Educating Atlantic Canada’s Cleaning Professionals

Detailing Training Guide


There are nearly as many approaches to reconditioning a vehicle as there are detailers. The key is to follow an established procedure that is safe, effective, efficient, and consistent. You should use appropriate products on each surface in a logical sequence that your detailing personnel understand – all while following the necessary safety  precautions. While the procedures contained in this document are not the only methods for detailing a vehicle, they have long been safely and effectively
used by reconditioning professionals worldwide. No matter the process you follow, be sure to follow the same sequence on each vehicle. A consistent approach ensures consistent results.

Professional automotive reconditioning involves much more than washing dirt off a car with a bucket of soap. The objective is to safely remove contaminants from all vehicle surfaces, restore those surfaces and protect them from further damage. The surfaces include paint, metal, rubber, plastic, vinyl, glass, fabric and leather – some of which can withstand aggressive cleaning chemicals and techniques, and some of which cannot. The contaminants range from soil to grease to tar to tree sap
to coffee to red lipstick – each requiring specific chemistries to remove them. Throw in oxidation, embedded brake dust and protein-based stains and you’ve got a real detailing challenge. Therefore,
you need a variety of reconditioning products – ranging in strength and formulation – and a logical process for safely and effectively applying them.

Since concentrated products are diluted with water, one gallon of concentrate produces multiple gallons of cleaning solution. For example, one gallon of concentrate mixed with four gallons of water (a dilution of 1:4 – one part product, four parts water) will product five gallons of cleaning solution. Therefore, the purchase price of one gallon of  concentrated product does not represent the true cost of the cleaning solution it generates.

Usage Cost is the ACTUAL cost of the solution and is based on the number of gallons of solution produced by one gallon of concentrate. The amount of solution generated by one gallon of concentrate is its Product Yield and is determined by adding the numbers in the dilution rate (1:4 = 5). Once the Product Yield is identified, Usage Cost is calculated as follows:

Product Cost Per Gallon ÷ Product Yield = Usage Cost Therefore, if one gallon of product costs $10.00, and yields five gallons of cleaning solution, its Usage Cost is $2.00 per gallon ($10.00 ÷ 5 = $2.00)

Example 1:
Product Cost/Gallon: $4.00
Dilution Rate: 1:15
Product Yield: 16 (Sum of Dilution Rate)
Usage Cost: $.25 per gallon (A ÷ C)

Example 2:
Product Cost/Gallon: $22.00
Dilution Rate: 1:128
Product Yield: 129 (Sum of Dilution Rate)
Usage Cost: $.17 per gallon (A ÷ C)


Exterior Work

  • Degrease Vehicle
  • Clean Wheels & Tires
  • Remove Grease, Tar, & Wax
  • Remove Air-Born Particles
  • Wash Vehicle
  • Dress Engine & Other Exterior Rubber, Plastic, & Vinyl Surfaces
  • Applying Waxes & Quick Detailers
  • How to Install Ceramic Coatings
  • Paint Surface Correction – Inspect & Remove Scratches, Swirl Marks, & Oxidation
  • Paint Surface Correction – Paint Gloss Enhancement & Stages of Paint Correction
  • Rubberized Undercoatings

Interior Work

  • Remove Debris & Vacuum
  • Clean Carpets, Seats, & Upholstery
  • Clean & Dress Interior Rubber,
  • Plastic, & Vinyl Surfaces
  • Clean All Glass Surfaces
  • Dye Stained Fabrics

Detailing Safety

Exterior Work

Degrease Vehicle

• Heavy Duty Degreaser
• Spray Bottle
• Safety Goggles
• Nitrile Gloves
• Hi-Pressure Washer
• Air-Whip Cleaning Tool 


STEP #1: Use microfiber towels or plastic bags as coverings for any sensitive electrical components such as the battery, ignition wires, and engine control unit. If there’s an exposed engine air intake under the hood, you’ll want to cover that as well. Protecting these electronics will allow you to clean more thoroughly with less risk of causing damage. Be cautious around any items that could be damaged by liquids.

PRO TIP: When you open the hood, if the engine compartment is all plastic  coverings, do a cosmetic detail. Use a waterless detail spray, let it dwell, and then wipe down with a clean microfiber. For additional gloss, dress with a water-based dressing.


STEP #2: Wet the entire body area around the engine with cool water to prevent the Cleaner/Degreaser from spotting the paint. Do not wet the engine. Be thorough around the edges of the hood as these areas gather much of the grease, dirt, and grime. Make sure to DO NOT use a zero- degree nozzle on the power washer. Use a fan nozzle at 45-degree angle.

PRO TIP: Avoid spraying any items under the hood like trim and insulating foam. The water pressure will make these items tear and dislodge from its location.

STEP #3: Thoroughly wet any painted surface to which the Cleaner/Degreaser will be applied (areas containing heavy traffic film).


STEP #4: Spray the engine and engine compartment with Cleaner/ Degreaser using a consistent pattern to ensure full coverage.

PRO TIP: Add extra light to the engine compartment. There are many nooks, crannies, and crevices that are difficult to see without additional light. Approach the engine from different angles to give you alternate views to see all of the hard-to-reach areas of the engine.


STEP #5: Apply Cleaner/Degreaser to the inner hood (avoiding the hoodliner), and then the wheel wells…

PRO TIP: It is important to let the cleaner/degreaser dwell on areas that has been treated. This can take a few minutes depending on cleaner strength and level of grease and grime needed to remove. As with most cleaners do not allow it to dry on any surface.