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After a hard week working, the idea of spending a Saturday or Sunday afternoon cleaning the car isn’t all that exciting for most of us. With lockdown ending, a lot of us would probably rather be out and about enjoying our rediscovered freedom than cleaning our cars.
But even those that enjoy getting the bucket and sponge out often can’t find the time to do it. In fact, 41% of Brits say they’d like to clean their cars more often but just can’t find the time. Because of this, lots of people will take their vehicles to a professional detailer to get that bright shine.
As much as professional detailers will get your car looking as good as new, using them regularly can cost you a lot. But anyone can get a professional sheen on their own driveway with the right car detailing products and a bit of TLC.
Why Car Detailing Is Important
Detailing most cars will usually take about two hours to do it correctly, so you might be wondering: why go to all of that effort just for a clean car? Well, there are some excellent reasons that go beyond just making your wheels the envy of your neighbours.
Car detailing typically involves a thorough or detailed cleaning of your vehicle and some light repairs to minor scratches and nicks on your paintwork. This will obviously give you a glorious shine, but it also helps to protect your car’s body parts, glass and paint from UV rays, everyday wear and tear and muck from the road. This protection is a great way to maintain the value of your car if you’re thinking of selling it down the line.
To get the most out of the detailing process, you’ll need professional-quality car detailing products and to make sure that you detail everything in the proper order. Fortunately, we’ve put together seven steps to professionally detail your vehicle that not only cleans and protects your car but extends the time between cleans, too.
7 Steps to Detail Your Car like a Professional
Step 1 — Start with the Wheels
Your wheels go through a lot of grime and muck while you’re driving, so it’s not surprising that they’re going to be the dirtiest part of your car. Alongside dirt and grime from the road, there’s also brake dust and all sorts of other dirt on your wheels, so you’ll need a good wheel cleaner.
By focusing on your wheels first, you can take your time on them without worrying the shampoo is baking onto your car in the sun.
Step 2 — Apply the Prewash
Now your wheels are shining, you can move on to the rest of the vehicle and start the pre-wash stage. This is a crucial step in the process as it breaks down any stubborn marks and road grime. Take your time to make sure that you remove all of the dirt you can find at this stage, as it can increase the time between washes dramatically.
Step 3 — Snow Foam
Regardless of how thoroughly you apply your prewash and check for dirt, there’s going to be some stubborn spots that just won’t budge. That’s where snow foam comes in. Snow foam is a thick foam that traps any dirt leftover and lifts it away from the paint.
Unsurprisingly, when you apply snow foam, it forms a thick layer that looks like snow. It’s a good idea to use a snow foam lance designed to apply an even layer of foam across the vehicle, just like the professionals do.
Step 4 — Get the Shampoo Out
If you’re looking to keep your glorious locks looking healthy, you get the best shampoo available, and you should do the same for your car. Using a specialist car shampoo — instead of washing up liquid (which leaves marks) — means that your vehicle will be cleaned thoroughly and won’t leave disappointing results.
Step 5 — Drying and Decontaminating
Once you’ve shampooed and rinsed your car, you’re going to need to dry and decontaminate your vehicle. You might be thinking that pre-wash, snow foam and the shampoo steps will have already decontaminated your car, but, surprisingly, some dirt can survive all three stages.
Salt, road grime and bugs can get stuck in your car’s paint, so it’s an excellent idea to decontaminate the surface of your vehicle using a clay bar treatment. This treatment is the best way to remove surface contaminants, and although it takes a little while, it’s well worth the effort.
Step 6 — Polishing and Waxing
Now that your car is immaculate and decontaminated, you can move onto the polishing and waxing stage. Polishing will give you that shiny finish that you’re looking for and will help to remove any imperfections on your paintwork — like scratches. Follow this up with a wax treatment, and you’ll have to pull yourself away from your reflection in the paintwork like a motoring Narcissus.
Step 7 — Don’t Forget the Interior
One of the most common mistakes with car detailing is to forget the inside of your car. Fortunately, cleaning the inside of the vehicle comes with the bonus that you can whack your radio on while you clean.
Start by removing any takeaway latte cups and crisp packets and then give the inside a good vacuum. After this, give everything a once over with general-purpose car interior spray, which cleans and protects from UV rays. Finish off with the most classic of UK car accessories by adding a new air freshener.
And that’s it, empty your bucket, put the hose away and stand back in bask in the glory of your perfectly detailed car.
Until next time.