How Much Does Detailing Your Car Cost?

How much does detailing your car cost if you do it yourself or via a shop? This is a commonly asked question in the world of detailing.

Typically it costs about $50 for a quality detail by hand. Most shops can charge upwards of $100 or more depending on the services/products used!

Looking at a cost per performance break down, lets look at the pros and cons of both!

How Much Does Detailing Your Car Cost – Shop VS You!


Getting your car detailed at a local shop can be one of the best things and worst things you could do at the same time. The good news is, all the labor is done for you. The bad news is, you don’t know exactly what treatments/cleaning products were used.

We say this is a massive con because some cleaners need to be used more frequently. Detailing isn’t just about getting the car to look clean, it’s also meant to protect it. Ultra violet rays as an example do dry out and fade paint/interior panels over time.

Because of this, using the right detailing products will save you tons of money in the long haul. Not only will it save you money, but it can also help prevent the need for dash panels to be replaced due to sun damage.

The same thing applies to the exterior of the vehicle. Over time the sun and dirt/road tar/etc… will eat at the paint and will cause it to eventually fail. This leads to rust, discoloration, and just overall a messy looking vehicle.

For someone that doesn’t have a lot of time or just doesn’t have the know how, a shop can be a great solution for you. They have experts in the field ready to make your car look brand new! Each shop however will use different procedures, tools, and cleaning products.

This is where the hard part comes in… choosing the correct shop….

Part of that process involves price. The question at hand was how much does detailing your car cost? While this is a loaded question, remember, it averages around $100 for a quality detail.

How To Choose The Right Shop! how much does detailing your car cost

Choosing the right shop can be difficult as many business promise a lot but don’t live up to the task. Our best advice we can give you is to call around and find out more about their business! We know this sounds like it’s going over the edge, but don’t you want to keep your car clean too?

As stated above we mentioned that each shop will use different products. Some of these products actually clean the dash but don’t protect it. When a shop does this, it leaves your panels dry and actually more susceptible to damage from ultra violet rays over time.

It’s for this reasoning we recommend calling around and figuring out which products they use and what it gets you. Asking questions like “Do  you apply conditioner or treatment after cleaning?” Is a great way to find out if your getting a good deal!

Some shops will offer different levels of detailing and that’s where your cost can start to wrack up.

Take your time and do your research. You will come to find that a shop charges around $100 for a descent level detail using quality products. This is why it’s still a much more cost effective option to do the detailing yourself.

You know the products, what was cleaned versus what wasn’t, and you can sit back and appreciate your own work when it’s finished!

Detailing Yourself!

This is where it starts to get fun! Let’s talk about detailing your vehicle yourself.

Detailing is one of the most overlooked processes in the automotive industry. The world thinks mechanics have it rough, so do the ones cleaning your car. When you take your car in for a cleaning you expect a clean car back.

When you don’t get a clean car back what is your first natural assumption. I paid how how much for this? Which then leads to your disappointment, which is what we don’t want. Instead lets invest our time and money into a proper detail that will yield long term and great results!

Cleaning every small crevice in a vehicle is super important. Getting all the stains, dirt, grease, and scratches out of your vehicle takes time but luckily isn’t too difficult. Paying attention to detail and ensuing you do a good job the first time is 100% the only way to save money and get great results.

Where To Start!

how much does detailing your car cost

Start by making a checklist of all the products you are going to want to use.

A full external detail should consist of the following:

  • Microfiber Towels
  • Clay Bar
  • Car Wash
  • Compound
  • Polish
  • Wax
  • Detailing Brushes
  • Wheel/Tire Cleaner

A full internal detail should consist of the following as well:

  • Carpet Cleaner/Shampoo
  • Dash Cleaner AND Protectant
  • Detailing Brushes
  • Microfiber Towels

By having all these products ready to go, you can certainly get some excellent results. Don’t cheap out, get the good stuff, follow the instructions, and most importantly, TAKE YOUR TIME!

It can take us upwards of 6 hours to detail a vehicle inside and out so it is absolutely crucial that you take your time and do it right! We can’t tell you how many times we have seen someone go in for a “detail” only to come out with still dusty vents and dirty cup holder crevices.

When you go for a full detail like this even the slightest area left untouched will immediately be noticeable. We have always recommended anything from Chemical Guys and we will continue to do so. It’s fairly priced stuff and they specifically spend their time and money investing in detailing products.

Once you use some of their stuff it’s hard to switch to anything else. Regardless, you can spend up to $100 and get 40x more details over rather than spending $100 for just one.

Some Detailing Tips…

You got your products and you are ready to go. Now while we won’t be going on how to actually restore or clean your vehicle. We will be giving you some tips. Check out our guide to restoring a vehicle if you want more of a step by step guide.

Now onto the tips…


This is critical! Detailing causes us to apply chemicals to our vehicles. Some of these products/chemicals can dry in the sunshine leaving nasty hard to remove residue.

Make sure you always working in a dry/clean and shaded area.

Double Up On Cleanliness!

When we say “double on on cleanliness” we don’t mean use double the product. After each step, come through with your clean towel/rag again and make sure you buff in or remove ALL of your product.

This prevents swirls and other blemishes from showing up. Most of the time you will have blemishes due to the product staying on too long or you haven’t worked in enough product.

Use Brushes For Small Areas.

This seems like a really simple tip, but as stated before it’s highly overlooked. Take the time and get in the small crevices. Clean your vents, dash trim, etc… this is what separates a rookie from someone that has passion about detailing!

Multiple Passes Might Be Necessary!

You may not get all the dirt and grease on the first time around. This couldn’t be more true for the external of a vehicle. Some of those scratches/dings can be in there pretty good.

It may take a few passes or multiple cleanings to get rid of all the dirt and grease.

Final Notes!

Keeping a vehicle clean can be a chore and it can take sometime… remember it’s all in the quality of the detail! We hope you enjoyed this small guide, but remember, you can save yourself hundreds by doing it yourself!

Keep at it everyone!