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How to valet your car like a pro

Our step-by-step instructions make it easy for you to have your car as shiny as if you had a professional valet.

Valet your car like a pro with the correct products and tools

Valet your car like a pro with the correct products and tools

Products and equipment

You will need:

  • Some cleaning solution to mix with water when rinsing down your car
  • Glass cleaner (no ammonia)
  • Foam car shampoo (if fabric seats), or leather cleaner (if leather seats)
  • Wax
  • Two buckets
  • A stiff brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Wash mitt
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Drying towel
  • Vacuum cleaner

A wash mitt and cloths should do for the exterior. Although many like to use chamois leather, this can actually do more harm than good by scratching the paintwork, as can a sponge.

Before you get started you should also make sure you have at least two buckets – one for cleaning and one for rinsing. If you only have one bucket, all that dirt and grime that you take off your car is just going to go right back into the water, and then right back onto the car.

To find out what the best products are for the job, contact AutoParts UK.

Exterior rinsing

The order of cleaning the body of your car should be:

  • Rinse and wipe with wash mitt and suds
  • Dry off
  • Wax

Top tip: Cleaning the exterior is not a good idea in the sun as the products can dry out, leaving uneven patches and spots.

We recommend starting with the wheels because some of the dirt from these can splash onto the paintwork above, which would undo any hard work you’d put in if you were to do the body first. Also, if you move on to the roof next, the excess water will trickle down from the top, which will pre-wet your bonnet and windows in the process.

Hose your wheels down first, and then use a stiff brush to get the grime and sludge out of the grooves of your tyres and a cloth for the wheel. (A normal cloth is fine for this part.) For those hard-to-reach areas, a toothbrush is ideal.

You can then move onto rinsing the roof, then bonnet, windows and mirrors. After those, it makes sense to do the doors and then the sills. The sills are often the dirtiest area, so you might have to spend a bit of time on these.

For your glass, you should use a cleaner that doesn’t contain ammonia with a microfibre cloth.

After you’ve rinsed your car, wipe it down using a wash mitt soaked in the suds. You want to gently wipe the dirt away – so try not to press down too hard with the mitt to avoid scratching the paint.

After you’ve been over the whole car with the suds, do a quick once-over again and hose the car down to avoid water spots forming.

You should then dry the car in preparation for waxing. Do not leave the car to dry by itself as this can cause water spots. You can use a drying towel to do this.


You don’t need to wax your car every time you wash it, but you should give your car a wax every six months or so to keep that new car shine.

To apply the wax, you should use a foam applicator (these often come with the wax).

Top tip: Do a small area at a time, as the wax dries out quite quickly. Less is more when it comes to waxing because you can build it up, but you can’t take it away.

Use circular motions to apply the wax evenly. (Think Karate Kid!)


Let the wax sit for a few minutes as per the instructions. Then, remove the wax with a microfibre cloth when ready.

Oscillating buffers are best for applying wax, but often they can cause more harm than good if you’re not sure how to use them. If you’d like to look into this instead of applying the wax by hand, speak to a professional valeter at your local Arnold Clark branch.


For this part, a vacuum cleaner is your best friend.

Firstly, you need to take out the floor mats, vacuum these and then vacuum the floor, the boot and the parcel shelf.

If there are any stubborn stains, use a foam cleanser and damp cloth to get these out.

After this, slide the seats all the way forward and all the way back vacuuming underneath them as you do it.

For hard interior surfaces, wipe with a multi all-purpose cleaner. Air vents can be cleaned with a small brush.

For the seats, if they are fabric, you should clean these using a cloth and some foam car shampoo. After doing this, run the hoover over it again to pick up any excess dirt lifted by the shampoo.

If leather, use a leather cleaner and wipe down with a microfibre cloth.

And that’s it, you’re all done!

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