Top 5 Car Detailing Mistakes

Top 5 Car Detailing Mistakes

Whether you’re detailing for the first time or have been for years, there are plenty of common misconceptions about cleaning a car. This post will share the five most common car detailing mistakes to avoid when cleaning your vehicle.

Our Top 5 detailing Mistakes include

  • Washing in direct sunlight 
  • Using too much product
  • Wash the tires and wheels last 
  • Using the wrong glass cleaners 
  • Cross-contaminating towels

Let’s unpack these errors one by one.

Washing in Direct Sunlight 

Clear blue skies and a warm sun seem perfect for quick car detailing. In truth, this is precisely the weather you should avoid when cleaning your vehicle.

Clouds are a detailer’s best friend because clear skies leave your vehicle’s surface at the sun's mercy. The sun’s UV rays quickly heat your exterior, prematurely drying water or cleaning solution and leaving behind spots, streaks, and even damage if using powerful cleaners. 

Choose to clean on an overcast day with partial cloud coverage and a high temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These conditions provide enough light to see fine details without risking an overheated surface. If possible, aim for a day with little to no wind. 

Sometimes, the weather won’t cooperate. If that’s the case, detail under protective cover: in a garage, below a tree, or in a detailing bay. Any protection from the harsh elements helps prevent water spots, streaking, or premature drying. 

Using Too Much Product 

More is not better; too much product will sometimes make things worse. Excessive product usage can complicate cleaning in several of your vehicle’s key areas.


The Area

The Risks of Using Too Much Product

The Fix

Tires/Wheels -
Probably the dirtiest place on your car!

Wheel cleaners can come in various strengths – some of which can cause damage if left on for too long.

Start with a small amount of cleaner and rinse carefully. If necessary, reapply the cleaner to difficult areas to remove stubborn contaminants.

Upholstery -
Where did those stains come from?

Stains are stubborn, but the solution to removing them doesn’t include using more products. The excess cleaner can soak into your seats, creating mold, mildew, and new stains from wet spots.

Too much liquid may cause costly damage if your seats feature electronic cooling or heating functions.
Be particularly conservative when cleaning upholstery. Use a microfiber cloth to dab cleaning solution onto any stains, and then gently scrub it out of the material with a soft bristle brush. Blot with a clean cloth and repeat the process until you achieve desired results.

Your Exterior -
The more bubbles,
the better, right?

There’s such a thing as too much soap for a dirty car. The more you put on, the more you have to take off. Too much cleanser can leave stains or spots on your vehicle’s surface while increasing cleaning costs.

Avoid using excess soap when making your cleaning solution.

To clean stubborn areas, reapply more solution from your wash bucket rather than add more soap.


Washing the Tires and Wheels Last 

One of the first lessons detailers learn is to start with the top and work your way down the vehicle. While this is true when washing the car’s body, you should spray cleaning solution onto your wheels before washing other areas. 

Why begin with the wheels? It’s the dirtiest area of the vehicle, taking the brunt of whatever is on the road. Combine street grime with friction and heat from the brakes, and debris can get baked on quickly. If you apply a wheel and tire cleaner at the beginning of your car wash, you’ll provide ample time for the cleaner to lift stubborn debris. 

Using the Wrong Glass Cleaners 

Many standard glass cleaners contain additives to enhance the overall appearance of their products. We recommend opting for a glass cleaner with no scents or dyes, as either can leave behind streaks and film.

If you need a glass cleaner, consider Invisible Glass. Invisible Glass is scent-, dye- and ammonia-free and safe for use on tinted windows. It’s a safe bet for those who seek an effective glass cleaner that delivers an unparalleled, streak-free clean every time. 

Cross-Contaminating Towels 

Don’t make the mistake of drying all areas of your car with one towel. The contaminants and grime you lift from one spot of your vehicle (We’re looking at you, tires!) can scratch your glass or paint with even light pressure. 

Designate towels for cleaning the wheels, paint, glass, and interior. As you cycle through them, keep track of what was used and where. It’s helpful to separate towels into designated piles so you can clean and use them accordingly. 

With proper care, your microfiber towels will last through hundreds of uses. You must wash and dry them carefully; Improper drying can render towels unusable. Check out our post here for instructions on cleaning towels. 

Confident, Effective Detailing!

Knowing these common mistakes will help you detail your vehicle confidently and effectively. For a ride that shines, avoid these five common mistakes: 

  • Washing in direct sunlight 
  • Using too much product
  • Wash the tires and wheels last 
  • Using the wrong glass cleaners 
  • Cross-contaminating towels

Knowing when and how to wash will go a long way towards helping maintain your vehicle’s life and appearance. Enjoy the clean, and enjoy the ride!

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