Of course, we would prefer that you bring your car to us for Professional Detailing. As car guys, we understand that sometimes cleaning and detailing your car is one of the most satisfying things you can do on a Saturday afternoon (other than taking it out for a drive).
Tip #1: Two Buckets are Better than One. Three is Great.
Two buckets with a grit guard at the base of each is the best way to get the dirt removed from your car and keep it off. When you put your wash towel in, the guard keeps the dirt from your towel The first bucket is for soap and water. The second is just for cleaning your washing cloth. Yes, you can use a third to do a second rinse of your towel.
Then, you’ll have a clean towel and clean suds that will go on your car. With one bucket, you’re grinding that dirt into your paint. Tip # 1.5? Don’t put any weight onto your towel. Lightly slide the towel around. It’ll get clean.
Tip #2: Microfiber vs Cotton
Microfiber every time. There are microfiber counts just like there is on cotton sheets. The higher the count the softer the towel. But a lower count is better for cleaning. Seem odd? Not really. The thicker towels will hold dirt deeper and won’t rinse as cleanly. They also hold more water making them heavier and thereby potentially scratching paint. Use The higher counts for removing wax later on. Wash towels separate from any other laundry. Use a small amount of detergent and fabric softener. It sticks to the fibers and reduces their effectiveness. Run the rinse cycle two times. Remove the manufacturer tags before using them.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on towels, A Cadillac is an Impala in fancy trim. Check the thread counts. Don’t buy for the fancy names some sellers use.
Tip #3: Start your process from the inside out and top to bottom.
Clean the inside of your car first. When vacuuming and cleaning mats, the dust is going to fly. You know what that means. Gravity. Thoroughly wet the car and allow the water to rinse off as much dirt and dust as possible. Don’t pressure wash though. Follow the lines of the car when washing. circular motions leave circular imprints. Light strokes along the body lines are best.
After complete washing use a leaf blower to run off excess water between bumpers, light fixtures, molding etc.
Now’s the time to use that high count microfiber to dry off remaining water. If you see that you missed the lower portion of a panel in the cleaning process don’t use your drying towel as a cleaning towel. Stop the process and reclean that area as if for the first time.
Tip #4: High quality, low RPM, buffing, dual head machine to apply wax.
Rubbing wax on by hand is archaic and causes uneven shine. Use a high quality dual head machine to lay the wax down. Once again, little to low pressure. Let the machine do the work. Keep it light. There are several good manufacturers of these machines.
What isn’t being addressed here is the various pad densities and proper pads for each stage of cleaning.
Do your homework. Because polishing pads are color coded to determine hardness, flexibility and polish level. That needs to be properly coordinated with the buffing polish compound grade. And those factors need to understand the paint product on your car and if it’s an original one stage paint job or two stage.
Sounds complicated? Yes. But talk with a professional detailer and they can give you some guidance.
Tip #6: Clay bars
The question I hear most is: What’s a Clay Bar and how do I use it?
Clean and wash your car. Then utilize a clay bar ( There are a multitude of manufacturers and grades of clay. Get a decent, known maker and don’t go overboard trying to analyse clay.)
Once you’ve cleaned and dried your car you can use a clay bar to remove most surface contaminants. Spray your panels with a good spray lubricant (Water with a very, very small amount of Dawn detergent is, 1:75, is fine.)
Turn it often, keep the surfaces moist and you’ll be amazed at the softness of the paint. This will make wax application far easier and a much better result.
Tip #7: Grocery bags are flimsy, cheap garbage bags.
But they can serve a purpose. If you put one on your hand and lightly, gently run it across the surface of your paint, it’ll leave very small residues behind showing you the “high” points of contaminates left behind. Clay bar again to remove them.
Tip #8: Paper towels and glass.
Paper towels are great for your home surfaces. For exceptional glass use unprinted newsprint. (Any local Moving company will have it available.) It doesn’t streak or leave fuzzy residue behind. Far better than paper towels.
Clean your windows left to right inside and up to down outside. You’ll immediately know where you missed by the direction of the vertical/horizontal streaks.
Tip #9: Carpets typically get dirt ground into them
Prior to vacuuming your carpet use a stiff brush to agitate the fibers allowing dirt to break free and easier to vacuum out. You can use a softer brush on door panels, but go easy. If your carpets are really looking grungy then a small waterless extractor may be called for. You can rent one at a home improvement store. Test in an inconspicuous locations for color fastness.
Tip #10: Latex gloves bring pet hair up and out
Use latex gloves (Like the blue ones you often see can be found in the local hardware store.) and and rub your hand over the carpet. This static electricity will cause most of thee hair to stick to the gloves.The rest will easily be removed with your vacuum.
If you’d like a quote to have PowerPortal professionally detail your car call us for an appointment. It’s FREE!