When Did Auto Detailing Started?

December 9, 2019by Timeless_User

Have you ever thought about how auto or car detailing even started?

Auto Detailing or Car Detailing is an act of thorough cleaning and maintenance of a vehicle. This is to ensure the quality of the car’s paintwork and interior.

The recorded history of auto detailing started in Germany in the 1800’s when animal fats were used to protect the paint of the car, similar used on how wax is being used nowadays. It was needed during that time because there is so much dust in the air and most roads were full of dirt. The challenge was that animal fats used on the vehicle had an unpleasant odor and attracts insects.

In 1901, Frank Meguiar Jr. from the United States of America, founded a small furniture polish laboratory and used his polish for his furniture and also to coat the outside of cars. After a few years, George Simons, also from the United States of America, invented a cleaner and a carnauba wax product. They allowed it to sell in a few specific shops and let customers drop it off and pick it up later for a minimal fee. Although these did not last, since the wax wore away after a few days.

In the 1920s, 3M revolutionized the automobile and auto detailing industry by inventing the world’s first waterproof sandpaper and masking tape, which really helped car painters. In 1944, PlastoneTM developed the first bottled car wax by Ben Hirsch. It now commonly known as Turtle Wax. By the 1970s, the Japanese and European were using metallic based paints with a clear coat. This coat produced outstanding results in terms of hardness, long lasting color and gloss of the car. It was brought in the USA for 2-3 years, but it was not successful to many cars.

Over the years, people became creative and was able to invent more auto detailing products. In the 1990s, clay detailing bar treatment was introduced in Japan and in the USA. Also during this time, the two-paint system happened and perfected the clear coat system. Microfibers were also used during this time in Sweden and became a huge success in the Europe over the decade.

Nowadays, companies are now inventing products that are eco-friendly, to prevent or lessen the negative effect to the environment.


Since people are usually busy, what people usually do is they bring it to auto detailing shops and companies. This is because it’s really a hassle for most people to detail their own car and it takes a lot of time and effort for it to be done. But if you would really prefer doing it for yourself, here are some steps for auto detailing for beginners:

  1. Wheels
  • Always start with the wheels. It is the filthiest since it’s the one that touches the ground and gets all the mud and dirt. Pre-soak it and use a quality wheel cleaner or soap. You might probably use a brush for the tracks in between, and to get to hard-to-reach parts of the wheels.
  1. Stage One Clean: Pre-Cleaner
  • It done to remove bugs and stubborn grime. Use it as well to the lower areas of the car that have become bug-splattered.
  1. Stage two clean: Snow Foam
  • It helps to break down any dirt and remove any loose particles from the vehicle. This is done to avoid swirl marks to the paint because of the small rocks or dust.
  1. Two-bucket wash method
  • This just simply means to fill one bucket with a wash solution, and the other bucket with plain water. Rinse the cloth first in the water bucket before taking fresh wash solution to the car. This method ensures you don’t contaminate your wash solution and are always using clean wash water on your car.
  1. The decontamination stage
  • The most common item or product used as decontaminators are clay bars. They are used in the paintwork to remove any remaining contamination such as tree sap or even overspray. Then wash and rinse again.
  1. Drying
  • Always start at the top of the car and work your way down to the bottom. This should be done quickly to avoid water spots or marks. Water spots or marks are very hard to remove but a great detailer will be able to remove it if in any case.
  1. Polishing
  • You can polish your car by hand or using a machine polisher. This gives a good finish on the car, especially if you do it by a machine polisher. So it can have that shine and clean look.
  1. Glaze
  • This is done between the polishing and waxing stages. This is done to enhance the paintwork and to reduce the appearance of minor swirls.
  1. Wax/Seal
  • This is a must whenever you have your car cleaned or detailed. This protects your car and also your previous hard work from step one to step eight.
  1. Tyre Dressing
  • Dressing is used to bring back the true colors of your tyres and rims.
  1. Glass
  • This is often taken for granted. But having your glass cleaned can have a huge difference for your car. Even it only has light scratches or just fingerprints, have it polished.
  1. Touch-up
  • The final step to make sure that any potential residue left from the waxing and sealing is removed like fingerprints, or missed bits that has strayed.

Having your car cleaned or detailed every now and then is a huge responsibility to do. Our cars are like people, they deserve our care. Having a maintenance detail prolongs the life of your car. So if you can’t get your car detailed, have someone to do it for you.


  1. https://www.detailxperts.net/blog/2015/09/17/auto-detailing-a-brief-history/
  2. https://www.autofinesse.com/en/blog/guides/12-steps-of-detailing
  3. https://swipermicrofibertowels.com/the-history-of-auto-detailing/