Do-It-Yourself Car Detailing

Posted on April 5th, 2012 by Discount Debbie

Yesterday we posted an awesome deal on a wet/dry vacuum. Unfortunately it’s gone now but I hope you snagged one. If not, make sure you are on the lookout for a good deal because I am here to tell you they are the best tool ever for cleaning out your car!

I like a really clean car. Don’t get me wrong, my car isn’t always clean, but I wish it were. This last time I wanted to get it super clean, so I started calling around to local detailing places. I was shocked at the cost. Some places were up to $200 for my little four door Nissan. I quickly decided to do it myself, but I still wanted the same quality. And 3 hours later, my car was immaculate and could easily pass for a professional job. Here are some pointers for you to detail your own car and have it looks like you paid hundreds.

1. Start from the top down wiping your car out. We didn’t do this and had to re-wipe everything down. You want to clean the windows and dashboard first from the top down. You would do the same thing in a house. If you start from the bottom up, when you clean your dashboards all the dust will go back on the floor.

2. Get everything out of your car and trunk. We got everything out. There was nothing left in our car except for the stuff in the glove compartment. This made cleaning so much easier.

3. Shop vac your car. This was my favorite part. Those vacuums at the car wash usually cost around $1.00 for 3 minutes. I hate that pressure to get it done in that time. This is where those awesome shop vacs comes in handy. We paid $39.99 for a large one from Home Depot at Christmas and it is just as powerful as the ones at the car wash. It was so awesome to turn it on and have as much time as I wanted. I was able to get it perfectly clean with no crumbs left.

4. Use a good fabric cleaner. We went to home depot and found a great upholstery and floor cleaner for $4.99. We cleaned the carpets and my toddler soiled seats. It looks brand new now!

5. Wash your car mats in the washing machine. This tip can probably be debatable. I read a lot about it online and a lot of people say it’s a horrible idea. However, we did use our washing machine on the gentle cycle on hot and let them air dry. The result: Brand new like mats. Again, I don’t really know the effect on the machine, but ours seemed fine and the agitator was very gentle. Use this tip at your own risk.

6. Buy a good air freshner. We ended up with a bottle of Febreeze for automobiles. I spent $3.99 for the bottle and sprayed it all over, let the windows down and let the car air out.

At the end of these 6 easy steps, my car looked brand new! If you want to count the shop vac that we bought several months ago, I spent a total of $48.97. I will be able to use all of the stuff I bought at least two more times and the vacuum for years. One trip to the detailer would have cost me at least twice as much. As a matter of fact, I bet we did a better job!

 Want more Do-It-Yourself instructions? Check out our latest Thrifty Tips HERE! 


  1. Debbie R April 5, 2012

    I love How To & DIY articles like this. Thank you
    Can I ask what you are doing in the picture?

  2. Amanda Alvarado April 6, 2012

    Great tips! I’ve cleaned my car myself before but I can never get those pesky toddler stains out of my back seats though! I’ve scrubbed and scrubbed but nope they won’t come out! Never thought to wash the mats in the washer…gonna try it this weekend!

  3. Holly Hennessy Swint April 8, 2012

    TY for the tips! Are truck needs detailing bad! LOL

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