How to Detail Your Vehicle to Last Through Any Season

Washing your car is as American as apple pie. Since the days when families first bought cars, they've been getting out in their driveways with the hose and cleaning them. Washing your car is more than a family affair, and it's about more than just keeping your car clean.

Washing your car is important for your regular maintenance routine, so your car lasts longer, ages gracefully, and doesn't accumulate rust or fall apart. Detailing goes far beyond washing the exterior. Its name implies that you should focus on the details, so your car looks brand new.

Professional detailing can get expensive, so to save money you can do it yourself for identical results, as long as you have the right supplies and the time. It can take up to four hours to do it right, so be prepared to use a little bit of elbow grease.


Before you start, you need to make sure you have all of the supplies you'll need. Things like a bucket, water, soap, wax, sponges, and a chamois are what you might think of immediately. But also think about more specialized tools to focus on those details.

You need a vacuum cleaner with multiple attachments for the carpet in your car and maybe even things like cup holders and small crevices. To do the job right, you also need a lot of rags, brushes, cotton swabs, spray bottles, canned air, carpet cleaner, upholstery cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and surface protector for leather or vinyl.

Interior Cleaning

Start your detailing with the interior of the car so that you won't soil a freshly-cleaned exterior while you're working. Here's a good idea of how you should go about cleaning the interior and in what order you should focus on things:

  1. Vacuum and clean your carpets first. Use the stain remover and a brush to treat dirty spots. After you're done detailing the interior of your car, you need to let the carpets dry completely to prevent mold or mildew from growing.
  2. Your upholstery is next. Vacuum the seats and remove stains in the same way as you did for the carpet. Let them dry completely with your doors open.
  3. While your car doors are open, wipe the door jambs with soap and water. Dry them with a rag and use small tools like cotton swabs to remove stains and spot treat areas that need it.
  4. Clean any parts of your door interiors that are not cloth with the same soapy solution used on the door jambs. Get into all of the cracks that tend to collect dirt. Dry everything with a cloth.
  5. Use a glass cleaner or soap solution on your windows, so they shine. Save the exterior glass for when you detail the exterior. Dry it completely to remove streaks.
  6. Use your soap solution for the steering wheel column to remove stains and dust, then dry it and use a surface protectant.
  7. It may be tempting to spray a cleaning solution or water on your dashboard, but that can damage the parts inside. Try applying a cleaning solution to your small tools instead, and then wipe down buttons and knobs.
  8. Use your small tools for the console as well and make sure you get into every crevice.

Exterior Cleaning

Start cleaning the exterior of your car with the wheels. Use the soap solution you have leftover, or buy a solution specially made for tires from the store. Don't use household detergents on the exterior of your vehicle.

Change your water after you wash the tires, because they are likely the dirtiest part of your exterior. Thoroughly wash your car with plenty of soap and water. Focus on small areas at a time, and work from the roof down.

Don't let any of your car's surfaces dry on their own, or it will leave spots. Always detail your car in the shade to prevent it from drying too quickly. Change your rag as dirt accumulates to clean more effectively.

Use small tools for problem areas like rims, headlights, door handles, or mirrors. Rinse everything with clean water when you're done. Then dry it with a chamois or thick cotton rag. Use small tools like cotton swabs to dry cracks and window wells.

For a truly thorough and longer lasting clean, wax your car when you're done. This keeps your vehicle from accumulating more dirt as you drive and makes it easier to clean next time. Lastly, clean the outside glass with a glass cleaner or soap solution and dry it completely.

Detailing your car can be a lot of work, but you should do it every few months, and if you follow these instructions, your vehicle will stay clean for longer. A surface protectant will ensure your interior stays clean, and wax keeps your entire exterior spotless, protected, and clean for the season.

If you're in the market for a used vehicle, check out Southwest Motors in Pueblo for a huge selection of cars, trucks, and SUVs that you can enjoy detailing for years to come.

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Southwest Motors

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