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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well guys, as promised, this is MY guide to detailing. What regime works for me and what products I've found to work. This post is not designed to be ripped to bits and criticised but merely to help with questions I find many of you have. Obviously I'm not going to be held responsible for anything that may go wrong either!
Here's to many happy detailing days ......

Step-by-step Car Detailing/Maintenance Guide(part one!)

Wash steps for a full detail(omit steps 7, 8 and 9 for maintenance washes)

In brief:

1. CleanWheels

2. Snowfoam

3. Rinse

4. Wash(using wash mitt) including door shuts, boot opening and the panel gaps aroundthe bonnet (lift bonnet for this)

5. Rinsewith an open ended hose

6. Dry(with soft micro fibre cloth and Quick Detailer)

7. Clay(if required) and dry each panel as you go along (including tar and iron filingremoval)

8. Polish(either by hand or machine)

9. Sealantor wax (you can use one or the other, or both. NB if using both then it’ssealant first then wax. You cannot putsealant over a wax – it won’t adhere properly due to the oils in the wax)

10. Quickdetailer (if required)

These four steps can be done anytimebetween 6-10, whilst waiting for wax to cure for example:

11. Windows

12. Sealingand protecting alloys

13. Applyingtyre dressing

14. Cleanand polish exhaust tail pipes

15. Engine(for those with OCD J

16. Interior(this can be done before you start or at the end)


1. CleanWheels: This is done first as youdon’t want to splatter nice, clean paintwork with dirt and mud from thewheels/tyres. Power wash down the alloysfirst, removing as much brake dust as you can. If you chose to use a wheel cleaner then make sure it isn’t acidic asthis can cause corrosion to the alloys especially, but not only, if they havebeen scuffed. Once alloys have beensealed and protected they should be no need to use an alloy cleaner. A power wash and then shampoo and water isall that is required during the durability period of your chosen product. Use two buckets, one for rinsing your brushesas you use them and one containing shampoo and water.

There arevarious brushes on the market to help make wheel cleaning easier. Brushes for front of spokes, backs of alloys,nooks and crannies like brake callipers, wheel bolts, wheel arches and also foractual tyres.

EZ Brush (rear or spokes)

Wheel Woolies (from Polished Bliss)

Tyre cleaning brush

Wheel Schmitt (for wheel arches)

Swissvax Detailing brush


2. Snow foam: In my opinion, snowfoamingis THE most important part of washing the car. It helps to remove/soften contaminants such as tree sap, bird mess, deadflies etc without the need to rub at the paintwork. Rubbing induces swirls and scratches. Leave to dwell as long as stated for yourparticular product. Some are longer thanothers.

Foam lance

Karcher Power washer

Chemicals Guys No Touch Snowfoam

ValetPro pH Neutral Snowfoam

3. Rinsethe snow foam: It’s very important to make sure that the snowfoam isthoroughly rinsed from the car using a power washer. It is an important step of the car cleaningprocess and helps remove the excess grime on the car. The more that is reduced at this stage, theless ‘contact’ you will have when actual washing.

4. Washing(important to use the correct dilution for your shampoo as the wrong dilutioncan strip your wax/sealant): The two-bucket method is a must here. Once containing shampoo and water, the other(a guard bucket) containing water just for rinsing. This helps to eliminate scratches from grit,etc. Starting with the roof, work fromtop to bottom of the car – roof, bonnet, rear, sides etc. Maybe use a different wash mitt for thelowest panels of your car. Wash a panelat a time and rinse your mitt, then onto the next panel. Don’t forget the door shuts, including theboot and panel gaps where the bonnet is (lift the bonnet to get into theseareas).

Chemical guys Citrus Wash and Gloss

Werkstat Autobody wash (same as for wheels)
AM Details Bubbles

2 buckets – one with a grit guard bottom (the rinsebucket)

Dodo Supernatural Wash Mitt

AM Details Lambswool T Mitt

Swisswaz Waschpudel

5. Rinsing: Rinsing with an open ended hose leavesless standing water on the car making it quicker and easier to dry, especiallyonce the car is protected.

6. Drying:Use a very good quality, ultra soft microfiber drying towel to dry yourcar. A poor quality drying towel willinflict swirls or scratches on your car. You should attempt to pat dry rather than drag the towel over thecar. It’s also useful to use a QuickDetailer when drying as this help to repel the water and helps stop streakingand watermarks. Spray a couple of squirts on a panel and then pat dry. Don’t forget to dry your door shuts, boot andthose bits under the bonnet that you washed. Remember to dry your alloys too at this point but with a separate cloth.It’s worth having specific cloths for specific tasks, don’t swap andchange. If you drop a towel on the floorDO NOT use. Use a clean one instead.

Monza Ultra Soft fur drying cloth

GTechniq Zero Scratch Microfibre drying towel

Chemical Guys Synthetic Quick Detailer

Poorguys QD+

Metro Vac Air Force Blaster (This thing is amazing, yetOCD……)

7. Claying(done 2-3 times a year): If you want the best finish possible for your car,then claying is the most important part, following by polishing. Claying will remove environmentalcontaminants such as tree sap, bird mess which can seep into the paint if notremoved promptly, ground in tar deposits, etc. If you run your hand over the paintwork and it feels rough, this is thecontaminants. You can perhaps hear theroughness too! On a clayed car, the paintworkis silky smooth and becomes glass like. There are different grades of clay, ultra fine to aggressive. An ultra fine one will be sufficient in mostcases and will not mark your car if used correctly. Very little pressure is needed but plenty oflube is required. Some clay kits comewith a clay lube. This is basically amix of Quick Detailer and water. In mostcases especially ultra fine clays, you can use only water as a lube. You cancut a clay bar into 2-3 pieces and just keep refolding as you do eachpanel (put clay in a pot of warm waterto help make it pliable, especially in cold weather. Spray a panel (and the clay) with lube thenclay in straight lines until you stop feeling the clay is picking anything up. Ifyou drop the claybar on the ground, throw it away, DO NOT use again. Run your hand over the paint and you shouldfeel a very noticeable difference. Dryeach panel as you go with an ultra soft micro fibre towel.

Detarring:At this stage I will also be removing any tar deposits on the paint or alloysusing a specific product. One that I canhighly recommend is Autosmart Tardis. Spray on, wait a couple of minutes for it towork and then wipe off using a soft microfibre pad/cloth. Then rinse each panel again. Warning– if you use this on your car that is already waxed or sealed, then it willremove it and a top up of wax or sealant will be required on the necessarypanels. THROW AWAY THE MICROFIBRE CLOTHTHAT YOU HAVE USED TO WIPE IT OFF – DON’T PUT IT IN THE WASHINE MACHINE – ITWILL STINK!

Removal ofIron Contaminants: Another importantstep is removing iron filings/rust spots. These are particularly noticeable onwhite paint but all cars will have them. Claying does not remove these, just merely takes the top off them butleaves them embedded in the paint. Irecommend Autofinesse Iron Out forthis. You spray it on a panel at a time,leave for a couple of minutes and then stand back and watch your car turnpurple! Don’t worry, all this is doingis showing the amount of iron filings/rust spots on your car and the IronX isdissolving it from the paint. After twominutes, agitate with a clean microfiber cloth and then rinse off and drydown. Do this on each panel. Avoid the rubber trims if you can. THISSTUFF REALLY STINKS. Do not reusethe cloth.

Meguirs Smooth Surface Clay/Clay lube (or water in aspray bottle)

Dodo Juice Basic of Bling Clay/Lube

8. Polish: Polishing adds shine and reflectivity toa car’s paintwork. It can also removeswirls, scratches, oxidation depending on the ‘cutting’ ability of the polishbeing used. These polishes should beused with caution as they do remove a layer of paint. Unless you have something called a DepthGauge the usage should be limited. Other polishes contain fillers which meansthat they mask the swirls or scratches temporarily. It will look like they have beenremoved. In about a month, they willreappear.

By Hand: There are some polishes on the market thatcan remove swirls/scratches by hand. Formore serious defects, machine polishes are necessary. Autoglym’s Super Resin Polish is a very wellknow ‘filling’ polish and it does add a brilliant shine. GTechniq’s P1 can be used by hand and willpermanently remove swirls/scratches but like all things, it is hard work byhand. P1 can be used by machine foroptimum correction.

Autoglym Super Resin Polish (fillers)

Werkstat Prime Polish (deep cleanser, no correction)

Chemical Guys EZ Cremem Glaze (no fillers)

Dodo Juice Lime Prime Pre Wax Cleanser (some fillers)

9. Sealantor Wax (or both): You can use one or the other or both. NBif using both, then it’s sealant first then wax. You cannot put a sealant over wax –it won’tadhere to the surface due to the oils in the wax. A sealant or wax provides protection to thecar’s paintwork. A lot of people thinkthe shine on the car comes from the wax (or sealant) but this is not true. That is the job of the polish or prewax cleanser. A wax seals in the shine and also providesprotection from the elements, rain, UV protection, fallout etc. I apply a wax or sealant to the door shuts,kick plates, around the boot openings. It is up to you to choose whether you go for wax or sealant. Both provide exactly the sample protectionbut both offer different looks for the paint. Sealants provide a more glassy, reflective finish and enhance the flakein metallic or pearlescent paints and are said to repel dirt better thanwaxes. Waxes on the other hand provide awarmer look, with depth but can tend to mute the metallic flake. Some waxes can also provide a ‘wet look’ tothe paint. It depends entirely on thesort of look you want to achieve. Eachalso offer different lengths of durability. Some can last 8-9 months but some can last only a matter of weeks. Again the most important thing is to rememberto use ultra soft micro fibre cloths when applying (sealants) and buffing offsealants and waxes. Quality is allimportant. An applicator pad is normallyused for applying waxes and very often goes on better if the pad is moistenedslightly. The main thing to remember isless is more. Apply as thinly as possibleas this makes it much easier to removed. If it’s caked on then you can induce marring to the paint as you will beapplying more pressure than you need to. Multiple layers of wax or sealant can be applied. For wax, two layers is sufficient. For sealant, up to six layers can be applies,or even more if you wish.


Dodo Juice waxes – any (varying durability but usually 3months, some more)

Zymol Concours (gives a phenomenal wet look but veryexpensive (2-3months durability)

Dodo Juice Supernatural Premium Wax

Collinite 915 Marque D’Excellence


Werkstat Acrylic Jett (6months durability with 5-6layers)

Chemical Guys Jetseal 109 (2-3months durability)

GTechniq C2 (8-9months durability)

10. QuickDetailer: A quick detailer (QD) is usedto add an extra layer of shine. Theytend to be used after subsequent washes following a wax or sealant beingused. It prolongs the life of thewax/sealant and also gives that ‘just waxed’ look. After a normal wash, when the car has beendried, apply the QD (a couple of squirts per panel then buff with a clean softmicrofibre cloth) and you are done. It’salso very useful on windows too.

Dodo Juice Red Mist Tropical (use this about 3 weeksafter you’ve waxed, onwards), smells amazing!

Werkstat Gloss

Poorboys QD+

(Continue with parttwo………)

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Detailing guide – part 2……

1. Windows: Spray the windows with a glass cleaner and wipe with a soft microfibrecloth. If windows are heavilywatermarked then a glass polish may be required. You may also want to apply a water repellentto the windows, especially the windscreen and rear window. A water repellent will repel the rain andmove up the windscreen, especially at higher speeds, reducing the need to useyour windscreen wipers so often (them in themselves inflictingscratches!). My favourite product everis GTechniq G1, repels water even at lowspeeds and lasts 2 years/20K miles.

Meguiars NXT glass Cleaner

Autoglym Car Glass Polish

Werkstat Prime – very good glass and chrome trim polish

GTechniq G4 glass polish

GTechniq G1 water repellent

2. Sealing and Protecting Alloys: Once you have thoroughly washed and cleanedyour alloys, removing all brake dust, tar spots etc, then it is beneficial toseal your alloys with a specific wheel wax or sealant. These act pretty much as those you put on thepaintwork. They help to stop brake dustetc adhereing to the alloys and make it much easier to clean them each time youwash the car. You will only need shampooand water. Again, some last longer thanothers and there are plenty on the market.

Poorboys Wheel sealant

Chemical Guys Jeatseal 109

3. Applying tyre dressing: To finish thelook of the car and to give it that ‘showroom look, then a tyre dressing is anecessity. There are lots of tyredressings to choose from. Some five amatt finish, some glossy – it all depends on what you like. Less is definitely best as too much can causethe product to sling along the side of your car when you are driving. Usually wipe down each tyre after half anhour to wipe off excess.

Meguiars Endurance Tyre Gel

Autoglym Tyre dressing

GTechniq T1 Tyre and Trim

4. Clean and polish Exhaust tail pipes:Don’t forget to clean and polish your exhaust pipes. Like the tyres, it finishes off the carnicely. Wire wool (grade #00) can beused help remove stains etc. The moreoften it’s done, the easier it is.

Dodo Juice Supernatural Super Fine metal polish (thisis best on new cars, it’s not aggressive enough to remove old stains.

Britemax Easy Cut – Metal cleaner and Polish

Britemax Fine Shine – Metal Polish and Sealant

5. Engine bay: This job is best done at thevery start of your detail. I usually domine every couple of months. A productthat has proved to go a great job in the engine bay with minimal effort is 303 Aerospace Protectant. Just spray it on, leave for a few hours ifyou wish, then rub down with a cloth (NOT one used on the other parts of thecar!). Leaves a lovely sheen to theplastics, rubber and vinyls in the bay.

6. Interior: I tend to clean mine at the very end, but it can be done when it suitsyou. I polish the brightwork first, thechrome surround, gloss trims, door openers/handle etc. Then it’s hovering carpets. If the mats need more than a brush down, Itake them out at the very strart and clean with an all purpose cleaner, stiffbrush and leave them to dry in the sun. Next it’s cleaning the leather seats with Furniture Clinic Cleaner andProtector. It’s very important to cleanand protect the leather as it’ helps to replace the moisture. It stops the leather from sagging and/orcracking. The seats tend to be cleanedevery couple of weeks and then protected every 3 months or so. I’ve used many cleaners and have found thatthe more you pay, the better they are. Some cheap ones can make the leather too shiny, which is not what shouldhappen, it should stay matt. They canalso make the seats slippy and you can slide about in them.

Meguiars AllPurpose cleaner

FurnitureClinic Leather and Protector (in a kit)

PoorboysLeather Stuff (use sparingly as it can be slippy – nice smell!)

7. Black exterior trims: A product that hasrecently caught my eye and seems to give good results is GTechniq C4 Permanent Trim Restorer. Apply it to black trim – wheel arches,mirrors, scuttle panel at the bottom of the windscreen, rear valanceinserts. This provides UV protection tothe trim and stops it fading. It lastsfor up to 2 years! It gives a lovelymatt finish an doesn’t alter the colour of your trims. You just need to make sure the areas arethoroughly clean, washed and degreased before the C4 is applied. NO NOT APPLY in the full sun. It comes in a tiny bottle and is expensivebut you only need a splash on the applicator pad and a little goes a long way.Those who have used G1 Window Sealent will know how this works. Once applied, immediately wipe over with aclean cloth, do not buff. Also worth considering may be Nanolex TrimRejuvenator (although I haven’t used it).

One productI’ve recently been using and I feel is worth a mention is Gyeon Wet coat. Gyeon as a brand is fairly new to me, but this product is a great water repellent. Once your car is fully detailed, spray on,and immediately power wash off. Lastsfor ages. Still to try any of theirother products…..


A few usefulpointers:

Microfibrescan be washed in the washing machine using a liquid non-bio product. DO NOT use powdered/granulated products asthey are too course and will cling to the fibres. NEVER use fabric conditioners – rendersdrying cloths useless. Dry them outsideon the line or on a radiator.

Lambswoolmitts are best rinsed in the washing machine on a rinse/gentle spin.

There is avast array of useful videos on youtube – particularly for the application ofthe nano-technology products, such as GTEchniq. I find Polished Bliss’s website has excellent product information anduser guides for products.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I "copied and pasted" a Word document so that's why some of the words are joining together.... I can type!!!
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Superb guide and thanks for taking the time to go to all that effort. A few things I'll be adding to the shopping list for sure!

QD - have you tried Sonax? I was reading yesterday that it gave jetseal a good run for the money even though it's not a sealant. I need to get some Jetseal!

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Superb effort Donna, do you do audio books instead? It will take me longer to read that than it would to wash the car.

If you're not too busy this weekend, you fancy a trip over to Alford to demonstrate some of the above? Bacon butties will be on offer ;)

Joking aside, we should get a VO photo shoot organised (can I mention that in here? >:D)

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Yes, thank you would be great if there were a permanent noticeboard on here somewhere, where useful stuff like this could just be directly accessible.
The posts tend to move on quite quickly, and it isn't easy to go back and find stuff after a few weeks. Maybe we will all need to keep posting here to keep it current...give the 'Polish & Tings' thread a run for its money! :)

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I can email the actual docs to one of the mods if they want to pin it, like I said c&p'ing upset the formatting a bit.

if anyone else wants to add to "tried and liked", I'd love to hear it.

I've heard of Sonax but not experienced it. My OH regularly follows the Detailing World forum, but it bamboozles me a bit!

If it encourages people to go further than Halfrauds for some Turtle Wax then my job here is done.....
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A tip for final rinsing; i use the hose attachment on a jet setting first to get into all the nooks, then for final rinse i set it to either the tap setting or if you have one, an aerated setting and turn the flow right down to not much more than a trickle. This helps remove all that lovely beading making drying a lot easier and removing the potential for water spot marking

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Cheers Hat, I assumed everyone would guess rinsing is done that way to get the water off in sheets rather than let it bead. My bad....(I could have gone one step further and recommended a water filter, but lets not go there .... yet!!!

"5. Rinsing: Rinsing with an open ended hose leavesless standing water on the car making it quicker and easier to dry, especiallyonce the car is protected. "
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