A friend recently asked me to recommend some detailing products for him to use on his new car. I’m no expert, but I have learnt a few things over the last couple of years. I used to think that washing a car just involved chucking a bucket of soapy water over it, using a sponge to get the worst of the dirt off and then rinsing it to get a reasonable shine.
Knowing what I know now, that thought makes me cringe.
The first lesson to learn is that sponges are a cars worst enemy. Dirt and debris gets caught in the pockets of the sponge and scratch the paintwork as you try to clean your car. This means that you are actually ruining your car each time you clean it. Because the debris is tiny, it doesn’t result in large scratches, but a fine spider-web of tiny ones that soon resembles swirl marks in the paint. Eventually, on close inspection, the paintwork is covered in swirls and tiny marks. Its scary and depressing. This is why you should use a lambswool mitt or sheep skin glove, where any grit or debris will sift deep into the core and not remain on the surface as a deadly menace to your paintwork. People also recommend the “two bucket method” where you have a bucket of shampoo to wash the car and a bucket of fresh water to rinse the mitt, thus reducing the danger of swirl marks even further.
Once that’s done, dry with a drying towel (see point 2).
When the car is dry, or nearly dry, then its time to use a clay bar. This is only something that needs to be done every 6 months or so. You might think its bonkers using clay on your car, but once you’ve done it, you’ll think your bonkers for never having done it. After being shampooed and dried, a car might seem clean, but this is deceptive. In fact, paintwork, much like human skin, is porous and can be dirty even when it looks clean. Things like bird poo, sap from plants, fumes from other cars exhausts, all get into the paintwork and dull it. Using a clay bar pulls the dirt out of the pores and allows you to truly get a deep shine.
Because clay is naturally sticky, its important to use some sort of lubricant to stop the clay bar from sticking to the paintwork and marring you’re lovely finish. You can use detailing spray (Meguiars is good) but clay lube is preferable. Dodo juice do some excellent clay lube that goes on well, is easy to use sparingly and works wonders in conjunction with the clay. As with any other product, the key to using clay is to do one panel at a time. Folding and kneading the clay when it gets dirty. You may well be surprised how much dirt comes off the car. I usually find the roof and bonnet to be the filthiest. A white clay bar will soon turn a lovely shade of brown.
Once that’s done, you’ll probably want to rinse the car and dry it off again. Then it’s on to the good stuff.
To get a truly awesome shine at this point I’d recommend using a glaze. For my friend I’ve suggested Poorboys Black hole. This is a show glaze for darker colour cars, which is easy to apply, in or out of the sun and both goes on and comes off easily. It adds a lovely deep shine to the paintwork and can be used professionally with an electric polisher to reduce swirls and paint imperfections. I’ve not tried that, I just use it by hand and its pretty bloody good frankly. Smells nice too, which is a bonus.
Once you’ve done that, you might think you’re finished. The car probably looks pretty shiny, but if you want to give your car the best look and the best protection, there’s a few more steps yet.
Next, use a high quality wax. Dodo juice is both affordable and very user friendly. Once again, its colour specific, in this case Purple Haze is also for darker cars. It goes on after the glaze and gives the car a protective coat, sealing in the glaze and retaining the shine. When waxed properly, rain will “bead” on a cars paint surface rather than soaking in. This offers protection, but it also makes future washes easier, as the dirt just drops off. Its best to apply the wax and give it a fair while to haze. The tub recommends 5-10 mins, but you can leave it longer. Last time I did the whole car before I started to buff it off. If you wish, once you’ve finished you can wait 24 hours and apply a second coat before continuing with the next few stages. Just ensure that the car is dust free and your microfibre cloths are free of any dangerous debris before applying the second coat.
The combination of glaze and wax leads to a truly awesome shine. There is a near mirror finish in black paint where you can admire your own reflection and your handiwork.
To get the best possible protection for all your hard work (and the shine), it’s said that a sealant should now be used. This is a synthetic wax which provides a shield for the car, protecting it from the environment. It acts as a liquid coat of armour, keeping the paint looking spiffing. I have recommended chemical guys product here, but I will warn you, it’s a nightmare to get off. Don’t leave it to haze for too long!
Now you’re nearly done. Stand back and admire the shine!
You might notice that despite your car looking great, the wheels and tyres are now letting it down. Older tyres get a lovely coat of brown that won’t wash off and they really ruin all your efforts. Fear not! Meguairs tyre gel is here to save the day! Apply copious amounts all over for an excellent, long lasting shine and deep black finish. It doesn’t affect tyre grip and is perfectly safe to use all over. I was amazed how long it lasts, both on the tyre and in the bottle. Money well spent.
Last but not least – wheel sealant. This is important if you have good quality alloys. Much like standard sealant, it does what it says on the tin, protecting the wheels from the harsh environment. Don’t get me wrong here, it wont protect wheels from a bad driver, but sealant will at least help maintain a shine and it also stops brake dust sticking to the wheels quite so easily. So when you next wash, its much easier to get the wheels clean. Much like most of the products on my list, Poorboys wheel sealant smells lush. So the bonus is, even if you’re all sweaty by the end of it all, your car (and your hands) will smell lovely.
This is by no means an extensive list of products or things you can do, but doing all this properly will probably take about 7 hours. Luckily you don’t have to do it every week, unless you’re mental (like me).
- Dodo Juice – Sour Power Shampoo 500ml
- Meguiars Lambswool Wash Mitt
- Huge 38” x 28” Waffle weave Microfibre Drying Towel
- Dodo Juice – Born Slippy Clay Lube 500ml
- Meguiras Separate Clay Bar
- Poorboys Black Hole Show Glaze
- Dodo Juice – Purple Haze Wax
- Chemical Guys Wet Mirror Finish
- Poorboys Wheel Sealant
- Meguiars High Gloss Tyre gel
- Eurow – Double Density ‘Shag’ Towels