Steps To Detailing Your Car Properly

Having a beautifully detailed car is the absolute best. There’s nothing better than walking out to your car, seeing it shining, and getting to go for a drive.

While we work with tons of customers in Salem Oregon providing car detailing services, we know there are a lot of people who want to do it themselves.

Today, we’re going to go over a handful of tips that you can use to detail your car properly. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be covering just exterior detailing in this post.

There’s a process to it, and we want to make sure you do it right.

steps to detailing your car

Step 1 – Remove Debris From The Paint

Before you start taking a sponge or a microfiber towel to the exterior of your car, you want to make sure you lift any dirt or debris off of the paint.

If you start rubbing a towel on the exterior of your car with all of that debris, you’re going to end up causing damage to the clearcoat.

All of that dirt and debris will get worked into the clearcoat, and can create scratches and swirl marks.

So, before we get to washing the car, at the very least rinse the car off thoroughly with water to remove any dirt or grime sitting on top of the paint.

As a bonus, if you have a foam cannon that you can use when detailing your car, you can apply foam to the exterior of your car and it will help lift the dirt and debris off of your paint.

Once you’ve at least rinsed the exterior of your vehicle off, use a quality car soap that doesn’t contain any wax.

That will help to remove a majority of the debris on your car, and prepare it for the next step.

Step 2 – Prep The Paint With Clay Bar

Before you apply any wax to your car, you want to really ensure that all of the debris has been removed from the paint. Using a clay bar will help you do that.

Clay bar is a specialized tool that you run along the exterior of your vehicle’s paint that will pick up any additional dirt that has been embedded into your car’s clear coat.

You will have to use detailing spray to help lubricate the surface when using the clay bar, but there are plenty of kits you can buy that have clay bar and detailing spray together.

Go over the entire exterior of your car with the clay bar until you can feel that the clear coat on your car is smooth.

Bonus Step – Polish The Clear Coat

This is much more advanced, but if you have the skills, tools, and abilities, you can polish the clear coat on your vehicle.

Typically, this is referred to as paint correction. When you polish the exterior of your car, you are removing any scratches and swirl marks on the clearcoat of your car.

We’re not going to go too much into detail on how to do this, because that is a whole training course in itself.

Ideally we recommend hiring a professional car detailer in Salem, but if you want to do paint correction on your car’s clear coat, now is the time to do it.

Step 3 – Seal The Car’s Paint

Once the paint has been prepped, it’s not time to seal the paint. This is when you apply a protective coating to the clear coat of your car’s paint.

There are plenty of options when it comes to sealing and protecting your car’s paint. We recommend using a traditional wax, or a synthetic wax.

They are some of the most cost effective options while providing a good amount of protection on your vehicle.

Other coatings like ceramic coatings are most likely a little too complicated, and we advise hiring a professional car detailer in Salem for that.

After you’ve applied the wax on your car, buff it to a shine. Once that’s done, your car should be looking great and will be protected for around 3 to 4 months.


Detailing a car can be a bit time consuming, but it’s certainly rewarding. We hope that going over some of these steps will help you out, and will help you detail your car.

Check out our other post on 3 tips to remove bad odors from your car.

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