Tips & Techniques
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It’s in the Details: DIY Car Detailing

Automotive Cleaning

By hiebingadm

You may think an occasional scrub and spray-down to your car is enough to keep it looking clean. But when you go the extra mile with your car-cleaning routine, you’ll take your vehicle from dingy to sparkling-like-new. With the proper tools, you can turn costly professional car detailing into a DIY job done in your own driveway.

Time to bring out your car’s shine with this step-by-step guide:

  1. Before You Begin
    • Park your car in the shade and allow it time to cool down. This will help prevent the sun’s heat from drying cleaning materials before you get to spraying them off.
    • Start with the interior to prevent dust and dirt from settling on the cleaned exterior.
    • Give your car a pre-soak with a gentle rinse of Gilmour’s Front Control Cleaning Nozzle. It helps dissolve loose dirt, salt, mud and bug stains, so that you don’t have as much grime to scrub later. The nozzle’s hold-open clip allows you to maintain a continuous spray without squeezing.
  2. Start From the Ground Up
  3. Focus on your wheels first so you won’t risk their overspray dirtying your cleaned bodywork later.

    • Use a non-acid-based, degreasing wheel cleaner, allowing it to penetrate the wheel rims for up to five minutes.
    • Blast off caked-on dirt and mud with the jet setting of your cleaning nozzle, and use a soft brush in places where brake dust hides.
    • Apply car wax to protect wheels from mud and brake dust, which – bonus – will make cleaning easier later.
    • Give your wheels a final spray by adjusting your cleaning nozzle to a gentle rinse before drying wheels with a microfiber cloth.
  4. Body Wash
  5. This might seem like the easy part to some, but washing a car’s body can lead to simple mistakes that damage car paint and leave behind swirls or scratches.

    • Hand-wash, using two pails – one with sudsy car cleaner (not detergent, which strips wax coating), one with water – so you can rinse your rag in the water pail, and not contaminate the sudsy one.
    • Work from the top down, washing, rinsing with your cleaning nozzle, and drying one section at a time (microfiber cloths work well when washing and drying, as they trap impurities without grinding them into a car’s surface).
    • Get at the small, hard-to-reach places with a toothbrush or specialized detailing brush, continuing to rinse and dry as you do.
    • For stretching to the roof, try attaching Gilmour’s Power Jet Wand. You’ll get an extended reach – no step-stool required.
  6. Work in the Wax
  7. A finishing touch, wax will keep the car in tip-top shape, as it protects the paint by absorbing stains and small scratches.

    • After polishing your vehicle, spread the wax in small amounts at a time, either by hand or on a low setting with an orbital polisher. Be sure to apply light pressure to avoid damage.
    • Work in small sections and in straight-lined strokes.
    • Remove the wax by buffing or using a microfiber cloth once there’s a dry, even and thin layer. You’ll know it’s ready when the wax breaks apart ahead of your finger.
  8. Get to the Glass
  9. Make this a final step, as your windows will accumulate grime from the previous tasks.

    • Avoid using ammonia, as it’s bad for vinyl upholstery and your instrument panel. Stick with glass cleaner instead.
    • Buff with a microfiber cloth to rid cleaner residue.
  10. Before You Drive Off
    • Wait a while! When the exterior is wet, it attracts dirt when you drive.
    • Remember to continue to wash your car’s body regularly, as doing so will make the process of future cleaning and seasonal detailing as smooth as your like-new car.

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