Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Time to detail?

Detailing processes that can comfortably be completed in 15, 30, 60  minutes and 3 hours.

One of the common misconceptions about detailing, is that to do it correctly you have to be able to invest a good six hours of your time on your car and be able to call upon a veritable armory of cleaning sprays, clays and solutions. We’re not going to deny that spending a solid day cleaning your car won’t leave it looking pristine, but that doesn’t mean that impressive results can’t be achieved by focusing on certain key areas for short, productive bursts. Of course it’s also true that everyone has their own system and preferred methods, but in our experience, the steps below are achievable on an average sized car within the stated time, providing you’ve got everything set up and ready to go of course!

With this in mind, these are the key areas we’d focus on if we only had 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 3 hours to spend cleaning.


15 Minutes

A quarter of an hour isn’t a lot of time in anyone’s book, but you’ll be able to make noticeable improvements by targeting your resources carefully and picking your battles. We wouldn’t suggest trying to tackle your bodywork – you’ll merely run out of time and will be left with a half-finished job, but there’s a lot to be said for using the time to remove more obvious paintwork contaminants like bird droppings and dead insects, both of which will be swiftly eradicated by our Active Insect Remover.

You might also consider honing in on one particular component or area, then devoting a solid 15 minutes to bringing it up to scratch. Examples of key areas that can be made to look visibly better in a short span of time, include the exhaust pipe, the engine bay and the interior carpets and mats.

Rapid Aqua Wax Kit- Auto Express award 400x400

30 Minutes

Half an hour is enough time to tackle some of the larger detailing tasks, and with a good headwind and some swift work you may even be able to give the whole car a wash and a wax, providing it’s fairly well maintained of course. We’d recommend adding a coat of our Rapid Aqua Wax, a product that’s ideal for this situation as it’s designed to be applied to a damp, just washed car.

Make sure you reserve a decent portion of your allotted time to tackling the wheels, as even relatively clean alloys can take a good few minutes to clean thoroughly, particularly if they have a liberal coating of brake dust.

Alternatively, use your half hour period to really get to grips with the interior; vacuum the carpets, mats, seats and other fixtures and fittings, then use our Interior Shampoo to banish more stubborn stains. You’ll have to work fast, but you’ll be amazed by the difference it’ll make.

interior clean60 Minutes

You can get a huge amount done in an hour, but, as with everything else on this list, you’d be well advised to plan and use your time wisely. We’d recommend that you either tackle both the interior and exterior steps covered in the half-hour section above, or commit to deeper, more involved cleaning programme for either the interior or the exterior.

Opted to use your hour to really go to town on the exterior? Then you’d best hop to It! Bucket wash the bodywork, dry, then apply an even layer of polish, before dressing the exterior plastics and giving the glass area a clean inside and out. Devote a good chunk of time to ridding the wheels of road grime and brake dust, not forgetting to treat the tyres to a coat of dressing at the same time.


You should be able to get the inside of your car looking as good as the day it rolled off the line with a full 60 minutes, and you might be surprised by how much better your car will look with a spotless interior. As covered above, vacuum all surfaces, clean the seats, door cards, mats, centre console and dash with Interior Shampoo, or, if you’re lucky enough to have something a tad plusher, Leather Cleaner. Don’t forget to give the glass a good going over!


3 Hours

Got a full three hours to spend? Then consider either a comprehensive, all singing, all dancing assault on your car’s exterior using the products and stages covered elsewhere in this post, or split your resources between the bodywork and the interior. Opting for the former should leave you with a near flawless looking car, one with gleaming paintwork (particularly if you use Super Resin Polish), a complete absence of tar, mirror-like glass and show-stopping plastics and/or brightwork.

If you’ve opted to split your time between exterior and interior, then we’d recommend a more basic outside session, one that will leave your car looking immaculate to all, but the most beady-eyed of detailers, yet will still leave you with ample time to really perfect the interior. Achieving the latter entails some fairly intense cleaning, so make sure you remember to tackle all the usual areas, plus often overlooked places like the boot (and wheel well), the headlining, the parcel shelf and every storage hole, recess and compartment.


Bonus – 8 Hours

We’ll admit that having a full day to devote to cleaning one car is a luxury and one that doesn’t crop up very often for the vast majority of people, but we thought we’d include it here anyway, mainly as you’ll be staggered by what can be achieved given a full 8 hours, some Autoglym products and a bit of elbow grease!

You’ll have more than enough time to clean, vacuum and shampoo all interior fixtures, before moving onto the bodywork. Washing, polishing and waxing are all obviously encouraged, but you should also have enough time free to attempt some paint correction and machine polishing. Use your 8 hours wisely, and it’s entirely possible that you’ll be left with a pristine, show-worthy vehicle at the end of the day. Good luck!




  • Gary 23rd October 2016 9:23 am

    We use a lot of your stuff at work and I’ve always used auto glym, but I have to say your tar remover is the worst product I’ve ever used

    • Profile photo of Mark
      Mark 24th October 2016 5:04 pm

      What is it you don’t like about it?

  • Graham D Booth 23rd October 2016 12:48 pm

    I wish that I could find a decent polish that doesn’t leave a white residue on the plastic trim, not detailing just a good honest easy to apply and remove polish.

    • Profile photo of Mark
      Mark 24th October 2016 5:02 pm

      Super Resin Polish ticks the good honest easy to apply and remove polish part. Instead of a polish not leaving a residue on plastic trim, try using a polish applicator with a straight edge. Then you can apply right up to the edge of the trim, but not get any polish on it. Our Perfect Polish Applicator has these edges for that reason.

  • Alan Murray 5th January 2017 9:57 pm

    Why can’t you bring back the nice smell that came from the leather balm cream?
    I love using autoglym products.

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