Washing your car every week is time-consuming. In this day and age of rushing about, 12-hour workdays and traffic jams, the last thing you have time for is washing the car. Yet, if you’re like me, you hate to have a dirty car. So, what do you do? The answer is quick detailing, often called the waterless wash.
Spray and Wipe History
The spray and wipe (detailing spray) market was created in the early 1980’s. One of the very first companies to recognize the need for detailing sprays was Meguiar’s, who released a product called Trigger Wash. After realizing the name caused some confusion with consumers, Meguiar’s changed the product name to Quik Detailer. The product completely defined a new market and remains one of Meguiar’s top sellers.
Quick detailers, which are often called a “mist and wipe,” are commonly used by detailers and car enthusiasts to put the finishing touch on a freshly detailed vehicle. Mist and wipe products quickly and easily remove water spots, dust and other light contamination.
The special formulations evaporate quickly to prevent further spotting and lubricate to prevent scratching. Today, every major car care brand has a mist and wipe product in their line-up. For the car enthusiast, mist and wipe is more than just a convenience; it is a necessity.
Quick detailing sprays are just one useful helper. A number of innovative products have emerged to help us maintain the appearance and cleanliness of our cars. The first such product was the car duster, which remains a popular, safe and effective tool for daily dusting.
Next came detailing sprays, which provide the lubrication necessary to remove dirt and dust safely. Most recently, the car care industry has seen the emergence of lint-free microfiber fabrics as multipurpose cleaning and polishing tools.
Quick Detailing Technique
Using my quick detailing techniques, I have reduced my soap-and-water washing to every other week on my commuter car, and once a month on my weekend toys. Time is only one factor in considering quick detailing. Water shortage is another. Sooner or later, drought hits all of us. It seems to run in seven-year cycles here in California.
Done properly, quick detailing can reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning your car. It also reduces the effects of harmful elements (road grime, bird droppings, bugs, etc.), and keeps your car looking sharp. Ten minutes every other day is all it takes to maintain a finely groomed car.
You Need the Right Supplies
To apply my Quick Detailing technique, you’ll need two or three good microfiber detailing towels, a bucket of water and a quick detailing spray. A car duster also works well at removing the top layer of dust, but is not necessary.
Quick Detailing is not just for the exterior of your car. There are detailing sprays for your car’s interior, as well. Sonus Cockpit Detailer is an excellent interior detailer. It removes dust, fingerprints and light soil from all non-fabric surfaces. You will also find a number of handy products for dusting the dash, removing lint and keeping the interior smelling fresh.
Work on the Interior First
A few years ago I used an interior mist and wipe from a small European car care manufacturer. The idea was novel, and I loved how the product made my interior look (matte and crisp, like a new car interior). However, I was concerned about the high content of alcohol in the product, which stripped other protectants, and was potentially dulling the interior finishes. At the time, I was amazed to learn it was the only product of its kind, so I set out to create a superior product for my Sonus product line.
To use an interior detailing spray, fold your microfiber detailing towel, spray it with a few shots of detailing spray, and wipe down the dashboard, console, seats (don’t use a detailing spray on cloth seats), door panels and door jambs. Use the interior detailing spray more for dusting than cleaning. It’s not necessary to wet the interior surfaces with the spray.
If you’re not using an interior detailing spray, fill your bucket with water. Rinse your microfiber detailing towel thoroughly and wring out as much water as possible. Fold the towel in half, then in half again. Use your damp microfiber towel to wipe down the interior. The microfiber towel will quickly remove all dust and fingerprints from your dash and console.
The interior windows will need a quick wipe-down every few days, too. Rinse the microfiber towel, wring until damp, and wipe down the interior glass. Follow immediately with a dry microfiber detailing towel.
Like their exterior counterparts, interior mist and wipes are designed for fast results on interior finishes that need just a little touch-up to otherwise look perfect. Sonus Cockpit Detailer offers intense UV protection for all interior plastic, rubber, metal, vinyl and leather surfaces. It is a premium solution for all convertible owners, who need regular protection to avoid premature damage. The final finish of Cockpit Detailer is flat to matte.
Exterior is Second
The number one concern most people have with quick detailing is scratching or dulling the paint. This is a genuine concern and warrants discussion.
Quick detailing your paint is perfectly safe if you follow a few cautionary measures:
- Use a quality duster to lift away dust;
- Use quality microfiber towels with plenty of nap;
- Use plenty of detailing spray; and
- Learn when your car is too dirty to quick detail and wash it instead.
Here are the proper steps to quick detail your car’s body:
- Dust the vehicle with a paint safe car duster. The OXO Duster is highly recommended. Start at the top of your vehicle and work down. Shake your duster frequently (rapidly flipping side-to-side is the best method).
- Clean the windows with your favorite glass cleaner and a microfiber towel.
- Wipe down the paintwork with your favorite detailing spray (mist the body panel, not the towel).
- Starting at the top, wipe down your car, wiping in a single direction only. As the surface of the towel gets soiled, flip it to a clean side. When all sides of the towel are dirty, switch to a fresh towel.
- When the loose dirt is gone, wipe the car down again, giving a couple of shots of detailing spray into the towel for each panel.
If your paint has mud splatter or other heavy soil, it should be rinsed or washed before wiping with towels. Use common sense when quick detailing and your paint will remain in very good condition.
Your Wheels are Last
As the final step, do your wheels. If your wheels are fairly clean, simply wipe them down with the damp microfiber towel. Rinse the towel for each wheel.
If your wheels have heavy brake dust, give them a couple of shots of detailing spray to loosen. Using the remaining water in your bucket and the damp microfiber towel, rinse each tire and wheel. A quality microfiber towel can hold a lot of water, making it perfect for rinsing away brake dust. Use the dry towel to dry and buff.
Once you are familiar with quick detailing your car, you can easily get the job done in as little as 5 to 10 minutes. Compare this to the 45 to 60 minutes it takes to wash and dry your car with soap and water. If you did a quick detail on your car every day, you would spend no more time than you would with a weekly wash, and your car will always look freshly detailed.
Return home to find out more about DIY detailing!