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If you decide to detail your own car, you may be motivated to save money instead of paying a professional, or you may be driven by the sheer love of car care. Depending on which type of person you are, you’ll likely have different expectations about how long your detailing job will take and the type of results you’ll see when you’re finished.
If you’re looking for near-professional auto detailing services done as quickly as possible, we have a basic to-do list for your detailing project. If you want to go all-in with a comprehensive, pro-level job, we have you covered, too. Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle? No problem, you’ll find all the info you’re looking for right here!
Let’s dive into a quick overview of each of these three levels of car detailing services, the DIY way, and you can decide which sounds best for you and your car.
If you’re looking to save money and make your car look great as quickly as possible, this efficient, exterior detailing checklist is for you. Because this isn’t a comprehensive detailing job with all the cleaning and protective measures a pro would take, you’ll want to complete this routine more frequently, about once a month, to keep your car looking its best. On the upside, you can do everything listed here, start to finish, in about 2.5 hours, about one-third the time it takes to do an exhaustive detailing job yourself. Add in the relatively low cost of detailing supplies, and that’s a pretty fair bargain.
Start with a car wash using a car wash shampoo like Hybrid Solutions Pro Pure Wash. Do not use household detergents on your car. Rinse your car from top to bottom, then agitate the entire car with a microfiber wash mitt, again, starting at the top and work your way around and down the car. Rinse the wash mitt frequently in the bucket of socar wash shampoo and water to avoid rubbing abrasive soils into the finish. Rinse the car until all the foam has been washed away. Dry with a microfiber drying towel.
Check for contaminants embedded in the clear coat. With a zippered sandwich bag over your hand, glide it gently over the surface of your entire car. If the paint feels gritty at all, you’ll need to decontaminate the finish. If it feels smooth as glass, skip ahead to the polish and wax phase. To remove contaminants, use a clay bar or clay mitt and lubricant according to the directions on the packaging and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Once you’ve finished decontaminating your car, it’s time to move on to polish and wax.
For this fast detailing, you can save yourself a lot of time at this stage with a two-in-one polish and wax product like our Hybrid Solutions Polish & Wax. Instead of making two separate passes around your car, you can get great results correcting minor clear coat damage while laying down a shiny, ceramic-infused wax at the same time. . You may not correct the worst scratches and oxidation, but you’ll correct most of it in just a fraction of the time.
That’s all there is to it! Just like that, your car will look great with this express detail treatment.
With this more thorough method, you’ll get about 80% of what you’d expect from a professional exterior detailing with only about 3 to 3.5 hours of work.
As described in the fast detailing method above, start by washing your car and using a clay mitt if needed. Then, check your car’s clear coat for scratches, swirls, fading or oxidation.
This time, instead of using a 2-in-1 polish and wax, you’re going to spend a little more time correcting any flaws in your paint. Using a polishing compound like Hybrid Solutions Pro 1 & Done and a cutting pad, you can remove all clear coat scratches, swirl marks, stains and oxidation. Just follow the simple instructions on the product package until your paint looks good as new.
Last but not least, you’ll finish your detailing session by applying a shiny protective coating with a wax like Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax or Hybrid Solutions Pro to the Max Wax. With scientifically optimized combinations of pure graphene and ceramic polymers, either of these waxes will deliver exceptional shine and up to 12 months of water-beading protection from the elements.
With the right products, some tender, loving care and about a day set aside to do the job, you can make your car look like the pros detailed it, and you can do it for thousands of pounds less than a professional shop would charge. If your car has never been detailed, or not in the last year or two, this method will restore its showroom beauty.
This job starts with interior detailing. Remove, vacuum and clean the floor mats with an automotive carpet or upholstery cleaner. Then, vacuum and clean your upholstery. An interior detailing spray that’s made for all surfaces, like Hybrid Solutions Streak-Free Interior Mist, will remove soils and stains from plastics and deliver conditioning protectants to help preserve interior surfaces.
Next, wash the exterior, starting with the area around the wheels and tyres. Use a pressure washer or garden hose with a jet setting to spray the wheel wells, lower panels, wheels, brake components and tyres. Then, following the package instructions, spray the tyres, wheels and brakes with an automotive cleaner such as Hybrid Solutions Hyper Foam Wheel Cleaner & Tyre Prep. Use a wheel brush, such as a Wheel Woolie, to remove tough soils and brake dust from all surfaces. Rinse and dry the wheels and tyres.
Once those dirtiest areas of your car are clean, it’s time to wash the entire car with car wash shampoo, water, and a microfiber wash mitt, bucket and hose. Rinse your vehicle thoroughly and towel dry or, for touch-free drying, we recommend using a leaf blower.
If you find tough stains like bird droppings or tree sap that won’t come clean with a regular car wash, treat these areas with a stain remover designed to break up those stubborn substances, like our Insect Remover. Don’t try to scrub these spots away, or you could risk damaging your paint. If needed, remove any embedded contaminants in the clear coat with a clay mitt and lubricant as directed on the package.
If your headlights appear hazy or yellow, treat them with a headlight restoration product. Our Speed Lens Restorer Kit removes oxidation, returning your headlight lens to a crystal-clear finish. Not only will this radically improve the look of your car’s front, but your newly cleared headlight lenses will improve road illumination for safer driving.
Next, you’ll get into the show stopping steps of detailing–restoring, shining and protecting the paint. Inspect your vehicle for swirl marks, scratches and fading. An excellent-quality polishing compound, like our Hybrid Solutions PRO 1 & Done, will restore the paint to a like-new, scratch-free finish. If you have a mechanical, dual-action polisher, you’ll save yourself up to an hour at this stage, but polishing by hand will still give you incredible results.
Apply a little trim protectant to any unpainted, plastic or rubber exterior surfaces to protect these materials from the sun’s harsh UV rays.
Finally, as you wrap up your pro-level DIY detail job, top off your beautifully restored paint with a protective wax or paint sealant. Our easiest, high-performance wax is Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax. Its spray-on, wipe-off formula delivers the beautiful glow of carnauba wax and the long-lasting protection of pure graphene and ceramic polymers. Or if you have a few extra minutes to invest, go with our Hybrid Solutions Pro to the Max Wax. Either will give you up to 12 months of water-beading, UV-resistant protection that shines and shines.
Once you’ve thoroughly detailed your car, maintaining its beauty takes a lot less work. Keep it clean and use a spray wax topper every couple of months. Investing an extra 30 minutes now and then can save you a lot of time down the road.
And, no matter which detailing level you choose, Turtle Wax has your back with the right products and info to do the job.
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