As a professional detailer or as someone who does DIY detailing on their own vehicle, selecting the best detailing products for your application is incredibly important. It’s not enough to select the best APC, dilute it 6 different ways and hope for the best. While it may work most of the time, it is simply not the most effective or safe way to detail a vehicle. Recently we received some push back on this so we contacted several manufacturers that we work with. We got a phone call and it started with “Justin, don’t quote me on this” then they continued to explain how they make APC as safe as possible because many detailers do not have the finances or the (his words not mine) brainpower to use the correct product. He explained that yes they make it, but it is only because “bottom of the barrel” detailers demand it. To be clear, APC has its place. Your leather seats, carpet and dashboard, are not any of them — in most cases. These are not our words, but they illustrate an important point. Just because manufacturers make it and just because it says you can, does not mean you should!
Most detailers prefer to start inside the vehicle and work their way out We will start the same. Every situation is different but this list is designed for general purpose, high-end professional detailing. For the sake of simplicity, we are not getting into steamers, extractors, etc. The only assumption we will make is that you have thoroughly and completely vacuumed the interior of the vehicle.
If you do not start with pet hair removal, your entire detail will be ruined. You will likely track the pet hair everywhere and leave much of it behind. We will vacuum every surface that could have pet hair on it, making sure you have an appropriate brush on the end. We actually use an inexpensive Rigid detailing set on a Beast vacuum, and it does very well. We use that with a SONAX pet hair brush.
In short, these are the hard plastic/vinyl surfaces of the vehicle interior, excluding consoles, screens, buttons, and Pedals. Other than the seats, this plastic and vinyl account for most of what you will see. We use SONAX Dashboard Cleaner on all of these areas. We apply it with a Plastic Care pad and wipe it off with a microfiber. We do not spray directly on the dash or anywhere else.
We use SONAX Multi Purpose Cleaner (NOT APC or Multistar) in these areas
Leather Seats & Trim
Please understand that not all leather seats are the same. There are situations, especially in ultra-high-end vehicles or custom seats where only a specific specified cleaner should be used. It is your responsibility to know what you are working with. In most cases, leather seats are easy to clean. For a reasonably well-kept vehicle, use SONAX Foaming 2 in 1 leather cleaner. Professional detailers may not find this to be cost-effective, and they can use the Profiline or Premium Class SONAX cleaners and creams. You will need a leather brush, microfiber, and possibly a dirt eraser. The process is relatively simple. Apply the product using your applicator of choice and wipe off and buff using a microfiber. For the two-in-one spray, you can apply it directly to the seats. You can find all of our SONAX Leather Cleaners here.
Fabric Seats & Alcantara
We always take the path of using the least aggressive product first. SONAX Multi-Purpose Cleaner was first designed as an upholstery and carpet cleaner, and it works very well. Depending on how bad the staining is you may need to brush and wipe with a microfiber. If this is not effective, or if the seats are actually Alcantara you should use the SONAX Alcantara and Upholstery Cleaner
We will cover carpet floor mats with the carpeting itself. For rubber floor mats such as WeatherTech ® we suggest removing them from the vehicle. Once they have been shaken and vacuumed, spray them with SONAX Multistar All Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser. Once the degreaser has dwelled for 2-3 minutes, scrub it with a SONAX Brush or equivalent and rinse it off. Then while the mats are still wet, spray on SONAX Plastic Care and allow them to dry. Plastic care should not be used at full strength. It must be misted while wet. Plastic Care does cause mats to be slick, so use it with caution.
Remove all carpeted floor mats from the vehicle and again make sure the mats and carpet are vacuumed. From there, the process is the same as fabric seats. SONAX Multi Purpose Cleaner is made for this application. Depending on how bad the staining is, you may need to brush and wipe with a microfiber. If this is not effective, or you can use the SONAX Alcantara and Upholstery Cleaner. On the rare occasion that you are still not able to clean these areas, you may need to use an extractor.
Auto Detailing 360 offers a complete line of interior cleaners for plastics and vinyl. We also have great information about what products to use to clean your vehicle’s interior and cleaning leather. If you want to learn the art of paint correction, this article is for you. We also offer full service detailing in our Grand Junction, CO location.
We believe in a multi-facetted approach to taking care of our professional detailers:
If you are a professional detailer in need of assistance or product, we highly encourage you to email Jeremy@AutoDetailing360.com or Justin@AutoDetailing360.com for special pricing and assistance
At Auto Detailing 360 we work on all cars and trucks all the time. From Porsche to Kia and from Corvette to Toyota. We just love cars. Starting in early 2023 we are creating project profiles of the vehicles we work on.