Planning Your Car’s Detailing? Here’s a Guide to Get Your Job Done like a PRO!

‘Detailing’ is one of the latest additions to the books of car owners. Today, a majority of car owners are opting to get their ‘car detailed.’ However, have you ever wondered what the term means exactly? Or, are you one of those owners that is too keen to service their cars by themselves? 

Similar to washing or detailing, chances are that you’re one of those enthusiasts who want to know everything around the car care or simply want to explore the options of buying used cars. In that case, make sure you check out Gettacar car buying tips to know everything around car care. 

However, if you want to explore more around detailing and look forward to detailing your car, this might be the right blog for you! 

Let’s have a walkthrough of what detailing exactly is. What is the process involved, and how is it different from car washing?

What is Detailing? 

To put it in simple words, car detailing is a reasonably self-explanatory process that refers to the complete cleaning and protection of your vehicle, from its front to the rear. Often accompanied by the restoration of damaged components, this process requires the fair use of several tools and techniques that are not generally used in traditional car washing or cleaning methods.

The end result of your car’s detailing is to restore its ‘showroom’ condition (in terms of its looks) as it covers up all the swirl and scratch marks on the outside. Inside, your detailing job should be to thoroughly clean and improve the quality of the interior. 

Still confused? Sounds similar to car washing? Okay, let’s understand the difference…

Car Detailing vs. Car Washing, What’s the Difference? 

Car washing and detailing are two terms that might sound similar but are very different in their approach. However, both the words do have a similar motive: to intricately & precisely clean your vehicle.

However, a significant difference between the two methods is that a washing session includes washing & cleaning the exteriors of the car, using jet sprays, sponge & shampoos. On the other hand, a session of car detailing includes much more than washing the body. The process defines the name as it is minutely detailed and requires much effort and precision over a regular car wash. 

Now that we have all our doubts cleared, let’s look at the guidelines you need to adhere to, for the complete detailing of your car.  

Detailing your Vehicle’s Exterior

While you are detailing your vehicle, the first step requires you to clean the car’s exterior thoroughly. (We advise you to use quality detailing products, and reliable water source during the entire process) 

Here’s the step by step guide:

  • Car Washing:

The process of car washing requires you to use a ph-neutral, intensive washing car shampoo. Once you apply the shampoo over your car, make sure that you allow it to form foam and rest, allowing it to accumulate dirt & mud, and soften it to rinse it off.

  • Surface Claying:

Post the washing; it’s time to surface the paintwork, using a clay bar. This way, the bar eliminates any gravel or dirt that the shampoo was unable to take off, ensuring a proper, cleaned exterior.

  • Polishing & Rubbing:

After the car is thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to polish & enhance the looks! You need to replace the previous polish over the surface paint with a new layer of protective wax coating in this process. You can either apply the polish manually or get help from a polishing machine.

  • Paint Sealing:

Now that you have polished the car, your next step should be to seal the paint’s rich, lustrous tone by using purpose-made car wax or sealant. This way, you retain the uniformity of the paint’s polish and enhance the look of your vehicle.

  • Taillights & Headlights and other miscellaneous parts:

The last step of exterior car detailing requires you to polish your taillights, as well as the headlights, to improve illumination. Further, you should also ensure that you seal the lights using a plastic sealant.

Quick Tip:

When you have to deal with an exterior detailing job, make sure to use either an all-in-one DIY detailing kit, or customize your own tools via individual purchases. Further, avoid washing it under direct sunlight and work your way from top to down.

Detailing your Vehicle’s Interior

Moving in, it’s time to detail the interiors of your car. Detailing your car’s interior is a much more extensive process as it involves vacuuming,  cleaning, dashboard polishing, etc. Attention to detail plays a major trick in detailing your car’s interior.

Here’s a step by step guide:

  • Interior Vacuuming:

The first step in interior cleaning requires you to thoroughly vacuum and remove all the dust from the tightest spots. Make sure you vacuum the AC vents as well.

  • Cleaning & Brushing: 

Post the vacuum process, it’s time to clean and scrub over the upholstery inside. Here, you need to clean your car’s leather covers using a leather cleaner and later polish it for an enhanced look and to protect it from damage or stains of any form.

  • Glass Cleaning:

The third step of detailing your interior demands you to clean your glasses with the help of a glass cleaner, ensuring a clear view of the driver and also make the car look clean and shiny.

  • Perfuming:

Now that you are done with the detailing, it’s time for a touchup with some perfuming, followed by vacuuming the car once again.

Don’t forget the engine bay!

While it might not be a process involved in detailing, cleaning your car’s engine bay is a must! Often referred to as ‘heart of the car’, make sure you check on the engine bay while checking out the detailing process. 

Use a pressure washer (in mist mode), to eliminate the dust, grit, and dirt from the engine. Later, wipe your car’s engine and dress it properly with an even coating of a lubricating agent.

Cleaning your engine bay and maintaining it can be a mammoth task, especially if you are the owner of a racing car. However, with a few tips to keep your race car in perfect shape, things might just get easier for you!


Detailing a car might not be a task for everybody and it’s okay! Remember, you can always seek professional support from your nearest detailing dealerships. Further, you can also detail your car while selling (to get some more bucks on the sale).

Will Hopstetter
Will is an automotive market enthusiast living in the United Kingdom. He holds a diverse background in automotive and enjoys utilizing that to produce insights into the inner workings of the industry.