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Detail Products List thread (lots of info)

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- Wet/Dry Vacuum (>1.5 HP) w/ an assortment of nozzles and a thin crevice tool

- Bucket

- Spray nozzle

- Terrycloth-covered or foam wash pads

- Wheel brush, thin brush for tight areas, interior brush w/ soft bristles

- Terrycloth towels (Drying/Applying Polishes)

- Microfiber towels (Buffing)

- Foam applicators (Glazes)

- California Car Duster

- Q-Tips (Cleaning Vents)



Detailing clay is used to remove embedded dirt, grime, overspray, etc from the paint without the use of abrasives. If after washing and waxing, you run your hand over the paint and it has a gritty feel, you need to use a clay bar. Clay Magic and ClearKote make good systems, and they come with everything you need except a towel to dry the paint after claying. Just follow the package directions and wax after finishing. Your paint will be super slick and smooth like glass.




Cleaners and compounds are made to remove serious paint defects, like oxidation, scratches, etc. and swirl removers are used to smooth the surface after using a cleaner/compound and to remove any swirl or scratch marks made by the cleaner/compound. Always start with the lightest cleaner or compound, and use a stronger one only when necessary. Recommended are the following:


Meguiar's Dual Action Cleaner/Polish and Diamond Cut Cleaner (Pro Body Shop line), Meguiars Fine, Medium or Heavy Cut cleaners (Mirror Glaze line), Klasse All-in-One.


For swirl removers, there is Meguiar's #80 Speed Glaze/ #82 Swirl Free Polish (PBS) and Swirl Remover (MGL).




Polishes and glazes are used to add oils to the paint for more shine and smooth the surface for more reflection.


ClearKote's (http://www.clearkote.net) Vanilla Moose will add shine and clarity to the paint surface, but will not remove serious paint defects - that is not it's purpose. Another good polish choice would be Poorboy's Polish with Carnauba. This is a polish with a wax as well, a "one-step" solution for quick jobs.




Sealants are a step after a polish/glaze but before a wax topper. A sealant will typically last longer than a wax, while a wax will ensure a glossy, protective finish. If you're detailing a car that will be waxed religiously every ~3 months, a sealant is not necessarily needed. Good sealants are:


- Poorboy's EX-P Sealant

- Klasse SG

- Platinum's Ultimate Paint Protection

- Wolfgang


Best results come from a sealant topped with a carnauba-based wax.



Waxes are primarily to seal and protect the paint. They will add some shine, but not as much as a polish will. The following waxes are recommended:


- ClearKote's Carnauba Moose Wax

- P21S' S100 (available at your local Harley-Davidson shop)

- Meguiar's NXT Tech Wax (great if you're looking for something locally available)

- Meguiar's #16 Wax

- Pinnacle Souveran (Expensive, but impressive!)




These are used to clean your car when it is only dusty (after dusting with your car duster), or after washing or waxing to make sure no residue is left on the paint. Meguiar's Final Inspection or ClearKote's Quik Shine are good products.




Only one recommendation: Eagle's 20/20 Glass cleaner. Works great, is cheap, and repels water almost as well as Rain X.




Woolite - yes, the same Woolite used to gently wash sweaters and stuff like that. Mix it in a spray bottle at 6 parts water and 1 part Woolite. Spray liberally on the surface, use a small plastic brush, scrub the surface and dry with a cloth towel. It works great on all fabrics, carpets, vinyl and yes, leather - in fact, it will leave the leather very soft after using.




Vinyl and rubber can use the same products; 303 Aerospace Protectant, Armor All - I would discourage using the real shiny and greasy stuff on the interior - it attracts dust and makes the sun reflect the dash into the windshield while driving towards the sun.


For leather, use a dedicated leather conditioner, like Meguairs Gold Class for Leather, Tanner's Preserves, Lexol or Eagle One's leather conditioner. For tires, use Armor All or ClearKote's Tire Treatment.




1. Make sure engine is warm, but not hot. Cold engines are harder to remove grease and oil from.


** Check the directions on the engine cleaner/degreaser you are using, though. Some specifically say to clean the engine when cold only. **


2. Cover your distributor (if you do not know what or where it is, get a manual for your car), alternator and fuse box. Most electronics under your hood are adequately sealed for rain water splashing up on them, but high pressure water is another story.


3. Spray Greased Lightning's Orange Blast liberally all over your engine and engine bay. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. If your engine is really dirty, then after the 5 minutes, spray it down again and wait an additional 5 minutes.


4. Spray the engine and engine bay with high pressure rinse water - but even though your distributor may be covered, still use lower pressure around it to be on the safe side.


5. Any remaining grime, spray again with Orange Blast, and use a stiff brush if needed. Rinse again.


6. Remove the plastic coverings and start the engine. Let it run until it is dry. You will have to dry the painted surfaces in the engine bay and the underside of the hood with a towel.


7. Dress any hoses, etc. you want with rubber/vinyl dressing.




If you're interested in using a buffer, both the Porter Cable 7336 and 7424 are good choices. You need to make sure you have the proper counterweight and backing plates, plus at least one cutting pad, one polishing pad and a finishing pad. The Autopia store has a nice set up for about $200 regular price.






When using Meguiar's products, only use the Mirror Glaze or Pro Body Shop lines, not the burgundy bottle stuff like the Deep Crystal system or Cleaner Wax. They are for the casual user, not someone who wants the ultimate in shine.


You do not have to glob on a bunch of wax or polish - a blob the size of a quarter should be enough to cover your entire hood - a 16 oz. bottle of wax is enough to wax your car at least 30 times - use just enough to lightly cover the surface of the paint.


When using a polish or glaze, rub into the paint until it looks almost clear, and let sit for 20-30 minutes so the oils can soak in and it is easier to remove.


Do not waste your money on any wax that claims to have Teflon® in it. Unless you are able to apply the wax at 600+ degrees, the Teflon is not a viable ingredient - and this is straight from DuPont.

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Nice writeup! Someone needs to move this over to the detailing forum.


Here is another helpful link for product selection. I'm still trying to finish that one up. I made the mistake of starting a couple other articles before I finished this one. There are a couple more steps in the process like engine detailing and interior care that I have some good product suggestions for. I definitely believe in the products I listed so far and can confidently recommend them to anybody.


“Cleanliness becomes more important as godliness becomes more unlikely.”

O C D E T A I L S . C O M


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