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Detailing Essentials #8 | Don’t just Protect the Paint – Protect your Body!


So far on detailing essentials we have talked about products, tools, and techniques that help deliver higher-quality results. But what about the most important tool, our body. I know from experience this tool is often overlooked. I don’t know how many times someone has said to me, why are you not wearing gloves or a mask or knee pads? I would reply with; I’m ok I’ll power through it. Well, I was an idiot. Sacrificing your body for the sake of the job is not worth it in the long run. I’m sure many seasoned detailers will say the same thing. It’s important to prioritize your health now and create good habits rather than wait for an issue to take you out of the detail bay.

What I have done is listed just a few safety/comfort tools, I regularly use to keep myself in peak working condition. I’m sure there are countless other items to add to this list, and I would love to hear what has worked for you in the comments below. Protect the paint but also protect your body!

Gloves, gloves, gloves. I have become somewhat of a glove freak. It just doesn’t feel right detailing without them. I’m sure many of you have experienced extremely dry hands from using cleaners every day. Having your skin in contact with harsh chemicals can’t be a good thing long term, which is why I recommend always wearing gloves when using any kind of cleaning solution. I would definitely give the DI Nitrile Powder Free gloves a go!

Air blowers, polishing machines, etc can be extremely loud. Having ear protection on hand like the 3M 90565-4DC-PS Pro Grade Earmuffs can be essential.

One of the most vital tools on this list is the RZ dust/pollution mask. When you are compounding/polishing, inevitably dust is dispersing into the air. We then breathe the polishing dust into our lungs. I’m going out on a limb, that probably isn’t a good thing. A dust mask will allow you to compound like crazy in a dust cloud without harming your lungs.

Ok, now onto work-wear. I have gone through a stupid amount of pants. I often buy a new pair only for holes to pop up in a short amount of time. Working on concrete and asphalt can abrade the pants resulting in rips. Not a super-professional look. I then found Duluth Trading Fire Hose Work Pants. These pants are made out of a super durable abrasion-resistant material that I have loved working in. They are slightly pricey at $69 but worth every penny in my opinion. If you have had this same issue, I would give them a try.

Knee pads are by no means fun to wear. I actually hate working in them. But then I started looking at my knees and realized maybe I should wear them. As detailers, we are consistently on the ground cleaning wheels, rocker panels, and exhaust tips — the Rupes Bigfoot Knee Pads give great support when cleaning the lower parts of a vehicle.

One category that I have a lot of experience in, is work shoes. I have tested countless pairs of work shoes in search of a shoe that is both waterproof and durable. My goal was to find a shoe that gave great comfort, support, and had the strength to hold up over 12 months of daily use. Right now, I am working in the Merrell Fullbench CT work shoe. This shoe is last year’s model but provided great comfort and water resistance. What I found, is that Gortex lining is excellent only if water never gets in. If a Gortex shoe gets wet, it stays wet all day long. These Merrells are far more breathable, allowing any water to dry if the shoe became wet. That being said I also had great results with the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX with a Gortex lining. This shoe is far more water-resistant and held up great, but it always had that Achilles heel if it ever did get wet. If you’re looking for a durable work shoe, you can’t go wrong with either of these two.

I hope this article helped you in some way to start implementing good habits for prioritizing your health while doing what you love to do, cleaning and protecting cars!

James Melfi
Holliston, MA
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8 comments on Detailing Essentials #8 | Don’t just Protect the Paint – Protect your Body!

  1. Great article!! There were way too many times where I didn’t bother trying to wear the right protective gear or use knee pads etc. All it takes is one stray rock directly under your knee to change your mind on that! I look forward to more articles man!

  2. On the subject of knee pads Carhart makes a set of foam knee pads that slip into their double front work pants. I used one set for over a year before I had to replace the pants haha. I like them over regular knee pads because they are always there so you dont waste time putting them on and taking them off. The only downfall is when you forget your not wearing your work pants and you slam your knee down as if you were hahahah

  3. rlmccarty2000 says:

    Working in heat needs to be addressed too. This summer has been the hottest on record and I have to dress cool. Cooling wraps and ice packs are a necessity in the South. My rubber gloves fill up with sweat in minutes. Sweat bands on the arms and head help reduce sweat getting on to the polishing surface and the polisher. No long pants for me, only shorts for 10 months out of the year.

    • james melfi says:

      We get some pretty serious heat during the summer as well, and the work pant and knee pads go right out the window lol

  4. As far as shoes I found the Nike Nyjah Frees from advice from another detailer. They are super comfortable and keep my feet perfectly dry all day long! No show I had tried before them worked like these.

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