How to detail. The Stjärnagloss way.
Ok, so we're not going to turn you into a pro overnight. And we all have our own way of doing things. But sometimes a little guidance is useful, so we've created this step-by-step tutorial to demystify the detailing process and improve your knowledge and skills (if they need improving, of course!).
Step 1. Pre-wash.
Never pre-wash a dry car… give it a good soaking first. It not only removes some loose dirt, but you’ll get better coverage from your pre-wash product if the car’s wet already. And don’t let your snow foam or TFR dry on the car, if it’s a hot day. Always rinse them off before they can dry.
Step 2. Wheels.
No matter how clean the paintwork, dirty wheels spoil the overall look of the car. They’re a visual focal point, so get them clean and then keep them that way with a spray sealant. After the pre-wash, but before the main wash, is the perfect time to let your wheel cleaner start working. Spray Hjul liberally onto the rims, avoiding the brake discs as far as possible. Work it in with our wheel brush, then allow it to stand for a few minutes. You’ll see it change colour as it reacts with the iron contamination – it even helps soften tar blobs and loosens tyre marbles. Once the reaction is complete, rinse the rims thoroughly with your jet wash. You may need a dedicated tar remover (Tjära) for stubborn tar spots or wheel weight adhesive residue.
Most wheels are clearcoated, like normal car bodywork. So you can clay them and polish them in the usual way. And even if you don’t, it’s always worth covering them in a protective product to guard the finish and make them easier to clean in the future. Our Pärla spray protectant makes a good wheel sealant. Just apply a coat or two when the wheel’s clean and dry, then buff it to a consistent finish.
Stjep 3. Wash.
A two bucket wash is the centre of your car care regime. It’s often the first point of contact with the car’s paintwork, so get it right and you’ll save yourself from a load of accidentally added swirls. A safe wash is pretty easy. Just get two buckets (our Stjärnagloss ones are good but even cheap ones will do) and maybe a Scratch Shield or two to go inside them. Fill the wash bucket with soap solution (in our case, Bubblor shampoo mixed approximately 1:400 with water) and fill the second (rinse) bucket with clean water. Then dip your Lurvig mitt into the wash solution, apply generously to the car, then dunk it into the rinse bucket to get rid of the dirt. Check that it’s clean and free from grime, twigs or bugs before dipping it into the soap solution once again… apply, rinse and repeat. If your car has a matt finish, remember to use our Matta residue-free shampoo instead. After the wash stage, rinse your car (consider using our protective Glatt rinse aid) and dry it quickly before any water spots can form.
Always wash from the top of the car down, starting at the front. This ensures the dirtier back and lower sections are tackled last – preventing your rinse water being contaminated too soon. And if the rinse water (or even wash water) starts looking too brown, simply empty the bucket and refill. A minute here may save hours of machine polishing later. Oh, and don’t forget the door shuts and fuel filler cap – they may need a wash too!
Step 4. Decon.
After the wash, your car will look good, but it won’t be perfectly clean. There will still be ‘spot’ contaminants like tar flecks, fly debris, tree sap and bird mess residue that need removing. Along with some water marks that may have been missed during the drying stage. You could also consider deep cleaning the paintwork by ‘claying’ it. A clay bar will pluck, shear and abrade contaminants off your paintwork, leaving it silky smooth and hydrophobic afterwards. Normally you’d only clay once a year, but some detailers will always clay before adding a fresh layer of wax or sealant. If you don’t have time to clay, don’t worry. Tar spots will be removed easily with Tjära tar and glue remover and our Silke detailing spray will gently remove other contaminants and leave a glossy finish behind (use Mörk detailer for matt finishes).
You can use our iron removing wheel cleaner, Hjul, to decontaminate your car. To avoid wasting the product, we’d only recommend using it on washed/clayed upper areas of the car. Just spray it on, allow it to work for a few minutes and then thoroughly rinse off. Don’t let it dry onto the car on hot panels/hot days and avoid metal trim and sensitive finishes. It will do a great job removing any embedded metal particles (‘fallout’) that have become embedded in the paint – even claying may only shear these off rather than pull them out completely.
Step 5. Enhancement.
A clean car is just your starting point. Enhancement means improving what’s there – physically removing minor defects and swirls, adding gloss with glaze oils and dressing surfaces that need a little help to look their best. For gloss painted finishes, you’ll be looking at a clean, clayed, dry panel. Now, simply grab some Skära polish and a Gnugga polish applicator (or machine polisher with a suitable pad) and start working the micro-abrasives into the paint. It’s only a light cut, but you’ll see it remove minor blemishes and leave behind glaze oils and sealants to perfect the finish as far as possible. There’s no need to let it haze over. Just work it in, and then buff it off when the panel (or section of panel) is done. If you need more cut, repeat the process. When it comes to the rest of the car, you’ll want to enhance the trim, tyres and glass but we’ll cover them separately later. Wheels can be enhanced in a similar way to bodywork if they have a painted finish. And let’s not forget the final touch… a quick detailer to remove any dust or fingerprints that may have mysteriously appeared after buffing. A simple spray with Silke and buff with a soft microfibre cloth will do the job quickly - and impressively. Got a matt finish instead? OK, there’s no need for a polish so leave the Skära alone. Just use Mörk detailer and a soft cloth to remove contaminants from the matt surface. It’s been designed to clean without leaving any residue behind that could compromise the finish.
If you need a bit more cut from your polish, the soft Gnugga applicator may be too gentle. Use our Rutig waffle weave glass cleaning cloth with Skära instead – it’s got extra bite!
Step 6. Protection
After all the hard work cleaning and enhancing your car, it would be sacrilege not to protect it. You want to keep it looking good for many weeks and months to come… and make it easier to clean in the future thanks to slick, dirt repellent surfaces. Luckily, we do a range of protection products that mean you’ll always have the perfect coating close to hand, whatever your budget, detailing aims or preferred application route. The classic choice is, of course, a paste wax. In our case, Fantastisk hybrid wax. This is a blend of natural carnauba and bees waxes, combined with synthetic sealants to boost longevity, durability and shine. Simply apply to a clean, polished surface using a foam applicator, allow to haze, then buff off with a soft microfibre cloth. Minor defects and swirls will be filled by the wax formula, improving gloss and leaving behind an invisible protective coating that helps guard against UV rays, road grime and contamination. It’s easy to use and very effective, but if you prefer products that are even faster to apply, you could opt for Pärla spray sealant or Glatt rinse aid. Pärla is a spray sealant, so just spray it onto a clean panel and buff it immediately. It won’t fill defects quite as effectively as our hybrid wax, but it is faster to apply, has similar durability and could be even slicker in coating terms. Glatt is a rinse aid sealant, applied via pressure washer or spray bottle. Simply coat your car after a wash, rinse and then dry. It’s the quickest way to protect a car and also helps the rinsing and drying processes by causing the water to sheet off body panels (keeping water marks at bay). Always remember to rinse and buff after application though – all our sealants are strong and effective and need thorough buffing to ensure a consistent finish.
Dark coloured cars and older vehicles may have more application issues, in coating terms. This is because their paint can become microscopically porous over time due to damage from sunlight (UV). This may result in smears, patchiness or other visual inconsistencies. Instead of trying to remove these (which may be quite difficult, involving strong solvents or even machine polishing) try masking them instead with an ‘overcoat’ application of Fantastisk wax. Often the thick wax will hide the sunken oils and leave an even finish when buffed.
Step 7. Trim and Glass.
Trim often looks a little dull and patchy after a wash, so you’ll want to dress it with a suitable product. In our range, that’s Gummi, a paste-like emulsion that dries to a satin sheen after application/buffing. Simply wipe on with a soft foam or microfibre applicator (being careful to avoid nearby glass), then buff to a dry finish immediately afterwards. It will help to protect rubber and plastic trim, whether smooth or textured, for weeks and months to come. There’s no streaking or run off like with some products. And you can also dress the tyres with it (sidewalls only), although these will need attention after every wash (they’ll simply get too dirty to avoid this unfortunately).
For glass, reach for our Glas spray. This is a solvent-based non-smear glass cleaner, best used with our Rutig glass cloth. Ensure the glass is dry, then apply Glas liberally and buff until the pane is clean and free of all streaks, smears and surface contaminants. Use it inside the car, as well as outside, on all glass and mirrors. It’s also safe on sprayed window tints and tinted films (assuming they have been correctly applied initially). Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to your old glass cleaning polish or spray. No dust, no fuss and incredible results…
On glass, if you do get smearing with our glass cleaner it will be down to water droplets on the glass – the solvent spray ideally needs a dry pane to work with. Regarding exterior black plastic trim, you may find that the finish could still be patchy if it is faded and old (no matter what product you use). This is due to deep UV damage, leading to the trim surface becoming rough and porous; the best treatment here could be to replace or paint it. There’s only so much dressings and sealants can do…
Step 8. Interior
Luckily, the interior of your car won’t be subjected to the same level of contamination and damage as the exterior. But you still need to keep it clean and looking good – after all, it’s where you’ll be spending most of your time. You’ll find that our interior cleaning spray, Inni, will be perfect for cleaning all hard and soft surfaces inside the cabin. Sure, you may want to use Glas glass cleaner on all the windows, and Silke detailing spray may add a little sheen to hard surfaces. But Inni gets things clean, whether gummy residues on hard plastics to light stains on fabric seats or leather. For hard surfaces, a simple spray and wipe with a soft microfibre can be enough. Leave Inni to dwell for a bit longer if needed, but be careful with sensitive finishes like ‘piano black’ trim – if it is left too long it could react with the finish. For soft surfaces (upholstery, headlining, carpet etc.) you may want to use a little extra water and a brush to treat a whole panel. Spray Inni onto the mark, work in with the brush, then use a damp cloth or sponge and additional water to wet the panel consistently. Otherwise you may end up with a water mark or obvious ‘clean area’. It may take a few sessions to remove deep stains or grime and a wet vac could be a good investment here. The wetter the interior, the longer it will take to dry, so remember to allow plenty of time before you use the car again (or use a dehumidifier to speed things up). If the driver’s seat is OK, you should be able to drive around with the aircon on a high fan setting to speed the drying process up.
Never use a high gloss detailer or dressing on the dash – it could cause nasty reflections when you’re driving, especially on sunny days. Our Silke detailing spray has a satin sheen and will be all the gloss you’ll need. Or keep it natural with our Inni interior cleaner, or even Mörk matt finish detail spray.
Step 9. Maintenance
Once your car is detailed, you’ll want a simple guide to maintaining the finish. Here’s what we recommend:
Every day – watch out for bird mess, this needs removing immediately. Almost anything else can wait until next wash.
Products used: Silke detailing spray
Every two weeks – time for a two bucket wash. Pre-wash with citrus TFR (bottom half of car) if it’s very dirty, otherwise snow foam may be all the pre-wash you need. You’ll need to clean the wheels again (on sealed or waxed wheels your car shampoo should be strong enough, otherwise use Hjul wheel cleaner). Dress the tyres, but your trim should be OK. Clean the exterior glass and give the interior a little clean if needed. Use detailing spray afterwards for the final finish.
Key products: Först citrus pre-wash, Snö snow foam pre-wash, Bubblor shampoo (or Matta shampoo if matt car), Hjul wheel cleaner, Gummi trim and tyre dressing, Glas glass cleaner, Inni interior cleaning spray, Silke detailing spray (or Mörk matt detailer if matt car)
Every month – top up time… we’ve assumed you’ve waxed or used a spray sealant, so you’ll have 3-6 months of protection already on your car. This protection doesn’t need re-applying but a few contaminants may have settled on, and embedded into, the finish. Plus the initial oils or gloss may have disappeared. So wash as usual, but use Glatt for an extra quick shine after the rinse – or dry as usual and add a little Pärla spray sealant as the final treatment instead of your detailing spray. This assumes you have a gloss-painted car, of course. Matt finishes just need a matt detailer as normal.
Key products: Glatt rinse aid, Pärla spray sealant
Every quarter – removing and recoating. Yes, once a quarter it’s best to deep clean the car and reapply the base layer of wax or sealant. Use Först as a strong TFR pre-wash over all the car, but rinse it thoroughly and don’t let it dry on in hot conditions. Then two-bucket wash and clay, before polishing (assuming a gloss finish) and re-apply your wax or sealant of choice.
Key products: Först citrus pre-wash, Lera clay bar, Glir clay lubricant, Skära polish, Fantastisk hybrid wax, Pärla spray sealant
Every year – make time once a year to fully machine polish your car, fill in stone chips and deal with deeper defects. Your interior may need a wet vac or steam clean as well, with wheels removed for a thorough clean and re-seal behind the wheel spokes, inner face etc. (always torque your wheel nuts after… removing wheels always has a safety implication).
Key products: Skära polish, Inni interior cleaning spray, Hjul wheel cleaner