Jeep Wrangler Forum

Jeep Wrangler Forum (
-   General Jeep Discussion (
-   -   How to correctly wash/detail your Jeep. (

ShowroomShine 07-08-2012 07:17 PM

How to correctly wash/detail your Jeep.
*Mods feel free to move this to any forum it should be, I figured it wouldnt get much exposure in the Paint/Body forum.*

This is a sticky I have in the detailing forum I moderate . I have seen a few Jeep related detailing posts lately, so I figured this may be of some help. The other thread has had almost 67,000 views and many people have responded in the thread that this completely changed the results of their car wash day. Please note, I wrote this almost 6 years ago, so pardon some bad grammar and punctuation.

This is not Jeep specific, but it will work for anything and everything on the Jeep. The products are designed to be found locally available at Autozone/Napa etc, but the occasional product will be mentioned that is only available online at retailers such as Autogeek

"I have had a couple of requests for a reference article that explains what the correct procedures are and products that we can use on our tundra. I have also had many people PM me about what is the “right wax to use” or other ?’s like that. I am going to do a step by step list of the procedures and products that I use as a professional detailer to run my business as well as keep my own truck clean and new. If you don’t have the particular problem that I am explaining, then move on to the next section. If I refer to a product that you probably not heard let me know and I will tell you where to get it. Just do a search for the product I mention on that site and you will find it. Other than that, I will be using over the counter products that can be found at your local Pep-boys or Napa, etc.

Step #1- Washing

To start out your detail on your car/truck, you have to start with the right products for the job. Start out with the correct CAR wash soap, not dawn. I like Duragloss #901 CWC. It is really cheap, really slick, and easy on your paint. I also like the line of wash mitts from Mequiars; they are the best wash-mitts available at the public level. You may also want to use a bug remover or all purpose cleaner. I like Duragloss #471 or Simple Green, I have yet to find any bug or tar residue that this won’t remove.

Start out with pre-rinsing the truck, making sure to remove all loose dust/dirt/debris from the surface before washing. Mix up your car wash solution and dip the mitt into the bucket. Working from the top down, rinsing about every other section, wash the truck. Use long straight passes to remove the dirt, don’t use pressure, let the soap do the work. Do the lower parts and front bumper/windshield last as it has the most grime. Also you don’t want to be dragging dead bugs all over your hood.

When that step is finished, it is time to pay attention to the wheels, tires, wheel wells, and motor. I like Simple Green for all of these jobs. I use it full strength on tires and wheel wells (that includes any part of the frame that you can see), and about 7:1 on wheels and motor. Just spray a liberal amount of the cleaner on whatever you are working on, and give it a scrub. Simple as that. Not really much to cleaning these parts. Make sure everything is rinsed thoroughly as leaving this cleaner on the surface will cause stains. Also, make sure to use a separate mitt and brush for this purpose; don’t use your “good” wash mitt.

Step #2 – The Clay Bar (if needed)

Every car can benefit from claying. New trucks often sit on the lot and have embedded contaminants, and used trucks often have tar, sap, and general stuck on dirt that needs to be removed to create an optically bright finish. I like Clay Magic or Mothers for this job. It comes with the clay, and supplied clay lube. You will use car wash soap, so save the clay lube for other things.

After washing, mix up another bucket of car wash soap and soap up a panel of the truck. Divide the clay into 3pieces as this will help if you happen to drop one of them on the ground. DON’T USE IT IF IT GETS DROPPED ON THE GROUND. Run the clay along the surface, adding more soap as needed. Listen and feel, when the clay gets easier to move, and you no longer hear a “grinding” noise, you are done with that panel and you can rinse and move to the next. Do this to each panel, making sure to knead the clay after each panel to reveal fresh clay. After you have finished with the paint portion of your truck, clay the glass and finally the wheels. This removes some of the water spotting on windows and removes stuck on brake dust.

After this is done, rinse the truck good, and dry. I like the Absorber Chamois for drying. It picks up a lot more water than a towel, and has less chance of scratching. DON’T USE OLD TOWELS or the like. They WILL scratch your paint.

Step #3- Paint compounding and defect removal

Paint defects are swirl marks, water spots, acid rain etching, and oxidation removal. All of these are problems to most autos’ paint, and fixing them now will not only greatly enhance the look of the truck, it will prolong paint life and increase the trucks value. I will explain as if your paint is worst case scenario. If you don’t have these problems, skip to step #4.

You will need a paint compound. Don’t get scared of the word “compound”. It is not like the days you used to use “turtle wax rubbing compound”. That stuff is like sand in a paste for. Today’s compounds are much more effective and safe. I like Meguiars #105 for paint defect removal by machine. If you are using a machine, I like the Porter Cable 7424 from Lowe’s. You will need a pad kit and a backing plate that can be picked up from Autogeek. If you are trying this by hand I like Mequiars Scratch X or Ultimate Polish. Polishing by hand will NOT remove all defects, but it will improve them.

(This should all be done in the shade)

By machine, apply the appropriate pad to the 7424’s backing plate. Apply a dime size bit of compound to the pad. (use the clay magic clay lube to “prime” the pad, this helps with lubricity). Break the truck into sections. I usually break the hood into 4. Place the machine on the paint and start on speed 4, spreading the compound on the surface using SLOW overlapping movements. When the compound is spread, crank the speed up to 5 (out of 6). Keep moving the machine in overlapping movements until the compound becomes clear and almost seems to disappear. Don’t slather on the compound and polish the section for 4seconds. This takes a little time. Repeat this step as many times as necessary for defect removal. Use a spotlight to see if all the swirls and water spots have been removed, if not, repeat until they have. Also, use only microfiber to remove compound residue. I like the VROOM line from target, cheap and quality.

Polishing by hand, using Scratch X or similar, place a Dime size amount on your microfiber applicator, and simply rub the area. Try not to rub in a circle pattern, long strokes will do the job. Then when the polish has worked in, remove. Repeat as many times as your arm will let you.

Also, when done with the paint, make sure that you do the same thing to your glass. This helps remove water spots and created an optically clear surface for you to look through.

Step #4- Polishing

Polishing after compounding removes any compounding haze or micromarring left behind by the compound. It also dramatically increases the wetness and gloss of the paint. The “wet look shine” is created by polishing, not what kind of wax you use.

If your paint was in good shape to begin with, then you start here.

You will start out by needing a good paint polish or glaze. For a polish, I like Mezerna Final Polish II or Meguiars #205. These polishes are easy to work, creates great gloss, and you can use it as many times a year as you like. It only has very *minor* abrasives that remove “some” defects. For a glaze (you can put this over top of the polish for that extra depth and wetness, but it is not necessary), I like ClearKote’s Red Moose Glaze. It is really cheap, really easy to use.

Either of these can be used by hand or machine and these are similar to use. By either hand or machine, these products are applied in an easier manner than compounds. Place a dime size amount of polish (glaze after polish) to either the buffing machine or the hand applicator. Buff into the paint at speed 5 (or high when using your hand), and wait for the product to buff clear. Then remove with your microfiber. Your paint finish should be clear, wet, deep, and ready for your final paint step, your LSP (last step product or commonly called, wax)

Step #5 LSP (wax or sealant)

Polishing is what creates the gloss and depth; LSP is what seals it in. There are 2 kinds of LSP’s. Natural (carnauba) and synthetic. Carnauba waxes don’t last as long as synthetic and generally dont offer the same sort of protection. They may provide a slightly deeper gloss, but I just prefer to use synthetic, so that is what I will recommend.

Most of you have heard of Zaino, and it is a great product, however, it is also very pricey. A product almost 100% similar in looks, gloss, durability, and protection is Duragloss #105 Total Performance Polish (it is an LSP, not a polish, don’t know why they put that in the name). The best part is that it only costs about $8 compared to over $15-20 with Zaino.

The #105 is applied by hand, but you can use a machine. Place a pea sized drop on the pad, no need to slather it on (this does not help durability contrary to what you have heard), and then simply apply it to the paint. As long as it touches the surface, the stuff is applied. No need for rubbing or anything like that. Let the product set for 5-15min, and then wipe off. Just make sure to apply it to all of the painted surfaces.

Don’t forget to apply the sealant to your windows. This seals the glass and acts like Rain-X. It also helps prevent those water spots that you just polished out.

Step #6- Wheels, tires, wheel wells, motor

When all the paint and glass is done, you have to make sure the wheels and tires are up to parr.

Polish the wheels using the correct polish for your surface. My deep six’s are clear coated and I use a paint polish on them. If your wheels are not cleared, use a metal polish. I like Eagle one Nano-Polish for metal. Polish the wheels like you would your paint. Seal them with the #105 sealant you used for your paint. This helps in brake dust reduction, and keeps them looking new.

As far as tires go, I like 303 Aerospace or Armor All. Neither product slings and doesn’t give that “bling bling” shine, just a nice even look. Apply a light mist to the tire and let sit for a few moments and then wipe the tire dry with a tire sponge to prevent slinging.

Wheel wells can be spruced up with the same dressing as you used on the tires. Just spray on all exposed wheel well areas and wipe dry. This step alone is one that I don’t see a lot of people doing and when I show them what clean wheel-wells can do for the look of the auto, they are amazed.

Engines can be finished up by spraying any rubber or black metal part with the same dressing. Metal surfaces can be waxed using any sort of cleaner wax. This step alone will really impress your mechanic.

Step # 7 Finishing touches

Now that your paint is gleaming, your wheels and tires are blinging, and your motor gives your mechanic something to talk about, you have to spend some time on the finishing touches.

For trim I like 303 Aerospace. Just spray it on any exterior plastic, mud flaps, side mirrors, tailgate protectors, bumpers, running boards, etc. Then wipe the excess off with a Microfiber.

Chrome can be polished and sealed the same way as paint. Use the paint polish and the #105 sealant for this.

For a finishing touch on your paint and maintenance in-between waxing, I recommend Duragloss Aquawax. It is a spray wax type product that is applied like a quick detailer (but it has no cleaners so don’t use it as a quick detailer), and then wiped off. This adds that extra bit of pop to the paint. It is also a great window cleaner.

That’s it; you now have a nice looking truck/car that everyone will notice. Doing these steps at least once a year will keep your truck looking great for years to come. Maintain that shine you just put on your truck with some Quick Detailer (I like Eagle One), and your truck will stay cleaner longer.

I am not writing this to try to prove that my way is better than yours; I am just trying to introduce some modern detailing methods that save time, and are easier to do than you think. All of this can be done in about 4hrs. And then after that, only about 45min to wash and apply another coat of Aquawax to keep your paint looking great.

The products mentioned in this post are only recommendations. They are what work best for me and you may not think the same thing. I will say that you should generally stay away from products like Nu-Finish, Black Magic, Turtle Wax, etc. These products may be rated high by Consumer Reports, or they may be what you have been using for years with no ill-effects, but as the old saying goes, “you never know what is bad until you have seen better”, and this is very true with detailing.

If you have any ?’s or you want another recommendation on another product, give me a shout. I love answering detailing questions and hope that this post will help you in the future to keep your car/truck looking great.

*If you have any Jeep specific detailing questions, feel free to ask them in this thread. Dont PM me, I like to have people post the questions so everyone can see the answers.

Hockeygeek21 07-09-2012 06:11 PM

Nice write up I will be using this in the future!

rhen74 07-10-2012 09:17 PM

Nice write-up. I have a question in regards to using a clay bar. I've been using them for years but always wondered how often you should kneed it to avoid scratching the paint. In other words, can you scratch the paint by dragging the clay bar from a dirty area to a clean area? It seems like the road grime picked up by the clay bar is being dragged across the paint.

ShowroomShine 07-11-2012 05:10 AM

I re kneed it when the face looks dirty. If its used on an area and still looks relatively clean, then I'll use it again on another area.

BadMojo11 07-12-2012 01:38 PM

Amazing write up. Thanks.

Six 07-12-2012 01:55 PM

Add the two bucket method in there. One bucket for your suds and clean water and one to rinse the mitt. This helps to remove particles that can cause swirls from the mitt and you can see how cloudy the water in the rinse bucket ends up.

Thumbs up on the DG105. That's what I use for sealant ever few months and then wax over top of it with a straigh wax, not a wax+cleaner.

I just tried Ultima Tire and Trim Guard for the first time on the fenders and I have to say, WOWZA!!! That was several weeks back and my fenders are still beading up rain like they were freshly waxed...this is on the black textured fenders.

It's expensive, but worth it if you have wheels or metal bits that are so dirty that scrubbing won't work. It's not for mud, but more for brake dust and metal shavings. It's called Sonax and works wonders. Here's some photos of the wheels on my Jetta while using it.


Working it's magic:


I scrubbed one wheel for about 30 minutes and it still wasn't clean all the way. I gave up after that until I got my order of Sonax. From there, cleaning was cake. It's not really worth it to use on a frequently washed vehicle and it doesn't work on mud, but if you need something to take care of a set of wheels that are a mess, it'll do the trick.

ShowroomShine 07-12-2012 02:14 PM


Originally Posted by Six (Post 2575404)
Add the two bucket method in there. One bucket for your suds and clean water and one to rinse the mitt. This helps to remove particles that can cause swirls from the mitt and you can see how cloudy the water in the rinse bucket ends up.

Great tip, I forgot to write that one in there. Another important part of the washing process.

mac56 07-12-2012 04:39 PM

I don't like taking mine to the automatic car wash so I do it in my driveway with bucket and mitt. However, with spare tire, lights, off road bumpers, and all the hidden cracks and crannies, drying is a real pain. So I make like a car wash and blow dry 90 percent of it with my leaf blower, then finish the job with a drying towel. Works real well for me... Mike

ahbrown83 07-15-2012 12:33 AM

2 Bucket method is worth mentioning.

blue6tj 07-22-2012 02:37 AM

Very nice write up dude... Thanks!

04WranglerRed 07-30-2012 11:07 AM

What would you suggest to do for mud stains on the hood? Haven't noticed it before but yesterday after hitting some trails and a little mud, seems the mud has left stains. I normally wash it as soon as i get home and I did this time as well. It's only on the hood so I'm guessing the heat had something to do with it. Any input would be great, I enjoy trail riding and what comes along with it but I also like to keep my Jeep clean!

Hammer287 08-01-2012 09:22 AM

My question is about washing the soft windows as well as the soft top for my 2012 wrangler Unlimited. Mopar makes a window cleaner but suggests cleaning the windows with a mild soap. Is it ok to clean the outside of the windows with the same car wash soap? What about the inside? Is regular glass cleaner ok to use before the Mopar treatment?
Now on to the soft top, same questions. Car wash soap ok? How often to treat with Soft top product?
Thanks in advance

ShowroomShine 08-01-2012 04:49 PM

Car wash soap is fine for the entire soft top. Treat with soft top product as often as you like, but make sure after applying let it set for 10-15 min and wipe dry.

Interior soft glass can be cleaned with normal (automotive) glass cleaner. I like invisible glass.

Kustom_FX 08-01-2012 05:22 PM

[QUOTE=Hammer287;2642643]My question is about washing the soft windows as well as the soft top for my 2012 wrangler Unlimited. Mopar makes a window cleaner but suggests cleaning the windows with a mild soap. Is it ok to clean the outside of the windows with the same car wash soap? /QUOTE]

If you use a quality soap and mitt like Showroom said, and the 2 bucket with grit guard method you will be fine. My suggestion is to wash all the soft windows FIRST rinsing and re-soaping your mitt between every one. If they are very dirty I suggest you take a moment between the bucket dunks to visually inspect the mitt for debris. Its a bit of extra work, but it will ensure that your windows stay scratch free for a lot longer.

For drying issues, I have a Sidekick blower that works wonders on drying as well, lot smaller and easier to handle but the leaf blower works GREAT, and I still have my $50 wally world special I used for that!

A few more tips for drying:

1) Pooling Rinse ~ When all is said and done remove your spray nozzle and crimp the hose over to reduce the pressure (you could just turn it down too, but I wash pads and brushes after so I need the pressure). Then just use the low pressure to make all the water pool and cascade off the vehicle. Leaving you with a lot less water to remove. There are some videos on Youtube if you need.

2) Use a detail spray of quick detailer spray and mist the car as your dry. I will help reduce water spots from drying, and help your drying towel glide smoother with less friction.

detinu 08-08-2012 06:49 PM

very nice write up! definitely will be using this thread for reference

WranglerRiver 08-09-2012 12:18 PM

Step 8- go off-roading and completely cover your vehicle in mud.

Step 9- do steps 1-7 again lol

Fweaky 08-09-2012 12:22 PM

Step 1. Get it dirty
Step 2. Bikini carwash

...Rinse repeat

michael305 08-25-2012 09:27 PM

question about wax and sealer at the drive threw car wash.. i noticed 2 times after going threw i get spots all over my tire cover and some on the fender and side steps,, it goes away with rain or if i take it again and just do soap and water wash... why is that? its really anoing.. should i never wax and sealer wax the car at the drive threw car wash.. its odd.. 2 door wrangler sport hard top here.

slaytman 08-29-2012 08:42 PM

Nice write up Showroomshine..
I like to follow round with a paint brush to get the wax out of crevices

billy_YJ 09-01-2012 09:39 AM


Originally Posted by Fweaky (Post 2668575)
Step 1. Get it dirty
Step 2. Bikini carwash

...Rinse repeat

Showroomshine is a professional, but I like Fweaky's process :D

Griffmeister 09-22-2012 11:16 AM

you guys wash your Jeeps?? :rofl:

Carlsbad0331 09-22-2012 11:25 AM

I am going to write a how-to also. Or at least a "How I do..."
Here we go...
Step 1: Dial 1-760-216-xxxx and say, "Victor, this is Terry my Jeep needs to be detailed and since you owe me nearly $2000 and own an auto detail company I expect you over here before noon."
Step 2: Wait for him to get here (Typically 15-20 minutes since he lives 6 blocks away.
Step 3: Get the kids in the other vehicle and go to Beach for the day.
Step 4: Come home to a freshly detailed Jeep.
Step 5: Mark $50 off the $2000 he owes me (but will never repay anyway)...

vertical horizons 09-26-2012 10:22 PM


Originally Posted by ahbrown83 (Post 2584246)
2 Bucket method is worth mentioning.

You could always use the ONE BUCKET method.
It will save you on both soap & water ...

How To wash your car with one bucket of water - YouTube


Seriously, nice write up.
Very well detailed.

kneeman 10-10-2012 10:54 PM

Every time I use Armor All on exterior black plastic it starts to turn faded and light black a lot quicker than if I used nothing.

I have some work vehicles I experimented on. Some we just wash and some we use Armor All on, after a year the ones we just wash look new and the others look worse.

They aren't Jeeps so maybe that makes a big difference or maybe not. The last Honda I had actually had instructions that said modern plastics used these days do not require dressing, that was a long time ago. Maybe things are different or Jeeps are different. Just telling my experience.

Smelt_1 10-20-2012 07:17 PM

Best way to wash jeep?
Ahh....Leave it out in the rain?

Who washes jeeps, let alone detail?

JeepSteeler 11-17-2012 12:54 AM

Many thanks for writing all this out. I bought all the products you suggested and used it as described on an old Neon as a Guinea now looks like a new Neon. It worked fantastic on the Jeep as well. I've always sort of thought of myself as a weekend detailer but never got results like this.

One question, how durable is the wax for a PA winter? Our vehicles are garaged, maybe driven 1000 miles between the 2 in winter months.

aelwero 11-17-2012 04:10 AM


Originally Posted by 04WranglerRed (Post 2636021)
What would you suggest to do for mud stains on the hood?

clay bar will get em off no problem. I very rarely bother with mine, but when I get around to it, clay bar fixes everything except the pinstriping.

87236 12-02-2012 11:21 PM


Area 51 12-03-2012 01:52 PM

Thanks for all the info and product names.Maybe it will shine more and the grime will come off easier!!

PaulisTJ 12-09-2012 08:35 AM

What do you recommend for interior trims? Dash panels etc... my interior is tan and looks a bit dirty. I'm not quite ready to repaint it yet. Thanks in advance!

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:18 AM.

User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.