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Old 01-19-2006, 10:12 AM   #1
Falkkon
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2002 SC1
Default Professional Detailing

I've seen a couple threads on how to clean your car, and I just had to put in my own. I've worked in the past as a professional detailer/body repair. For this example, I'll use my 95 SL1, just so you guys can get a grasp of what it would really take to get your car "looking like new". Sorry if I've posted in the wrong place, I figure it'll get moved soon anyways.

What you will need:
Power Washer
Shopvac (wet/dry)
Toothbrushes (2 or more, one soft, one hard bristle at least)
Citrus Based Mild Cleanser (liquid, not wax/gel)
Stiff Hair or Nylon Brush (I use Nylon, should fit comfortably in your hand)
Industrial Carpet Cleanser (Or, Rug Doctor stuff in HIGH concentration)
OXY-Clean (For Stains)
Tire Acid (Cant remember quite what acid, 1.0mol nitric diluted maybe?)
Soft cloth (A few, for sure)
Tire Shine (Lots, there's a few neat tricks with it)
Interior Scent

To clean the interior:
First step is to take care of the upholstery and floors. Remove the mats, hanging them if you can, use the power washer to remove most of the dirt. Take the power washer to the foot wells, making sure not to splash too much under the dash or console. Let the water soak in for about five minutes. Remove most of the water (dont dry it, you'll see why) with the Shop Vac. Adding your carpet detergent to a pail of tepid water, scrub furiously with your brush. There should be alot of foam at this point, vacuum with the shop vac. Take care of the stains by spot treating with Oxy, just drop a little water with your hand to paste it up a bit if needed. Rince with the lowest setting of the power washer, suck up the water with the Vac. To dry, scrape the Vac's flat head against the grain of the carpet repeatedly until the carpet is merely damp to the touch. If you can touch the carpet and see water on your fingers, it needs some more suckin.
Repeat the process for your seats without soaking with the power washer.
Before delving into cleaning all the surfaces, take everything that can be taken out of the car, ashtrays, console cups and the like. Spray all the cracks with your citrus cleanser. Scrub all the cracks in your console and dash, starting from one side to the other with the soft toothbrush, using the hard one only for stubborn gunk (like dry soda). Wipe the areas clean with a soft cloth, use a flat screwdriver if you need to get excess liquid from between the trims. Clean ALL surfaces with your cleaner, this includes any plastic that may be visible, including seatbelt buckles and rubber trim between the doors. Everything! For the kicker boards, I usually scrub those with my nylon brush, spray with cleanser, wipe clean. At this point, the inside of the car should be much cleaner than the outside, including the space between the doors that you rarely see (like if the door is open).
Here's the neat trick: Tire Shine is just as good as Armorall. Spray lightly on your dash, console (make sure not to spray onto the gauge area). Wipe/massage with a Kiwi. I have a particularly rough time getting the overspray out of my console cups and shifter boot. To avoid this, spray some on the corner of a Kiwi and apply instead of spraying directly. Make sure to apply shine to all rubber seals and wherever there's plastic/vinyl. To ensure an even application, spray approx 14" away from a wide surface with a smooth, quick motion in one direction. One spray! Massage and move on to the next area.

Scrub your floor mats, treating as needed and leave hanging to dry. Leave your doors open to let the car dry.

Spray down your rims with the power washer, making sure to thoroughly clean the wheel wells as well. Apply your acid to the hollow parts or gaps (IF you have metal hubs or rims) of the rim and scrub with the toothbrush immediately. If you've got the stock plastic, most of the time the citrus cleaner should do just fine. Rinse thoroughly with your power washer. Scrub your tires with your brush, rinse off the brush when you're done. This will save time when you clean the outside paint.

Pop the hood, cover your Distro with a plastic bag. Spray the head and engine area with the cleaner (use wisely, if your engine is hot it smells pretty bad). Spray with your power washer, making sure to clean every trace of oil off the washer reservoir. Everywhere that's black plastic, use your tireshine technique. NOT THE DISTRO! Everywhere else will make it look nice and purty. Make sure to spray the under side of the hood AND where your fluid sprays out, you would be surprised how much dirt collects.

Now, clean the outside of your car. Many people have different methods, to save time, most detailers doing a quick job do it this way:

Rinse with powerwasher, apply dish detergent and water with kiwi or soft cloth, rinse again. Never use a brush! I dont care how soft a brush is, it will always leave some kind of grain. Over time, it will become very visible that you're a brush user. Wipe dry with a Kiwi and soft cloth. Windex the windows, inside of the windows, mirrors. Buff with wax, I personally used just regular carnuba and soft buff on orbital machine. Use tire shine on plastic bits like bumper, and trim around windows (I have flat black paint on mine). Apply with cloth for smaller areas, we dont want to spray on the wax! Make sure as well to get the tires, mud flaps, coated areas of the wheel wells, it will make the job look finished and professional.

By this time, 2 hours or so should have elapsed. Spray the inside of the car with scent, spraying most of it under the seats. (For this example, I use a cherry scent specifically designed for this purpose, one spray on the back seat and two sprays under each front seat).

There you have it, folks! If you have any specific questions, please, by all means. Please, bear in mind that this procedure is one used by a typical detailing company to have a car back quickly (usually to a used car dealership). A good interior detailer can output 5 cars in a shift!

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Old 01-19-2006, 11:40 AM   #2
GearGuy
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2006 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: Professional Detailing

If you have high speed internet, I enjoyed checking out the instructional videos at Adams.
He's got his own suggestions and plugs his own products, but they were good to watch.

...
2006 Vue 3.5L FWD

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Old 02-20-2010, 01:08 AM   #3
stbvue
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Default Re: Professional Detailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Falkkon View Post
I've seen a couple threads on how to clean your car, and I just had to put in my own. I've worked in the past as a professional detailer/body repair. For this example, I'll use my 95 SL1, just so you guys can get a grasp of what it would really take to get your car "looking like new". Sorry if I've posted in the wrong place, I figure it'll get moved soon anyways.

What you will need:
Power Washer
Shopvac (wet/dry)
Toothbrushes (2 or more, one soft, one hard bristle at least)
Citrus Based Mild Cleanser (liquid, not wax/gel)
Stiff Hair or Nylon Brush (I use Nylon, should fit comfortably in your hand)
Industrial Carpet Cleanser (Or, Rug Doctor stuff in HIGH concentration)
OXY-Clean (For Stains)
Tire Acid (Cant remember quite what acid, 1.0mol nitric diluted maybe?)
Soft cloth (A few, for sure)
Tire Shine (Lots, there's a few neat tricks with it)
Interior Scent

To clean the interior:
First step is to take care of the upholstery and floors. Remove the mats, hanging them if you can, use the power washer to remove most of the dirt. Take the power washer to the foot wells, making sure not to splash too much under the dash or console. Let the water soak in for about five minutes. Remove most of the water (dont dry it, you'll see why) with the Shop Vac. Adding your carpet detergent to a pail of tepid water, scrub furiously with your brush. There should be alot of foam at this point, vacuum with the shop vac. Take care of the stains by spot treating with Oxy, just drop a little water with your hand to paste it up a bit if needed. Rince with the lowest setting of the power washer, suck up the water with the Vac. To dry, scrape the Vac's flat head against the grain of the carpet repeatedly until the carpet is merely damp to the touch. If you can touch the carpet and see water on your fingers, it needs some more suckin.
Repeat the process for your seats without soaking with the power washer.
Before delving into cleaning all the surfaces, take everything that can be taken out of the car, ashtrays, console cups and the like. Spray all the cracks with your citrus cleanser. Scrub all the cracks in your console and dash, starting from one side to the other with the soft toothbrush, using the hard one only for stubborn gunk (like dry soda). Wipe the areas clean with a soft cloth, use a flat screwdriver if you need to get excess liquid from between the trims. Clean ALL surfaces with your cleaner, this includes any plastic that may be visible, including seatbelt buckles and rubber trim between the doors. Everything! For the kicker boards, I usually scrub those with my nylon brush, spray with cleanser, wipe clean. At this point, the inside of the car should be much cleaner than the outside, including the space between the doors that you rarely see (like if the door is open).
Here's the neat trick: Tire Shine is just as good as Armorall. Spray lightly on your dash, console (make sure not to spray onto the gauge area). Wipe/massage with a Kiwi. I have a particularly rough time getting the overspray out of my console cups and shifter boot. To avoid this, spray some on the corner of a Kiwi and apply instead of spraying directly. Make sure to apply shine to all rubber seals and wherever there's plastic/vinyl. To ensure an even application, spray approx 14" away from a wide surface with a smooth, quick motion in one direction. One spray! Massage and move on to the next area.

Scrub your floor mats, treating as needed and leave hanging to dry. Leave your doors open to let the car dry.

Spray down your rims with the power washer, making sure to thoroughly clean the wheel wells as well. Apply your acid to the hollow parts or gaps (IF you have metal hubs or rims) of the rim and scrub with the toothbrush immediately. If you've got the stock plastic, most of the time the citrus cleaner should do just fine. Rinse thoroughly with your power washer. Scrub your tires with your brush, rinse off the brush when you're done. This will save time when you clean the outside paint.

Pop the hood, cover your Distro with a plastic bag. Spray the head and engine area with the cleaner (use wisely, if your engine is hot it smells pretty bad). Spray with your power washer, making sure to clean every trace of oil off the washer reservoir. Everywhere that's black plastic, use your tireshine technique. NOT THE DISTRO! Everywhere else will make it look nice and purty. Make sure to spray the under side of the hood AND where your fluid sprays out, you would be surprised how much dirt collects.

Now, clean the outside of your car. Many people have different methods, to save time, most detailers doing a quick job do it this way:

Rinse with powerwasher, apply dish detergent and water with kiwi or soft cloth, rinse again. Never use a brush! I dont care how soft a brush is, it will always leave some kind of grain. Over time, it will become very visible that you're a brush user. Wipe dry with a Kiwi and soft cloth. Windex the windows, inside of the windows, mirrors. Buff with wax, I personally used just regular carnuba and soft buff on orbital machine. Use tire shine on plastic bits like bumper, and trim around windows (I have flat black paint on mine). Apply with cloth for smaller areas, we dont want to spray on the wax! Make sure as well to get the tires, mud flaps, coated areas of the wheel wells, it will make the job look finished and professional.

By this time, 2 hours or so should have elapsed. Spray the inside of the car with scent, spraying most of it under the seats. (For this example, I use a cherry scent specifically designed for this purpose, one spray on the back seat and two sprays under each front seat).

There you have it, folks! If you have any specific questions, please, by all means. Please, bear in mind that this procedure is one used by a typical detailing company to have a car back quickly (usually to a used car dealership). A good interior detailer can output 5 cars in a shift!
Not a good idea to use dish detergent to wash a car with. It will dull the clear coat!

...
I dont mind things that go bump in the night as long as they arent in my VUE!

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Old 02-24-2010, 07:27 PM   #4
Falkkon
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2002 SC1
Default Re: Professional Detailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by stbvue View Post
Not a good idea to use dish detergent to wash a car with. It will dull the clear coat!
Not to correct you, but if you're using dollar-store dish detergent on your hands, you probably don't care what goes on your car. Most mild, hand-friendly dish soaps have an appropriate PH and solvency to use on your Saturn's clearcoat without damage.

If you're skittish using products that don't cost 20 bucks a bottle to clean your car with, Jergens baby shampoo, perhaps?

(Reference: I've worked in an Autobody and detailing shop, and this is what they've used on all their used dealership contract cars coming in. As far as brand goes, I think it was Dove?)

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Old 02-25-2010, 05:09 PM   #5
Smil3r
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2008
Default Re: Professional Detailing

Great write up

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Old 04-23-2010, 11:48 PM   #6
Equalyzer
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1999 SC2
Happy Re: Professional Detailing

I usually just use whatever is at the sink to clean my hands with, unless I have Goop or some other citrus-based grease remover for hands. You certainly wouldn't want to use Ajax on your paint, especially if you already have wax on it. I can imagine Dove would be pretty safe, but just to be 100% sure that existing wax isn't removed, I always use anything with "Car Wash" on the label. Blue Coral is the best in my experience, and any "Wash and Wax" liquid will help give a little bit of extra shine and prolong the life of your wax job. Just don't do what some people do and use it as a substitute for real wax--just like the spray wax at the self-serve car wash, it really doesn't do that much!

In my experience, Windex is fine to clean your windows, but Windex Auto Glass is much better than the regular kind--it has a slightly different formulation that helps to avoid streaks, and it also helps prevent film buildup on the inside of the windows. I actually prefer it over the regular for cleaning glass in my house. Whatever you do, just don't get Armor All or tire shine on your windows! It makes a terrible mess. Also, using too much of these vinyl care products can cause heavy evaporation in the heat of the sun, causing all the vapors to collect on your windows. Cleaning the inside of your windows might start to become like cleaning cigarette smoke residue off them.

Also, I've seen some people use Windex to clean their paint, which is fine if you don't mind a very dull finish to go along with it being squeaky clean...

I'm a detailer, by the way. The gas station attendants say I have the best looking Saturn in town

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Old 06-28-2010, 02:19 AM   #7
diplomat1
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1994 SL2
Default Re: Professional Detailing

When i clean my car i use Resolve (the upholstery one) and it works great for my seats and my carpets.

...
Prince

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Old 08-06-2010, 10:29 AM   #8
mudboy
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Default Re: Professional Detailing

I know this an oldy but I'll still add in my cents as a previous detailer. to make quick work of the vents and cracks between surfaces on the interior. Compressed air works great, it blows all the gook out once saturated with whatever cleaner you decide to use. We also used compressed air to blow all the crap that has accumalated under and inbetween the seats out. Also works good on getting dead bugs out from between the rear window and the carpeted panel. We always used a fine spray silcone for vents and interior peices. Mr Clean magic Erasers work great on kick panels to remove the scuff marks. For areas in your door jams that you can't reach with a brush a non diluted soaking of Purple Power or something similar with the power washer will work wonders. You do not want to hit the door latching mechanisms directly dause ove the years they will start to jam (unless you re lubricated them with white lithium grease.)
On the wheels you have to be careful on using wheel acid on certain wheels. If your vehicle has aftermarket aluminum rims it will etch them and they will appear extremely dull until you put hours of polishing into them. The only wheels you can use acid on are ones that have some sort of coating on them either being clear, paint or chrome. The same acid also brings your tail pipe back to looking new with a quick scrub with a stiff brush or even if you choose steel wool.
On the tires if you soak them while dry with Purple Power or a similar product , you will see that a yellowish color liquid will start dripping off of them at this point its time to scrub then rinse. I also soak the inside of the wheel wells with the same cleaner, this brings undercoat and plastic covers back to looking new.
After you think you are done with the wheels and the tires roll your car forward to the point of the tire turning 180* and do again. You will notice alot of crap you missed.
Under the hood be careful not to soak the heat protection blanket, it will cause it to get heavy and eventually tear at the plastic clips that hold it in place. If you drive with out theis the paint will start to peel do to excessive heat.
Dish Soap will not HURT the clear coat, it strips wax though. so only use dish soap if you plan on polishing and waxing the car. for a quick wash, as previously mentioned anything "car wash" that doesn't strip wax will work(it will say it right on the bottle). Below the bottom peice of molding on the sides of the car you are probably going to have a lot of tar kicked up. Use a bug and tar remover on this spray it on let it soak and scrub with soft brush. on the front of the car a soft brush is important as well. in order to get in all of the cracks and get the bugs off. On the back you will probably notice a bunch of black specs and also orangish red specs. this is mostly rail dust and brake dust particle sthat have made their way into your paint. These can be removed with a commonly available clay bar from where ever you are buying your supplys. this is a long process.
When actually washing the hood, roof, or side panels I will not use a brush or a towel or rag for the fact that everyone of them can hold dirt and scratch the heck out of your clear coat. I use a chamois that is a synthetic and does not have the ability to hold actual peices of sand etc. Steady rinsing is important if you are real concerend with scratches. Use a different chamois to dry teh car. If you are going to polish the car, by hand or with a buffer, it is convient to bring out the compressed air again, and blow the 3water out of the cracks and weather stripping. If using a high speed buffer iut is important to tape up moldings and weather striping and i usually like to lay a blanket under the hood then close it. This keeps the splatter from getting where it shouldn't. Take care not to get polish or wax on weather stripping, it seems no matter how hard you wrub it within a couple days you will see a white residue. Now lets say you did polish it with a good polishj. If you want to protect the shine that you just busted your ass on use a quality wax, such as colonite. This wax is actually an insulation wax that wasn't designed for automotive use but over the years made it's way in. This wax is the longest lasting that I have ever used. With cars that came to our shop for a detail then came in for weekly washes after that it would last for about 6 months. That is quite a long time considering a wash every week. Also I forgot to say. if you like your tires shiny apply the shine by using a sponge to absorb it and use the sponge as an applicator. If you spray all that crap will get on your paint after doing all this work. Be sure to wipe the excess off because it will fling off onto your paint and within a week it will look like crap because all of the road dirt will be stuck to it.
The OP definately has his job down to a "T", however I just brought out some more ideas for those that want to go to the extreme.

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