It is no surprise professional detailing requires a keen eye for precision and patience for meticulous detail. Detailers take pride in the work they do, which can be applied to new and classic cars, boats, motorcycles and even airplanes.

With the wide variety of jobs detailers are often faced with — and the extensive assortment of messes and stains they see — knowing the correct procedures and chemical processes for each issue is essential. No matter what the label on the chemical’s bottle may imply, it is important to be aware of how these products interact with a vehicle’s surface.

Look beyond the surface

“Some detailers are misled into thinking something is safe based on a single factor, like pH,” notes Bob Kuczik, director of sales and marketing for Wheel-eez Wheel Cleaner, a division of Cork Industries. “Many ‘acid-free’ cleaners actually ship as corrosive hazardous materials. Another claims a neutral pH, but it is harmful in contact with skin.”

How do detailers determine in what ways to safely handle chemicals? Companies know their products best. Kuczik says, “The safest way to avoid confusion and mistakes is to ask the product manufacturer or distributor if the chemical is actually safe, and to read those safety data sheets.”

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Safety Data Sheets, “Communicate the hazards of hazardous chemical products.” This information can be important when establishing proper chemical handling practices.

Be aware of seasonal demands

Detailers work year-round, but demand for certain products will change based on the seasons. For wheel cleaners, demand increases in winter, states Kuczik.

“Drivers know that washing a car in the winter is not just for looks; it is a maintenance issue,” he explains. “Car owners want to remove road grime and corrosive salt from their vehicles.”

The right chemicals are important to any detailer’s work. Most of these professionals focus on making money selling detailing services, but some do sell the products they use as well. They can recommend effective chemicals to their customers based on their own experiences. Kuczik reports this practice is changing, especially with new operators.

Learn what works best

Detailers often learn by trial and error, although a push for education and professionalism in the field is growing. Detailers can check with companies in which they are interested about the availability of free trials to try new products.

Those with the desire to continue educational opportunities can get in touch with organizations like the International Detailing Association. Through these groups detailers can learn best practices in business and detailing techniques as well as take advantage of networking opportunities with peers.

“Professional resources such as [Professional Carwashing & Detailing], as well as the reputable detailer networks [provide] accurate information,” shares Kuczik.