Looking for some detailer's secrets on how to make your car look great? Are the number of cleaning products a big overwhelming and not sure where to start? Or, are you on a tight budget and want to be smart with your spend?
Whatever your perspective, we have you covered.
In this article we’re going to share a detailer’s secret about cleaning products.
When detailing, cleaning is the first phase of the regimen (clean – correct – protect). It’s also what people are most familiar with from washing cars and detailing interiors.
Detail product companies do an exceptional job of producing products that get our interest, and often fill our garages, half full. The good news for you is that you can use a single product, with different dilution ratios, to meet the majority of your car cleaning needs.
The product we are talking about here is a good all-purpose cleaner (APC). With a variety of dilution levels, you can meet nearly all of your vehicle cleaning needs.
While can certainly use your favorite carpet cleaner here, APC works great on carpet. This is also one of the few vehicle surfaces you can spray the chemical directly on, agitate with a brush, then wipe up with a microfiber. You can also use this with cloth upholstery. In this case, we recommend spraying on one microfiber, then scrubbing the seats with it. Wipe up with another microfiber. Please note – if you have an alcantara interior, do not use this approach. It’s not cloth.
A lighter mix of APC works great on the rest of your vehicle’s interior. Spray the product on a microfiber or detail brush first, then apply to the surface. Remove with a different microfiber. You can apply a conditioner or UV protectant as a second step. This mix can work well to de-grease dirty windows first, followed with window cleaner afterwards
On the outside of your car, as part of a wash regimen, you can absolutely use APC. Be sure that your vehicle is wet and always use a high-quality, neutral pH balance soap as well. APC does not replace car soap. Most wheels and exhausts can be cleaned with APC. After surface is rinsed and wet, spray on the cleaner directly, agitate with a microfiber or detail brush, and rinse. Bug splatter on the front of your car can be removed by first rinsing the area, then applying. Keep the area wet and let it sit a few minutes. Gently agitate with a microfiber or detail brush. You can repeat this if necessary. Let the chemical do the work – only scrub very gently to avoid scratching your paint.
Okay, now that you have three ways to use APC, how much money will you really save?
You would spend about $40-50 for the four different types of cleaners mentioned above, and they would last you about 6 months to a year.
If you buy a gallon of APC and three spray bottles, you will spend about $35-40 and it will last you 3 years or more. It’s about six times less expensive.
While there are many great brands of APC out there, we have personal experience with Chemical Guys - also Meguiars and 3D. If you pick another brand, be sure to read directions and always start with a gentle dilution and go stronger. You can quickly damage things by using too strong of a mix.
This is the first of a short series we are publishing on car detail tips. You can find out more, and check out our detail side hustle course, at Rad Dad Rules.
Enjoy the clean!
Interested in making your nearly-learned skill profitable as a side hustle? Check out our detail side hustle course. It's a proven path to generate $900-$2000 every month. Keep your full-time job and still have time for family and friends.
Chris has worked in tech for 30 years, and healthcare tech for 8 of those. He's on the advisory board of Harvard-Based Think:Kids, and runs Rad Dad Rules. He is the proud Dad of two awesome kids, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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