DIY Exterior Car Detailing Tips

If you’re not the type to treat your car like a trash can, then chances are the worst you’ll have to deal with is an abundance of dirt and dust in your car’s interior when it’s time to detail your vehicle. And this can be easily managed with a vacuum and a few swipes with some suitable, all-purpose cleaning wipes. What will likely be more difficult to deal with is the exterior of your car.

Not only is your vehicle exposed to the elements, at the mercy of temperature fluctuations, UV rays, and rain, snow, and sleet (amongst other weather conditions), but it can also be bombarded by the grease and grime on the roadways and damaging substances such as tree sap, bird bombs, bug splatter, and more.

Even if you clean and wax your vehicle regularly, at some point you’ll probably want to detail the exterior to make it shine like new. Here are just a few auto detailing tips that should have your car’s exterior gleaming in no time.

Wheels and Tires

When it comes to wheels and tires, which are often coated with brake dust, road grime, tar, and other hard to remove substances, using a product designed for tough jobs is essential. Although the pros might use an acid-based solution, this isn’t a great option for novices, so find a non-acidic degreaser to clean your wheels and tires. And make sure to do it before cleaning your car.


Now it’s time for a standard cleaning. And if you want to get up close and personal with your paint job, you need to do a hand wash rather than taking it through the carwash to kick off the process.

Of course, you must wash your car properly if you want to bring out the best shine and protect your paint job. While dish soap is generally safe to use for washing your car, it’s not designed for this purpose. And although plenty of people have gotten the notion to use dish soap, the truth is that it can leave behind a residue that makes your finish look dull.

Instead, wash your car with cleaners that are specifically designed for the job. They’ll feature gentle solvents that won’t damage your paint and they’ll restore your vehicle’s shine by removing dust, dirt, and grime.

Make sure to wash, rinse, and dry in sections to avoid leaving soapy residue or water spots behind. This will give you a good basis to continue your detailing efforts.

Spot Removal

Unfortunately, a simple hand wash often isn’t enough to remove stuck-on grime. Whether you’re dealing with stubborn substances like sap, bug splatter, bird bombs, or other environmental contaminants, you’ll have to combine chemical solutions and elbow grease to get your car back in shipshape.

There are a couple of options here. The pros tend to use chemical paint cleaners or blocks of clay to scrub away stubborn stains. But you might not feel entirely comfortable using these methods since they have the potential to damage your paint job when applied incorrectly.

While you can always follow tutorials for guidance, you might want to start by trying an all-purpose product like the Tub O’Towels Heavy Duty Scrubbing Wipes. They’re designed for all kinds of uses in and around the house, but the important thing is that they’re safe to use on your vehicle’s exterior.

And with powerful cleaning agents and a woven fiber design, you won’t have to put in as much effort to scrub away stuck-on particulates. These wipes not only remove messes left by birds and bugs; they even work on scuff marks and tar.


Once you’ve completed a thorough cleaning, the next step is waxing your car. And this is accomplished easily enough by selecting an appropriate product (a liquid or paste car wax), applying it, and then wiping it away as instructed. You should do a second coat for optimal coverage.


A professional detailer will polish your car before applying wax, but generally speaking, this is a step the average person might want to skip. In most cases, your paint won’t really need a polish, especially if you keep up with a regular schedule of cleaning and waxing your car.

But the real reason to avoid polishing is that you’ll have to purchase pricey equipment to do it, and if you lack the knowledge and skill that experts possess, you could end up seriously damaging your paint job in the process. In short, it’s probably best to leave this step to the pros.

Proper gear

Having the right equipment and products on hand when you clean and detail your car can make the process much quicker and easier, so purchase appropriate sponges, shammies, and a squeegee, for starters. Then get the right products to wash, wax, and protect your car. The end result will be a finish that gleams like the day you drove it off the lot.