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After Care : What To Think About Post Detailing


“I want to get a fully complete, total, mission impossible near flawless paint correction detail!”  Great!  How are you going to take care of your car afterward?

Rodney Holding A Rupes Ibrid

We need to have a serious talk about aftercare. Hold on to a post-it-note, or even cigarette wrapper.  Now realize you may likely have even less paint that I can safely polish than the thickness of a post-it note or cigarette wrapper.

This article is not meant to terrify you and to not necessarily at all to discourage you from polishing or paying someone to polish your car.  I just want you to not take the investment of time and resources of paint correction and most importantly the after care process seriously.  The post detailing part of cosmetic car care (aftercare), washing your car carefully, and somewhat frequently is the point of emphasis here.  Speaking on behalf of many professional detailers, we feel devastated spending several hours to days with your car to find the same defects likely caused by the same bad habits of the owner.

If this is your first black car, you may be in for a shock.  The turnaround from a day or two worth of polishing may amaze you.  What also may surprise you is how easily your black car can return to that same poor condition.  The good and the bad of what was not as visible on a white car will be obvious on a black car.

How long will my detailed car look like this?  Forget the TV advertisement you just watched.  There is nothing we can put on your car that will prevent the consequences of total neglect.  Get that magic sealant, those magic coatings, and even super paint protection film thoughts out of your head.  So how long will your car look like this?  That is up to you.  I recommend you asking yourself how did your car get this way with the swirls and scratches.  If you can not give a good answer or a good solution, perhaps getting an enhancement (improve but not remove) level of service may be what’s right for you.  But if you are open to change, there are better methods of washing a car.

Let’s say you use the traditional wash method.  I have spoken with many people who brag that they do not use dawn, have the best wash mitt, the best soap, but do not have one of these (grit guard inserts) in their wash bucket.  What I mean by traditional, washing a panel or two of your car, then dumping the mitt back into your bucket, and then taking that same mitt back onto your paint. If that is your process you should have a grit guard insert in your bucket.  Even better you should have two; a rinse bucket with a grit guard and a wash bucket with a grit guard.


Sometimes whether using regular soap or a rinseless wash solution, I do not use a grit guard.  But in those situations, I am not reintroducing a wash mitt or towel to a dirty bucket.  I am using several towels or mitts.

Do you wash your towels after every use? Do you use high quality microfiber towels?  This is an important part of maintenance.  You may do all of the right things washing a car, but between car washing days grab a dry microfiber towel and vigorously rub any and every foreign substance off of your paint.  Wash day is not the only time you have to be gentle with your car.  I also do not consider spraying quick detailer with a couple of microfiber towels a safe wash alternative.

Please be honest with yourself.  If you are thinking to yourself, these things will likely forever be foreign to me, I would reconsider signing off on that multi-stage paint correction plan.

If you are willing to learn better wash methods, there are links below that can help guide you:

Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
YouTube | Facebook

27 comments on After Care : What To Think About Post Detailing

  1. Kim Newling says:

    Good thoughts all around. Food for thought….i do not use 2 bucket system with grit guards. I simply soap cannon car and use multiple wash mitts all around car. Put dirty mitt in empty bucket and thoroughly rinse out mitt when finished washing. I never dunk mitt in any bucket that may have floating dirt in water. Thus always working clean, and never scratching the paint. What you think?

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      Thank you. This is a method I have used as well and have enjoyed. In some situations where the car is dirtier than usual post and limited prewash, I prefer washing the car that way.

      I do understand not everyone has our collection of wash mitts though.

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Rodney, I have a question for you I’m handicapped and pretty much confined to a wheelchair but I can transfer and drive but I also like to keep my car clean. I’m wondering how I can clean my car it’s an SUV which I had to get so I could get in and out and I had to have a left foot gas pedal put in. Any help would be appreciated.

  3. Ken says:

    Hi I’m new to car detailing so I’ve washed my car using a 3 bucket system, soap( not dishwashing type), rinse bucket, and a bucket for the tires. Im at the Clay Bar stage today, in my garage on a cool surface.
    Could you tell me if i should rewash the car after claying. And then the NEXT STEP, do I wax, or use a sealant first not sure what the difference is please explain. What’s my order to get the most out of my detailing job.

    Thank you

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      I MAY rewash again with a PH neutral soap that has nothing in it, if the clay lubricant is very visibly still present. If that is is not the case, and I would honestly do it anyway, follow with a mild panel prep like Gyeon Prep or Carpro Eraser. Normally I go straight to panel prep in your position, which addresses remaining residues/polymers on put on by the clay lubricant.

      Depending on the clay lubricant used, timely wipeoff, and perhaps protection product used it may not be the end of the world if the surface is surgically clean.

  4. Kim Newling says:

    What do you use to clean a fabric convertible top? Super soft brush? Mild soap? Top it off with 3m scotch guard? Doing a Vett tomorrow for first time convertible. Thanks.

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      Hi Kim, hoping I am able to contribute in time. Exactly! The only thing I will add is expect it to be a little bit of a Labor Of Love. I.e be patient, work it with a soft brush for a while if really soiled.

    • Ron Ayotte says:

      I’ve used RagTop convertible top cleaner on fabric roofs with food results. I also use 3M Scotchgard for fabric on the fabric top. Just be sure to mask off the painted areas to prevent overspray. For vinyl tops, I like to use Bon Ami cleanser, doing a small section at a time and throughly rinsing to keep residues off of the paint.

  5. James M says:

    Great article. As a hobby detailer, I do 2-4 cars a year for close friends. Knowing which friends will use proper techniques and wash practices is as important to me as which cars I will do vs turn away. I almost always turn away daily drivers because it is just too convenient for most people to run it through the local swirl-o-matic come wash time. All my labor and efforts gone in one 3 minute wash.

    I am such a firm believer in foam cannons and their ability to loosen and even remove light contamination with NO contact, that I’ve even included them for my friends as part of their detail. I’ve also included “wash lessons” to teach them how to wash the car I just put a labor of love into.

    Now my biggest problem is convincing people that car covers are not usually a good thing unless the car is spotless and they have help putting it on. And, amen on instant detailer. Instant swirls is the frequent result!

    • Kim Newling says:

      Just did my friends Corvette with a 1 step correction. This also came with a 1 hour lesson on how to wash his car. Please don’t bring car back with swirls!

  6. Ken says:

    Hi… what is the safest way to remove mirror shine product from car

  7. Kim Newling says:

    Hey Rodney. I’m thinking about buying a nicer d.a. polisher. Presently I have a cheap 8mm throw d.a. that has 3 inch backing plate and pads. I use this for doing motorcycles. When I use this on cars or suv, the cheap d.a. kinda “beats me up”. Looking at 15mm or 21 mm d.a. to solve this. Im not a professional, so price is part of the decision. Any recommendation?

    • Ron Ayotte says:

      I have the Griot’s Boss 15 polisher. Get to from the Griot’s website and you get a lifetime warranty for the machine. I had an issue with mine, they replaced it, no questions asked. They even paid for the shipping by FedEx.

    • zeela says:

      If your current budget-friendly 8mm throw d.a. is giving you a hard time with larger vehicles, upgrading to a 15mm or 21mm throw could be a smart move. It’ll be gentler on you and do a better job on cars and SUVs. Just find one that fits your price range and you’ll be good to go!

  8. Kim Newling says:

    I’m a little confused. On Lake County pad website it says blue pads are for light scratches and applying sealant. On D.I. website it says very aggressive scratch removal. Which is it?

  9. leolee says:

    It’s awesome that you’re determined to keep your SUV clean. You might want to consider using a soft-bristle brush with an extended handle to reach those tricky spots. Also, microfiber cloths are great for a gentle clean. Take your time, and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance when needed. Keep that SUV shining! 🚗✨

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