Hand Detailing tips by NOFX



NOFX

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#1
UPDATE: New thread: http://www.honda-tech.com/zerothread?id=1782397

I figured I'd give this it's own thread since I've been getting so many questions, PMs, and IMs about detailing lately.

Yes, it's a bit of reading, but that's because I'm trying to relay all the little tips I've picked up over the years.

NOFX said:
Hi there,
Sorry to bother you but I have a few questions. My dad just bought my sister a Honda, and he tells me that the previous owner smoked in the car and didn't really take car of the paint (everything under the hood is falwless). 1st question, whet can I use to take out the smoke smell. 2.) I have a friend who swears by the clay bar. I was thinking of buying one but I have no idea how it works. Do you use it like an eraser or what? How does it work? 3.)What would you recommend in order to bring the paint back to showroom condition?
Thank you in advanced.
Here's what I would recommend:


1 - To get the smoke smell out use a product called X-O Odor Eliminator. You can get it here. http://www.xocorp.com/products.asp


2 - A clay bar is easy to use. Most commercial clay bars on the market come with a detail spray to use as a lubricant. If yours doesn't, no need to buy the detail spray. Water seems to work just as well. Just hold the hose nozzle in one hand and the bar in the other. Spritz the water or detail spray on and then rub the bar back and forth on the car. I go mostly from front to back as a habit to keep any scratches going in one direction which lessens visibility. Before you use the clay bar kneed it in your hands. When one side gets a little dirty, kneed it back around in and out of itself until you once again have a clean side.


3 - For a full detail I would of course do my regular detail (in order):

- - Take a plastic bag or two and gather all garbage and posessions out of the car. Including the stuff in the glovebox and other compartments.

- - Vacuum. Don't forget to remove the mats and also get under and along the inside and outside of the seats and in the glovebox and other compartments too.

- - Wipe down ALL interior plastics with a damp cloth. Don't forget all the plastic trim around the inside of the doors. Keep a small bucket or bowl of water with you to rinse your cloth. If you find a greasy spot (usually around the driver door) then spritz a bit of Simple Green on it to clear it up. Don't let it sit though because it mighjt discolor the trim. Also remember the rear deck.

- - Use a wet toothbrush on all the places you cant reach with the cloth. Such as the buttons on the seatbelts. Don't forget to wipe off the tops of the seat brackets too. The inside ones particuarly seem to gather crud.

- - Wash the interiors of all the glass. Don't forget a moonroof if she has one. I prefer aresol glass cleaner because it's less likely to soak the window too much. Too much liquid makes it more likely to streak. It might help to go over with a clean dry cloth later if there are any inside swirls on the glass.

- - Washing the car. Pop open the gas door and the hood before you start. If you ish to use a wheel cleaner spray it on now when the car is still dry so it works better. Start the engine up and spray the engine compartment down with Simple Green. Watch for really greasy spots. You can let it soak in for a minute before you spray it down with the highest pressure you have. Don't forget to get under the top corners, down the sides and the hinges. As long as you keep the car running there shouldn't be a problem with the engine cutting out. Don't spray directly on electronic parts for too long though just in case it forces water in.

- - Shut the hood when you're done. You can let the engine run for a bit until you're sure it's dried enough. Pop the wipers after you shut the hood too.

- - Spray the car down entirely. Don't scrub when you wash. if somethign doesn't want to come off, we can get it off later. Scrubbing scratches clearcoat! Wash from the top part of the car down. Washing the cleanest parts of the car first keeps your wash buckets cleaner and gives time for the dirtier parts to have the dirt break up. Everytime you was a bit (like for example, the right side of the roof, right windows, right side of the rear window, and then the right side of the windshield) then spray the car down again. Keeping the car wet helps it not get new waterspots. Only wash a bit of the car at a time, then rinse it off and do another part. The bottom and front of the car and right behind all the tires is usually dirtiest. I also divide the car into three main sections. From the bottom of the glass up, from the side molding up to the bottom of the glass, and then the side molding down. I find the best idea is usually to wash in this order: right side of windows and roof; rinse; left side of windows and roof; rinse; trunk and sides from the side trim up behind the doors; rinse; doors from side trim and up plus front fenders side trim and up; rinse; hood and headlights; rinse; rear or front bumper (depends which is dirtiest); rinse; other bumper; rinse; sides of car from the side molding down from the back forward (it's dirtiest right behind the wheels so get that last); rinse; wheels; rinse; exhaust; rinse entire car one more time.

- - If you don't want to clay the car you might as well dry it now. Once again, using the same front to back, back to front, motions to cut down on the directions of scratches from contaminants. I like the Absorber, but make sure you rinse it out before and after use.

- - If you chose to clay bar the car, there's no need to even dry it. get the hose OR detail spray in one hand and the clay bar in the other. Spray down a panel and then flatten one side of the clay enough. Rub the clay across the surface of the paint. I always use the same back and forth motions when I clean a car again, for those scratches (which is called marring btw). Don't rub to hard or too hard. It's just like washing a car. If you drop the clay bar, throw it out. It will be worthless if you drop it so really try not to because it contaminates it so it'd just scratch the car. A normal bar should last 2-3 cars. I do the car top to bottom to get the cleanest parts first since most cars I know are usually washed and don't just sit, which allows dust to pile up (which would make the top dirtiest).

- - After the clay barring the car should look very dirty and streaky. We're goign to get rid of that now. You're about to have the first look at the car actually clean. Get your polish, an application pad, and several microfiber cloths out. Polish removes other surface contaminat the clay might not have. It also removes some oxidation. Apply the polish to the applicator pad and apply as I told you to before. Back and forth. Do a panel at a time and let it frost over a bit. It might take some time to feel out how long you want polish to set just so you know how long to let it set and it will still not be too difficult to remove. Colder weather and hot weather makes polishing more difficult even sometimes making the polish leave greasy streaks when you remove it. Do a panel or a few and then remove the polish with the microfiber cloths. Folding the clothes in fourths helps you have a clean side when one side gets dirty. Don't forget to unfold it and use the other side of the cloth it you need to.

- - No that you're done with the polish, get the glaze out along with a clean applicator pad and microfiber cloths. Glaze will hide tiny scratches plus helps add depth to darker paint in particular. It, as the polish, puts some oils back into the aint so it looks wet again instead of dry like many cars. Apply and remove it exactly like the polish.

- - Finally the wax. Bring out the wax, applicator pad and midrofiber towels. Apply it like you did with the polish and glaze. Wax will protect all the work you just did. In fact if you don't apply wax over the glaze you might as well not glaze it since rain or sunshine can get rid of the effects of the glaze in mere hours. Once you're done make a few rounds around the car to make sur eyou got any possibly missed spots. It's not that bad to miss little swirls of product on other steps, but this is the last one involving paint so it should be totally clean.

- - Wash the exterior windows with glass cleaner to rid it of any water spots that might have just dried. You might not be able to remove old spots without polishing with fine steel wool (0000).

- - If you have mag wheels or polished exhaust, polish them with a nice automotive metal polish now. Mostly I only worry about visible metals.

- - Finish up with applying tire shine if you wish.

The car should be done now. =) Have fun.

- Amelia
Oh, and those microfiber cloths and applicators? I try to wash them all at once usually so I can make an entire load of wash. Don't wash them with towels because you'll only end up with a lot of fuzz on them from the towels.

Start up the washer and set it for warm or hot water. I then pour in enough detergent for a full load of laundry and then maybe half a cup or a full cup of Simple Green. Then add in all the towels and applicators and let them wash. Afterwards dry them like you would normally dry towels in the dryer. DON'T use fabric softener or a dryer sheet! Though this will make things feel softer to our hands, it actually inhibits the drying ability and adds particles onto the fabrics.


And here are some helpful sites I've found.

FORUMS:
www.detailcity.org
autopia.org/forum/
forums.roadfly.com/forums/detailing/

PROVIDERS:
www.prowaxcarolina.com
www.shiningmonkey.net
www.xocorp.com
www.wheelwax.com
www.autoint.com
 


NOFX

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#2
Another one of my posts from before that might be helpful.




Polishing by hand doesn't mean polishing with hand. I prefer to use wax applicator pads for applying the products, then I use microfiber cloths to remove it.

I will note before I begin that I prefer most Meguiar's and Mothers products and you neve can have too many microfiber cloths! Some of these products might also be temperature sensitive, making both cold weather and hot or humid weather difficult to work in. A dry day that's not too hot and not too cold is ideal. Do not do this in direct sunlight either. I will admit to have recently waxed my car in the sun, but that's because it was so cold out that I had to move it out of the shade or else the wax would not come off.

I do my detailing in this order:
- Wash
- Dry (optional)
- Clay Bar
- Polish
- Glaze (optional)
- Wax

As you're preparing all your products, spray down the wheels with the wheel cleaner. Wheel cleaner is an acid and it works best in dry conditions. Also flip up your wipers, pop your gas door, and remove the bra if your car has one. I go a step further and remove my plates so I can wash under them and polish and wax them too.

Wash
I was using a microfiber cloth. I steer clear of dish soaps even when I plan on stripping the wax because well, dishsoaps are drying (they're made to remove oils) and can do nasty stuff to your paint and to your trim. I've found a cheap car wash that is a "wax booster" at Advance Auto Parts. Other stores, suck as Kragen or Shucks shoudl also have a nice selection to chose from. I use one bucket because my car is generally kept very very clean. Other people swear by two buckets though; one with soap, one to rinse. Don't be too selffish with the car wash soap though; that's the lubricant for the wash. Also, try not to scrub since that can create scratches in the paint. If you can't remove something then the clay bar will probably get rid of it later on.

I also try not to forget to open the doors and trunk and wash out the doorjams (all around the front of them too) and all around the trunk trim and seal. Finish up by washing the wheels, wheel wells, tires and exhaust.

Dry
I use an Absorber. Some people prefer to ue microfiber clothes or a water blade. Certain people also claim that any of those products scratch the paint, but as long as they're clean and there isn't dirt on your car then it shouldn't be a problem.

Clay Bar
This is the step that makes your car once again feel like glass.

A clay bar might set you back about $15. Most auto parts stores also now carry them, though the average car owner does not use them, nor even ever heard of them. I recommend the Mothers Clay Bar and the Blue Magic Clay Bar. Though I usually go for Meguiar's products before others, I don't in this category as their clay bar seems too dry and hard. In the box should come the clay bar, detail spray, and possibly a small bottle of cleaner wax. I don't use the cleaner wax and generally save the detail spray for when I might use it for other times.

You need to use some kind of lubricant on your car first. That's what the detail spray is for. I've found that as long as the hose is still set up, water is fine to use too.

The directions on the package should lead you to spray the lubricant on, then glide the bar across the paint's surface. (Kneeding the bar up in your hands before touching the car helps it become easier to work with btw.) Just kneed the bar over on itself when you notice it becomes a bit dirty or before even. After you're done with the car it will probably appear dirtier than when you finished your wash, but don't mind that as the other products will take care of it.


Polish
You might chose to mask your car for these last three steps. After getting the hang of it it can really speed things up and it keeps your trim clean from polish, glaze, and wax, which can be difficult to remove. Just use masking tape for this step (use your best judgment on what width you need). Expect to use up to an entire roll though.

For polishing your car you will need a decent polish, an applicator pad, and a couple microfiber cloths. I use the Meguiar's Hand Polish. Shake the bottle up and apply the product to the applicator pad. Brush the pad in straight strokes across the paint. I prefer to follow the way that wind would go over the car if it were moving.

Circular patterns with the pad promote round scratches which you can view from all angles. With the straight strokes, if you happen to catch something under the pad you will only end up with a straight scratch which would only be seen from 90 degree angles.

Don't forget those door jams and in the gas door!

Do a section at a time the buff it off as best as you can with a microfiber cloth. I prefer to do all my steps in the detail and wash from the top and back to the bottom and front since the bottom and front of my car is the dirtiest. This helps me not overly contaminate my wash bucket or my cloths and keeps me from dragging dirt all over the car. Polish might be difficult to remove completely so there is no hazing. Don't worry too much as long as the final wax comes out clean.

Glaze
Glazing is performed much like polishing. You will need a glaze (they might be difficult to find I will warn you), an applicator pad, and a couple microfiber cloths. Apply and remove the glaze just as you did the polish.

Wax
Waxing is performed the same as polishing and glazing. You will once again need wax, an applicator pad, and a few microfiber cloths. I prefer Meguiar's Hi-Tech Yellow for warmer days, and their synthetic NXT Tech Wax for colder weather. The synthetic is also advertised as their longest lasting wax and well, I know I'd rather not be outside in the cold detailing as often. Application is the same as polishing and glazing. Make sure to do a couple walk arounds with a clean microfiber cloth once you are finished to make sure you haven't left any swirls of wax on it.

Finish up by using a product similar to Mothers Mag and Alumium polish on your exhaust, and on the exterior lights of the car if they seem like they could use it. I'd also recommend Mothers Billet Polish for exhaust as long as you're willign to shell out for it. Both Eran and I also wax our headlights to try to keep them from oxidizing.

Depending on the finish of your wheels you will want to either polish them and/or look into wheel wax.




Oh, and if your chamois sticks to your car your car probably does not have a good detail job yet. Also, the Absorber will not scratch your paint as long as the paint is clean and so is the Absorber.
 

AutoFanatik

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#3
Everytime I read your detailing posts, it makes me want to go home and nuture my baby...she needs a good washing after all this rain VA & DC been gettin
 


renegadex96

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#4
makes me want to go do mine too right now. too bad it's almost midnight.......

outstanding write up thouhg =)
 
#5
EDIT: here we go. some more advice about waxing, and the order you should wax in. thanks to Eran for the info.

Eran said:
What you're going to want to use is an applicator pad (never heard it called a wax pad before). You want to do top to bottom, front to back. Start with the roof, and move down the a-pillars to the hood. Once you're done with the hood, buff the roof with a microfiber cloth. Then wax the doors, fenders, and rear quarter pannel from the side moulding up. Buff your hood. Wax your front bumper, buff the doors, fender and quarter pannel. Wax the trunk lid/hatch, buff the front bumper. Wax from the mouldings down on fenders, doors, and rear quarter pannel. Buff the trunk lid/hatch. Wax the rear bumper, buff from the mouldings down. Buff the rear bumper. Then go over the entire car with a second microfiber cloth.
 

LowNotSlow

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#7
I need to do another detail, I didn't get all the asphalt s**t off my car with the last one damnit.

Clay Bar rocks though.
 

c_diddy

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#8
wow, thanks. I've always wanted to ask you about detailing but I've never got to it. thanks! great job too.
 

NOFX

I'm NOT eran!
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#9
You're welcome. I just get SO many PMs and IMs about detailing so I figured it was about time to post this up as it's own thread at least. :lol:

Not to be cruel, it's just that's a lot of info to send to people over and over again! :lol:
 

dryeager

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#11
This should go into the how to section if anywhere. This was very helpful when I cleaned up my engine bay. Now I need a a nice day to do the rest. Thanks NOFX!
 

Trey99EK

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#12
I would go make mine nice and clean, but the flooded muddy roads wouldn't help the cause.
 

AutoFanatik

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#13
Trey99EK said:
I would go make mine nice and clean, but the flooded muddy roads wouldn't help the cause.
for real, and more's sposed to be comin, at least herre it is
 

MR99si

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#14
NOFX said:
Another one of my posts from before that might be helpful.




Polishing by hand doesn't mean polishing with hand. I prefer to use wax applicator pads for applying the products, then I use microfiber cloths to remove it.

I will note before I begin that I prefer most Meguiar's and Mothers products and you neve can have too many microfiber cloths! Some of these products might also be temperature sensitive, making both cold weather and hot or humid weather difficult to work in. A dry day that's not too hot and not too cold is ideal. Do not do this in direct sunlight either. I will admit to have recently waxed my car in the sun, but that's because it was so cold out that I had to move it out of the shade or else the wax would not come off.

I do my detailing in this order:
- Wash
- Dry (optional)
- Clay Bar
- Polish
- Glaze (optional)
- Wax

As you're preparing all your products, spray down the wheels with the wheel cleaner. Wheel cleaner is an acid and it works best in dry conditions. Also flip up your wipers, pop your gas door, and remove the bra if your car has one. I go a step further and remove my plates so I can wash under them and polish and wax them too.

Wash
I was using a microfiber cloth. I steer clear of dish soaps even when I plan on stripping the wax because well, dishsoaps are drying (they're made to remove oils) and can do nasty stuff to your paint and to your trim. I've found a cheap car wash that is a "wax booster" at Advance Auto Parts. Other stores, suck as Kragen or Shucks shoudl also have a nice selection to chose from. I use one bucket because my car is generally kept very very clean. Other people swear by two buckets though; one with soap, one to rinse. Don't be too selffish with the car wash soap though; that's the lubricant for the wash. Also, try not to scrub since that can create scratches in the paint. If you can't remove something then the clay bar will probably get rid of it later on.

I also try not to forget to open the doors and trunk and wash out the doorjams (all around the front of them too) and all around the trunk trim and seal. Finish up by washing the wheels, wheel wells, tires and exhaust.

Dry
I use an Absorber. Some people prefer to ue microfiber clothes or a water blade. Certain people also claim that any of those products scratch the paint, but as long as they're clean and there isn't dirt on your car then it shouldn't be a problem.

Clay Bar
This is the step that makes your car once again feel like glass.

A clay bar might set you back about $15. Most auto parts stores also now carry them, though the average car owner does not use them, nor even ever heard of them. I recommend the Mothers Clay Bar and the Blue Magic Clay Bar. Though I usually go for Meguiar's products before others, I don't in this category as their clay bar seems too dry and hard. In the box should come the clay bar, detail spray, and possibly a small bottle of cleaner wax. I don't use the cleaner wax and generally save the detail spray for when I might use it for other times.

You need to use some kind of lubricant on your car first. That's what the detail spray is for. I've found that as long as the hose is still set up, water is fine to use too.

The directions on the package should lead you to spray the lubricant on, then glide the bar across the paint's surface. (Kneeding the bar up in your hands before touching the car helps it become easier to work with btw.) Just kneed the bar over on itself when you notice it becomes a bit dirty or before even. After you're done with the car it will probably appear dirtier than when you finished your wash, but don't mind that as the other products will take care of it.


Polish
You might chose to mask your car for these last three steps. After getting the hang of it it can really speed things up and it keeps your trim clean from polish, glaze, and wax, which can be difficult to remove. Just use masking tape for this step (use your best judgment on what width you need). Expect to use up to an entire roll though.

For polishing your car you will need a decent polish, an applicator pad, and a couple microfiber cloths. I use the Meguiar's Hand Polish. Shake the bottle up and apply the product to the applicator pad. Brush the pad in straight strokes across the paint. I prefer to follow the way that wind would go over the car if it were moving.

Circular patterns with the pad promote round scratches which you can view from all angles. With the straight strokes, if you happen to catch something under the pad you will only end up with a straight scratch which would only be seen from 90 degree angles.

Don't forget those door jams and in the gas door!

Do a section at a time the buff it off as best as you can with a microfiber cloth. I prefer to do all my steps in the detail and wash from the top and back to the bottom and front since the bottom and front of my car is the dirtiest. This helps me not overly contaminate my wash bucket or my cloths and keeps me from dragging dirt all over the car. Polish might be difficult to remove completely so there is no hazing. Don't worry too much as long as the final wax comes out clean.

Glaze
Glazing is performed much like polishing. You will need a glaze (they might be difficult to find I will warn you), an applicator pad, and a couple microfiber cloths. Apply and remove the glaze just as you did the polish.

Wax
Waxing is performed the same as polishing and glazing. You will once again need wax, an applicator pad, and a few microfiber cloths. I prefer Meguiar's Hi-Tech Yellow for warmer days, and their synthetic NXT Tech Wax for colder weather. The synthetic is also advertised as their longest lasting wax and well, I know I'd rather not be outside in the cold detailing as often. Application is the same as polishing and glazing. Make sure to do a couple walk arounds with a clean microfiber cloth once you are finished to make sure you haven't left any swirls of wax on it.

Finish up by using a product similar to Mothers Mag and Alumium polish on your exhaust, and on the exterior lights of the car if they seem like they could use it. I'd also recommend Mothers Billet Polish for exhaust as long as you're willign to shell out for it. Both Eran and I also wax our headlights to try to keep them from oxidizing.

Depending on the finish of your wheels you will want to either polish them and/or look into wheel wax.




Oh, and if your chamois sticks to your car your car probably does not have a good detail job yet. Also, the Absorber will not scratch your paint as long as the paint is clean and so is the Absorber.

Do yourself a favor and get a rotary buffer (a good one like makita, dewalt, flex ect.) you simply cannot compare the end results!
 

NOFX

I'm NOT eran!
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#15
MR99si said:
Do yourself a favor and get a rotary buffer (a good one like makita, dewalt, flex ect.) you simply cannot compare the end results!
i've thouhgt about it but right now isn't the time seeing as I don't have a job. been looking... just been getting a couple calls and letters back saying I wasn't hired. :???:
 

biglou954

Heyyyy
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#17
nice good stuff!!!
 

c_diddy

drove through a tree
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#19
ImportFan1 said:
bump for a great thread and its coming to that time of year again.
:word: . everytime i folow these steps my car looks like it's brand new.
 




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