Detailing is generally broken down into two categories: exterior and interior (or cabin). There are products and services that focus on these two areas specifically.
Exterior detailing involves cleaning, and either restoring or exceeding the original condition of the surface of the car’s finish (usually a paint with a glossy finish), chrome trim, windows, wheels, and tires, as well as other visible components on a vehicle’s exterior. A wide array of detailing products and techniques is used, based on the vehicle’s surface type and condition, or the detailer’s preference. Products include, but are not limited to: detergents and acid free degreasers (to break down dirt and soil), detail clay (to remove embedded contaminates), waxes, shines,
and polishes (to resurface and then improve reflectivity, or to give the tires a shine), as well as a variety of applicators, brushes, and drying towels.
Interior detailing involves a deep cleaning of the whole interior cabin. Vehicle interiors of the last 50 years comprise a variety of materials, such as synthetic carpet upholstery, vinyl, leather, various natural fibers, carbon fiber composites, plastics, and others, which necessitates the use of a variety of cleaning techniques and products. Vacuuming is standard, and upholstery stains may be removed using steam cleaning, liquid and foam chemicals, as well as brushes. Additionally, some nonporous surfaces may be polished.