View Full Version : Detailing a car, please give me your cleaning products recommendations...
I am prepping a car for sale and want to give it a good cleaning inside and out. What products do you recommend for this? Price is a factor.
I do not have access to any special equipement like a shampooer or steamer at all. The cleaners need to be something I can find locally at Schucks, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyers, Costco, NAPA, and so forth, no internet or mail order only products, I don't have time for that, I'm doing this very soon.
For carpet and upholstery I was planning to use a "leave it soak" type cleaner to loosen the old dirt and break up stains. For example, something like "oxi-clean" maybe. It needs to be something I can get out with a wet-dry/shop vaccumm.
For interior plasstic and wheels, I was planning to go with armor all simply for no other reason than that it is the name brand that comes to mind.
For the engine, I was going to use "Gunk" brand engine cleaner.
I would apprecaite insights on techniqe or processing as well. For example, this is a mini-van with removable seats, so I am planning to take the seats out and do them seperately. I am also planning on doing the inside firs, then the engine, then the outside last, so that I will not be getting stuff I have just cleaned dirty again, getting in and out or dragging hoses over stuff.
Okay taking into account that you are prepping the car for sale I will try to give suggestions and products that will give you the most "bang" for your buck and time!
First there are no "secrets" for detailing a car, there are no miracle products or wonder shines that will do it all. You don't need any fancy machines or tools, just hard work and technique!
I like to start with the interior first as a habit, mainly because I don't working in a wet area if I'm in a driveway. You have the right idea about removing the seats, that makes a huge difference.
1) Wipe out the interior with warm/damp washrags. If you have kids give them each one and assign them an area. Wash everything plastic and vinyl you can. Try to get all the nooks and crannies.
2) Vacuum everything, take your time and get everywhere and do the carpet twice! Again if you have kids have them each do it once so that nothing is missed.
3) For dressing the interior nothing is wrong with armorall as long as you dont over do it. A little goes a long way and you can dilute it 50/50 with water to reduce the shine (or buy the low gloss/shine stuff). Spray it on the rag outside the car and not onto the part you want to treat!
4) Clean the windows. Stoner Invisible Glass is great and can be found at most autoparts stores and Walmart. Use soft rags not papertowels!
5) For the carpet and seats Blue Coral Upholstery Cleaner Dri-Clean Plus with Odor ELiminator is fantastic! And it smell good too! Very cheap and goes along way. Spray you seats and carpet and after a few minutes scrub with a few towels and a soft brush if you have one. Repeat as needed till you get the results you want.
6) For the outside of the car just wash thouroughly with a good car soap, I go over each panel twice and use a small paitbrush for the gaps around the lights/trim etc. This is what make the difference between a wash and a detail. Don't forget the door jambs which are usually neglected. After the car is washed and dried move it to somewhere cool or shady.
7) Waxing/polishing etc.. There are many many products for this and for a true detail you would use a multi-step system but for a sale I would suggest a simple tried and true one-step cleaner wax like Meguiars or Mothers. Easily found/cheap and does a good job. The big tip or secret here is application, I use small cheap kitchen sponges. Get one wet, wring it out and cut it in half (use the ones that don't have a scrubby side!). Use this to apply the wax in a straight back and forth motion and stay about a 1/4 inch away from trim and rubber. When you buff you will get the wax that last little bit but without uneccessary clean up. When buffing off the wax us straight back and forth motions and use only Micro-Fiber cloths (I buy mine at Walmart cheap)turning frequently. If you have stubborn grime or tar just re-apply the cleaner wax and let it do it's job don't rub too hard.
8) For the tires just use your armorall again sparingly and buff off the excess again you don't want anything greasy and the only thing shiny should be the paint and glass.
All the products listed are easily found and cheap. One trip to Walmart should set you up. One or two days of work can literally bring hundreds or thousands of dollars back into your pocket. I've been detailing cars for a long time as a hobby and you either hate it or love it, but when it comes to money most people can suck it up and do a good job!
Hope this helps and I'm sure others will chime in.
Well, did you get it done??
No, the project got delayed till this weekend.
WOW!! That Blue Coral stuff was really an excellent recommendation!! I got all the stains out and the carpet looks great. Your other suggestions, for example on process order and Q-tips, helped a great deal. I got all the supplies at Wal-Mart for about $30 (prices run higher here in Alaska). Thanks.
You'll turn into a detailing weirdo after going there. I know I did and have mass amounts of waxes, chemicals, buffers, etc.
Glad it worked for you!!
That blue coral stuff is really great. I was doing a favor for a friend and I hated it so there is no danger of me ever becoming a car cleaning nut. However, I will definitely use blue coral for around the house for stuff like cat vomit and hairballs and spilled grape juice, etc.
Forget all of that stuff. Just get a big can of Ajax and some steel wool. It's works great on bugs and road grime!:rollingeyes:
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