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Car detailing

How to Detail a Car

Car detailing
Car detailing – the man holds the microfiber in hand and polishes the car. Selective focus.

Detailing your car is a more in-depth process than your standard wash and will take longer and cost more than simply driving through a carwash. Despite the amount of time it can take, it’s still important to detail your car occasionally. Doing so helps maintain the appearance and value of your automobile.

To detail your car, it’s necessary to have the right equipment and patience. Detailing a car can take a lot of time, so many people choose to hire professionals to handle the process.

What Is Car Detailing?

Car detailing is a cosmetic process that restores the appearance of an automobile. Detailing a car may also include making minor cosmetic repairs to small damages to its interior and exterior. The focus of detailing is more on the appearance of the vehicle than mechanics. You should consider detailing your car every four to six months to keep it in its best condition.

Setting aside time to detail your car will ensure you get the best results as you meticulously follow through on the steps needed.

Know What You Need

You’ll need different cleaning agents depending on the materials inside the interior of your car and its overall state of repair. Before you begin cleaning your car, make sure you have what you need. You may save yourself time and money by investing in a car detailing kit. With a premade kit you can be certain you have most everything you need to detail your car.

Bring two bins with you; one to hold items you’ll want to put back in your car after you’ve finished detailing it and one for trash. This can help you stay organized during the process of detailing the interior.

how to detail a car

Start With the Inside

You’ll want to begin detailing your car from the inside out. This is the best way to ensure that any dust or debris from inside your car does not make it to the exterior of your car. Following this logic, while cleaning the interior of your car, begin from the top and work your way down.


  1. Start by clearing out all unnecessary items from your car. Clean out your cupholders, ashtray, compartments etc. Put trash like receipts or other items you don’t want to keep in one bin. Use the second bin to keep safe items like your owner’s manual.
  2. After you’ve removed all items from your car, begin dusting the hard interior surfaces. To do this, you’ll need compressed air spray, a towel or wipe and a bristle brush. Use the compressed air spray to purge dust out of difficult-to-reach places. Use the bristle brush to clean out your air vents.
  3. Wipe all hard interior surfaces like your steering wheel using the proper cleansing agent for the surface. If your car has leather, use a commercial leather cleanser on a soft microfiber towel. If your car has a plastic or synthetic material interior, wipe with a damp microfiber towel first, then use a gentle cleaning agent on a towel. If this doesn’t work to remove all marks, try a gentle scrub brush. Then remove the cleaner with a damp towel and follow up with a dry towel.
  4. Clean all glass surfaces in your car with an ammonia-free glass cleaner.


  1. Vacuum the seats of your car, preferably using a brush head attachment. Alternate the heads when necessary to reach and remove all debris trapped in the tight corners of your car seats.
  2. Spot treat deep stains with a strong cleaning agent and allow the agent to rest to loosen the stains.
  3. Some cleaning agents for car seats need to be mixed with warm water to work. Follow the product label’s preparation instructions and then apply the shampoo to your car seats.
  4. Scrub the seats after applying the shampoo with a soft brush. Be sure to focus on any stains. Rinse your brush off as it becomes dirtied in a bucket of water.
  5. To dry your seats after shampooing them, use a soft towel to wipe away the moisture trapped in the seat materials. After wiping down the seats, park your car in the sunniest place you feel comfortable and leave your car doors open to allow the sunlight to dry up the rest of the moisture.
  6. If your seats are leather, condition them after drying them and don’t let them sit in the sun. Carefully follow instructions on leather cleaning products to avoid damaging interior seats and surfaces.


  1. Take off your floor pads and brush the carpet to loosen and remove any debris trapped in the fiber of your car’s floors. Use a softer brush to avoid damaging the carpet fibers of your car while you detail it.
  2. Vacuum your floors. Your vacuum should come with multiple head attachments. Change the attachments when necessary to reach debris in all corners of the flooring of your car. Shift your seats all the way forward and backward to ensure you reach everything.

Clean The Exterior


  1. Rinse off your tires and rims first to remove any loose debris. After that, apply wheel cleaner and allow the cleaner to sit for a minute.
  2. Scrub your tires using a brush then use a wheel cleaner. After you’ve washed your tires, apply a protectant to prevent any damage to your tires.
  3. Use the most appropriate cleanser for your rims.

Car Body

  1. Spray the exterior of your car with a hose to rinse it off.
  2. Use a sponge or a car mitt and soap to wash your car in sections. Washing and rinsing your car in sections will prevent the soap from drying on your car and forming swirl patterns.
  3. Soak the sponge or car mitt in water to remove any soap and rinse the soap off your car as you move along. Following this, dry each segment of your car with a soft microfiber towel.
  4. Use a clay bar to remove any contaminants that might be stuck to the surface of your car.

Polish (If Appropriate)

Cars with graphene or ceramic coatings may not require polishing or waxing. It may be necessary to skips these steps if your vehicle has a protectant layer already applied.

  1. Apply polish to your car in small doses and buff out the polish using a power buffer at low to medium speed or with a buffing pad.
  2. After buffing, use a dry towel to wipe off any excess polish and dry your car.
  3. Clean the metal trim of your car by applying a metal cleaner and wipe it down with a dry towel.


  1. After polishing your car, take a small amount of liquid car wax on an applicator and begin spreading the wax across your car in an overlapping circle motion.


  1. Wipe down the exterior glass of your car by using a glass cleaner. Spray the glass with the glass cleaner and then use a dry towel to wipe the cleaner off.

How Long Does It Take to Detail a Car

How long it takes to detail your car depends on how deep of a clean you’re aiming for and the state of the car when you begin detailing it. Detailing a car can take anywhere from two hours to two days depending on whether you want to clean just the interior or the interior and exterior.

It can be a big task to tackle on your own and there are professionals who can provide you with the level of service you need.

Easterns Automotive Group is the number one used car dealership for D.C., Maryland and Virginia. We have been helping all types of car shoppers find great pre-owned vehicles for more than 30 years.

Our customers can choose if they want to sell online, in-person, or a mixture of both. If you’re detailing your car to prepare it for sale, consider using our 100-percent online car sale option. Contact us to learn more about our used car inventory or look over our inventory online.