Detailing Tips and Tricks

Since I got the 530i I started to get more in to detailing. I am a bit OCD when it comes to having everything clean and tidy and this makes detailing right up my street. This page is about some of the products I use and have tried and some little hints and tips I have picked up. Do let me know your tips and tricks so that I can try them out and maybe include them on the page. 


Cleaning Hardware

  • Nilfisk Pressure Washer
     I have used the ubiquitous Karcher products which seem to last about two minutes before they give in and you need to buy another. So far the Nilfisk is proving to be a reliable unit.
  • Washmit
  • ClayBar
  • Silverline Polisher
  • Detailing brushes and old toothbrushes
    Old toothbrushes are great for getting in to those hard to reach places. They are also really handy for getting dirt and scraps out of the corners in the carpet areas. I have also found them to be useful for getting cat and dog hairs off the carpets.

Cleaning Products

I have used all sorts of cleaning products, mainly these days I use AutoGlym and Meguiar’s.

Being a member of the BMW Car Club is handy as they currently have a deal with Halfords to give 10% off in-store purchases. They have even included this discount on products that already have offers on them. This can mean picking up products quite cheaply.

Tyre Dressing

Most of the tyre dressings I have tried in the past have been the spray on variety. These seems to last for a day or so and then fade away. Recently I have tried the Meguiars Endurance Tyre Gel. This goes on easily with a cloth or sponge and lasts a lot longer than the sprays.

Snow foam

Currently using the Autoglym Pressure Wash foam

Washing Order

  • Bucket of soapy water and a sponge used to clean the wheels.
    Some people use a brush to clean as far behind the front of the wheel as possible. I clean the wheels first so as to remove as much of the dirt from the wheels as possible, this helps to make sure that it does not get spread to other parts of the car and when we come to the next steps with the foaming, the foam can get to work on a cleaner wheel.
  • Snow foam the car. Start with the roof and work your way down. If using a pressure washer, avoid using it on the tyres. I have been informed by tyre people that this can cause issues on the tyre walls and you should avoid it. 
  • Hand wash with shampoo and cleaning mit. Start with the roof and work your way down.
  • Whilst going round with the hand wash I use the detailing brushes and the toothbrushes to clean out any dirt from the hard to reach places like the window rubbers (great if you have the green sludge/mould building up), also get in between the bumpers and the panels and other areas where there are any places you can get the brushes in to.
  • Rinse with clean water. I tend to just use the water hose for this rather than the pressure washer. 
  • At this point I also go back and wash the kick plates and around all the door surrounds, open the doors and get in to all the edges and everywhere.
  • Use a drying cloth to dry the car. This was a revelation for me. I had always used a good old chamois leather to dry the car. This would not remove all the water and took a long time. I bought a drying cloth from Autobrite Delux Drying Towel and it worked amazingly. One towel can easily dry the X5. Another of the same quality was purchased from Amazon. Leather is no longer used.
  • After drying the car it is on to the clay bar. So far I have used a cheap eBay clay bar. The bar is hard to manipulate so I really want to try a more expensive bar to see how I get on with that. I also have an eBay special, the clay bar mit. This works really well. Will be also looking at getting a larger one of these for next summer. 
  • Polish. I have been using Autoglym Super Resin Polish that has been lying around in the cellar for years.
  • Wax. I used to use wax on my dads car back in the 80’s. This was the Turtle Wax stuff that came out of a tin, would dry and take an age to get wiped off and you ended up with arms that would not work the next day. So many new waxes are available now with Carnuba being the new buzz word. So far I have only used the Autobrite Direct banana wax. This seems to work quite well, gives a nice shine and the water run-off test is good. Want to try some autoglym and meguiar’s products too.
  • Once I’ve finshed with the outside it is on to the inside. A damp (almost dry) cloth is your friend for picking up those bits of dust from the dashboard and off the trim. I avoid using things like furniture polish. Big no-no. If you have stubborn stains, try a wet-wipe. They are amazing. 
  • Use a detail bush to get in to the air vents and other tricky places.
  • For the carpets I used to use the house vacuum cleaner. This does sometimes get pulled out but something I found which is really great, and portable, is my Black and Decker 12v. This is a great product and really does get all the cack out of the carpets.