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  • Writer's pictureJustin Turner

Tips for Cleaning & Detailing Your Toyota

We all have different ideas of how clean we want our Toyota vehicles to be. Some are perfectly fine with a nice set of pinstripes down the entire vehicle, a badge of honor proving that the truck does more than mall crawl. Others want that showroom shine 24/7. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, below are some tips and tricks for keeping the interior and exterior of your rig in tip-top shape.

Quick Tips:

  • Improper washing and drying is the #1 cause of swirl marks.

  • All vehicles could benefit from an annual chemical decontamination.

  • Automatic car washes are bad for your vehicle! Stick with hand washing.

  • The longevity and durability of a coating is severely dependent on how it is maintained.

  • Air dry whenever possible. The less physical contact the better.


  • Automatic Touch:

    • Use these if you want all of the dirt and grime from every vehicle before you to slap against your clear coat

Automatic Touch-less:

  • A better solution to touch washes, if you must. However, these washes cannot use friction to remove dirt and thus must resort to using harsher chemicals. These chemicals are good at one thing: stripping waxes and sealants.

Hand Wash:

  • The only correct way to wash. Proper hand washes use a 3 bucket system: 1 bucket for the paint, 1 bucket for the wheels, and 1 rinse bucket; all with Grit Guards.

  • Your wheels are the most contaminated part of your vehicle - always wash them before the rest of the vehicle. Rule of thumb is top to bottom after the wheels.

    • The order of march for a proper maintenance wash is as follows: Rinse -> Foam -> Rinse -> Hand Wash -> Rinse -> Air Dry


  • Mechanical

    • Clay: Removes imbedded contaminants from the paint. Removing these contaminants leaves the paint smooth and appearing "glossier". A lot of detailers will include a clay decontamination in their basic wash services because of the improvements in gloss and feel but make no mistake - this will mar your paint. Claying is a necessary evil so afterwards, if you want a defect-free finish, paint correction will be required after performing any kind mechanical decontamination.


  • De-Iron: This is a process performed during washing to safely remove imbedded iron contaminants. All brand new vehicles need a chemical decon. A chemical decon should also be performed annually, even on vehicles that are coated.

Paint Protection

  • Paint Protection Film

    • Also known as "Clear Bras" they offer not only the most protection to impact, but also offer outstanding UV protection. Most have self-healing and hydrophobic properties as well.

    • With PPF, you want to protect the panel from not only rock damage, but also UV damage to avoid having to do a re-paint. Because of this, always do an entire panel vs. a partial panel.


  • Vinyl wraps are meant to be temporary (1-2 years) and are generally used for color changes or adding a design element (branding, advertising, etc.) to the outside of a vehicle. Vinyl is much thinner than PPF so there is virtually no impact protection. They do offer paint protection in terms of UV, contaminant and prevention of swirl marks. Vinyl does not have self healing or hydrophobic capabilities.


  • These are a form of paint protection that applies like wax, cost about as much as wax, and last about 6-8 months in most climates. Most sealants have a lot of "fillers" in them as well, which help disguise marring. Some sealants can be applied to both paint and plastic. They offer UV protection, gloss enhancement and the good ones have hydrophobic capabilities.


  • Makes your paint smooth, adds a deeper tone, and provides some UV protection. Many still use wax but in the wake of ceramic coatings and sealants, wax is becoming obsolete. Even sealants are becoming obsolete in the wake of some of new ceramic coatings that apply just as easy in the same amount of time.

Ceramic Coatings:

  • Durability of ceramic coatings is measured by years, not months. UV protection, hydrophobicity, and gloss enhancement are unparalleled. They can be applied to everything: paint, PPF, vinyl, exterior and interior plastics, textiles, windows & windshields, tires, wheels, calipers and leathers.

  • Application difficulty ranges and air temperature and humidity generally need consideration. All coatings require some form of paint polishing before application.

    • The durability of a coating is greatly dependent on how it is maintained.

    • Ceramic coatings are not as impacted by harsher chemicals used by automatic washes.

    • Ceramic coatings significantly ease the washing and drying procedure, significantly reducing the chance of marring.

Interior Cleaning

  • Any all purpose interior cleaner from a legitimate car care company will be safe to use on your car. When used normally, it is all safe on virtually every panel and every surface inside your vehicle.

Pet hair removal

  • In my experience, hair stones have been the most effective on carpets and cloth seats. Vacuum first, then use the stone to gather hair into a pile and then vacuum again.

Leather Care

  • Unless you drive a wicked high end car, your leather is not leather persay. It's more of a leather derivative that has been painted. That being said, you don't necessarily have to use a leather conditioner or cleaner. Water does fine, the vitamins in baby wipes also do a good job preserving "leather" seats.


  • Steam cleaning works wonders for those hard-to-reach places. Entry level steamers are pretty cheap and perform great. Steam cleaning can be dangerous if done improperly though. Be mindful of the heat.

Below is a list of items you can get to create a DIY Kit and get started doing some of your own detailing and cleaning:

For AZ-based detailing, hit up Nico Calvo of Mirror Finish Detailing!

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