Shinier and glossier: Products to upgrade your detailing routine
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Thinking of taking your car grooming routine to the next level? Consider using products like these to make your car shine even brighter!

Category: Car Maintenance Advice


Like many car owners out there, my initial foray into car detailing was a tentative one. I started with the basics: A bucket, car shampoo and several worn cloths.


But using an old rag to wash a car is troublesome and ineffective, and I soon learned that I was probably scratching my paint, too. The cloth gave way to a wash mitt, and it wasn't long before I was acquiring various products for my new hobby.

Detailing geeks will say otherwise, but you don't actually need to have a large array of products for a DIY grooming session. Many car owners start with four items: Shampoo, polish, wax and tyre shine.

Now, if you're ready to take your car detailing routine to the next level, here's what else you can consider.


Clay time

A quick detailer can also help you remove those nasty 'bird bombs' before they harden
Before you polish or wax your car, it's important to prep the surface to achieve optimal results.

Claying your car removes embedded contaminants that washing cannot. You'll know if you need to use clay by running your fingers lightly over the cleaned surfaces. If you feel bumps or rough spots, it's clay time!

Clay is sometimes bundled together with a lubricant, which is sprayed before and during the process. For some brands, the quick detailer doubles up as clay lube.

With the contaminants gone, you won't drag the dirt around and cause scratches while polishing, and the wax can also bond properly to your clear coat.


Compound it

The compounding step should always be followed by polishing to help ensure an optimal finish
While most polishes are effective in removing minor scratches and fine swirls, there are times when you need something stronger that can deal with say, etching from bird poop.

A compound is a brawnier version of a polish, and most do not contain polishing oils that add lustre to your paint. Compounds are formulated to tackle stuff like stubborn water spots and paint transfer.

If your car hasn't been polished in a while, consider using a compound first before you polish it. Yes, there'll be more sweating, but you'll probably achieve even better results compared to just polishing or waxing alone.


Wheeling around

Wheel cleaners should only be applied to cool surfaces for best results
If you've just started detailing, you've probably used car shampoo to clean your wheels as well. Technically, there's nothing wrong with this, but you could have a tough time with baked-on brake dust.

The solution? A dedicated wheel cleaner, which is specifically formulated to help dissolve and/or remove brake dust and grime.

Most wheel cleaners work by spraying it on and allowing it to dwell or remain for some time (varies by brand). If you have a pressure washer, you'll be able to conveniently blast the dirt off.

If a pressure hose is not available, consider wheel brushes instead. These will enable you to properly scrub your rims, while also reaching the barrel or insides of your wheels.


Cloth matters

Some microfibre cloths for car grooming have specially designed edges to help avoid scratches
Save those ordinary cloths or "upcycled" old t-shirts for use in your home. When it comes to your pride and joy, microfibre cloths are the way to go.

Having a set of microfibre cloths will make detailing your car easier. They are designed not just for cleaning, but to make removing products easier as well.

Thick pile cloths are especially good for buffing excess wax or polish from your paint. Remember to fold them regularly so that the cleanest panels are always used.

Don't forget to launder them after every grooming session - that's what washing machines are for!


Clearing glass

Some glass cleaners such as this one from Auto Finesse's Caramics range also contain SiO2, which helps maintain visibility in rainy weather
Outward visibility depends on how clean your windows are. But if smudges and streaks keep occurring despite your best efforts, you need an automotive glass cleaner.

Unlike glass cleaners for household use, those formulated for cars do not contain ammonia, and many are safe for use on tinted windows. You can even find products with hydrophobic properties to help repel water.

For that extra touch, make it a point to wipe down both exterior and interior panels regularly. Clearer windows not only increase safety, but add an extra sparkle to a detailed car.


Supple leather

Caring for your leather upholstery will keep it soft and prevent it from drying and cracking as it ages
The interior is where you actually spend time in a car, so it's worth the effort to keep it clean.

Apart from not eating in here, vacuuming the carpets and wiping down the dashboard, it's time to invest in a leather cleaner to help maintain your upholstery.

Depending on your usage, you might need to clean your leather once a month or once every quarter. If you can, use the leather cleaner to remove stains before they become permanent.

And if you want to further up your game, follow this step by applying a leather cream or balm, to help it remain supple.Some products even smell good enough to give your car that "fresh leather" scent.


Want to learn more about detailing? These stories may interest you

How to avoid scratches when detailing your car

Wax, ceramic, graphene or sealant: Which should you use?

How to prepare your car for wet weather

How to keep your car clean with minimal effort

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