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Your Second Detail

The Planning

Take your detailing skills to the next level with some more detailed care. You can do these tasks even if you’re not detailing the entire car. Think of these as upgrades that you can add to your routine as necessary.

Look at your windows and windshield – Are they streaky? Does water bead up or smear from the wipers? Are you blinded at night or in the rain?

Pop your hood – Can you even read the labels from all the dirt? Is there crud built up near the windshield or in the grill? Does your engine cover look gross?

Look at your dashboard and rubber door seals – Is it clean but dull? Do they look weathered and dry?

The Buying

Check out the Beginner’s Buying Guide and the Recommended Kits articles. Most kits in the Intermediate and Advanced sections should cover you here.

The Glass


  • Microfiber towels or glass towels
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • (optional) Clay or Nanoskin
  • Glass treatment


  1. Fold your towel into quarters. Spray APC onto one quarter and wipe down the glass.
  2. Repeat for each window and the windshield. This removes dirt and oils from the glass.
  3. Swap to a new towel, fold it. Spray glass cleaner onto the towel and wipe down the glass.
  4. Repeat for each window and the windshield. This removes more contaminants and any water spots.
  5. (optional) Clay the windows and windshield if there are any stubborn water spots or if you have problems with streaky windows. Water is a fine lubricant. Follow up with another round of glass cleaner.
  6. Apply the glass treatment using a new towel. Most are just “spray on, wipe off” but be sure to read the directions of the specific product you’re using.
    • Some cleaners are also a treatment so you can do two steps with one product!

The Engine Bay


  • Degreaser or APC
  • Microfiber towels**
  • (optional) Aluminum foil
  • (optional) Detail brushes
  • Plastic dressing

**Using end-of-life towels or lower quality hardware store towels is acceptable here since engine gunk can be a mess to wash out in the laundry.

Make sure the engine is cool before detailing it.


  1. Gently rinse the engine and underside of the hood with water to remove most surface dirt. Keep the force of the spray low and use the mist setting on your hose nozzle if it has one.
    • Do not spray the alternator directly. You can cover it with foil to keep it from getting wet.
    • If you have a cold air intake, don’t spray into it.
  2. Coat the engine and underside of the hood in degreaser or APC. Let it soak for a minute, then agitate it with a brush or microfiber.
  3. Rinse the engine and hood using the same technique from earlier. Rinse the brush/microfiber.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as necessary until everything is clean.
  5. Spray the plastic dressing onto a clean microfiber towel. Wipe down the plastic caps and covers with it.

The Trim Dressings


  • Rubber dressing
  • Plastic dressing
  • Vinyl dressing
  • Microfiber or applicators

This step can be done after you’ve detailed the vehicle. Some dressings are used for multiple materials so be sure to read the label of your products. If your car doesn’t have any vinyl, you can skip the vinyl dressing.


  1. Apply the rubber dressing to a clean applicator.
  2. Dress each tire if they aren’t dressed already, applying more product as necessary.
  3. Open the doors and dress the seals.
  4. Apply the plastic dressing to a clean applicator.
  5. Dress the plastic sections of the dashboard and interior.
  6. Dress the door trim and any plastic features (fog light bezels, fender vents, etc).
    • If there’s any white residue on them it’s probably from waxing. You can remove it with APC on a microfiber before applying the dressing.
  7. Apply the vinyl dressing to the applicator.
  8. Dress the vinyl seats and any interior pieces (usually on older vehicles).
Updated on 21 November 2022

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