how to detail a car exterior

How to detail a car exterior

You’re done with your interior and now you wanna know how to detail a car exterior properly, then you’ve come to the right place. It’s all in the small details when it comes to car detailing.

Exterior detailing requires a few more steps than simple washing and rinsing, but the outcomes can be noticeably superior. This is similar to interior detailing. To avoid water spots and make the process easier, exterior auto detailing should be done out of the sun. Close the doors and windows after finishing the interior detailing and opening the hood and fuel door. Thus, in this article, we’ll be discussing how to detail a car exterior and other topics that will prove very helpful to you.

how to detail a car exterior

Before we begin let’s list the proper equipment you’ll need

  • 1 bottle of low-pH car wash shampoo
  • 2-4 wash mitts
  • 2 large buckets
  • 12 premium microfiber towels
  • 1 clay bar or clay mitt
  • 1-2 bottles of ceramic coating
  • Every region in the world has distinct environmental concerns, water supplies, and contaminants that might affect how a car gets dirty and how it is cleaned.


How to detail a car exterior

Step 1

Move all of the cleaning supplies you intend to use to the location where the vehicle will be cleaned after collecting and inventorying them. By this time, you ought to have your two-buckets-and-a-beer setup prepared, with the first bucket designated for washing the grimy wash mitt or cloth and the second bucket holding the soapy water solution for dipping. (We advise opening that beer now to provide proper hydration for humans as well.)

You should also have a ton of microfiber cloths, two or three wash mitts, a soft brush for cleaning the rims and tires, and a garden hose with a spraying wand on hand. Additionally, it is a good idea to choose a neutral water source, as utilizing the incorrect tap water might have a variety of negative effects. If you’re not familiar with this “soggy subject,” be sure to read our blog post on how to lower the risk of contaminated water spots before continuing.

Step 2 (spraying)

Spray water over your car as much as necessary to remove any apparent dirt, pollen, bird droppings, or other impurities, but make sure to avoid direct sunlight at all costs. Additionally, you should spray the entire vehicle in a single session, starting at the top and moving below. If the car’s wheels and tires were very filthy, you would blast them first to avoid dirt from splattering onto other sections that had just been washed. Only then would you begin on the lower part of the car.

Unfortunately, consumers frequently skip the initial rinse cycle in favor of jumping right to the scrubbing, which causes substantial surface damage by pushing impurities over the clear coat and glass. Scratches and swirl marks will be less likely to appear with a rapid spray-down.

Step 3 (Rollers and rubbers)

Due to the amount of asphalt filth, road salt, brake dust, mud, and other types of contaminants that come into contact with their moving surfaces, wheels, and tires are typically the dirtiest component of a car. Because of this, it’s crucial to clean all four of these corners first, especially if the car hasn’t been cleaned in a while or you’ve just got back from a challenging 4×4 mud-slinging excursion.

Apply a tire and wheel cleaner by spraying it on and rinsing it off. To get rid of any lingering grime, hose everything down after letting the solution sit for the advised amount of time. Then, scrub your tires in a circular motion. A sudsy wheel sponge or brush might be useful in this situation, especially if it is smaller and enables you to reach inaccessible portions of the alloy wheel.

Step 4 (scrubbing)

first section

  • Pour the manufacturer’s recommended amount of auto shampoo into one of the buckets and then fill both of them with water while sipping your preferred brewskies. When it is full, take out your wash mitt or microfiber cloth and proceed as directed.
  • Spray water all over the car to ensure that there are no loose particles on any surfaces.
  • Put the wash mitt or towel in the solution of soapy water. Wring it out over the surface you want to scrub after it has been thoroughly wet. This functions as a pre-soak, lubricating the surface even more and enabling the shampoo to remove any debris that has become adhered to it.
  • Start cleaning the vehicle, concentrating on one piece at a time, once the entire surface has been covered in sudsy water. Always start at the top and work your way down, rinsing your mitt frequently to remove impurities as you go, and then soaking it in more sudsy water as necessary.
  • Make sure to scrape in straight, overlapping strokes rather than circles, which can reveal swirl traces. Be cautious during this initial pass because you’ll probably pick up a ton of debris during this initial cleaning session and you don’t want to grind it into the glass or clear coat.
  • You might have noticed that the water in the rinse bucket has quickly turned murky or dirty. If so, discard the tainted water and fill the bucket again with clean water.

Second section

  • Before going on to the next location, rinse the previously cleaned portion or body panel with the hose or pressure washer. Move swiftly to avoid letting the soap dry out, and when rinsing, go from top to bottom. You may avoid water spots from forming and soap residue from setting on the surface of the car by keeping it constantly damp.
  • After your initial scrub and rinse, you’ll be able to see which tough stains need a little more “coaxing” to be removed safely from the surface. While some individuals argue that using chemical “bug and tar remover” is the fastest and easiest option, others maintain that the slowest and safest method is using soap and water. Regardless of the method you use, exercise caution while working with sticky or deeply entrenched pollutants because this is when surface marring frequently happens during the detailing process.
  • Once the tough stains and debris have been safely removed, drain the water from both buckets, rinse your wash mitt or towel, and then repeat the top-to-bottom cleaning process using new soap and water in each bucket. Given that, there were probably a few places that were either overlooked or need further attention, this second pass will help ensure that any missed locations are covered.

Step 5 (drying)

A grandiose attempt to air-dry your 1991 Buick Century by hauling your ass down the interstate is not what we mean when we say that drying has its own step. Whatever the label on your automotive shampoo states, watermarks, and streaks will unavoidably appear if you let a car entirely air dry. Despite the fact that some people may brag about utilizing compressed air or a leaf blower, they usually follow this water dispersal technique with a thorough microfiber wipe-down, fully aware that this procedure will probably call for more than one fluffy towel.

When finished, this wipe-down will have exposed any tenacious impurities and potentially troublesome water spots or pooling, making them prime targets for the following tool on your detailing tool belt: The supreme clay bar.

Step 6 (using clay  bar)

You’re in for a major shock if you’ve never used a clay bar or detailing mitt. Given that both products have the same function, the clarity and shine they impart to a surface are unmatched: Make your car’s surface more smudge-free than Sean Connery was in a swinging bar in the 1960s.

However, going to clay bars is not as common as going to a swinger bar for a “buttery nipple” or a big serving of “sex on the beach.” Only once or twice a year, usually right before a layer of ceramic coating is applied, do these contamination removal equipment get pulled out for some fun action.

Personally, we think a detailed mitt is better because it can be used again and is simple to clean either before or after usage. Clay, on the other hand, must be thrown away if dropped because it can only be used once. A clay mitt also fits over your hand, making it simpler to hold on to and utilize. They also have a tendency to be significantly bigger, which allows them to cover a larger surface area.

Steps to clay barring or detailing a vehicle

The following stages are the most important ones when clay barring or detailing a vehicle with a mitt.

  • Saturate the painted surface with your detailing spray or lubricant, working tiny sections at a time. If using a clay mitt, spritz the palm surface of the mitt as well to make sure it slides easily.
  • Cross-hatch the surface with the clay mitt while lightly gliding it across it. At first, you’ll feel some resistance, but as you move the mitt around more, you’ll find that it becomes simpler to control. That’s great. It implies that you are cleaning the exterior of your car of all kinds of minute surface impurities.
  • When you are certain that there are no longer any snags, use a clean microfiber towel to clean the area you just cleaned with the clay bar or mitt. Compare the surface with a region you are about to hit with clay as you feel the surface with your fingertips. This surface has just been cleansed. The two surfaces should feel noticeably different in terms of slickness.
  • Repeat the previous processes on every part of the car, focusing on one panel or area at a time and making sure to maintain the surface well-lubricated.

Step 7 (buffing)

The methods used to polish or buff a vehicle’s paintwork can significantly alter how it appears. Having said that, you should only polish a car if it is judged absolutely required, which usually happens at the end of a detailed operation or before a ceramic coating is applied. A powered buffer will significantly speed up the process because the pressure is distributed more uniformly than it would be with a standard hand-polishing pad, and you can adjust the pace as needed. Just be careful not to concentrate too much on one spot or you risk damaging the clear coat of the car.

Why should you use microfiber towels over other materials?

You’ll want to utilize microfiber towels when it’s time to dry your automobile or apply wax. Why? Other materials (such as cloth rags, worn-out t-shirts, and ordinary towels) can also contain dust or dirt lodged in them, much like the sponge we discussed earlier. The finish might be damaged by rough materials.

They are also highly beneficial for applying and removing auto wax properly. They work well for buffing windows, metal trim, chrome wheels, and other surfaces on vehicles. Suitable for interior surfaces like leather, vinyl, plastic, metal, and more.

Related Article

Watch the video below to learn more


How do you detail a car like a pro?

Remove and clean the floor mats. Vacuum the interior. Remove any dust. Clean and disinfect the dashboard.

Clean the console thoroughly, as well as the cupholders, door panels, and steering wheel. Wipe the inside windows. Look after the seats. Deodorize.

What is the best car polish to use?

  • 3D
  • Chemical Guys
  • Meguiar’s
  • Turtle Wax

How do you deep clean the outside of a car?

Why do you detail the outside of your car first?

Your car’s exterior is typically the dirtiest because it is continually exposed to road grime, airborne dirt, and dust. It is typically more difficult for dirt to infiltrate your automobile from the outside when you start with the interior after cleaning the exterior and letting it dry.

How can I detail my car faster?

  • Use a different washing technique.
  • While pre-foaming, agitate confined spaces.
  • Use valves and quick-connect connectors on your hoses.
  • When your car is wet, clay it.
  • Employ a clay cleaning mitt.
  • Use a machine to apply your wax or sealant.
  • Make use of a wipe-free spray sealer.

Do you wax a car wet or dry?

On a clean, dry vehicle, car wax is best applied. Before applying wax, either wash your car yourself or take it to a car wash. Starting with a clean car is crucial because any dirt or grime that is left on the surface of the car could cause the clear coat of the paint to be scratched when the wax is applied.

How long does it take to detail a car?

A thorough exterior treatment could last up to two days, while a rapid interior detail could be completed in two hours. A tiny coupe, hatchback, or sedan will take four hours or longer if the car is regularly detailed. Extra-large trucks and minivans will need at least seven hours to complete the journey.

That’s all for this article where we discussed how to detail a car exterior. Hope it was helpful. if so, kindly share. Thanks for reading.