The Complete Guide to Car Detailing

Detailing your car can be a tedious task. First, there are too many options for products and way too many nicks and crannies to clean if you want the ultimate detail. Don’t worry you have options when it comes to detailing your car, you can have it done professionally or do it yourself.

I know you may be thinking, I don’t have the time or money for a complete car detail, so why bother at all. This is typically true for most people but if you’re looking for some quick and easy tips on car detailing, make sure you continue reading.


The Top 8 Car Interior Detailing Hacks and Tips

Follow these 8 tips for an amazing interior detailing job.

  • Floor Mat and Carpet Stains

    To remove carpet stains, first vacuum them thoroughly, then use a brush and stain remover. For mild stains, you can get by with soap and water but for tougher stains you may need to use a potent stain remover. Once you’re finished, hang the floor mats outside and leave the doors open to let moisture out.

  • Upholstery Stains

    First, vacuum your seats until clean, then use an upholstery cleaner of your choice or soap and water. If you’re using a stain remover, first test on a small spot to ensure you will not ruin your seats. Once completed, leave your doors open to let any moisture out and repeat as needed. If possible, try to remove the stain as soon as possible.

  • Door Jambs

    First clean with a solution (soap) and then dry completely. Next, use a brush or Q Tip to remove dirt and grim from those tough to get places. If you have surface rust, you can use a steel brush for removal and then repaint to help prevent the rust from returning.

  • Door Panels

    Wipe down with the appropriate cleaner for your panels (leather, plastic, etc.) Use a brush or Q Tip to remove dirt and grime from the cracks. Wipe off and repeat as necessary.

  • Windows

    To remove any dirt from your windows, use a glass cleaner or soap and water. Make sure to wipe down afterwards to remove any streaks.

  • Steering Wheel Column

    To remove any dust or dirt, first wipe down with soap and water or a solution for your panels, then dry off. Next, use a Q Tip or brush. Once completed, wipe down again.

  • Dashboard

    To clean the dashboard, first put the cleaner (soap or other) on the towel, then wipe off the dashboard. This way you don’t leave overspray on your windows or knobs.

  • Center Console

    Use the same solution as you did on the other panels in your car. Make sure, the center console is not slippery (arm rest) so your arm doesn’t slide off when you’re driving. Use a brush or Q Tip to remove any dirt or grime from small cracks.



The Top 8 Exterior Car Detailing Hacks and Tips

Follow these 8 tips for an amazing exterior detailing job.

  • Wheel Dust

    First, spray or wipe down with water, then apply your wheel cleaner. Let the cleaner penetrate the rim for 1 minute (or the time listed on the bottle). Then use a soft brush to remove dirt or grime on the wheels. Once finished, spray the wheel off and then dry with a cloth. If your wheels have lots of brake dust, you might what to consider different brakes pads in the future.

  • Wheel Shine

    For that shiny clean look, apply a tire dressing. After the dressing has soaked in, whip off with a cloth. This will stop the dressing from spraying onto the wheels and car while driving.

  • Engine Compartment

    Use a vinyl protectant to spray on the plastic pieces for a great shine. Once is has soaked in, make sure to wipe off with a cloth. If you have any wires showing, you can cover them with an electrical wire tube or wire tire them together for a cleaner look.

  • Windows

    Use a glass cleaner on the outside of the windows to really make those windows shine and so that you can see better.

  • Tinted Windows

    Make sure to use a “safe” glass cleaner for aftermarket tinted windows. Glass cleaners with a high amount of ammonia could damage your tinted windows.

  • Wheel Wells

    To clean your wheel wells, use a soapy water or an all-purpose cleaner if they’re dirty. Once clean, spray on interior polish and then wipe down.

  • Removing Contaminants

    Use a clay bar to remove any contaminants that washing couldn’t remove. First, choose a clay grade that fits your needs. Next, use plenty of clay lube and then with light pressure glide the across the surface until the area is smooth.

  • Washing

    To wash your car, use car wash soap and not regular dish soap. Car wash soap is formulated to work with your vehicles paint not like dish soap. Dish soap could remove wax or create a dull paint look over time.



The Top 8 DIY Car Detailing Hacks and Tips

Follow these 8 DIY tips for a perfect detailing job.

  • Lubricate

    Use a lubricant to keep your hood, doors and gas tank lid opener working properly. You can use WD-40 or White Lithium Grease and spray a couple drops on each and wipe off.

  • Deep Clean

    If your carpets and floor mats are stained, try and deep clean them. If you don’t have a deep carpet cleaning vacuum at home, you can rent one at your local Walmart or Home Depot.

  • Sticker Removal

    Occasionally you might have to put a parking sticker on your windshield and those can be a pain to remove. You can use a little Goo Gone and a putty knife or razor blade to get into those hard to reach places.

  • Buffing and Polishing

    You can purchase a buffing or polishing pad at your local store and if you have a power drill, you can attach the pad and it makes life a lot easier. Just remember not to stay in one spot for very long.

  • Interior Paint

    If your interior panels are basically ruined, you might be able to repaint and restore them. You might want to practice first, so you don’t truly ruin them.

  • Carpet and Seat Cover Replacement

    If your carpet and seats look disgusting, you might want to consider replacing them. Depending on the vehicle, you can pick these up online or at your auto dealer for a reasonable price and do it yourself.

  • Clear Bra

    You might consider purchasing a clear bra to keep the road debris from damaging and chipping your paint. These are relatively simple to install and get be done for half the price a dealership would charge.

  • Paint Chips

    Time to get out the magic markers, finger nail polish or crayons, (just kidding on the crayons) to touch up the annoying paint chips. If you want an almost exact paint color match, head over to your automotive paint store and have them get you a paint pen.



The Top 10 Must Have Products for the Best Detail

Find out which products you need for your next job.

  • Car Soap

  • Stain Remover

  • Wheel Cleaner and Shine

  • Polishing Pad

  • Shamee

  • Interior Cleaner and Conditioner

  • Clay Bar

  • Window Cleaner

  • Vacuum

  • Interior Protectant



The Cost for the Perfect Detail

Learn how much it cost to detail your car.

The cost of detailing your vehicle can vary dramatically. The size of your vehicle is the main determinant as well as the services. Let’s now take a look at the cost of a couple of detail packages that you would traditionally see.

1. Hand Car Wash (.5-1hr) $25.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing

2. Interior Detail (4hrs) $75.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition

3. Exterior Detail (1 day) $85.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, Surface contamination removal, 1 step paint correction, Clean door jams, Hand wax

4. Complete Detail (1 day) $145.00 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, Surface contamination removal, 1 step paint correction, Clean door jams, Hand wax

5. Paint Correction (1 day) $150.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks

6. Deluxe Detail (1 day) $225.00 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks, Engine clean, Trunk detail, Headlights restoration

7. Ceramic Ultra Detail (2 days) $600 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks, Engine clean, Trunk detail, Headlights restoration, Up to 3 small dents/dings (up to 1/2” size), Under body & under wheels detailing, 2-year ceramic paint protection

1. Hand Car Wash (.5-1hr) $30.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing

2. Interior Detail (4hrs) $85.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition

3. Exterior Detail (1 day) $95.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, Surface contamination removal, 1 step paint correction, Clean door jams, Hand wax

4. Complete Detail (1 day) $175.00 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, Surface contamination removal, 1 step paint correction, Clean door jams, Hand wax

5. Paint Correction (1 day) $175.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks

6. Deluxe Detail (1 day) $260.00 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks, Engine clean, Trunk detail, Headlights restoration

7. Ceramic Ultra Detail (2 days) $750 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks, Engine clean, Trunk detail, Headlights restoration, Up to 3 small dents/dings (up to 1/2” size), Under body & under wheels detailing, 2-year ceramic paint protection

1. Hand Car Wash (.5-1hr) $45.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing

2. Interior Detail (4hrs) $115.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition

3. Exterior Detail (1 day) $115.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, Surface contamination removal, 1 step paint correction, Clean door jams, Hand wax

4. Complete Detail (1 day) $195.00 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, Surface contamination removal, 1 step paint correction, Clean door jams, Hand wax

5. Paint Correction (1 day) $225.00 & up
Includes: Hand car wash & dry, Vacuum, Interior panels wipe, Windows cleaned, Tire dressing, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks

6. Deluxe Detail (1 day) $295.00 & up
Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks, Engine clean, Trunk detail, Headlights restoration

7. Ceramic Ultra Detail (2 days) $900 & up

Includes: Carpets/seats/upholstery shampoo, Leather clean/condition, 3 step paint correction: removes oxidation, small scratches, swirl marks, Engine clean, Trunk detail, Headlights restoration, Up to 3 small dents/dings (up to 1/2” size), Under body & under wheels detailing, 2-year ceramic paint protection

Engine clean $30.00 & up
Carpet shampoo $40.00 & up
Hand wax $40 & up
Interior panels & leather protection $125-175.00
Headlights restoration $50.00 & up
Windows ceramic protection:
Windshield $50.00 & up
All windows $125.00 & up
Wheels ceramic coating $50.00 per wheel


Is Detailing Your Car Worth the Time and Cost?

I think it’s worth it but maybe that just me.

Detailing your vehicle can be painstaking but it’s worth it in the long haul. The way I see it, if you just spend 15 minutes a week doing a little detailing, vacuuming, wiping down the leather, etc, you will have a decently clean car. Don’t think you can detail your car once every 6 months and have it look new because it’s not going to happen.