Auto Detailing is more than just a simple car wash; it's an art form that transforms a vehicle from dull and dirty to a shining masterpiece. Whether you're a car enthusiast looking to maintain your prized possession or a professional detailer aiming to perfect your craft, understanding the process of auto detailing is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the steps and techniques that make auto detailing a transformative experience for the vehicle and its owner.

Preparation is Key

Before diving into the detailing process, thorough preparation is necessary. Start by gathering essential tools and products such as microfiber towels or mitts, brushes, quality car wash soap, clay bars, and a range of detailing solutions. Identify areas that require special attention, such as scratches, swirl marks, or stains. This initial assessment will guide your detailing strategy and ensure no aspect is overlooked. Additionally, ensure that the vehicle is parked in a shaded area to prevent premature drying of cleaning agents.



Always start with the wheels! They are the filthiest part of your car and can use a good pre-soak. A brush is used to remove the dirt from hard-to-reach areas. Also, use a mitt with a bucket that is separate from the one that will be used for the paintwork.

Pre-Wash/Snow Foam

Begin by rinsing your vehicle thoroughly to remove loose dirt. Invest in a quality snow foam or pre-wash solution to break down grime and make the subsequent wash more effective. Snow Foam removes as much dirt as possible to reduce the risk of creating swirl marks on the paint finish.

Washing/Two-bucket System

Wash the car exterior using a high-quality shampoo starting from the top working your way down. A two-bucket system must be used to minimize the risk of introducing swirls and scratches.


Clay Bar Treatment

Clay bars help remove microscopic contaminants that regular washing might miss. Shape that clay bar that comfortably fits your hand and gently rub the clay bar over the surface of the vehicle, providing a smooth canvas for subsequent steps. Wipe down and completely dry the surface with a microfiber towel afterward.


Polishing is crucial for restoring the paint's shine and eliminating minor imperfections. Choose the appropriate polish for your vehicle's finish. It can either be applied by hand or a machine polisher if you have advanced experience in car detailing.


Waxing and Sealing

Seal in all the hard work you’ve done and protect the paintwork by applying a high-quality wax or sealant. This step not only enhances the vehicle's appearance but also shields it from harsh environmental elements.

Tire Shine

When all the washing and drying have been completed, it’s time to put some glow in those tires! Apply the tire shine and ensure that it gets dry.

Exterior Windows

This is the last leg of the car’s exterior detailing! Get rid of light scratches or fingerprints with a quality glass cleaner. Done? Not just yet! Let’s move forward to Interior Detailing!



Now that the exterior is done, let’s work on the interior! Take all the trash out. Those that can be picked up. Use a vacuum and its various attachments to thoroughly remove the dirt from the carpets, seats, and tight areas.

All the floor mats are removed and cleaned separately. A stiff brush, car wash soap, or an upholstery cleaner can be used in this process. Hang the mats to dry. For rubber or silicone mats, a bucket of soapy water and a brush are recommended to wash away the dirt that accumulated onto the mats.

Cleaning Surfaces

Use a microfiber duster to clean the interior surfaces such as the dashboard, door panels, and center console. A soft long-bristle brush is ideal to use to clean the small crevices. It is best to disinfect the dashboard and the steering wheel as they harvest bacteria because of everyday use.

Leather and Upholstery Care

Whether your car has leather or cloth seats, it is best to start with vacuuming. Clean the leather seats with commercial leather cleaners. Then, treat them with a conditioner to prevent cracks and maintain a supple feel. Cloth car seats can be cleaned using upholstery cleaners. Use a scrub brush to work the cleaner into the seats and microfiber to wipe away the cleaner and dirt. Leave the doors open and allow the seats to air dry.

Don’t forget the seatbelts! Upholstery cleaners may be used to clean the seatbelts too!

Vacuum the Floor and Clean the Door Panels

Vacuum the car’s floor and the trunk’s carpeting. Use a damp microfiber cloth to clean the door panels and clean out the pockets.

Interior Window and Mirror Cleaning

Ensure clear visibility by cleaning the windows and mirrors with a streak-free glass cleaner. Slightly lower the windows, start from the top, and work your way down, catching any drips along the way.

Engine Bay Detailing

While only some include this step, detailing the engine bay adds a finishing touch. Use a degreaser and a soft brush to clean engine components, followed by a protective dressing to prevent future dirt accumulation.

Final Touches!

Complete the detailing process by checking for any remaining spots or imperfections. Touch up as needed, and take a step back to admire the transformation.

Auto detailing is a meticulous process that combines expertise, precision, and the right products to rejuvenate a vehicle's appearance. Whether you're a do-it-yourself enthusiast or a professional detailer, following these steps will help you achieve a showroom-worthy finish. Remember, the key to successful auto detailing lies in patience, attention to detail, and a genuine passion for bringing out the best in every vehicle. So, roll up your sleeves, get your detailing supplies ready, and let the transformation begin! Or, better yet, let Lake State Auto Detailing take care of your auto detailing needs. Forget about rolling up your sleeves. Go ahead and spend your time with more important things.