Written by Cassandra Merkling (last updated October 31, 2022)
The first thing you'll want to do when detailing your automobile is to clean the inside, since the outside will only get dirty again if you clean it before you work on the interior. Sometimes you can remove seats from your automobile; feel free to do so if you can. The job of vacuuming the automobile will be much easier if you can get easy access to all parts of the interior. Do not forget to vacuum the seats themselves. Also remember that it's important to clean the dashboard in the front and parcel shelf in the back of the vehicle. Even take a shot at sucking all the dirt out of the vents. Use a powerful vacuum if you can get a hold of one. Even better is a wet/dry vacuum or a steam cleaner.
Remember to take out all the carpets and/or mats and clean them as well. You can use carpet cleaner on the carpets. For mats, you'll need a cleaner that doesn't make your mats slippery. This especially applies to the driver's side mat, as anything slick can transfer to the driver's shoes and he or she will find that there will be difficulty in keeping their foot on the pedals, a glaringly obvious hazard to management of where the vehicle does and does not go.
Many suggest using a cleaner like Armor All to get the interior surfaces (such as the dashboard) clean. Others recommend using Simple Green diluted 10:1 on such places. You can get your dashboard clean by using a can of compressed air (found at hardware and some computer stores) to blow out the dust and grime. You can also use cotton swabs if you're a more hands-on person.
The windows can get dirty as some newer vehicles' plastic interiors go through the process of aging or curing. This problem should be easily resolved by a good glass cleaner, such as Windex. Be careful about using anything ammonia- or vinegar-based on your windows if they have been tinted anywhere outside the factory, though, as such solvents can ruin your tint.
As for the exterior, try detailing clay on your automobile's paint. With this great little trick, you will be able to remove any surface contaminants with ease. You'll know it's working when you feel it getting stuck on the paint. If you choose, you may go over the entire vehicle with this stuff, which you can usually find at an auto store. Then again, you may only wish to spot-treat your topcoat. If the latter, you should be able to feel anywhere you need to use it if you clean the car well and move your hands along it, noticing any places where your fingers don't slide off the paint. After using the clay, you will need to wax/polish your car, since the clay will also remove wax from your car's surface.
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