What Is Detail Spray and How To Use Them Properly (Explained!)


Although detail sprays are nothing new to the detailing industry, many car owners don’t really know much about them. If you are a car owner that wants to have a shiny car paint all of the time, you may need to learn more about detail sprays.

In this blog post, I will be talking about what a detail spray is, how to use them, and which is the best detail spray on the market.

What Is Detail Spray

What Is Detail Spray and How To Use Them Properly (Explained!)

Detail sprays are wax or polymer based products that are used to enhance the gloss on car paints, make the paint feel slicker, and safely remove light dust. These are the base functionality of a detail spray. However, many detail sprays have different features like paint protection (like wax would do), extended duration, water repellent, etc.

When you wash your car, you may have a few smears when the car dries. It happens all the time. Going over the car with a detail spray by simply a couple of sprays and wiping it off with a clean towel will remove those smears and streaks and will give your car paint a lovely gloss and shine.

The professional detailers like to divide the detail sprays into three categories: winter detail, summer detail, and car show detail sprays. The difference between these three is actually the features that they provide.

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A winter detail spray is a spray that focuses on water repellency. With this detail spray, your car will become hydrophobic and will repel water for up to eight washes. These sprays will make your vehicle shine, but they do focus on the water repellency feature.

Summer detail sprays are the ones that focus more on providing your car paint with a shine than they are on the water repellent feature. Basically, these detail sprays will be more focused on protecting your car paint from the sun and giving it a nice shiny look.

Car show detail spray is focused 100% on how your car will look. They give a fantastic gloss and it does have a little bit of protection, but mainly they are focused on the looks. It leaves a really nice slick finish on the paint and your car will look like it’s wet all the time.

How To Properly Use a Detail Spray

If you are thinking of using a detail spray or you have used it in the past, there is a chance that you haven’t used them in the proper way. The detail sprays are out there for over twenty years, but still, many people are unfamiliar with these products. So, how to properly use a detail spray?

1. Do not use it in between washes

When you get a new product it is only natural that you read the instructions. However, this is not the case with detail sprays. Almost on all detail sprays, the instructions say that it can be used in between washes to do a light cleaning on the car. Will you clean your car this way? Yes. However, using a detail spray in between washes will swirl up your car in the process. There are just no two ways about it.

Regardless of what kind of detail spray you have, if you are not using it after a proper two-bucket car wash method, you are going to scratch the surface of your vehicle. When you drive your vehicle, much road dirt and debris get stuck on the paint. Some of these particles are so small that you might not notice them.

The problem occurs when you start spraying your detail spray and wiping with a microfiber towel. The dirt and debris found on the car paint are going to scratch your paint and you are in for a car polishing. This is why it is important to only use the detail spray after you have washed and dried your car.

2. Wash and dry your vehicle first

The best and proper way to use a detail spray is after you have washed your vehicle and dried it. Using the detail spray is fairly easy. The hard part is knowing when to use it. Many people tend to use it on a dirty cars, many people wash their cars and then use a detail spray on a wet car. This is all wrong.

The proper way of using a detail spray for your vehicle is when the car is washed and completely dried. So, first, wash your vehicle using a two-bucket method. You soak your mitt into one bucket with soap and water and wash the surface of the car. At this point, your mitt has picked up all of the dirt from the surface of your vehicle. Then, you wash the mitt in the second bucket and once cleaned, you soak it again in the first.

Once you are done washing your vehicle. It is time to dry it. If you are washing your vehicle in your driveway and you are not in a hurry, you can let it air dry. But, if you are in a self-operated car wash where people wait in line behind you, you can use a clean microfiber towel to dry your vehicle. Regardless of the method, make sure your vehicle is completely dry.

3. Get a clean microfiber towel and start spraying

Once your vehicle is completely dry, grab a clean and dry microfiber towel and spray some of the detail spray. It is important to go panel by panel just so you can keep track. By panel by a panel I mean, you first spray the hood, then the side panels, then the doors, etc. It is a simple spray and wipe thing.

You don’t have to go heavy on the spraying. I normally do five or six sprays for the hood and then about two-three sprays for the side panels and doors. You can focus more on the parts where you have smears or streaks. You can either spray the detailing spray directly onto the working surface or into the microfiber towel. It is up to you.

Is Detail Spray The Same As Wax?

Detail spray and wax are not the same. The detail spray is designed to act as a lubricant when removing dust, fingertips, or light contaminants from the vehicle surface whereas the wax is used to add extra protection to your paint finish. Each detail spray has its own unique features, but they can all be referred to as the missing connection between washing and waxing.

Basically, if you wash your car and you want it to look even shinier, you spray it with a detail spray. With a detail spray, you are working with what you already have. The detail spray will add gloss and make your car shine. Some detail sprays also have water repellent characteristics which are great for rainy days.

However, if you wish to add an extra protective layer to your car paint and protect it from sun, dirt, and oxidation, you use wax. The wax will add a clear coat to your vehicle’s paint and will act as a shield. The wax will get deteriorated over time, but the car paint underneath will remain intact.

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Hi there. I am a certified Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) mechanic since 2018 and a car detailer for 10 years.

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