| Kidney Cars

Detailing Your Car in 13 Easy Steps

October 09, 2018, 1:50pm EDT

For many, washing your car on the weekend is a tradition. Nowadays, cars are getting a more deluxe treatment called auto detailing.

It’s more than just washing your car's exterior with the garden hose and wiping down the interior. Auto detailing involves a focus on cleaning the very small details of your vehicle taking it from “clean” to “like new”.

Having your car professionally detailed can get pricey. You can save money by following the Kidney Cars' detailing guide.

Step 1: Wash

If you have old wax on your car, use dish soap in a bucket of water to wash it off. We recommend using the two-bucket wash method to protect the paint job on your car. Put clean rinse water in one bucket. Put a soap and water mixture in a separate bucket. Scrub your car with an old rag or invest in a good wash mitt.

Step 2: Dry

Using a blower to dry your car is preferred. However, you can make use of thick microfiber towels to dry your car off.

Step 3: Clay Bar

Claying a car is the process of removing debris that has bonded to your car’s surface that washing alone does not eliminate. Take your clay bar and knead it until it’s more flat, then spray a detail lubricant and buff it with your clay bar. Be sure you keep it lubricated well while claying. As you work, you can knead the clay bar to keep a fresh surface for use. Be sure to carefully clay the body, windows, tail lamps, and headlamps of your car.

Step 4: Polish

Polishing is recommended after claying to buff out any marring not cleared up with the claying. Select your compound and buffing pads for your polish needs. If no paint correction is needed, you can skip this step.

Step 5: Glaze

To increase the gloss and depth of the paint, you will want to glaze it. Apply some car glaze to your polishing rag and polish thoroughly over the exterior of your vehicle. Only one coat is needed for maximum results.

Step 6: Sealant

To protect your car from the elements, apply a sealant. The sealant will bond to your paint and provide protection for several months. When applying the sealant, try and stretch it as thin as possible. You can use an electric polisher like a random orbital polisher or do it by hand. Dispense a small amount onto the center of the foam or pad and gently spread the sealant as thin and evenly as possible through the working area using circular motions. Allow each coat of sealant to cure and bond to the paint for at least an hour.

Step 7: Wax

Waxing your car is similar to applying a sealant. Less is more when using the product. Wax in sections and allow to dry or cure for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.

Step 8: Microfiber

When you get a microfiber product, be sure to remove any tags to lessen the risk of ruining your paint and wash it before using.

Step 9: Wheel and Tire

Make sure your tires and wheels are clean and dry first. Spray the tire dressing on the curved sponge and apply it to your tires. Or spray it on your tire in thin even coats and use a microfiber cloth to wipe it in. Drive your car a few feet after applying the first coat of dressing.   

Step 10: Exterior Trim

Start by degreasing your trim. Then apply a dressing that offers UV protection. Use an applicator pad or microfiber pad to apply the dressing or tire gel onto the pad. Work it into the pad a little. Then apply it to the trim surface.

Step 11: Glass

To minimize streaking, use a little glass cleaner. Using newspaper instead of a cloth can cut down on window streaks. Do not use ammonia-based glass cleaners if your windows are tinted.

Step 12: Interior

Use a UV blocker leather product to protect your leather interior. Be sure to avoid greasy or oily products that add shine. Remove and clean your car mats. Vacuum all the flooring. Shine up the interior trim.

Step 13: Engine Bay

Use a good degreaser, protectant and, cloths to clean the engine bay and under the hood. Do not use Windex® or WD-40 when cleaning the engine area.  

Ready for a New Car?

Can’t get your car to shine like you used to? Donate it to a good cause through Kidney Cars. When you donate to us you receive a tax credit and the knowledge that your contribution will make a meaningful difference in the lives of those affected by kidney disease.
Donating through Kidney Cars is easy:

  1. Call at 800-488-CARS (2277) or fill out our convenient online form.
  2. Schedule a pickup time to have your vehicle professionally towed for free.
  3. Receive proof of donation for tax purposes.


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