Car Cleaning Guide | How Should You Detail Your Car?

It is amazing the number of people that don’t know how to properly clean or polish and wax their cars. Many people use products that were never intended for their car and others use products and equipment that should only be used by properly trained professionals. Some never even wax or clean their cars. Then they wonder why their car is given a very low trade in figure at the dealer, or why their paint is dull and flaking.

For the purpose of this guide we interviewed numerous professional automotive detailers and similar professionals. We asked them what products they used and for tips that consumers could use. They pretty much came back with the same advice:

PRE-WASH: This is very important because when you don’t carry out a pre wash the contaminates will still be on your paintwork. This can cause light abrasions and scratches to form on the paintwork. Spray the car first and get it wet. Use the water to spray off dirt and other contaminates that will scratch your car if you immediately start using a sponge and water first. Also do not clean your car in the sun on a hot day.

Expert Tip: utilising Snow Foam is extremely effective as softening these damaging particles, traffic film, bugs and bird droppings before you carry out a hand wash and it works by drawing these away from the paint surface, wheels and any area where Snow Foam is applied. Snow Foam is essential to prevent swirl marks, scratches and any other damage being created from these damaging particles which can easily occur during convential washes without a pre-wash. The key is remove as much dirt as possible without actually touching the paint surface! If you don’t have a pressure washer just rinse the vehicle down with warm water, with a good quality shampoo. Follow the directions on the bottle.

The next step is to start cleaning the vehicle. If you are using a shampoo, make sure you use warm water as it works best to further loosen contaminates that have been left on the surface after the pre wash. add to water in a bucket with a good quality shampoo. Follow the directions on the bottle. Then wash the car. You will find it easier if you use a long-handled wash brush (Available at www.jennychem.com). Be sure to wash and rinse in sections so the car wash soap doesn’t dry before being washed off. Then using microfibre cloth towels or chamois, dry the car off. Expert tip: Use a squeegee. It is much faster and easier.

Remove stubborn contaminants: There will be dirt, bugs, tar, etc that will be left after washing. There are many products that are made specifically for removing these items you’re your paint and car. The resounding answer from the experts was that you should use our Traffic Film Remover that is used by 1000’s of experts and car washes all over the UK.

Expert tip: We make a plastic shield that can be applied over areas of your cars paint like bumpers and behind the tires to protect from contaminants and rock chips.

 Use a cleaner polish: This will remove any left-over stubborn contaminates like ground in bug splatter on your painted bumper, acid rain etching, bird drop spots, and minor scratches.

Use a circular motion, just like for wax. Do the car one section at a time and use a clean section of cloth to buff once dry. Most cleaner polishes will dry to a whitish haze. Be sure to buff off all the haze and residue from the cleaner polish. When done the car finish will be really smooth.

Expert tip: for deeper scratches, contaminants, etc you can use an orbital buffer or polisher to apply the cleaner polish. Be careful and use low rpms (under 2000) anything above this and you risk burning the paint. 

Apply several coats of polish or wax: There is a big difference between car wax and car polish.

Car wax is usually a blend of carnauba and other waxes which will give a deep, wet look and new car shine. It comes in both a liquid and a paste, and it will not last as long as a car polish. Car wax is also less effective in high temperatures and can actually melt on hot areas like the hood.

Car polish is a polymer blend usually with no wax. But some premium polishes do come with added carnauba wax such as our Ultimate Vehicle Polish. Car polishes can last 1 year between coats and is very durable protection for your paint. The experts recommend a car polish for maximum protection and durability. The experts love the extra, deeper shine from car wax, but all agreed it was better suited for car shows. Whichever you choose, they are both applied the same way. Apply in a circular motion and let it dry to a haze. Then buff dry with a clean cloth or microfiber towel.

Expert tip: Don’t use regular towels or diaper cloths as they can trap dirt particles and similar and leave scratch patterns in your finish. A microfiber cloth works best for removing dried car polish or car wax haze. 2 to 3 coats are recommended for maximum protection and shine.

A good rule is to reapply the car polish or car wax at least once per month.

Expert tip: Clean your windows with an alcohol-based glass cleaner. They are much more effective, and you don’t get left with streak marks. This is because all the liquid evaporates.