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Detailing Products for Caring Owners and Enthusiasts

by

There has been a great number of clients lately ordering products through me from Detailed Image, so the various orders I made over the past couple weeks drove me to create a list of the basics any beginner detailing enthusiast should have.

These are all products I use on a daily basis when detailing and I have settled on these products after years and years of experimenting with different stuff.  There’s always something new coming out and usually I will try it, but this list contains products that I recommend to all clients who wish to take care of their vehicles properly.

The following lists were created with simplicity in mind, which means many people will already have some of the basics, such as buckets, wash mitts, applicators, towels, etc.  With that in mind, I left out optional products such as wheel sealants, foam guns, etc, since those aren’t a necessity for proper vehicle maintenance, but would definitely help.  Onto the list…

Wheels & Tires

I listed products for wheels and tires first because that’s the order in which I prefer to wash vehicles.  Most of the products are self-explanatory here.  I find the P21S Wheel Cleaner the best around as it’s safe for all types of wheels but also extremely effective in cleaning power.  I typically use 2-3 spray bottles for the wheel cleaner; one for full strength, second for 1:1 with water and third for 2:1 with water.  Usually there’s no need to use it at full strength unless the wheel is extremely soiled and requires a lot of attention.  I use Meguiar’s APC+ for both tires and wheel wells cleaning.  Similar to the wheel cleaner, I have multiple bottles for different dilutions of the APC+.  For wheels wells and tires I have either 2:1 or 4:1 dilution (2 or 4 parts water to 1 part cleaner), but I also use the cleaner for interior and other stuff at 8:1, 10:1 and 15:1 dilutions.  The large EZ detail brush is great for the inside barrels of wheels as most of you already know, but the small also comes in handy to brush the calipers, tighter spokes and also the backside of spokes.  I have found the small boar’s hair detailing brush great for calipers and tight areas, such as around wheel bolts and valve stems.  The wheel brush and tire brush respectively are used for wheel faces and tires to clean off all the gunk on there and leave a fresh surface for any sealants or dressings.

Washing & Drying

For washing, I always recommend two to three buckets for the 2-bucket wash method.  With three buckets it obviously becomes the 3-bucket method, utilizing 2 rinse buckets instead of one.  With three buckets you can usually wash an entire car that’s not horribly dirty without having to dump out the rinse buckets, which is why I prefer to use two, sometimes three rinse buckets.  Typically, all clients buy the same amount of grit guard inserts as buckets, but I always recommend using two in a 5-gallon bucket.  Better safe than sorry is always a great way to treat paint maintenance :).  The Gilmour Foam Gun is a great additional tool, but for this basic list it’s not a necessity.  Obviously, the soaps are a subjective matter and I have found to like the CG CWG as my favorite for maintenance washes.  ONR is a great alternative for washing inside during the cold weather, but also great as a quick detailer, clay lube and even glass cleaner.  I dilute 2oz of ONR into a 32oz spray bottle for any of the above.

P21S Total Auto Wash is a great pre-wash product for some hard to treat areas, side skirts, front bumper, etc.  The best and safest method of drying from my experience has been to rinse off standing water using low pressure from the hose, then use the blotting method as seen in my article Winter Washing With Optimum No-Rinse.  I always use the shut off valve when detailing because it’s a huge time saver.  Whether you’re simply turning the nozzle off/on between rinsing and washing panels, or if you’re switching from nozzle, to foam gun, to whatever, the shut off valve makes it extremely easy to do so as opposed switching the water on/off or rotating the nozzle until it’s off, then back to on.

Final Touches

These products are used for after washing and drying.  I like to have at least 8-10 microfiber towels for any touchups after drying as well as to take off a sealant or wax when applicable.  Of all the products I’ve tried, I can always, on any type paint, and in any situation rely on Klasse Sealant Glaze as a last step product, so I highly recommend it.  Check out my article here for a guide on using KSG… Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze Guide and Review.  I like to use sealants and waxes in tandem, but for those who simply want a carnauba wax, the P21S 100% is my recommendation.  I was a long time user of their Concours paste wax, and after trying the 100% I like it a bit more so I’ve switched.  Overall though, the application and removal process is nearly the same as the Concours.

I like Opti-Seal for protecting wheels, clear bra or for my motorcycle since I apply it on there every few rides, but that’s a whole article in itself :).  It’s obviously extremely easy to use and offers good protection, so I use it regularly.  303 Aerospace Protectant is another product I highly recommend as it’s extremely versatile and offers great looks and protection.  Just so I don’t repeat myself a lot, you can see my full review of it here… 303 Aerospace Protectant Review and Guide.  Meg’s glass cleaner is something I recently started using non-stop and it easily replaced Stoner Invisible Glass.  It’s extremely effective and non-streaking, plus it’s very cheap for the amount of product you get.  Easily a must have in my book.  Lastly, I tend to use a LOT of cotton swabs on anything from simple washes to 20 hour corrections.  Many vehicles have many little crevices in which years of grime, dirt and dust buildup hide, and the only way to get to this is a cotton swab paired with a good cleaner, such as APC+ or P21S TAW.

That about sums it up.  For vehicle interiors, a simple vacuum in addition to all the above is all that’s necessary on a regular basis.  The APC+ will cover anything from carpet stains to seat wipedowns, and everything on the interior can be dressed with 303 Aerospace Protectant.  Other than that interiors are fairly straightforward and simply need to be done on a regular basis to remain in nearly perfect condition.  For more on my thoughts regarding detailing intervals, check out my article Auto Detailing Maintenance Schedules.

As always, thanks for reading and hope you guys found it helpful!

Ivan Rajic Lustr Deatil
Ivan Rajic
LUSTR Auto Detail
481 W Wise Road
Schaumburg, IL 60193
LustrDetail.com
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8 comments on Detailing Products for Caring Owners and Enthusiasts

  1. chad lusk says:

    Great review Ivan! This is a good starting point for those new to detailing or detailed image. Basic products like this are a must have for those who are just getting into detailing and need some kind of reference points.

  2. walt says:

    Opti-Seal for your motorcycle you apply it on there every few rides. Why that often
    ? What else do you use on your bike ?

    • Ivan Rajic Ivan Rajic says:

      Walt,

      I apply it mostly because of simple passion to be honest. My motorcycle is my baby so I basically do a quick ONR wash every few rides and do a quick coat of Opti-Seal. What I did was initially clean it and applied 3 coats of Klasse Sealant Glaze back in April when I got it out of storage. Ever since then it’s seen a couple coats of P21S Concours wax and quite a few of Opti-Seal. I don’t ride my bike daily, so every few rides mean a quick coat every 2 weeks or so.

      As for what else I use, it’s a very short list of Optimum No-Rinse, 303 Aerospace Protectant (plastics NOT tires), Meguiar’s All Purpose cleaner for wheels, etc. and the few sealants.

  3. Chris says:

    Hey Ivan,
    I’ve been using KAIO and KSG for at least 20 years now, great stuff. Thanks for the tip on removal with M34, as this has always been the toughest part of the job. Do you recommend wiping with M34 with the first step (KAIO) as well?

    • Ivan Rajic Ivan Rajic says:

      Thanks Chris. I honestly never had trouble removing KAIO and I would imagine it’s better to simply wipe off the residue before following up with KSG. Wish I could have a better answer for you.

  4. Nav says:

    Hi Ivan
    Thanks for the info and also for your other columns (the KSG application was particularly useful). Anyway, I was wondering what the difference between meg apc and p21s taw: they appear to do the same thing?
    Thanks again for everything
    Nav

    • Ivan Rajic Ivan Rajic says:

      Thanks for the kind words Nav, glad it helped!

      As for Meg’s APC+ vs P21S TAW, everyone has their opinions and preferences. I choose to use P21S TAW for paint cleaning, such as a prep-wash before a polishing detail, and APC+ for the grunt work, like wheel wells, etc. They’re in some sense similar in that they’re both used as all purpose cleaners and can be diluted, but I find that APC+ is a bit stronger, and along with its lower price I prefer it for things other than paint. I do like TAW for paint and use it on a regular basis, so since I use both but for different things, I guess my best advice for you would be to try out both and see for yourself.

      Hope that helps,
      Ivan

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