Detailing Tips                                  Home Page


The object of detailing is to clean and protect the surfaces of your vehicle, do no damage while detailing and add an attractive shine or gloss to the outer finish. Make it look new or better than new.

Reaching the Objective

One of the best ways to reach your objective is what not to do. This is as important as what you do.

Do not use sponges, terry towels, cotton wool or synthetic wash mitts, paper towels, wipes, rags, brushes etc. They all will put cleaning marks in the surface.

Do not use products such as wax, silicone based dressings or treatments, silicone oil (the stuff that does not dry, slings, turns tires brown, makes things slippery etc.) or glycerin based products. These products are not designed for anything except a certain look (generally the wet look). They do not clean or protect, can and do cause damage in the case of silicone oil and generally make a mess of the surface after a few days.

Do not use alkaline-based cleaners except on rubber surfaces such as tires, moldings & trim. These cleaners strip off protection and damage vehicle finishes. They will streak paint and Gelcoat and stain polished aluminum. Do not use household cleaners, dishwashing detergents or laundry soaps. They are for surfaces that are resistant to harsh detergents. Vehicle finishes are not resistant, easily damaged and the damage will build up over time. Many household cleaners leave behind a residue that attracts dirt. The buildup of dirt on these surfaces is hard to remove without surface damage.

Do use quality microfiber products to clean and dry! Do not use discount store types because they contain reprocessed plastics that are hard and may cause scratches. There are many places you can purchase quality microfiber products beside our web site. Purchase only those made of virgin polyester and polyimide. You will find this type of microfiber will hold larger quantities of water and dirt removed in cleaning, without causing surface scratches.

Do use only quality cleaning, restoring and protective products designed for vehicle finishes. Next to the proper application of a product It is one of the most important things you will do. If you do everything else right then skimp on the products to save a few pennies you have wasted all your time, money and effort.

Discount stores should not be your headquarters for quality vehicle care products because they don't have any. The profit margin they demand from the manufacturer does not allow the use of quality ingredients. The brand names you see in discount stores make products specifically for those stores to meet the price they will pay. There are many sources of quality vehicle cleaning and protection products, use them!


Paint, Clearcoat, Gelcoat, Glass, Plastic, Vinyl Graphics etc. 

There are two methods to use in cleaning vehicle surfaces, the contact method where whatever you use you must make physical contact with the surface and the non-contact method, primarily power washing.



The bucket of suds is one of the most popular methods of cleaning the outside of a vehicle. All car wash soaps clean dirt off the surface. Some sheet water off the surface preventing most water spotting. Some are very harsh to the finish due to the type of soaps they use (generally discount store brands). Bucket of suds washing is also the number one cause of cleaning swirls.

The problem with this method is the soap breaks the dirt loose then you wipe it all over the surface as you clean. In addition, the tools used to wash the surface, sponges, cloths and cotton or wool wash mitts hold dirt against the surface as you wipe. All this causes the cleaning swirls you see in the vehicle surface. Terrycloth is absolutely one of the worst items to use. The nubs on the cloth get harder each time you wash them, eventually becoming hard enough to cause light swirls by themselves. Brushes are also bad. No paint manufacturer recommends using a brush. It pushes the dirt against the surface, again causing surface swirls. Another problem is the bucket of suds itself. Every time you rinse the sponge, cloth, mitt or brush in the bucket, you deposit the dirt in the water. Most of the dirt stays suspended in the water and you pick it up each time you rinse. You are now adding more dirt to whatever you are cleaning with and to the vehicle surface. This method is simply self-defeating using conventional car wash products! A pre-rinse can help, especially in cases of extreme amounts of dirt such as caked on mud. Using a microfiber wash mitt or cloth also helps but does not eliminate the problem.

If you are really prefer this method of cleaning and are serious about preventing cleaning swirls there is an answer, it is Total Vehicle & RV Wash. It can be sprayed on then removed using a microfiber cloth, sponge or wash brush. This product is extremely effective in cleaning the entire outside surface as well as fender wells, engines and engine compartments, under body etc. and is effective on dirt, oil and grease including diesel and other fuel spills. This product can also be used in a non-contact way. See below.

DETAIL SPRAYS (detailers and waterless washes)

The second most popular method of cleaning vehicle surfaces is using a detailer. This type of product is sprayed on and wiped off while wet. Most every car care company makes some type of detailer product.

There is a major problem with this type of product, however. While it is much more convenient than the bucket of suds for cleaning, it does the same type of surface damage. Most detail sprays do not contain lubricating agents to bind up the dirt particles to prevent surface swirls. While most detailers do a fairly good job of breaking the dirt loose, you then wipe it around the surface while removing it creating surface swirls. You can produce as many surface swirls with detailer products as a bucket of suds due to the small amount of product used even when using a microfiber cloth for removal. Another problem is caused by the petroleum distillates used in most of them is the shine is not very good, disappears in a short time and they should not be used on glass due to streaking and damage to window tint film. You definitely want a water based detail spray.

Purchase only detail spray products that contain lubricating agents to bind up dirt particles and this will be a good method to use. Using products such as Perfect Detail Spray Polish and quality microfiber cloths should not produce cleaning swirls. Care must be taken to use this type of product correctly. It is for removal of light dust, road grime, bugs etc., not heaver coating of dirt. For heaver coating of dirt pre-rinse and use our Total Vehicle & RV wash. Used properly it will clean without producing surface swirls.

One of the other problems with detailers is only a very few contain any type of protection. Most of those that due have some protection use wax, offering very little protection. Look for the ones that contain a true polymer polish such as the two mentioned above. Their protection will usually last between one and three months. They also offer a great shine. This is the best of all worlds. You clean, shine and protect in one easy step.

The best way to contact clean is to use specially designed products that bind the dirt particles up with lubricants. These lubricants coat the dirt particles so they glide around the surface without actually touching it.

Two of the better products, Perfect Detail Spray Polish, and Total Vehicle & RV Wash solve cleaning problems while offering many additional benefits. They contain special lubricants that totally encapsulate dirt particles thereby eliminating virtually surface cleaning swirls if used properly, contain true polishing agents, true UV protection and for the detail products anti-static treatment.

Perfect Detail Spray Polish works like a detailer. Just spray on and wipe off, cleaning dirt, bugs etc., imparting a great shine, and excellent protection all in one-step. Unlike most other detailers, they contains a true polymer polish and may be applied in direct sun.

Both products will not cause surface cleaning scratches if used properly. They both contain UV and anti-static properties and are water soluble and biodegradable.


Another method is the power wash or spray and rinse product. If you have a power washer, not more than 1500 psi, it eliminates one-step of the process. Power wash on then off. If you don't have a power washer then the spray & rinse will work. Spray on, let sit, then rinse dirt off. With both methods there is no physical contact from brushes, cloths etc. so you don't scratch the surface.

Make sure the product you use does not contain alkaline-based cleaners or petroleum distillates. Alkaline cleaners strip off any protection you have on and dull the surface. They will also cause streaking if not properly rinsed off. Petroleum based cleaners cause surface dulling over time and are against the law in most states to let run down on the ground.

Total Vehicle & RV Wash is a product that fits both methods. It may be applied by spray, lit sit and rinse or power washing. Pressure washing works best when using deionized water (contains no minerals or other chemicals that cause water spotting). Total Vehilce & RV Wash and Belly Wash will not remove any quality surface protection, is safe for all type of vinyl graphics and will remove gas or diesel exhaust soot, oil etc. They contains no alkalines or petroleum distillates and is water soluble and biodegradable. This is an outstanding method for large vehicles like trucks, RVs, large boats, aircraft, farm equipment etc.

Make sure the product you select for this type of cleaning is designed for vehicle surfaces. DO NOT USE any product designed for cleaning houses, garage floors. They may well ruin your vehicle surface


Paint, Clearcoat, Gelcoat, Glass, Plastic, Vinyl Graphics etc.

This area of vehicle protection is cluttered with phony claims. It is very difficult for the average person to wade through them to get true quality products. Product cost is not an accurate gage since many companies price their products high to try to establish in your mind the thought that it must be good if it costs that much.

Since detailing takes time, costs money and takes place on a valuable piece of equipment, your vehicle, take the time to examine the more outrageous claims some products make and how they don't hold up.

A couple of the more outrageous claims

The polish that lasts a year. There are polishes available in super markets and drug stores making this claim. The truth is there is no product out in the market lasting one year designed for vehicle use that is applied by you, the owner or any car dealer. The basis for this claim has been proven false many times. They test, so they say, by polishing a surface then washing 52 times and the water still beads and the surface shines. They conveniently did not test and do not mention that weathering wears off protection as much or more than washing, and any silicone on the surface beads water. It doesn't matter if there is any polish left on or not.

The infomercial that starts a fire on the hood of a car to show how well their polish protected. It has been off the air for a while now due to government action because it was so blatantly false. There actually were people who used the product, poured gas on the hood, set it on fire to demonstrate to friends how well the polish worked and proceeded to burn their cars up. Their lawsuits against the polish manufacturer of course went nowhere. The polish company used an accelerant that did not burn as hot as gasoline. Our protective polish, Best Finish Protective Polish is heat resistant up to around 450f. This does not mean you should set your car hood on fire to test the polish!


The best protection for the outside surface of a vehicle comes when the product can bond to the surface. This eliminates wax since wax adheres by sticking not bonding.

There are two basic types of products applied to a vehicle surface. They are wax and polishes. Waxes come in liquid, cream and paste form. One form is no better than another form of wax. The identical chemical wax product can easily be made in any or all three forms.

There are two distinctive types of polish. One polishes the surface to a high gloss by removing bonded surface containments and swirls. You must use a buffer for application. This type provides no protection. The other type is a protective polish. It may or may not remove containments, does not remove swirls and leaves a gloss ranging from OK to great. This type of polish comes in two forms, liquid and cream. The liquid type may contain a surface cleaner to remove dirt, bugs etc. The cream type contains no cleaning agents.

Recently a third type of polish has emerged. It is applied by hand or buffer, will remove bonded surface containments and swirls, and provides a high gloss with protection. It is a cream with no cleaning agents. Prestige Protective Polish is an example of this new type product.


Although still the most popular item used, wax is very much horseshoe technology. It adheres by sticking so it washes off easily. Fuel spills, acid rain, rail dust, salt water, road chemicals, bug splatters and bird-dropping acid goes though wax. The high heat of the south and southwest soften it. The sun wears it off very quickly even with UV protection. This is because wax does not contain long lasting UV protection. Wax was originally developed to provide a shine, not protect.

Wax used to contain abrasives to remove oxidation and re-shine the surface. It is recommended to wax your vehicle once a week! This is because cleaning the vehicle removes the wax. The reason wax contained abrasives was to remove oxidation since it does not stop oxidation. Due to the nature of the wax composition, it is impossible to formulate anything that protects for more than a few days. You can add silicone, which just makes the surface slippery, and shinny. You can add Teflon that in reality does absolutely nothing. To make Teflon work you must apply it to a surface heated to 700 F. Check with cookware manufacturers and find out for yourself.

Paint manufacturers at the request of car manufacturers developed a coating to protect the paint finishes on their cars since wax was not doing the job. They developed clear coat. Clear coat jobs are a two step paint process. The first step is the paint itself, the second step is applying the clear coat which contains UV inhibitors to protect the paint. It did not work well to put UV inhibitors directly in paint.

On average clear coat looses its UV protection at the rate of about 17% to 20% per year if no protection is applied to it. Protection left in clear coat then looks like this; At the end of one year about 80 to 83% of protection remains, after two years about 69%, three years about 57%, four years about 47% . At this rate, in ten years you have around 15% of your protection left on average. These figures do not vary much in different parts of the country. UV is not the only damage to clear coat. Environmental damage from rain, snow, salt etc. do as much damage as UV rays. It all tends to equal out somewhat. This is why you need to protect the clear coat finish.

Some surfaces such as Gelcoat contain no UV protection and can be damaged in as little as one year. Vinyl graphics will fade in one to two years without protection. Clear coat over Gelcoat is becoming more common is the RV industry to protect the finish.

Spray Polishes

Perhaps the second most popular method of polishing a car. In reality however, only a very few detail sprays actually protect. Most do not claim to, people just think it will. The ones that do protect should be water based and use a polymer polish. Detail sprays containing wax don't protect more than a few days. Some, like Perfect Detail Spray Polish and Best Finish Ultra Gloss Detail Spray Polishprovide two to three months of UV and environmental protection along with an anti-static treatment to help keep the surface cleaner, longer and are used on any hard surface from paint to glass. Stay away from those containing petroleum distillates, they don't protect, cannot be used on all outer surfaces especially and will damage window tint. Using the right product here can allow you to do an average size car in around 15 minutes or so. You can clean, shine and protect in one easy step. The better quality products will use so little that they are really less expensive than the cheaper to buy detail sprays.


Long-term protective polishes are applied to a clean, cool surface with a hand or power applicator. This type of polish provides the best protection but takes the most time and work to apply. The polish is a cream consistency; the polish polymers are from petroleum stock and reside in a petroleum distillate when bottled. These type of polymers dry hard and are able to withstand the environment. In this type of product, it is necessary to evaporate the petroleum distillate quickly, leaving behind only the polymer polish. This allows safe use on graphics such as vinyl decals and produces a high shine with long lasting protection. Not all polishes evaporate the petroleum distillates!

The better the bond of the polish to the surface and the thicker the coating (not thicker the polish in the bottle) the longer it lasts. The top end polishes such as Prestige Protective Polish use a process called a molecular hook to accomplish this. The polish molecules mix with the surface molecules and bond together as one. This provides the longest lasting protection you can get. Unfortunately, very few companies make a polish with true long lasting protection. Most protect for one to three months at best. A few others and ours protect from three to five months! That protection can extend up to a total of one year by the periodic application of Perfect Detail Spray Polish on top of the protective polish two to three times a year.

One of the main problems with this type of product is its ability to stain or turn a grayish color, plastic, rubber and vinyl when it gets on those surfaces during application. Prestige Protective Polish has eliminated this problem. You can wipe our polish on those surfaces and wipe it off with no color staining ever!


Perfect Detail Spray Polish removes dirt using lubricated cleaners and leaves a polish protection with a high gloss. See the product for complete details. This is an all-in-one product, clean, shine & protect. It is water based. The detail type product is perhaps the most popular due to the ease and speed of use. Although the product is called a detail spray, it is in reality a spray liquid polish with cleaners. Contains a true water based polymer polish, UV and anti-static protection. About 2 oz. does an average size car.

Total Vehicle & RV Wash and Belly Wash, are primarily a spray & rinse or power wash product. You may spray it on, let it sit then rinse it off or power wash the surface. This product cannot harm any surface water is allowed to be on and will not remove any existing polishes but will remove waxes. There is no maximum time limit for removal. You can start today and finish taking it off tomorrow. It is water based.

Prestige Protective Polish, is cream based in petroleum distillate stock. The petroleum quickly evaporates from the surface. Some of its unique benefits are the ability to remove minor surface damage such as swirls, scrapes, buff marks etc. while polishing the surface. Apply by hand or power. The protection period usually runs around three to five months depending upon what type of cleaners you use to wash the vehicle. It stands up to all type UV rays, road chemicals, fuels such as gas and diesel, rail dust, salt water spray, bug acid, bird droppings etc. Application is quick and easy. A very unique feature is that it does not discolor plastic and rubber trim. Simply wipe it off the trim.


This is also an area loaded with false claims and bad products. Tires and window seals need UV and ozone protection as well as protection from road chemicals. Most rubber seals for doors, trunks, rear hatches etc. is of a type of rubber not requiring additional protection. Your main objective on seals is appearance.

Tires are made with a mild form of UV and ozone protection. This protection comes out the sidewall as the tire is flexed ( driven down the road). If a tire sits, the protection weathers off and the rubber turns brittle, cracking or weather checking. There is an old saying, a tire that is driven will outlast a tire that is not. This is very true and it is because of the protection that is pushed out the sidewall due to the flexing of driving.

With today's higher speeds and the high road temperatures in parts of the country tire safety can be life saving. Over 99% of the tire dressings available for sale today are silicone or silicone oil based. They are for appearance only and provide no protection from the environment or road chemicals. They also help speed up the deterioration of the tire sidewall by plugging the pores in the sidewall so the UV and ozone protection cannot come out through the pores when driven. Silicone oil is even more harmful due to the petroleum distillates it contains. Silicone oil plugs up the pores for much longer than regular silicone and the petroleum distillates tend to magnify the harmful UV rays from the sun, speeding up the damage (weather checking). Contrary to many false claims that it is OK to use silicone oil if you continue to use it, that is not true. The silicone problem is so bad that tire manufacturers have quit recommending dressings for the most part. Crud Remover can safely remove silicone and silicone oil products.

If a tire has its own protection, why does it need more protection? The protection in tires is weak and weathers off quickly. Show Tire Protective Dressing provides UV and ozone protection compatible with the tire manufacturers but is superior. It will last from one month to four months depending on the type and amount of road chemicals it encounters and the amount of UV exposure. It also contains anti-static protection keeping your tires cleaner much longer.

Show Tire Protective Dressing works by soaking in the pores of the tire sidewall holding back the manufacturers protection and coating the outside of the tire as well with a layer of protection. It is water based and the polymers used are of the finest quality available, they dry completely to the touch.

Before applying tire protection you should clean the tire first to remove all dirt and imbedded road chemicals. Then apply Show Tire Protective Dressing. Let it dry (30 to 45 seconds usually) and wipe off the excess. You now have a tire that looks great with outstanding protection. The low luster satin look of your tires will complement the vehicle shine. They will stay that way for a long time. To clean the tires just wipe with a wet cloth. When the tire does not look good after cleaning, you should reapply protection.

You can also use Show Tire Protective Dressing on spray on bed liners to renew them and make them look new again. Running boards on pick up trucks and rubber floor mats are also excellent places to use it. Plastic or hard vinyl trim that does not have a smooth surface are excellent places for our tire dressing, especially if they are on the outside of the vehicle and exposed to UV damage. The extremely high UV protection makes it an excellent product for these types of surfaces.


This is an area much like protective polishes. There are only a few leather & vinyl products that actually clean, recondition and protect and they are water based. The rest of the products are silicone based and are for appearance only. Some of them provide a shine to leather & vinyl that it should not have. Some of them are so bad that within a few hours of application you cannot tell you applied anything. Over time using silicone will let the leather or vinyl to dry out, weather and crack.

There are two types of quality products. One type contains everything, cleaner, conditioner and protectant in one container. The other must be purchased in two to three containers. They separate the cleaning, reconditioning and protective chemistry with the explanation that to do the job properly each is applied separately. This is a marketing method to sell more products. In quality leather and vinyl chemistry, all three features combine successfully if you use the proper ingredients to make the product and design it correctly. It is easy to say what todo but quite hard to do it which is why almost all leather/vinly products focus primarily on appearance with little to nothing for conditioning and cleaning. It is also cheaper to do it this way so their products may sell for less.

One of the most important things to look for is the ability to not damage the chemical clear coating leather and vinyl contains. This coating which is on all quality vehicle and furniture leather and vinyl is to minimize the amount of body oils and dirt that are absorbed, prolonging its life. Another feature to look for is a product that replaces and rebuilds the chemical coating the manufacturer applied to the leather and vinyl as this coating does ware off over time.

Never use silicone based products. Never, never use silicone oil based products. Silicone oil based products are the ones that do not dry, leave a slippery surface, get on everything and give a wet look. Your leather or vinyl will dry out, weather and crack over time using silicone in any form.

Prior to using quality water based treatments is it necessary to remove any silicone or silicone oil products from the surface completely.

Follow the guide lines above and your detailing will be done faster, with less effort and last longer. Purchase price never replaces quality.

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