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Thread: Detailing guide and how to wash and wax your car in an hour or less

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  1. #1

    Detailing guide and how to wash and wax your car in an hour or less

    This is an excellent write up by a guy who owns his own auto detailing business. He regularly works on high end cars and collectibles and is the moderator of the Detailing forum of another board I frequent. He's all over the forum mentioned below. Thought I'd share some of his wisdom here.

    There are lots of video links at the bottom of the post to learn from.


    First, I'll tell you how to wash and wax your car in an hour or less. This does not include any polishing so this method won't correct any defects. However, if your car is in good condition already or you just want it clean and protected, this method is excellent.

    Products you will need:

    2 gallon capacity bucket
    1 wash pad, I like to use chenille covered foam pads
    4-5 16" x 16" microfiber towels
    2-3 terry cloth or cotton towels
    Wheel brush(s)
    Tire protectant
    Glass Cleaner
    Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine:
    Optimum Car Wax:

    Video links at the bottom of this post on how to use Optimum No Rinse, Opti-Seal and various tire/fenderwell and claying videos


    1. Using a capful or approximately one half ounce of Optimum No Rinse (ONR), add it to one gallon of water in the bucket.

    2. Clean your wheels, tires and fenderwells using the ONR mixture and your brushes, wipe dry with the terry cloth towels.

    3. Dress the wheels and fenderwells with your tire dressing-and don't forget the fenderwells! Dirty fenderwells detract from an otherwise clean and shiny car!

    The reason to do the wheels and fenderwells first is so when you apply the tire dressing, any overspray will be washed off the car during the washing step.

    4. Empty out your bucket and refill with clean water, adding one half to one full ounce of ONR (less if relatively clean, more if really dirty).

    5. Using a chenille covered foam pad or a wash mitt, wash one section of the car at a time and dry immediately using two microfiber towels, one for the first drying pass and making sure you leave a little moisture behind, use the other towel for a second drying pass. If you get the panel completely dry with the first towel, then don't go over it with the second towel because rubbing even a soft microfiber towel on dry paint can leave streaks.

    Once you get the process down (it may take a couple washes to really nail it) you should be able to wash the body of your car in 20 minutes or less unless it is really filthy.

    6. After washing open your doors, gas cap door and trunk or hatch and wipe down all the jambs.

    7. Using Optimum Car Wax (OCW), spray onto a section at a time. Don't soak the panel, just a mist should do. Spread the wax over the panel, flip the towel and wipe to a haze free shine. If you can use a detail spray, you can use OCW, it is that easy. Depending on your area, wash habits, etc, you can expect 3-5 months durability. Honestly though, it is so easy to use you will probably use it every few washes. Shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to do the whole car. In fact, you can also apply it as you dry each section when washing with ONR to save even more time, or apply while washing and apply a second coat for even better protection with very little additional time spent.

    8. Clean your glass inside and out.

    Stand back and admire your shiny car! Take pics and post them on OT!

    There are several vendors who carry Optimum products, the one I would recommend first is because he is an OT member and I believe we should support each other, plus he ships very fast, has excellent customer service, is an all around nice guy and he also carries a fine selection of microfiber towels, the rest of the Optimum product line as well as Clearkote, Poorboys, 4 Star, Propel buffing pads, etc.

    Another excellent vendor is or the site, autogeek, etc.



    Scottwax's Offical Comprehensive Detailing Guide®


    - Wet/Dry Vacuum (>1.5 HP) w/ an assortment of nozzles and a thin crevice tool
    - Bucket
    - Spray nozzle-if washing conventionally
    - Chenille covered foam pads, or wash mitts
    - Wheel brush, thin brush for tight areas, interior brush w/ soft bristles
    - Terrycloth towels (wiping/drying inteior, wheels, tires, door jambs)
    - Microfiber towels (washing, removing product)
    - Foam applicators (wax application)
    - California Car Duster
    - Q-Tips (Cleaning Vents)
    Optional for power buffing:
    -Porter Cable 7424 or 7336 (same buffer, 7336 has a larger counterweight so it runs a bit more smoothly).
    -An assortment of 6.5" finishing, polishing and cutting pads. Polishing pads are your workhorse.

    Detailing products

    I have listed products I have personally used.

    No Rinse Washing

    Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine

    Conventional Washing

    Optimum Car Wash
    Poorboys World Super Slick & Suds Concentrated Car Wash
    Mothers California Car Wash
    Meguiars Gold Class or NXT Car Wash
    Kit Carnauba Wash

    --honestly, any quality car wash soap should be fine. Do not use dish soap! It strips wax from your paint and dries out your rubber seals and trim. Regular use will also dry out your paint.


    Microfiber towels-waffle weaves for conventional washing, plush microfibers with Optimum No Rinse.

    Wheel Cleaners

    Personally, I don't use wheel cleaners. I prefer to use either ONR or when washing conventionally, car wash soap. If you keep your wheels clean there should be no reason to have to use a wheel cleaner. Improper use (as in not following directions and apply to a hot wheel) or using the wrong wheel cleaner on your rims can damage them and require refinishing to correct.

    Clay Bars

    Most of the clay bars now available are made by Clay Magic since they hold the original patent and sued the crap out of anyone who copied their clay-so really, the brand doesn't matter much.

    Clay bars removing imbedding grit, contamination, tree sap, paint overspray, etc from your paint. If you run your hand over your just washed paint and it has a gritty feel at all, you need to clay. This will pull all that gunk out of your paint leaving it glass smooth.

    Spray a quick detail product (usually clay kits include the spray) onto your paint (about a 2' x 2' section) and rub the clay bar using moderate pressure over the paint. When it glides effortlessly and quietly over your paint, wipe off the clay lube and move on to the next area.

    Polishes and compounds

    My favorite polishes and compounds are:

    Optimum Polish, Compound and Hyper Compound
    Meguiars #83 Dual Action Cleaner/Polish and #80 Speed Glaze
    Clearkote Compound and Blue Moose Cutting Creme
    Poorboy's SSR line (3, 2.5, 2, 1)
    Menzerna Intensive Polish and Final Polish

    Use by hand:

    Use a terry cloth towel, folded into 1/8ths size to form a thick pad and so you can apply even pressure. Use moderate pressure, enough to build up some warmth on the towel and work the product into the paint until it looks nearly clear and dry, then wipe off immediately. Refold the towel and move on to the next section.

    By Porter Cable polisher

    Using a polishing pad, apply a circle of product about 1" from the edge of the pad and for the first couple of areas, before turning on the PC, spread the product over a 1' x 1' area to prevent dry buffing. With the pad pressed lightly against the paint, turn on the PC and set it to '5' and spread the product over a 2' x 2' area using moderate pressure. Kick the speed up to 6 and slow down your passes to about 1/2-1" per second with 50% overlapping passes, up/down, across, diagonally. Use enough pressure to lightly bog the PC and then back off just enough to pick the speed back up. Work the polish until it begins to clear or dry. Wipe off excess product, inspect your work, one or more additional applications may be needed with heavy defects.

    Always start with a medium grade polish and a polishing pad and step up the aggressiveness of the polish before moving up to a cutting pad.

    Final Polishes and Glazes

    You will use these to further refine your finish or if the paint is in good condition and you just want to add more depth and pop to the finish prior to waxing.

    Optimum Polish with a finishing pad can be used as a final polish
    Clearkote's Vanilla Moose and Red Moose Machine Glaze
    Menzerna FPII or PO106FF (at $50 a quart!)
    Poorboy's Professional Polish or Polish with Carnauba
    Jeff's Werkstatt's Prime, Prime Carnauba or Prime Strong
    Klasse All in One

    Just a suggestion-You can mix in about 30% of Clearkote's Red Moose Machine Glaze into either Menzerna polish to cut down on dusting and add more depth to the super clear wet shine of Menzerna.


    As a rule, waxes have a deeper, more liquid look than sealants, protect a little better against bird bombs but need to be reapplied more often than sealants.

    Clearkote Carnauba Moose
    Optimum Car Wax
    Poorboy's Natty's and Natty's Blue Paste
    Meguiars #16 (discontinued, you may be able to find a few vendors who still have it, still sold in the UK though), #26 in liquid or paste
    Collinite 845 Insulator Wax
    P21S or S100 Paste Wax-the S100 is essentially the same as P21S but widely available at Harley Davidson dealers and costs less too!
    Pinnacle Souveran-yeah it is $70 but amazing on black and red paint, good for 50+ applications
    Jeff's Werkstatt Carnauba Jett-spray carnauba


    Jeff's Werkstatt Acrylic Jett and Acrylic Jett Trigger (Trigger is in spray for, extremely easy to use).
    Poorboy's EX-P and EX w/carnauba
    Menzerna Full Molecular Jacket
    4 Star Ultimate Paint Protection
    Zaino Z2 Pro and Z5
    Klasse Sealant Glaze
    Meguiars #20 Polymer Sealant, NXT High Tech Wax, or #21 Sealant

    Quick Detail Sprays

    You can use these after washing to give you the 'just waxed' look.

    Clearkote's Quikshine
    Poorboy's Spray and Gloss
    Jeff's Werkstatt Acrylic Glos-meant to be used with the Werkstatt system, but should be fine over any sealant
    Meguiars #34 Final Inspection
    Zaino Z-6 or Z-8
    Wax Shop's Slick Stuff

    Interior Cleaning Products

    I use an 20:1 mixture of water and Woolite HE (the laundry soap version) in a spray bottle as my interior cleaner (8 parts water, 1 part Woolite). You can use it on leather, vinyl, carpet, fabric, etc. Spray, scrub with a small brush with nylon bristles as needed, wipe up and wet vac as needed.

    Meguiars and several other manufacturers have great all purpose cleaners that are safe for most interior surfaces but read the label first! I'd only recommened the water/Woolite mixture for leather though.

    Interior Protectants

    Vinyl, rubber and weather stripping-

    Optimum Protectant Plus
    Meguiars #40, Meguiars Interior Quick Detailer, Natural Shine Vinyl & Rubber Protectant
    Poorboy's Natural Look Dressing
    Armor All Original Shine


    Meguiars Gold Class Leather Conditioner
    Turtle Wax's Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
    Tanner's Preserves
    Leather Master's Leather Vital (it ain't cheap!)


    Glass cleaners:

    Meguiars NXT Glass Cleaner
    Eagle 20/20 Class Cleaner
    Stoners Invisible Glass

    Tire/fenderwell dressing:

    Armor All Original Shine
    Poorboy's Bold N Bright Tire Dressing
    Optimum Tire Shine
    Meguiars Hyper Dressing (can be cut with water up to 4:1)

    Trim dressing:

    Meguiars #38 Tire and Trim Gel
    Poorboy's Trim Restorer
    Mothers Back to Black

    Engine Cleaning

    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 (my preferred engine degreaser) 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.


    Any detailing questions? There is a detailing specific forum called Autopia -

    Videos of me using Optimum No Rinse:

    How to apply Opti-Seal

    Carpet cleaning using a Cyclo brush attachment and a Meguiars G110

    Fenderwell cleaning with ONR and a pesticide sprayer

    Claying with Optimum No Rinse at wash strength

    Cleaning wheels with ONR

    Cleaning wheels with ONR and Optimum Power Clean

    Proper Rotary technique

    Headlight polishing using a Meguiars G110 DA buffer

  2. #2
    You are here entirely tooo much!! Stewi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Good info. Thanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by qnz
    well there are talkers and there are do'ers. talkers never do. and do'ers never talk
    99' Galant ES

  3. #3
    Experienced TGC Member johnygezony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    Dang Nice right up !

  4. #4
    TGC Regular djhah's Avatar
    Join Date
    nashville, tn
    no wander my car gets dirty 2 days after i wash my cars. i am impressed i didnt know i was doing it wrong this whole time think you i needed that info.

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