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A regular car wash can get rid of surface dirt on your vehicle, but it can’t remove ingrained grime or repair the car’s paint job. This is why you should consider getting your car professionally detailed for a deeper clean. If you’re an avid DIY enthusiast, you can even detail the car yourself.

You can find detailing kits and supplies at online retailers and any automotive store. However, it’s not as easy as just hosing the car down with soap and water. You’ll waste even more money and time if you don’t know what you’re doing, and you could potentially damage your car. If this is your first time detailing a vehicle, don’t make these common mistakes.

Overwaxing is the most common car detailing mistake

A fresh coat of wax on your car makes it shine and can help protect it from oxidation and fading paint due to age. However, there is such a thing as too much wax. Too many layers of car wax will build up and cause the paint to appear cloudy. You only need two coats of wax: one for the foundation, and another as a backup. 

Always use a foam applicator instead of just pouring the wax directly onto the car, which can make it look messy or damage the color. If you’re waxing a new car, avoid paste-based wax, which can damage the clearcoat.

Using dish soap is a big no-no

Dish detergent can remove a good amount of germs from any household surface, so many people use it as an all-purpose cleaner. However, the ingredients in many dish soap brands are too harsh to use on your car, like chlorine and bleach. Some dish detergent even includes ammonia, which can leave stains and emanate toxic fumes.

Using it on your car will remove the wax or sealant and may even damage the paint underneath. When cleaning your car, use cleaners that are specialized for automotive use and follow the instructions carefully.

Using the wrong kind of towels

Many people think you can use any old towel or dish rag to wipe down your car, but this is completely untrue. You should always use microfiber towels when cleaning your vehicle. These towels are made with a softer material and pose virtually no threat to your car’s paint job.

It used to be more common to use a chamois cloth for drying, but these towels can’t remove dirt as well and are known for leaving swirl marks. Also when detailing your car, never use the same towel you used for cleaning up dirt to dry your car. By doing this, you’re just rubbing the grime back onto the paint.

Washing your car in direct sunlight

While it’s important to have a lot of space to move around while washing your car, you should never do it while it’s too sunny or hot outside. The washing liquid will dry faster due to the heat, but you’ll also probably get swirl marks or water spots.

Also, working for hours in high temperatures is guaranteed to put you in a bad mood and make the job more frustrating. Wait for a day with lower temperatures or a good amount of cloud cover to detail your car. 

Saving the wheels for last is never a good idea

Unless you have custom rims, you probably don’t put as much focus on keeping your wheels clean as you do with your car’s body paint. However, the wheels are the dirtiest part of your car, so they should be cleaned first.

Doing so will prevent any dirty water from splashing onto your freshly-cleaned car. Additionally, make sure that you’re using tire cleaner that isn’t solvent-based. Solvents can eat away at rubber tires and cause them to crack or wear down faster.

Car detailing is hard work, but doing it yourself is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. Just make sure you take your time and do it the right way.