There’s nothing quite like a freshly detailed car. It’s not unlike the joy of opening a new book or slipping on a brand-new jacket, but the cost of getting your car professionally detailed regularly adds up quick. Why not try doing it yourself? If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips and tricks that will turn you into a detailing pro in no time.

Collect Your Supplies

Collecting your supplies is the first step to successfully detailing your car. For a good detailing, you’ll need:

  • A vacuum cleaner — You need all the attachments for this job. A small wet-dry shop vac is a great choice.
  • An air compressor — This is a great tool for blasting dirt and dust out of all those nooks and crannies. If you don’t have a compressor, canned air works well.
  • Cleaners — Upholstery cleaner, carpet cleaner and all-surface cleaners are necessary for a good detailing. Pick up some surface protectors as well for leather or vinyl surfaces.
  • Rags, Cotton Swabs and more — These are useful for cleaning all sorts of surfaces.

It seems like a lot, but you need to get into all the hard-to-reach spaces for a proper detailing.

Prepare Your Space

You need somewhere to keep your car while you’re detailing it. Although you can work in your driveway, it gets warm out in the sun after a while. If your garage is full of boxes and junk, it might be a good idea to organize it before you try detailing your car.

Sort through your junk, figure out what you want to keep and what you can get rid of and optimize your storage for the stuff that you’re keeping. While you’re at it, invest in some good tool storage, so everything is easy to find.

Detail Matters

Once you have all your supplies and a place to put your car, it’s time to get to work and start detailing.  The key here is to make your car as close to new as possible. Tackle the big stuff first — trash and stuff that you don’t need to store in your car. Then, focus on the details. Vacuum everything and use your attachments to get into all the nooks and crannies. If there are places you can’t get, either blast them out with your air compressor or canned air or clean them out with small brushes or cotton swabs.

Once you’ve got all the dirt and dust up, work on cleaning all the surfaces in your car. Deep clean the carpets and the upholstery with appropriate cleaners. Use a rag and an all-surface cleaner to clean hard surfaces such as your dashboard and steering wheel, and a glass cleaner to get fingerprints and streaks off your windows and windshield.

Once the interior is clean, it’s time to clean the outside. Give your car a good wash and wax to bring the whole look together.

Preparation Is Important

Detailing your car is easy as long as you’ve got the right tools and plenty of space to work. You know what they say — proper preparation prevents poor performance, and that is just as important in car detailing as it is in other aspects of your life.

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Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington and is an automotive journalist who has written for dozens of auto sites, including Yahoo Autos, Hooniverse, GT Spirit, The Mustang Source, and more. Scott's website, www.OffTheThrottle.com, and YouTube channel are popular automotive destinations.

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