Detailing your car might be something you think you have to pay someone else to do if you’re hoping to get the best results. However, with a few tools, some elbow grease and a bit of patience, you can protect your wallet while cleaning up your ride. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.

Start With the Exterior

Detailing your car means you’re going over every nook and cranny, inside and out, to get it as clean as it was when it rolled off the assembly line. Don’t start by taking your daily driver to the car wash — the brushes can leave tiny scratches in your clear coat that makes it harder to keep your vehicle clean.

Start by handwashing your car. Make sure you’re using car wash detergent — anything else, like dish or hand soap, might strip off your car’s protective wax. Leave the dish soap in the kitchen where it belongs.

Once you’ve scrubbed everything down, rinse it with clean water and dry it with some microfiber towels. Letting the water dry on the exterior will cause streaking.

Next, Clean the Glass

For your next step, you’ll want to clean the glass — both interior and exterior. This is important if you park under a tree that drops sap, or live in an area that has an excess population of insects that like to splat themselves on your windshield. Use a foaming glass cleaner that breaks down these sticky messes. Then, wipe it off with a microfiber towel. Don’t use paper or cotton on your vehicle’s glass. Microfiber is the best choice because it soaks up water and other liquids and doesn’t leave streaks or particles like other fabrics can.

Detail Your Interior

Once the outside is clean, you’re halfway done. You don’t want to have a nice shiny exterior and a messy interior —the juxtaposition makes your entire car look shabby. Start by removing any garbage from your car, then break out the shop vac and vacuum your floor mats, floorboards and seats. Get as much dust and dirt as you can from all the nooks and crannies in your car. Then, clean your dash and any trim with a plastic-safe cleaning solution and your trusty microfiber cloths. If you’ve got any leather in your interior, clean and condition it while you’re at it.

Finally, Clean Your Wheels

The last thing you need to clean for a full bumper-to-bumper detail is your wheels. This is the easiest part. All you need is a rim cleaner, a tire cleanser and some water. Scrub your tires, clean the rims and then hose it all off. If you want a super shiny finish, you can dry off your tires and rims and finish the job with a tire protectant, but that’s not strictly necessary.

Enjoy the Results

Now that you’re done, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You might be surprised how much better it feels to drive a freshly cleaned car.

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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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