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Every professional detailer started as a DIY’er. In most situations, a Do It Yourself kinda guy armed with the right research and the right tools can match and probably surpass the level of perfection most Detailing Shops achieve. More time, and more of a stake in the longevity and integrity of the vehicle, the owner of a fine automobile will take the necessary steps do the job right. If you are reading this, you might be this kind of guy.

We are here to help get you off on the right foot. There are some universal basics on vehicle finish care. We go over the most important of them. Learn and use these techniques to build upon a good foundation of proper technique and practices. From here on it is all value added and better results - and an ever increasing collection of detailing paraphernalia which will surely lead to detailing madness.

These videos were shot during one of our trips to Puerto Rico. A client was also a professional videographer, and offered to produce some videos on topics he himself was interested in. We though it was a great idea! The following week we were shooting. The heat was intense, hovering around 100 F, and the day would be long. But thanks to the guys at Predator Performance, who lent us the facilities to shoot the video, we were able to wrap it up in one afternoon. So please enjoy the videos!

Help is here!

Most swirls and RIDS occur during washing and cleaning. Our focus will be identifying and minimizing the risks of swirling during the cleaning process.

Basic Premise: The paint is touched last with the cleanest tools. Paint should have dedicated tools and equipment. That means paint-use-only wash mitts, towels, and brushes. These tools will never touch anything else, and will always be clean. You cannot risk having dirty tools, and the only way to make sure they are clean is to always keep them clean. Once you use a brush on a silicone-dressed tire, for example, it is contaminated for life and should never touch paint ever again.

We start by washing the engine. This way we will not have to lift the hood again, and any degreaser  or dressing overspray will be promptly washed off completely during the exterior wash.

The next area to clean are the wheels and fender wells. Similarly to the reasons for washing the engine first, cleaning wheels and wells involves lots of spraying strong cleaners. Some of it may get onto your paint. Once you wash the wheels you will not have to touch them again with your wash mitt.

Now that we have cleaned the dirtiest parts, we can concentrate on taking our time to clean the paint.

Detailer’s Theorem: Risk of Swirls approaches zero if and only if GritGuard/Clean Bucket+Clean Mitt > 2

Use 2 Grit Guards. They are the single best $10 you will spend on your car.

Use 2 buckets. They are cheap. Use them only for washing your car. No Mr. Clean, no Lestoil, no Mop&Glo, no trash.

Use clean wash mitts. Wash them after each time they are used. Use new ones when they get soiled or worn.

Use any car washing shampoo. Do not use Dawn or any dishwashing detergent. Do not use laundry detergent. You not need eat off your paint, keep your dishwashing utensils in the kitchen sink. Many car wash shampoos have bug and tar removers. These will also strip wax, so you will need to reapply your protection. Others have shine enhancers. They are fine, but short lived. Buy half a gallon.

Washing removes the loose contamination from your finish. Now clean, if you pass your hand over the paint you may feel some asperities. This could be embedded contaminants, mineral deposits, tar or tree sap, or other challenging contaminants. Before polishing or waxing, you will want the surface to be as clean as possible. This is where the clay bar come in handy.

Clay Bars have been around for about 2 decades. Invented in Japan specifically for vehicle paint decontamination, it took some time to reach the United States. But once it did, it revolutionized the DIY Detailing Market, helping take the market from basically niche to mainstream. Why? Because it gave the average Joe the power to completely prep his paint easily and without harsh chemicals.

The clay has removed any fillers or old coatings the washing did not remove. Now that the finish is “sterile” we can inspect it for swirls and defects, and make the determination to either polish or reapply wax and/or sealants.

Polishing with a Dual Action machine like the Porter Cable 7424, Griots Garage DA, or Meguiar’s D110 DA is very easy, and safe. Although considered slightly more advanced than the basic steps needed to care for your finish, the second part of the video shows how to apply sealants with the Porter Cable, which is the best method for applying sealants. It provides the most consistent and thinnest possible coat. This means the sealant coat will be even and will cure as fast as possible without the need for a second coat. Although a second coat is recommended, it is really only to cover any missed areas or patches in the first coat.

Getting to be know by clients is very important. Referrals and work of mouth, and local enthusiast websites where we advertise are our method of advertising. But our work is our best marketing tool!

Getting to be known by your peers is also very important. Respect among colleagues and in the industry will carry us far and with good fortune. We have worked in team with other detailers, and are part of various select detailing communities worldwide. This is our chance to advertise beyond our physical travel limits, and spread the word that AutoLavish is committed to stay among the best in the world of detailing.

We have searched the web for the best products available, and have a few places we get our supplies from. Our favorite place to order from is due to price, service, quality, and selection. They have all the best stuff and none of the junk stuff. Other sites have too many products with similar and confusing descriptions. has a panel of independent professionals who offer advice on how to use products and tools, and will also answer your questions on how to take care of your own car.

Read some of our articles on the Ask A Pro section of Detailed Image,

Ferrari 430 Scuderia Paint Correction

How To Select A Professional Detailer

The Difference A Professional Detailed Can Make

How To Determine Your Microfiber Needs

Proper Microfiber Care

Microfiber Towel Storage And Organization

Using Hand Held Lights For Paint Inspection

Pressure Washers For Your Vehicle’s Paint

Restoring Clarity To Your Headlights On A Budget

Cleaning Door Jambs

Audi Paint Hardness

Orange Peel, Part 1: What Is It And Why Is It A Problem

Orange Peel, Part 2: How To Get Rid Of It
How To Safely Wash Your Car In Winter

Product Review: Supernatural Carnauba Wax

Product Review: Dodo Juice Red Mist Tropical

Product Review: Klasse All In One

... and a few others.

We take lots of pictures. We have a decent camera we can throw around in the truck and grab with dirty hands, a simple lens or two, and thats about it. Just like in detailing, the people who really know how to do this stuff have much more and better equipment, and know how to use it far better than we could ever hope to. Further, the artist’s eye is so much more profound than the hobbyist's. For truly beautiful pictures, we contract professional photographers to shoot. We feature local and upcoming artists in our larger write-ups, cars that should really be showcased. Many times our customers establish a relationship with photographers to provide professional shots of their vehicle. The best time for this is just after having the car perfected. Here are links to their sites and work portfolios.

Steven Pham

Andrew G. Perry

Chris Amos

Matt Trombley

Who do we associate with?


For those of us that need a clean car in the snow season, here is a video and an article showing one way to safely wash your car with a 2-bucket method


Next we have a pair of videos showing a typical process and some highlights of how we approach caring for your car.