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The Key to Car Detailing Like a Pro (and On a Budget)

Has your car turned into your personal dumpster?

For most drivers, our cars are our second homes. Unfortunately, we don’t always treat them with the same respect they deserve. They’re littered with discarded wrappers and bottles and coated with crumbs from a months worth of on-the-go meals.

A deep cleaning, car detailing session is the relief your vehicle needs to look and drive fresh again. But trips to the carwash can be quite costly. And not always as thorough as you might need or desire.

It’s time to take the car detailing into your own hands. We’re here to give you the best tips to thoroughly clean your car with products and tactics friendly to your budget.

Interior Car Detailing

It’s best to start with the more intensive part of your car detailing session. All the nooks and crannies will test your determination and patience, so it’s best to start fresh. Let’s begin.

Pick-Up The Trash

Right off the bat, you’ll want to get the larger trash items out of the way. Grab a few disposable bags and start filling them up.

Be sure to sort items by those going to the dump, that which can be recycled, and any bottles that can be claimed for a return deposit–every penny counts!

Vacuum Away

Next, we’re going to get out all the smaller debris that’s collected inside your vehicle. You can purchase a battery-charged handheld vacuum for this, but it’s just as well to use your household vacuum and the hose attachment.

It will greatly speed up the process if you can inverse the vacuum’s suction and blast out the dust. Get into as many crevices as you can, but don’t fret about any tight nooks–we’ll be back for those later.

Cleaning Cloth

Microfiber cloth? Sure, you might splurge for one if your vehicle costs as much as a family home. But for most, an old sock will do just fine.

Spray some ammonia-free glass cleaning product on your sock and use it to clean up the plastic surfaces of your car. The cup holders, the inner sides of the doors, the middle armrest console, and the front console.

Use a gentle circular motion to clean off any dust and spills.

The Seats:

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For your seats, you’ll want to purchase a product that’s friendly for the material. What’s good for cloth seats won’t work properly on leather.

Use a foaming aerosol for cloth seats. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it away for a clean, refreshing smell. For leather, you’ll want a cleaning solution specific for the material, as well as a conditioning product to give it that smooth, silky feeling again.

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Cleaning The Cracks

Cotton swabs and skewers come in great for this part. Use the skewers to pry out any crumbs and debris that have lodged into the tight crevices. Then, spray some cleaning solution onto the cotton of the swabs and go to town on the cracks.

Give your car interior another once-over again with the vacuum to collect the leftovers.

Deep Stains

Stains happen, and some are just rascals to get out. If your car is in deep need, consider renting an industrial carpet cleaner for the job. Go over the stain multiple times to get it wet and loose with the bristle action, and then use the cleaner’s powerful vacuum suction to lift it away.

And while you have the carpet cleaner rented, feel free to go over any spots you have in your home, as well. It’s a ‘two birds, one stone’ kind of deal.


Next, let’s move to the outside of your car. It’s important not to wash your car during intense sunlight as the combination of heat and water might ruin the paint job. Save the car detailing session for a cloudy day or late in the afternoon.

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The Body

Now’s the time to bust out your booty shorts and get the suds flowing. Get the car nice and wet with a general spray, and then use your cleaning product of choice. Use a large sponge to help speed up the process, using the same circular motion as before in the interior car detailing.

After, if you’re feeling fancy, go for a little wax job. You know the deal–‘wax on, wax off.’

The Tires

A lot of muck and grime can collect in your car’s tires. To really get the rims sparkling again, you’ll want to get in there with a high-pressure spray. Check out some great car cleaning pressure washers here.

After, go over the tires and rims with a toothbrush to get into all of the little crevices. It’s quite a process, but your tires will be glistening in the sun once you’re done.

The Lights

A lot of grease and grime can build up over the headlights and taillights. You’ll want to go over those with a glass cleaning product to get rid of that layer of fog that’s settled onto your lights. Your visibility will drastically improve once you’re done.

Prepare For Your Car Detailing Today

Proper cleaning of your car is just as important as the rest of your vehicle’s maintenance. It maintains the value and keeps you looking smooth as you ride behind the wheel.

And as you’ve read, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg at the car wash. Just a little elbow grease on your behalf will do the trick.

If you’re looking to save some more money in your car maintenance, check out our oil change deals and other articles for more tips

Comment below with any of your car detailing advice!

Article by mwoodruf99


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