What is Car Detailing?

Wiping Down Car Dash with Cleaning Cloth


You’ve probably heard someone say that they were going to get their car “detailed” at some point in time. But what is car detailing, exactly? How is it different from going to the car wash? Simply put, car detailing is more thorough and focuses on restoring both the inside and outside of your vehicle to make it look as clean and as close to “like-new” condition as possible. Car detailing also often involves the laborious process of removing blemishes and scratches from exterior paint. Usually, car detailing refers to a full detail, which touches interior and exterior surfaces. Other times, people get simply an “exterior detail” or an “interior detail” only. Read on or contact us to learn more!

Items Used For Car Detailing

Detailing is a labor-intensive task that requires such items as: 

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Washing mitts
  • Microfiber cloths 
  • A variety of small brushes (such as a paintbrush)
  • Canned air
  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Carpet stain cleaner
  • Car-safe cleaner
  • Window cleaner
  • Surface protector for vinyl and leather surfaces

Exterior Car Detailing Steps

Wondering how to detail a car? Here’s what goes into detailing the exterior of a vehicle in Oshkosh:

  • Rigorous Exterior Wash: Using a specially-formulated soap solution that’s pH balanced and microfiber cloths clean the exterior of the vehicle. Be sure to frequently swap out cleaning cloths and don’t use a cloth that’s been dropped, as dirt or sand on dirty cloths may scratch your vehicle’s surface. Do not use dish soap or harsh detergents, which can strip off wax. Once completely clean, dry the vehicle off with clean towels.
  • Clean the Wheels: Using the solution you used to wash the rest of your car or a solution made especially for car tires, clean your vehicle’s wheels. To clean out the dirt from the grooves and hard-to-reach places, use a wheel brush.
  • Wax the Exterior: Once the exterior is clean, you have the choice to wax your car. Often, before this step, professional detailers will “clay” the paint to remove impurities, after which point, it’s ready for compounding and/or polishing. For a quicker detail, sometimes, it’s okay to use wax after washing, especially if the vehicle is very clean. 

Interior Car Detailing Steps

The following is the process for detailing the interior of a car in Sheboygan:

  • Carpeting: First, vacuum your carpeting and seating surfaces. If you have stains on the carpeting, use a stain remover and brush to remove them afterward.
  • Door Interior: Use a solution made of soap and water or a pH-balanced cleaner to clean the non-carpeted part of your doors and dry them down with a cloth. Next, open your car doors to clean the metal and plastic parts of your door jambs. You may need small brushes to complete these steps and reach hard-to-reach crevices.
  • Windows: Wash your windows with a dedicated window cleaner, and preferably one that’s ammonia-free. You’re best using a series of cloths and going in overlapping passes in alternating directions to wipe vs. buff. Do not clean windows in excess heat or direct sunlight, as this will cause streaks.
  • Upholstery: After vacuuming the seats, remove any stains with a stain remover and brush. You may also use a steam cleaner and/or hot water extractor, which the professionals generally do for a deeper clean. Once you finish cleaning your seats, let them dry with your car doors or windows open in a warm area where full drying can take place. If you don’t have access to a heated garage, then it’s best to schedule a detailing appointment where a professional does. You don’t want to return a vehicle with wet seats or carpets. 
  • Steering Wheel Column: Remove dust and stains with a cleaning solution. Then dry, and apply a surface protectant and/or dressing.
  • Dashboard and Center Console: Use your small tools to clean cracks and crevices, then dry completely with a cloth.

Visit Holiday Automotive for an Expert Car Detail!

Looking for a professional to detail your car in West Bend, Ripon, or Beaver Dam? Holiday Automotive can help! Our service center is here to take care of your car maintenance needs and our collision center can help with everything from accident repairs to detailing.


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