environmental hazards that have appeared. It may break your flow, but your life could depend on it.

Physical Strain 

Anyone with experience detailing knows it can be a physically strenuous task. That being said, there are many steps you can take to avoid overexerting yourself and causing injury. 

  1. Consider the temperature you’re detailing in. Are you outside on a hot day? Take frequent hydration breaks, wear sunscreen, and make sure you’re working in the shade. Is it cold? Consider detailing indoors if possible. Don’t have indoor space? Use a waterless wash to avoid hypothermia, or just take your car to a professional detailer. 
  2. Stay moisterized. Because of the chemicals involved in many detailing tasks, your skin can dry out easily and make detailing a more uncomfortable, straining experience than it needs to be. Apply lotion when necessary to keep your skin in tip-top shape. 
  3. Use tools to reduce physical strain. Have a hard time wringing out your towels because of joint pain? Pick up a washboard insert for your Grit Guard so you can remove particles from their towel with just a scrub. Find it exhausting to get around your vehicle while detailing? Buy a rolling stool with adjustable height. 
  4. Use proper form to avoid physical strain. For example, squat down rather than bend over when trying to reach low areas to reduce back strain. 

These are only some of the safety tips you need for detailing your car. Obviously there are a plethora of other considerations, so if you have any tips or advice, comment below!