Updated: May 27, 2015
Car Detailing - DIY:At some point most of us have had to sell a used car and we wanted to get top dollar for the sale. A good car detailing is something that most experts would agree helps in getting your car to sell quickly. Nobody wants to buy a car that is dirty, neglected, scratched, and has filthy upholostery on the interior. Most places that detail cars are at least $100 and several that we looked into were upwards of $200 for a full service which general included a wash, wax, polish, interior cleaning of carpets and seats (leather or upholstered), and rims/wheels. There are dozens of car care kits available on sites like Amazon.com which allow the car owner to do the detailing themselves and eliminate the need for a professional detailing service. Many of the car cleaning kits cost about $20 to $50 and some that do a really good job on leather interiors will run you closer to $100. Keep in mind that you can detail your car many times over with these kits, so the cost per cleaning in terms of supplies is very minimal. It's your time that is the valuable part of the equation.
What do you need in order to detail your car at home? Firstly, you need a decent vacuum that has enough suction to get into small places on the inside of your vehicle. You'll need attachments that let you clean between seats, under the seats, in your trunk, and in all the small crevices that exist these days with cup holders, center dash consoles, and where removable 3rd row seating goes. You'd be surprised at how messy a cars interior can get when you have kids that eat and drink in the car. My kids treat our cars like a trash can half the time and it drives me crazy. I usually detail our 2 cars twice a year to keep them in pristine condition so their resale value remains high. Besides a good vacuum, you'll need a sponge or two, glass cleaner, micro fiber towel, a wash mitt, polish cream, car wax, leather cleaner, and car wash shampoo and conditioner. A tire protectant is another product that helps keep them lasting as long as possible. Expect to spend at least 1 1/2 hours cleaning your car from top to bottom and maybe more (depending on how well everything goes). Start with your interior and remove all floor mats so you can vacuum up the entire inside of the car. We found an excellent website that runs down all the car care cleaning supplies and "how to" cleaning steps HERE. Popular Mechanics also ran an article on "detailing cars" but that was in 1998. Although it is dated a bit, the article still supplies the basics in terms of what to do. Another great article was done by Consumer Reports and can be read online HERE. CR talks about cleaning the trim, fabric, glass, hard surfaces, and leather. If you generally wash your car at home and don't take it to the car wash and pay the $10 to $20 to get it cleaned, then consider one of the car care kits below. For the top rated car care kits go here.