What is car detailing?

Car detailing, or auto detailing, is a comprehensive and thorough cleaning, restoration, and finishing process performed on a vehicle to enhance both its interior and exterior appearance.  


Detailing goes beyond a typical car wash. Professional detailers use specialized tools, equipment, and products to achieve a high level of cleanliness and finish. Detailers will usually offer car valeting services but the quality they deliver will differ from that of an ordinary car wash or valeting service. Below are some key aspects of car detailing.  

Detailing car interior with brush

Exterior Detailing


Application of snow foam in the pre-wash stage helps loosen dirt. Detailers will use high-quality car shampoos and wash mitts to gently clean the vehicle’s exterior. This helps remove dirt, road grime, and other contaminants.

Clay Bar Treatment

A clay bar is used to remove embedded contaminants from the paint, leaving a smooth surface. This could include removal of tree sap, bird droppings road salt that have not been successfully removed in the washing stage. 


Hand and/or machine polish is used to remove fine scratches, swirl marks, and oxidation from the paint, restoring a glossy finish.

Alloy Wheels Cleaning and Tyre Dressing

Wheels and tyres are thoroughly cleaned to remove brake dust, road grime, and other contaminants. Tyre dressing is applied to enhance the appearance of the tyres, restoring the blackness and protecting against UV rays.

Waxing or Sealing

Applying a car wax or a paint sealant helps protect the paint against environmental elements and enhances the shine.

Paint Protection Films and Ceramic Coatings

Some providers may offer additional protective measures, such as applying paint protection films (PPF) or ceramic coatings to provide long-term protection for the vehicle’s paint. Paint correction services may also be available if your vehicle needs it.

Interior Detailing


Thorough vacuuming is done to remove dirt, debris, and loose particles from carpets, seats, and other interior surfaces.

Carpets and mats cleaning

Beyond simply vacuuming or wiping clean, a shampoo and/or steam treatment may be used to help remove dirt and stains.

Cleaning Surfaces

Detailers use appropriate cleaners for different surfaces, such as leather, vinyl, plastic, and fabric. This includes cleaning and conditioning seats, door panels, dashboard, and other interior components. They may use a variety of brushes and cloths to ensure a thorough deep clean of your vehicle.

Glass Cleaning

Interior and exterior glass surfaces are cleaned to achieve a streak-free, clear finish.

Odour Elimination

If necessary, detailers may use techniques to eliminate or reduce unpleasant odours in the interior. This could involve using steam cleaning or air fresheners. 

Engine Cleaning and Dressing

The engine bay is carefully cleaned to remove dirt, grease, and grime. However, caution is exercised to avoid sensitive components. Protective dressings may be applied to give a clean and finished look to the engine bay components.

Are all detailing services the same?

The specific features of a car detailing service will depend on the provider and their package structure. Car detailing can be performed by professionals at dedicated detailing shops, mobile detailing services, or experienced enthusiasts who have the necessary tools and products. To find a mobile detailer near you download the Clean Me App today.

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