Q:How you recommend I clean a black convertible soft top?
I use 303 Fabric & Vinyl Cleaner with a soft bristle leather/vinyl scrub brush to clean most soft tops. You can also use a bumper/bug sponge with your cleaner to lift the contamination out if you don’t have a brush. For heavy stains and mildew I use a diluted all purpose cleaner with my leather/vinyl scrub brush.
I suggest cleaning the soft top when you wash the vehicle. Try working the cleaner into small sections with your brush or sponge, then rinse away the contamination that has been lifted out and continue onto the next section.
Be sure to apply a protectant like 303 Fabric Guard right after cleaning. This will protect your soft top from UV damage and help to resist future contamination.
Q:Hey so is it bad to use dishwashing soap for car washing?
You actually can use dish washing soap in your wash buckets, but it will work to strip any existing wax or sealant you have on the vehicle. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re about to polish the vehicle or apply a new coating of wax/sealant. For maintenance washes use a regular car wash shampoo.
Q:I have a black mustang and i was just wondering if you had and tips for cleaning and detailing it and keeping it clean. I live in a place with a lot of dust so it's really hard to keep clean.
The best thing to do is to maintain a protective coating on your vehicle all year round. An anti-static paint sealant will keep your paint protected, resist contamination from dust and dirt buildup, enhance shine, and make washing the vehicle a lot easier. Check out Detailer’s Pro Poli-Coat. It’s an affordable paint sealant with cleaners built into the formula that can correct minor paint imperfections and leave behind a nice glossy shine. Application is easy and will create a long lasting durable layer of protection. It can be applied by hand or with a machine polisher.
I recommend washing your vehicle then decontaminating with a product like a Nanoskin Speedy Prep Sponge (paint cleaning clay alternative) before applying your paint sealant. The Speedy Prep Sponge is only 12 dollars shipped on Amazon Prime, is reusable, and will remove any embedded surface contamination on your paint before you apply a paint sealant (ensuring proper bonding of your product).
Park the vehicle indoors if possible. Use a spray detailer/wax with a thick microfiber towel between washes to eliminate light dust buildup and keep your paint looking great.
For interior cleaning, wipe down panels with a microfiber towel and interior cleaner and follow up with a water based UV blocking interior protectant. Detailer’s Pro sells both of these products in a combo here if you’d like to check it out. Carpet and upholstery can be vacuumed and protected with a product like 303 Fabric Guard. Look around my interior cleaning guide for more info. Feel free to shop around for alternative products that fit your needs and budget.
Q:my car is dirty what do i do
Q:Seeing the stuff on this blog makes me realize why detailer charges so much! I only do the 2 bucket wash now thanks to you and no more swirl marks! Good info. Cheers!
Thanks for the feedback, glad you like the blog.
Q:Sorry for so many questions haha, just remembered them. I restore my headlights with plastic polish and a small microfiber pad on a drill. They look great for about a month but then they go back to looking a little dim and develop some light white cracks on the corners. I tried using a sealant and it holds up a little better but it looks bad on the headlight and leaves a greasy look. Thanks for the answers.
No problem at all. I’m here to answer any detailing questions you may have.
Durability of the sealant depends on the product you’re using. Most paint sealants work fine on plastic/polycarbonate lenses, but you can always try out a product that’s designed specifically for use on headlights like Detailer’s Pro Headlight Protectant Spray.
Sometimes sealants/coatings don’t properly bond to the plastic due to polishing oils leftover on the lens from the restoration process. I use a diluted mixture of isopropyl alcohol or CarPro Eraser with a clean microfiber towel to prep the lenses before applying a protectant. You can also use a diluted all purpose cleaner.
Remember that the protectant must be maintained regularly. I would reapply after every couple of washes.
I prefer to apply a long lasting coating on headlights like Pinnacle Black Label Diamond Surface Coating. Coatings require less maintenance and can last for more than a year (Pinnacle claims 2 years) before needing reapplication.
Q:I'm getting my wheels refinished and installed soon but I can wait to install them and want to have them well protected and easy to clean. What do you suggest I use and how much should I wait after they have been painted
You can try out a durable wheel protectant like Poorboy’s World Wheel Sealant. Alternatively you can apply a longer lasting surface coating like Pinnacle Black Label Diamond Surface Coating (my own personal preference) or Detailer’s Pro Wheel Coating.
Be sure to decontaminate the wheels first before applying your protectant to ensure proper bonding of the product. I like to use an all purpose cleaner to wash the wheels and follow up by removing any embdedded surface contaminants with a wheel cleaning clay.
Q:From what I've seen people do rinseless on cars that don't get very dirty and usually not DD. What are the pros and cons. Would it cause damage on a car that does not have enough wax/sealant/coatings?
Rinseless washes are best for cars that aren’t overly dirty, but there’s no problem in washing a daily driver using this method as long as the vehicle’s finish is properly maintained/protected. I would avoid rinseless washing a vehicle that is covered with a heavy amount contamination from things like mud, bird droppings, debris from trees/plants, bugs, and other harmful deposits that could potentially instill swirls and scratches onto a painted surface.
The high lubricity of the wash concentrate prevents the marring of paint and leaves behind a slick glossy finish, but It’s up to the user to use common sense when determining if a vehicle is a safe candidate for a rinseless wash.
The reason that it’s preferable to use this method on vehicles coated with some kind of protectant is that the dirt and contaminants come out with very little effort. It is considerably more difficult to properly clean a vehicle with no protection. A vehicle that has no protective wax, sealant, or paint coating will more than likely have harmful contaminants embedded in the paint that could potentially mar the paint during the wash process.
Some people with older classic cars avoid using running water on their vehicles altogether. This is due to the potential issues that can occur when introducing water in places where certain metals are more rust prone than others.
I’ve added a guide for using “Rinseless Wash” products to the home page. This a great wash method for when access to a water hose is limited. It’s also a great way to clean older vehicles that are prone to rusting. Check it out!
Q:Hey any tips on restoring exterior plastic trim, and what products to use?
I usually use water based trim coatings for restoring plastic trim moldings. Check out Tire & Trim Guard by Ultima. Their coating lasts for a long time and since it’s water based it doesn’t run off when it rains. It can also be used as a tire dressing. You can also try C4 Permanent Trim Coating by Gtechniq. It costs more by volume and is a little less user friendly to use than the Tire & Trim Guard, but it lasts for quite a bit longer. Both are great products when applied correctly.
Be sure to clean the trim before applying the coating to ensure proper bonding of your product. I usually use a diluted mixture of isopropyl alcohol or a diluted all purpose cleaner after hand washing the car. Once I’ve agitated all the contaminants out of the trim with a small detailing brush, I wipe it dry with a short loop microfiber towel and apply my coating with a small applicator, microfiber towel, or foam painting brush,
Q:How often do you have to do the whole clay multi step polish and wax deal for customers? How is the pay?
Most of the customers that contact me aren’t looking for a complete paint correction on their vehicle. A standard wash, decontamination, and machine sealant application (or an all in one polish and protectant) is the most common service I get called for. Other popular services are interior cleaning and headlight restoration. Pricing varies depending on the service. I’d rather not discuss numbers here, but I do charge accordingly so that I am fairly compensated for how labor intensive a job is.
Pretty cool detailing trick I picked up from a user on the Autogeek forums. This $25 Harbor Freight pneumatic orbital sander can be used as a 2 inch DA polisher if set up correctly. Great little tool for polishing and touching up in tricky work areas (not for large panels). I modified the trigger lock and oil vent to make the machine a bit more user friendly. The $300 Rupes TA50 orbital sander is very similar in design, but the manufacturer specifically states that it’s not intended to be used as a machine polisher. That being said, detailing shops all over have been using their sander as a mini polisher anyways.
Machine operation is smooth and trigger control works well. Detailers looking for something cheap and easy to use for polishing difficult spots like body pillars, side view mirrors, headlight lenses, individual defects, etc, may want to check this little machine out. Access to compressed air is required. I wouldn’t recommend it for prolonged use on large work areas, but it’s well suited for quick little touch ups in difficult spots.
2 inch polishing pads were cut from Meguiar’s and Lake Country microfiber polishing discs. I even cut out a few Meguiar’s Unigrit sanding discs for machine wet/damp sanding.
Q:Sorry couldn't figure out how to send a photo on mobile hahaha
No worries. Send the photo from a computer whenever you get time.
"hope it works this time. sorry" -nofx-bob
I would try using a paint cleaning clay or similar product and see if that removes the defects. You can also try wiping with diluted isopropyl alcohol or a diluted all purpose cleaner using a microfiber towel. Check out my wash guide for more info on paint decontamination.
If the discoloration is in the top coat of the paint and won’t come out using a paint cleaning clay or spray on cleaner, then you can try using a fine polish like Meguiar’s M205 or Ultimate Polish. This can be done by hand using a foam hand polishing pad or with a machine polisher.
If that doesn’t work, you can machine polish using a more aggressive compound like M105.
Check out my guide on compounding & polishing for more info.