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Most Commonly Asked Detailing Questions

Last updated: 30th July 2021

We got in touch with our Master Detailers and asked them for a list of the questions they are asked more than any others. Below is a Q&A of sorts to help you learn more from our experts. Below each answer is a link or two to some of the products we are referring to in the reply. We have a few options so take a look round our site. These links are here as a guide for you but, ultimately, the choice is yours. If you have a question you would like answered here send it to:


What's the difference between a pre-wash and a snow foam?

A pre-wash is basically used when the vehicle is particularly dirty with insect and bug splatter and other stubborn stains. It would normally be applied using either a trigger sprayer or some products can be applied using a snow foam lance. Pre-washes are still wax and coating safe but just offer a more aggressive clean when needed. A pre-wash would be used prior to the shampoo stage or even before snow foam as an additional clean before shampooing.

ValetPRO Citrus Pre-Wash

Angelwax Cleanliness Pre-Wash

Stjarnagloss Forst Citrus Pre Cleaner

A snow foam is also used before the shampoo stage to loosen and remove the worst of the road dirt on the vehicle. Depending on the level of dirt on the car, a snow foam alone may struggle with insect splatter and more stubborn stains. This can be easily removed using a bug and insect remover before the shampoo. The Koch Chemie Gentle Snow Foam can be made more aggressive (still very safe) by adding some Green Star to offer more dirt moving properties.

Koch Chemie Gentle Snow Foam

Koch Chemie Green Star

CARPRO Lift Snow Foam

Bilt Hamber Auto Foam


How should I clean my car if it has coatings on it?

Read our blog on how long should it take to clean your car, this highlights, how to wash a car in a sensible way using products that will not harm coatings. We also have a CARPRO brochure online highlighting the whole process on how to care for your car if you have their CQUARTZ coating on the vehicle. Read about this here


How should I look after my matte or satin finish paintwork or wrap? 

A lot is made of caring for matte and satin finish paint and wraps but ultimately it can be looked after in a similar way to gloss paint. With matte vehicles it is best to start with what not to do, so strictly no polishing or compounding as it will increase gloss. No clay bar either as this will damage the matte surface. 

Stick to pH neutral shampoos with no gloss enhancers. Shampoos that you can use include CARPRO Reset which is our preferred product when dealing with matte cars or Chemical Guys have a specific matte shampoo called Meticulous Matte. There are a couple of others you can find here specifically for matte cars. 

There are sealants and waxes available but DO NOT use any old wax or sealant as, again, it will increase gloss. For a protective ceramic coating only use either CARPRO Cquartz or Gtechniq C1. These are for the experienced user but will offer 12-24 months of protection for your matte finish - the ultimate protection. 

A more simple approach to the finish or coatings process would be to use Chemical Guys Meticulous Matte Detailer. Spray and wipe off with a soft microfibre for at least a month’s protection. Or they also have Jet Seal Matte, a longer lasting finish that will take a bit more effort to apply but offer up to 12 months protection. SwissVax also have their Opaque range for caring for matte vehicles and Angelwax Luminosity is a matte specific wax to protect paint or wraps.  

In summary; no polishing at all by machine or by hand, do not use any regular polish or wax, and no claying or gloss enhancers. Paint correction is for a bodyshop or if your finish is a wrap then a return to the wrapper to fix a scuffed or scratched section of the wrap. 


What's the difference between a compound, glaze, and polish?

A compound is an abrasive, liquid or paste, that will offer cutting properties to remove microscopic layers of paint or lacquer to achieve a mirror finish on your car’s paintwork. Compounds come in different grades from coarse to ultra-fine. The coarser the compound the heavier the scratch it will remove but when using a coarse compound you have to understand it will be scratching the paintwork in order to remove the worst imperfections. Be prepared to use a medium then fine compound to achieve a good finish if you have had to use a coarse compound to start with. We sell a variety of compound kits so you have all grades available to use!

Koch Chemie Polish System

Chemical Guys V Line Compound & Polishing Kit

Auto Finesse Revitalise Kit 2

A glaze generally offers very fine cutting properties. It can be seen as a fine finishing stage after compounding the car to an almost perfect finish to cut and hide any remaining scratches and to leave a high shine. It offers an element of very fine cut but at the same time many glazes would have fillers in them to fill and help mask any scratches in the paintwork leaving a finish with no visible blemishes. Modern glazes are used as part of the process of maintaining a "showroom finish" on a car that can then be coated with a ceramic or wax top layer.

CARPRO Essence Extreme Gloss Enhancer

Auto Finesse Ultra Paint Glaze

Polish is usually a liquid, quick version of a solid wax to wipe on then buff off to a high shine. Most polishes offer a level of protection against the elements but not to the level of a solid carnauba wax or a ceramic protective coating. A polish can be used as a stage before a solid wax is then applied for the ultimate high shine finish.

CARPRO Essence+ Polish

Koch Chemie Lack-Polish Green Finish Polish

Meguiar's Ultimate Polish


What's the best wax or polish for my car colour type?

We have many polishes available in solid and liquid form. Some of them are designed specifically for different colour cars but most of them would work well on all modern cars that are basically painted in the colour as a base coat and then a clear top-coat is applied. Older cars were painted in the colour which was the gloss coat in the one application, so some polishes were designed to work with specific colours. Others have filling properties matched to the paint work so work specifically well on certain colours as below:

Black - Poorboy's Black Hole is specifically designed for black and dark colour vehicles and contains fillers to hide imperfections and leave a deep wet look shine. Poorboy's Natty Black Paste Wax can be applied over this for extra deep shine and longevity. Chemical Guys also have Black Luminous Glow Infusion Wax aimed at black and dark colour cars.

White - Poorboy's White Diamond is specifically designed for white and light colour vehicles and works the same as Black Hole on white or light colours. A hard wax can be applied over the top for added longevity.

Dark ColoursMalco Imperial Paste Wax is specifically good for dark colours it contains an anti-swirl agent to enhance the darker shades of colours such as black, grey, navy, and deep red.

All Colours The choice is yours! A nice solid paste wax like Koch Chemie Hand Wax will deliver exceptional shine and water repelling properties. There are many other options at varying price points, but these will all work well on a modern painted finish. Swissvax Best of Show is a very popular choice with the professional detailer. Angelwax Enigma leaves a super smooth finish and Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax is a great all-rounder which comes with an applicator and microfibre cloth for buffing to a high shine.


What wax should I use spray, liquid, or paste?

As a very general rule of thumb the wetter the wax the less hydrophobic qualities and the less longevity it will have on the panel. On the plus side, the wetter the product - as in spray detailers - the quicker they are to apply. These are generally used when in a hurry after a wash and a quick final shine is required. Some modern detailers are actually made to top up coatings on the vehicle like Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Detailer. When used in conjunction with the Meguiar’s Liquid Hybrid Ceramic Wax, it will achieve great shine and hydrophobic qualities. Products like Koch Chemie FSE has added limescale remover in it to remove water spots but in general Detailing Sprays are there to offer just a quick bit of extra shine.

Liquid waxes will offer a more lasting deeper shine with added protection. Compared to most quick detailers or spray waxes they are also simple to use. Wipe on with a cloth and with another clean soft microfibre cloth just buff to a nice finish. Liquid waxes used to be associated with leaving a chalky residue on trims and plastics but the modern products we sell are all safe to use on modern paintwork and around the trim. The other benefit to some liquid waxes is that they can be applied using a machine polisher which helps to speed up the process.

Solid wax or paste wax is a slower more thorough process of applying that deep lasting shine to your paintwork. Normally applied using a small foam or microfibre pad then, using a soft microfibre cloth, buff off to a perfect high shine. This surface will offer a good level of hydrophobic coat which would last 3-6 months depending on the wax used. Many detailers find this the most therapeutic and rewarding part of the process as the results are normally the most eye catching. These waxes cannot be applied using a machine polisher.


What's the benefits of a ceramic coating compared to a wax/sealant?

A ceramic coating is the ultimate protection you can apply to a car to protect the paintwork against the elements such as road salt, UV rays, and bird lime. Ceramic coatings bond to the painted surface offering up to 2 years protection against the elements. If applying a ceramic coating, the vehicle needs to be prepared properly and made sure that the surface is at its best before applying. The coating then needs to be applied following the manufacturer instructions to the letter and allowing the vehicle to dry (usually overnight) before taking on the road. 

CARPRO CQUARTZ CQUK Ceramic Paint Protection

Gtechniq Crystal Serum Light & EXO v4

Koch Chemie C0.01 Ceramic Allround Kit

Check out our handy YouTube video on the application of Gtechniq Crystal Serum Light & EXO V4:

A wax coat or liquid sealant offers a level of protection against the same elements but will only last maybe up to 3-6 months depending on the product. A solid wax will usually have a high level of Carnauba which, when applied, offers a high gloss hydrophobic finish but will not last as long on the vehicle as a ceramic coat. Liquid sealants can normally be applied by machine or hand and will offer up to double the protection that a hand wax would offer, they may need time to dry and seal properly to the car like the ceramic but overall is an easier, quicker, and cheaper product to apply and use.

Koch Chemie Hand Wax

Vonixx Blend Carnaúba Silica Paste Wax

CARPRO Reload: Silica Inorganic Spray Coating


How do I deal with bird lime (POO!) on my car?

The trick to dealing with bird droppings is to get it early enough and to not let it create damage to your paintwork. If left to dry and cake-on then it can mark the surface of the paint to a point that it can only be corrected with a machine polisher and compound.

Ideally, spray the offending dropping with Koch Chemie Insect and Dirt Remover or Poorboy's Bird Sh#t Remover (yes that is the product name!) and then gently wipe off with a soft microfibre cloth. You may be able to just hose straight off if a hose is to hand. Do not use an abrasive cloth. Carrying one of these products and a cloth in the car is a great way to always be prepared and to stop any damage as soon as possible.

If the dropping has marked the surface or etched into the paint. You should then look to machine polish this area as it is the best way to save your shine. A very cost effective entry level to polishing that would work to remove these marks is the Koch Chemie polishing system matched with our Slim’s Detailing Polisher. This can tackle any kind of paint and leave a perfect finish.


Can you suggest a good entry level Polisher and Compound Combination?

If you are new to polishing, then a great starting point is our own Slim’s Detailing DA Polisher. It comes complete with backing pad, a long 6m cable, and a handy Slim’s Bag to keep it in. The polisher is also available as a kit complete with all the compound and pads you could need to correct any paintwork. Choose from Auto Finesse, Malco, Koch Chemie, Meguiar’s, or Chemical Guys there is a complete range of options here to suit all needs that will get you paint correcting as soon as the box arrives at your home.

If you already have compounds at home then you can buy just the machine and three pads made to use with coarse, medium, and fine polishing products.


What does diminishing abrasive mean when speaking about compound?

A compound that contains a diminishing abrasive makes a lot of sense when explained and very hard to argue against as the principal behind what you should expect from a polishing system. The idea is that the aluminium oxide (the grain or texture that will provide the cut) in the compound will cut at its most aggressive when the compound is first out of the bottle. This aluminium oxide will then wear down as it is continued to be used providing a less aggressive cut the longer it is used until it is transparent and has been completely broken down. Koch Chemie Compounds like M3.02 Micro Cut work using a diminishing abrasive as does CARPRO Ultracut which work best with their wool or microfibre pads.

It is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how to get the most from their compound but as a guide, follow a process like this. Before use, the pad should be primed or covered completely with polish so it is not dry. With the machine switched off, apply the polish evenly over the surface to be treated using the pad face to spread across the panel before switching the machine on. Then start the polisher slowly and move crosswise with medium pressure until a transparent film appears, ie, until the aluminium oxide in the polish has completely broken down. Then wipe the surface with a soft microfibre cloth or a CARPRO Boa - a super soft cloth. Then repeat until the area to be corrected is finished.


Do you have a 75mm or 3” inch pad for the Slim’s Polisher?

An easy way to convert your Slim’s Detailing DA polisher into a spot polisher is to buy this useful accessory set 75mm Backing Pad Kit. Comes with a hard pad for coarse cutting compound, medium for fine to medium compound, and a super soft pad for finishing or polishing.

Alternatively, you could buy the Slim’s Detailing Spot Polisher kit which contains everything and more to handle spot repairs and polishing on small areas.



What is the best carpet brush I can buy to keep it looking clean?

There really are lots of these available to buy and they all have a place in your kit bag. Below are a few to choose from.

The Swissvax Interior Cleaning Brush is a medium strength bristle that offers a very compact controllable brush to use for all interior applications as it’s bristles won't scratch. This brush is a great all-rounder.



The Martin Cox D Shape Upholstery Brush is a quite coarse brush that will go deep into any shag pile carpet to remove a stubborn stain. The Martin Cox Upholstery Brush is an upgrade on the D Shape brush with a soft rubber coated handle and edge bumpers but fundamentally a similar brush texture excellent for carpets but probably a bit too aggressive for fabric seats unless used gently.   

For those that prefer a handle on their brush the Chemical Guys Nifty Carpet Brush is for you. A heavy duty synthetic bristle works well wet or dry with a suitable carpet cleaner. Chemical Guys also do a range of brushes that fit in a drill. Different grades, from soft to hard, will attack the toughest of stains and can be used in conjunction with chemical cleaners.