This was requested by a member in another thread. Another member responded that this would be difficult to do because everyone uses different products and he is right. But in all honesty there really is a set sequence of steps that are done when you detail properly. There is some variance in product usage, but not in the technique.
First of all I'm going to mention several different possibilities of products used for each step. You'll notice that most of these products are professional grade and probably will have to be ordered online. That is because in my experience the consumer products are just that, designed for consumers who don't know or care about having the best finish possible. Professional grade products give the experienced hobbyist and professional detailer greater control over what is being done with the paint.
Here are the ESSENTIALS you will NEED these to get started.
-Several Microfiber towels, I say 6, 3 small 3 big. I reccomend them from our site www.lexuscarcare.com or www.pakshak.com. MF will be mush less prone to scratch than cotton.
-Several 100% cotton bath towels, 3 or so. These will be used folded up to work in swirl removers and polish because they have more "bite" than MF. MF will be used for removal.
-Several foam and MF applicators, you can get these where you get the towels.
-Eagle one Tire Swipes for spplying dressing to tires
-A semi stiff brush for tires and wheel wells
-2 nice 5 gallon buckets
-Some sort of paint cleaner like Meguiars #9, #82 Swirl Free Polish, 1Z Paint Polishes (which work very well by hand)
-Some sort of polish like Meguiars #7, P21S Gloss Enhancing Paintwork Cleanser, #81 Hand Polish from Meguiars.
-Some sort of wax. We're following a carnuaba/hybrid system here as thats whats best to use if you're only working by hand. So something like Meguiars #26 Tech Wax paste, P21S, or Meguiars NXT, Poorboys EX or EX-P, Blackfire woul\d work well
-Glass cleaner- I reccomend Eagle One's 20/20.
-An all purpose cleaner like 1Z Cockpit Premium for the interior plastic and carpeting with a nice soft brush.
-Woolite and water dilluted 5:1 for leather
-A good tire dressing for the tires and the wheel wells after they are washed.
Things that would be NICE:
-A Porter Cable dual action polisher with 2 cutting pads, 2 polishing pads, and 1 finishing pad. Its tempting to buy a cheaper buffer from Sears or Pepboys or something but trust me when I tell you, if you want the best and safest results the PC is worth the investment. Cheap buffers (Waxxpro, Craftsman) have weak motors that bog down and cumbersome bonnet type systems that either remove too much or not enough paint. If you're gonna spend the bucks anyways, spend twice as much and get the right tool for the job.
-A higher cut compound for real swirl removal with the PC like Meguiars #83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish, Poorboys SSR2, Menzerna Intensive Polish
-A Bissel Little Green Clean Machine for cleaning carpeting
-Plexus plastic polish for all clear plastic
-Clay (ClayMagic or Mothers)
First clean the interior. Spray the all purpose cleaner on all plastic parts, agitate with the soft brush and wipe clean, use the woolite on the seats and wipe off with a damp towel. Vacuum the carpets well and spray the cleaner and agitate of needed. Pay attention to the nooks and crannys! Always do the interior first so you dont get dust on clean paint.
Now, nextthing to do is wash with a good carwash using a good Microfiber, Chenile or Lanswool mitt. Use two buckets, one with soapy water and one with clean for rinsing the mitt after each pass. Wash in straight lines only, never touch the paint in circles. Wash from the top down then do the wheels last as that is where the most grime is, you don't want to drag that up onto the paint. If its hot rinse each panel after washing it. Dont forget to scrub the wheel wells!
Next if you have the clay, clay now. Resoap each panel, clay, rinse until the whole car and the windows are done.
Now dry the car using your MF towels, use two towels again in straight lines until the car is dry.
Now, dress the wheel wells by spraying the protectant up inside them, then spray the protectant on the tire swipe and do the tires. I always do this before the next steps so it doesn't leave overspray on the car.
Now its time to start detailing! If you have moderate to heavy swirls and you have the PC start with it, the DACP and a cutting pad, only work 2'x2' sections at a time. Don't use too much DACP, 3-4 dime sized drops a panel is plenty. Make each section look its best before moving on. Use the PC at high speed (5 or 6) and use random overlapping strokes with moderate pressure until the product almost dissapears. The swirls will come out it just may take time. This stage could take hours so be ready for that but the results are worth it. Work your way around the car, when it stops working as well swap out the pad for a clean cutting pad thats why you have two. If the swirls aren't bad use DACP with a polishing pad instead in the same way.
If working by hand fold up one of the terry towels into 8ths, apply the #9 or #82 and work into the paint using moderate pressure. Again work 2x2 sections until almost clean and make each section look its best before moving on. This will not remove all swirls but thats left to later steps to hide.
If you used the DACP and a cutting pad then you need to go around with DACP and #9 or #82 and a polishing pad afterwards as DACP and a cutting pad will leave micromarring behind.
Next, polishing! If you have the buffer use a clean polishing pad and your polish of choice, use it like the DACP but you don't have to work it as long.
If by hand same deal, fold up a terry towel and go to town.
Now, stand back and admire the work. The paint should be perfect now, no swirls, smooth as glass, good proper color. This is where you look for areas of problems and do them again until it looks right.
Now comes the waxing! You can wax by hand or by PC with the finishing pad. Use straight lines and put down a thin coat. Wait depending on the instructions on the wax then buff off IN STRAIGHT lines with an MF towel. Layer and add coats as you see fit. Don't forget to wax the wheels.
Next is windows. Get your 20/20 and some paper towels, and newspaper. Spray the 20/20 on the paper towel until its soaked, then scrub it into the window. Next, wipe clean with the newspaper, inside and out all the way around. You can now wax the windows if you'd like but its not neccisary.
Now thats it, you're done, sit back and admire your work. Watch for missed patches of wax and wax stuck in creases and crevices. Congratulations!