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What Products Do Professional Car Detailers Use?

The adage about using "the right tools for the right job" is the first of our car cleaning secrets. By using the proper tools, you'll save yourself a lot of do-over time and work. Here's what you need to assemble before you begin:

  • Microfiber Mitt & Several Microfiber Cloths
  • Two Buckets
  • Car Wash Product
  • Shop-Vac
  • Window Cleaner
  • Synthetic Wax & Applicator
  • Non-Silicone Vinyl Protectant
  • Silicone Spray
  • Wheel/Tire Brush
  • Stiff Bristle Brush
  • Scratch Removal Kit (if needed)
  • Trim Protection (optional)
  • Dual-Action Polisher (optional)
  • Clay Bar System (optional)

How to Detail Your Car Like a Pro: The Exterior

You can skip your workout at the gym today – car cleaning and detailing will extract their share of elbow grease and sweat. Make sure you have the exterior car care products you need close at hand before you begin. Here are our pro tips for cleaning your car's exterior.

  1. Hose it Down First: The idea is to spray your car with water first to remove all the bits of debris without scratching your car's finish.
  2. Fill Two Buckets: One of the best car cleaning secrets is to use two buckets. Fill one bucket with plain water, the other with soapy water. Use a professional car wash product, NOT dish soap. By using two buckets, you keep the soapy water clean.
  3. Microfiber MItt: Another of the car cleaning tips we picked up is that sponges hold grit that can scratch your car's finish. A microfiber cloth does not. This makes microfiber mitts perfect for cleaning your vehicle.
  4. Soaping it up: Dip the mitt in the bucket with the clean water, then the one with the soapy water, and swipe it over the car. After each pass, dip the cloth in the water bucket before hitting the soapy water. As you move from one side of the car to the other, replace the dirty rinse water with clean water.
  5. Rinse: Before the car dries, rinse off the remaining suds with the hose or power washer.
  6. Dry: Using a dry microfiber cloth, dry the surface of your vehicle. The chamois used to be the go-to for drying, but according to the pro car cleaning secrets we've learned, today's microfiber cloths do a better job of drying and removing any remaining dirt.
  7. Don't Forget the Tires: There are special brushes for auto detailing your tires. You can also purchase a special solution that will make them shine like new.
  8. Remove Minor Scratches: Follow the instructions on your scratch removal kit.
  9. Clay Bar System: To ensure all contaminants have been removed from the paint, rub the clay bar over its surface. This creates a smoother finish that makes it easier for polishing and waxing your car.
  10. Watch the Trim: You can purchase a solution to restore/protect your trim and prevent wax from ruining the finish. (Some pros use masking tape to protect the trim.)
  11. Plastic Bag Test: Another of the car detailing secrets we picked up is for checking for your work. Put your hand in a plastic shopping bag and trace it over the surface of your car. You'll be able to feel any bumps or imperfections on the paint's surface. Go back and detail that section again, recheck and repeat until everything feels smooth.
  12. Dual Action Polisher: For a truly professional look, invest in a dual action polisher. Unlike a buffer that can be dangerous in the hands of a DIYer, polishers operate at low speeds and oscillate as they rotate. The effect is an impressive job – and the effort is minimal. Pro car detailing tips say you can prevent the polish from flying off the pad by applying the solution to the pad and wiping it across the surface before you hit the "on" button.
  13. Apply the Wax: Using a wax applicator sponge, apply synthetic wax in small areas. As the wax hazes over, go back and remove it with a clean microfiber cloth using a circular motion.

Tips for Cleaning Your Car: A Look Inside

Now that your car is shiny and bright on the outside, it's time to dig into the mayhem lurking on the inside. Depending on the last time you tidied up, it could be a quick sweep or a major undertaking. Make sure you have the interior car cleaning and care products you need before you get started.

    Keep in mind one of the car cleaning secrets we learned about car interior detailing: work downward. That way, you're not just shifting the dust and debris to an area you've already cleaned. Here are more tips for detailing your car's interior:

  1. Headliner: This is the only one of the car detailing tips that tells you what NOT to do. Although you may be tempted, avoid cleaning the headliner in your vehicle. This is the "ceiling" of your car. If you're not exceedingly careful, you can dislodge the headliner and cause a lot of expensive damage. So take a pass on this and be thankful for one less thing to do!
  2. Vacuum: Start with the dashboard and vents. Vacuum your way through the cracks and crevices to remove any loose dirt. Then, get to work on the upholstery. Before you do the floor, remove any coins, half-eaten snacks or other large debris. One of the best car detailing secrets we've heard is to use a stiff bristle brush to lift up pet hair and crud to make vacuuming a breeze.
  3. Non-Silicone Protectant: Pros recommend using this product on your dashboard and other vinyl surfaces. This works better than its silicone counterpart because it won't attract dust, and the matte finish won't cause distracting reflections to appear in your windshield.
  4. Lubricate the Seals: Treating your door seals with silicone spray helps prevent them from sticking in extreme temperatures. Just wipe the lubricant on a rag and apply it to the door seals to keep them operational in summer and winter.
  5. Window Glass: Always do the windows last. The last of our professional car detailing tips is to clean the outside of the glass using a horizontal motion and the inside with a vertical motion. That way, if you see a streak, you'll know whether it's on the inside or outside of the glass.

Shop Ralph Brothers for All Your Car Cleaning & Detailing Supplies

Now that you know some pro car detailing secrets, get all the car cleaning and detailing products you need at Ralph Brothers. From cleaning supplies to car accessories & tools, we have the supplies that will help you keep your car showroom-shiny inside and out. Want to make it super easy on yourself? Pick up one of our car detailing kits. A professional car detail job starts with the right tools from Ralph Brothers. Shop today!