I was asked a good question the other day and I thought it was worth putting up on the site. I was asked which order to do a particular step of the detailing process, and I realized that there might be others who are doing things in the wrong order and costing themselves way more time and frustration in the process.
You have to sort of look at detailing your car in layers. Here is the layer order that I do it in when working on the exterior of the car:
clean wheels and tires
before removing wax, I do the following:
– dress trim like the wiper cowl and rubber seals around the windows and sunroof
– finish off engine by spraying it with CD2 engine detailer
– tire shine on tires
– quick detailer and wax on wheels (that way you are wiping off any excess tire shine that gets on the wheel)
– wash windows (you do this last just so anything from dressing the trim or anything else that can get on the glass gets wiped off last)
THEN I buff the wax off. This is the last step because you have probably gotten some engine shine or trim dressing on the paint at this point and now you can just wipe it off with the rest of the wax.
The secret is to find a process which avoids you having to touch the same area more than once. Sort of like when you clean your room and find yourself just moving piles around because nothing is put back in its place. You work in layers so that the last step is the one which removes any overspray from any other step. If you did the windows before you polished the car then you would have to wash them again to get all the spatters of polish, overspray from engine detailer, and smears from trim dressing. If you put tire shine on after you wax the wheels then you would have to wipe down the wheels again to get rid of any overspray from the tire shine or accidental smears while you applied the gel. It’s all about the layers. 🙂
The interior is a very similar process. You have to start at the top and work your way down basically.
-Take out the floor mats. Taking them out at any other point in the process could just shake up dust and put it right back where it was when you started.
-Wipe all the dust and crumbs out of the dash and seats onto the floor
-Clean the cracks and crevasses around things like shifter bezels, vents, and little cubby holes and wipe that onto the floor. –
-Use a vinyl cleaner to do the dash and center console and then use a protectant after it.
-Clean and condition the leather seats or start working with an upholstery cleaner on fabric seats.
-Vacuum the carpets and floor mats
-Use a carpet cleaner to clean the carpets and floor mats. This may require you to bust out the vacuum a couple times since brushing the carpet will likely produce some junk the vacuum couldn’t get the first time.
-Wipe down all of the interior lenses and glass. This would be the windows, gauge pod, gps screens, or general displays from the radio or temperature controls. Do this last because there are other products being used in the process which could just make them dirty if you were to have done this first.
-Put the floor mats back in and you are ready for business.
Again, the glass is the very last step. Every part of that process is dealing with something further down on the ladder. Sort of like when you wash your car. You wouldn’t wash it from the bottom up so that all the dirty water just runs down your clean panels, would you? Of course not. You wash from the top down so that nothing dirty gets back on there to dry and spot. That’s what I mean by working in layers from the top down. You have to think about anything that could ruin your work and then do that job first.
I’ll bet you didn’t know detailing was such a thinking game, did ya? 😉 Well it isn’t now because I just took most of the thought out of it for you. My advice would be to start with this process and then make it work for you in your own way. You may find a different order which works better, but if you are having any frustration by spending too much time in the ‘final detailing’ stage cleaning up messes left by other products, then this might be a good process to try out. Let me know how it works out!