Give Dad #TheGiftOfClean! Hacks to Detail Your Car at Home – Tutorial

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My husband works hard. Very hard.

He doesn’t work the long hours he did while he was in grad school and in his residency, but his days are exhausting nonetheless. On a normal work day he gets up at 5:30 am. He goes to the gym for about an hour before arriving for work at 7:30 am. He is a psychologist with the United States Air Force.  From 7:30 to about 5 or 6 pm he sees patients (usually with varying degrees of PTSD), gives briefings, attends meetings, and works on the endless paperwork and documentation that is characteristic of a government job. The Air Force works their health professionals hard, very hard.

He gets about a 30 minute break on his drive home before he is hit with a tsunami of home demands–Play with me daddy! Help me pass this Minecraft level! Can you please get little Z out of my hair so I can get dinner on the table? Dinner. Get the boys their evening meds, vitamins, drinks, story, teeth brushing, and tucked into bed. Whew.

By 9 pm he has a chance to wind down for about an hour before heading to bed and beginning it all again the next day.

And, yet, he rarely complains. He just forges ahead, sometimes tired, but always dutiful.

Celebrating Dad

He gives so much of his time to others that he rarely takes time for things he needs to do (I found a gem for sure). His nice new car–okay, so it isn’t really new anymore, but I still think of it as new–has been badly neglected as far as cleaning goes.

To celebrate Dad this Father’s Day I decided to give The Husband a deep car cleaning. I had it perfectly planned out. Just after our trip to New Orleans last week he took off to have a final job interview in Utah. I had planned on giving his car a full at-home detailing while he was gone.

I’ve always used Armor All Car Care products on our cars’ interiors since I was a kid. My dad was always a stickler about having a clean car, inside and out. Walmart has an Armor All Car Care Gift Pack 10-Piece Bucket for just under $20 that I picked up to use on The Husband’s car. At a $30+ value it was a steal! I found them on a back end-cap right next to the Auto Care Center.

Armor All Car Care Gift Pack 10-Piece Bucket

The Armor All Car Care Gift Pack 10-Piece Bucket is awesome. It includes:

  • Armor All Orange Bucket with Lid
  • Armor All Extreme Tire Shine
  • Armor All Original Pump 10oz
  • Armor All Ultra Shine Wash & Wax
  • Armor All Cleaning Wipes
  • Armor All Glass Wipes
  • Armor All Quick Silver Wheel & Tire Cleaner
  • Armor All Towel
  • Armor All Pro Tips Booklet
  • Sponge

Almost everything you need to detail your car at home!

Things never quite work out how we plan them, do they?

Instead of detailing his car, I had to take his car in to get a cut on the hood fixed. The shop took the entire 3 days he was gone to fix the car leaving me no time to do my at-home car detail. 🙁  On the upside though, the shop washed the exterior and vacuumed the interior of the car! One less thing I had to do!

Hacks for Detailing your Car at Home

 Step-by-step Easy tutorial to Detail Your Car at Home:


  1. Begin with the interior: To avoid getting dust, dirt, etc. on already cleaned areas make sure you work from the inside outward.
  2. Wash rubber floor mats: Get out a bathroom scrub brush and give those rubber floor mats a good scrubbing. I find that dish soap is very effective at getting all the grime off the rubber floor mats.
  3. Wipe down hard interior surfaces: Using the Armor All Cleansing Wipes wipe down all the hard interior surfaces except for the windows. Don’t forget the steering wheel! Eww!!!Armor All Cleaning Wipes on steering wheel
  4. Clean the dust from buttons and crevices: Using a can of compressed air OR an old toothbrush, blow or brush accumulated dust from the buttons in the dash, steering wheel, and the doors.Car Detailing tips with toothbrush
  5. Clean larger crevices with a cotton swab: Some of the surfaces may be too large for a toothbrush to clean effectively and too small for a cloth. For these in-between surfaces, a cotton swab is perfect.Car Detailing at home tips clean crevices with a q-tip
  6. Protect your clean interior and let it shine: Use your Armor All Original Spray and towel to put an protecting layer on all your freshly cleaned hard interior surfaces.Armor All Original Protectant Spray
  7. Remove floor mats and vacuum car: Vacuum the dash, rear shelf, seats, floor, trunk, and mats. Start with the top (dash and rear shelf) and work your way down to make sure you catch any fallen dust.Armor All Car Detailing vacuuming
  8. Use a foam cleanser and damp sponge to clean any stains: Apply the foam cleanser to any stains or spots on your car upholstery or carpet and rub gently with a damp sponge or cloth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then gently dry with a clean towel. Alternately, if you own a carpet shampooer with an upholstery attachment, you can use that.
  9. Clean your seats: If you have upholstery, shampoo the seats. If you have leather or vinyl seats, clean with a leather or vinyl cleaner and wipe with a microfiber cloth afterwards. If you have leather, make sure you condition your seats with a leather conditioner product afterwards.


  1. Clean and shine the wheels: Spray the wheels and tires with Armor All Quick Silver Wheel & Tire Cleaner. After the wheels dry, follow up with Armor All Extreme Tire Shine.Armor All Quicksilver Tire Cleaner
  2. Wash the car exterior: Tip: do NOT use dish soap–unless you want to strip wax from your car. Dish soap will remove any protective wax layers you have on your car. Instead, use the Armor All Ultra Shine Wash & Wax. Just one oz. per gallon of water will do the trick.Detailing your car at home with Armor All
  3. After rinsing the exterior with water dry thoroughly: Use a squeegee (they’re not just for windshields, folks!) to get off the majority of the water off the car. Then use a towel to dry.
  4. Clean inner and outer windows.

Now, take a step back and admire your (or your husband’s) amazingly clean and shiny car!

Car Wash for Dad

He deserves a freshly detailed car. Just look at all the abuse he has to put up with!


To help you save even more money detailing your car at home click here to download this $2.00 off coupon available for this product at Walmart, *while supplies last!


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. What a great post! I used to wash the family car every Sunday afternoon when I was younger. Now I want to go wash my own car. That Armor All bucket has everything I need in it! #client
  2. Nicole Dziedzic says
    This is a great idea to get the kids to clean dads car for Father's Day! And his truck does need a good cleaning, awesome way to gift dad! Great tips on detailing!
  3. Jack White says
    I remember doing detailing on my car and it was so bad. The car was a mess in the little details. I think the worst was when we I wiped my steering wheel. I had no idea that our hands were that dirty.
  4. Love the pics!! I need to detail my car so bad. Even more so now that I have seen what a difference it can make and where dirt can linger. Love the toothbrush for detailing. I'll be sure to do that. Hopefully it will cool off enough next week to get it done.
  5. Great post! I really need to get this kit and finally to go and clean the car. Thanks for the post! :)
  6. Audrey Blakeney says
    It was so kind of you to give your husband the gift of a clean car. There is no better gift than one that is well-thought and personal, and yours was exactly that. That being said, the car looked extremely clean when you're done, especially the tires. I find that the tires can be some of the most difficult to clean, since the bolts holding the rim on have quite a few niches that collect dirt. Did you find any helpful tips for getting in the small cracks and corners of the tires to clean them well?
    • The only thing I used was the Armour All tire cleaner shown in the picture. I sprayed the stuff on, waited several minutes and then sprayed it off with the garden hose. I was seriously impressed by how well that spray cleaned the tires.
  7. shaun easton says
    Thanks for the posting about your car detail! I have been meaning to give my car a deep clean lately and i loved the idea about using a toothbrush on small crevices. I'll be bringing out an old toothbrush to do just that thank you!
  8. Great article, I really love the pictures! About tire detailing, a good choice of products, but meybe this steps are more in detail: 1) First clean the tire with water and wait for it until it dries up. 2) Then make sure you remove all the stains. You might even help yourself with alcohol which will help them remove the stains faster. Of course, be careful how you use that! Mostly you will just have to wipe of carefully all the previous stains, usually of oil. 3) Then when the tire is completely clean, apply the tire dressing (in your case the tire cleaner) 4) simply wait for dressing to dry up. In the end you will have a nice tire shine. A bit about me: I am a car detailer and even run a site (link is in my name) about the tire detailing. So when I was reading your blog I found it great but I am trying to give you few tips to make it perfect. I know people often don't want to bother too much with tire cleaning, but I think it helps your car outlook a lot.
  9. This is such a cute idea, and is a gift my husband would definitely love! He is in school full time and working full time, so his car is the last thing on his to do list. I will have to find a time to sneak it away from him when he's home! Thanks!
  10. This was an awesome gift idea. I've done this before as a Christmas gift for my sister. Her first pregnancy was twins and then they had a surprise baby 10 months later. Her van could get a little messy. Fortunately, there wasn't any need for auto upholstery repair, but it sure did need a deep cleaning. Way to personalize a fantastic gift.
  11. Indeed, not using car washes can save you a good bit. I have taken my car to a car wash twice in the five years I have been driving. I spend that money on going out to eat every once in a while with my husband instead.
  12. You should also consider how much you value your time, and if you can’t spend your time doing things that (maybe in the long turn) would allow you to earn more. I would happily pay a cleaning lady if that saves me time to read a book that helps my career. Another aspect : a carwash costs 10 € , and takes 10 mins . If I need to clean my car myself it would take at least 3 times as long .
    • That is definitely true in a lot of cases. In this case, it was way more worth it to me to give my kids the experience of working hard to serve their dad. It was a great way for the both of us to spend time together.
  13. Doing these tasks ourselves is really a way in saving money. For example, I myself clean my own car every weekend.