I detail as a hobby. I find it Zen like and it relaxes me.
Detailing is not hard, not complicated and difficult in itself. The problems are lack of knowledge, lack of the right tools and letting a car get to a point that it is a difficult mess due to the lack of attention.
If you maintain a car regular and not yearly you work much less hard.
I perfected my craft with learning, testing different combinations of product and incorporating the proper tools. It has gotten me to master black paint to a level most think not possible. The truth is if I can do it anyone can if you take the time to learn.
Many clay cars and often really don’t understand what they are doing. I get many think it is a polish when it is a cleaner. I seldom clay as my normal cleaner never lets the paint get to where it is needed.
Some folks want water to bead and they are happy. Just beading water does not mean the paint is corrected or flawless. It just means you have a chemical on it that repels water.
The path to polishing paint is to invest in different levels of polish. Polishes are like sand paper in a way thought most are working via chemicals today. They come in different levels and you start with the one that is best to tackle the condition of the paint. If it is faded out and scratched you use a more aggressive polish. If it is in good condition go with the micro polish that is mild.
If you do start aggressive you move up to the next level aggressiveness till you get to the final finish. I usually keep 6 levels available based on need. Often micro polish is all I need.
I then on daily drivers seal it and follow with a pure wax.
Show cars no sealant just wax since a prep it for each show.
As for tools I use several kinds and sizes of polishers. They can do much more than you can by hand. Orbitals are great for a amateur or pro as they do a great job and are very safe to use.
Towels are microfiber. Not the cheap crap but the brushed to get a good non streak finish.
Drying the car I went to a dedicated blow dryer made to dry cars. No this is not a leaf blower. This is an 8 hp electrics vacuum in reverse. It blow hard and blows warm air to quickly dry a car with no dragging of towels on the paint.
These are my basics and what I do. Yes details count a drying door jambs and wiping down the engine compartment once a month keeps things in prime shape.
I might add this is also good exercise too. All this beats going to and paying for a gym when it will cost you little and you will increase the resale of the car.
Most of my cars sell at top dollar and generally to the first one to stop and look at it.
The web is filled with detail forums and information to learn.
It also puts you in good graces with mother in laws when you clean their cars up. Mine even got me a blimp ride for two for cleaning her car lol!
There are a number of good products out there and many that are snake oil. Everything is ceramic now but only a few are the real thing. Even then it might not be what you want or need. Best to read up and just experiment. I have one of the cleanest 40 year old John Deere’s from testing product on it.
Just to give an example how this works I have place top in class 19 times and 2 times best of show at the Pontiac National. This is with a 40 year old Factory GM paint on over half the car yet. I did paint the custom panels. This is against cars with more in their paint than I have in the car.
I wish Hagerty would add a detail forum here as I think the exchange of ideas here could help.
Also don’t be fooled with photos on web sites. Most cars look great even in poor conditions. Best to see it in person in good light.
I will post here just so you get an idea what I am working on. You only can see the difference in person.
Also for washing it just depends. If I get caught in the rain yes. If not I will dust and detail.
As for my wife and son they like to treat their cars like dumpsters. My sons looks like he lives in it. I do take them often empty and they just refill.
WAKE UP DUB6!!!!!!
Ask a hundred classic auto owners what they do and what they use to maintain their cars' exterior and interior looks and I'm betting you get about 8 dozen different answers. There are so many products out on the market (plus most of them work fairly well), and each guy I know has his own favorite. Look at Kewina50, for instance - he admits he's a "detail freak" and never has had any food in his car. Plus, it sounds almost as if he deep cleans the vehicle almost with every use. Then read the next post from RickB who uses a clay bar once per year and then detail spray weekly. Then Gary washes and waxes his car once a year before it gets hot.
Each one of these folks have their own methods and products and are obviously pleased with their results. Nothing wrong with ANY of their processes as long as they work for them. Ergo, there is no ONE WAY to keep up on the appearance of your "baby".
Even though they have some differing approaches, each of these people, seem to agree on one thing: however you do it and whatever you use, you've gotta do SOMETHING and not let it get too far gone. Gotta go now, I'm suddenly overcome with an extreme urge to go out and dust the dash and vacuum the carpet in the car! 😁