The Ultimate Guide to Quick Detail Sprays 2021

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A quick detail spray is a must have tool in our endless battle to keep our cars looking good.  I’ve tried dozens of different detailer sprays over the years.  Some I instantly liked and others not so much.  

Ultra fine scratches will build up over time and cause your shine to dull.  This makes a new car look old.  A quick detailer spray and an understanding of what causes these micro scratches is what you need.  This FAQ is here to help.

Bottom line?  It’s all too easy to ruin the shine in a new or recently polished car.  Use a quick detailer like the brilliant Meguiars Ultimate Quik Detailer or Adams Quick Detailer with a clean microfibre towel to keep your car looking good.  But never use it to grind dirt into your paint.

If you need some quality microfibre towels I highly recommend Chemical Guys.

What causes paint to fade?

Think of the dirt and dust on your car as microscopic rocks.  These rocks are sharp and will cut tiny scratches in to your clear coat.  Use a dry cloth to clean your car and it will drag these rocks along your paint and cause fine scratches.  These will get worse over time.  The only way to get rid of them is to use a polishing machine.  Or you could re spray your car.

But you could also prevent these scratches from happening in the first place by earning the safe washing and drying techniques.  

A detailer spray will help these little rocks to skid along your paint.  It will also help them to stick to your microfibre towel.  This greatly minimizes scratching.

Learn the right way to wash your car.

Wash your car the wrong way and the shine will disappear in no time.  Click here to read about quick and safe washing methods that will help keep your car looking good for years.

What does a quick detailer do?

We all love to have a shiny car.  But after a couple of months a new car can lose it’s shine.  

This can be caused by using an old towel or rag to remove light dust from your car.  But doing this will totally ruin your shine.

  1. Lubrication. That’s the main reason for using a quick detailer.

Lubrication is needed to minimize scratches while removing dust from your paint.

Quick detailers can also contain chemicals to help break down dirt.  So they’re good for helping tackle bird dropping emergencies.  

For dried in bird droppings, a full wash might be needed to minimize scratches.  

  1. Drying Aid.  After you wash your car you need to dry it.  Use a nice plush automotive drying towel and some quick detailer.  

Misting your car with a detailer spray will make drying easier as the water beads on your car.  This makes drying quicker and safer because the water beads are easier to soak up.

And as you also get the benefits of lubrication, you will also reduce the changes of scratching.

  1. Protection.  Detailer sprays contain products like sealants or wax that will repel water.  That means rain and dirt won’t bond to your car as much meaning the next wash will be a little easier.
  1. Shine. Your car will get a boost to it’s gloss levels if you apply some detailer spray after a wash.  The shine won’t last as long as a proper wax but the detailer spray is much easier to apply as no buffing is needed.
  1. UV protection. Some quick detailers give a boost to UV protection.
  1. Anti-static. Some products offer anti-static protection.  This is especially good for black or dark coloured cars that just seem to be covered in dust 5 minutes after you wash them.  Also good on your dashboard.
  1. Apply on anything (almost). Some waxes can’t be applied to plastic because they cause staining.  But quick detailers can be used on every surface.  They can be slippery so don’t put them on steering wheels or brake pedals.
  1. After wash touch up.  An hour after you wash and dry your car you will always find some area where water has run down and cause water stains.  Never dry wipe these away.  A quick detailer will give you the lubrication to quickly and safely clean it up.
  2. Keep a quick detailer in your car.  This is something most DIY detailers like to do.  Get rid of bird bombs while you are out and about.  Lately I’ve been keeping Meguiars Ultimate Waterless Wash for tasks like this because it offers more protection.  Especially of the bird poop has baked on for some time.

Use a good microfibre towel to avoid scratches.

Using the correct towel is just as important as using a quick detailer spray.  Use a dirty old rag and you will scratch and scuff your paint in no time.

If you are using a quick detailer to remove dust you should use a number of small microfibre towels.

If you are using a quick detailer to dry your car you should use a big microfibre towel that soaks up lots of water like Gyeon Quartz Silk Dryer.

How and when do you use a quick detail spray?

For light dust

  1. Mist on some detailer spray
  2. Use a microfibre towel (it picks up the dust in it’s fibers)
  3. Wipe gently in a straight line to minimise scratches.
  4. Use another clean microfibre towel to buff if needed.

For a dirty car

  1. Don’t use a quick detailer to clean a dirty car because your shine will fade.

On wet car

  1. Mist on to any area of a just washed car
  2. Gently wipe a large microfibre drying towel on the panel.

An important point about using a quick detailer.

A quick detailer spray is great for people who really care about their cars.  If your car is new or new to you or recently polished then a quick detailer is an absolute must have. 

If your car is pretty old and already has plenty of swirls and scratches then a quick detailer probably isn’t worth the money. 

When to use quick detailer spray

  • As a drying aid.  (Before you dry your car to add shine and protection)
  • After you dry your car to get any dusty water spots.
  • On door sills
  • On glass
  • On wheels
  • On your dashboard
  • To remove bird bombs.
  • Remove greasy fingerprints.  Kids leave them everywhere.
  • Remove light dust.
  • The morning after a full wash.

When NOT to use a detailer spray

  • Don’t put it on your steering wheel because they make it slippery.
  • Don’t apply to brake pedals.
  • Don’t use them on your gear knob, especially if you’ve a manual transmission.
  • Don’t apply to the windscreen.  Some cause streakyness when you use your wipers.
  • Don’t use them on your paint if it’s dirty.  (only for use with light dust)
  • Don’t use on dust that’s stuck to your paint.  A full wash is needed.
  • For glass inside your vehicle it might be better to use a dedicated glass cleaner.
  • For very diary dashboards and car interiors an All Purpose Cleaner will have much more cleaning power.
  • Don’t use to much pressure.
  • Don’t use an old rag.  Use a microfibre towel.
  • Don’t apply it on a hot panel.  (unless the instructions say it’s ok.

Why not just spray on some water to remove dust?

Water doesn’t have any lubrication worth talking about. Its better then dry wiping but not much better.  Lubrication is one of the main selling points of a quick detailer. 

A note on bird poop.

If the poop is still wet and gross, spray it directly with plenty of quick detailer and gently wipe off with a soft microfibre cloth.  Microfibre cloths grab on to the dirt so you don’t push it around your paint.

If it’s dried in you should try to soften it first.  Spray on the quick detailer and cover with a damp cloth and wait 5 or 10 minutes before gently wiping off.

For extreme cases I will pull out the hose and buckets and get to work the old fashioned way.

Is a quick detailer the same as a waterless wash?

No, not exactly.  A waterless wash is designed to be used on a car with more dirt on it because it has more lubrication. 

A waterless wash might require more buffing too.  A quick detailer spray is a very thin liquid that’s designed to be quickly wiped off using just one cloth. 

When using a waterless wash you need to completely cover the dirty panel with the liquid.  Then wipe off in one straight line movement. Then grab another clean microfibre and buff off.

To confuse the issue.  Some detailer sprays also claim to be waterless washes.  For example, Adams Detail Spray.  

I prefer to use Optimum no Rinse instead of a waterless wash.  But I have been greatly impressed by Meguiars Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax.

Does a quick detailer cause scratches and swirls?

You could cause scratches and swirl marks if you use a quick detailer on a dirty car or with a dirty towel.

Does a quick detailer cause streaking?

I’ve read about people who end up with a streaking effect on their paint after using a detailer spray.  This can be caused by either using too much product or applying on hot paint. 

For most products your paint should be cool to the touch so park in the shade.  Streaking can usually be fixed by using a microfiber cloth with water.

Best Quick Detailer on the market right now.

I love Meguiars Ultimate Quik Detailer.  And yes, there is no C in QUIK.  They have brought out a new version that contains a different formula called Meguiars Hybrid Ceramic Detailer that offers longer lasting protection but it costs more.

Is a quick detailer like a wax?

No, a quick detailer doesn’t offer as much shine as a wax.  It’s just a spray and wipe product and doesn’t usually need any buffing.  A proper wax will give much better and longer lasting shine.

What’s the difference between a quick detailer and a spray wax?

Spray wax needs to be applied to a washed car and usually give a lot more shine.  Some spray waxes are spray and rinse products.  You simply mist the spray wax all over a wet car and rinse off with water before drying.

Does quick detailer remove wax?

No, a quick detailer will not remove wax.  It will usually protect wax and help it last longer.

How do you make a quick detailer?

The most popular way to make your own homemade quick detailer is to use a product called Optimum No Rinse.  Commonly known as ONR.  

You can save a lot of money by using this method.  Especially if you use a lot of quick detailer.  I know it’s good because many professional detailers use it.  

Mix one part ONR with sixteen parts water to make an excellent quality quick detailer that can be used as a drying aid.

A version of ONR is available with wax in it so you can use it to boost your shine too.

Should you use a quick detailer before or after waxing?

If you have just washed your car and you are about to wax it there is no need to apply a quick detailer.  You could use the quick detailer to remove dust the day after you wax it.

Does a quick detailer remove water spots?

A Quick Detailer will remove water spots left behind after a light shower of rain and after washing.  They are not so good at removing hard water spots.  You may need to use a compound or polish.  Also try a dedicated water spot remover like Chemical Guys Heavy Duty Water Spot Remover.

Can you use a quick detailer as a clay lube?

Yes, you can use a quick detailer as a clay lube.  You could end up using a lot as it’s important to prevent the clay bar from dragging on dry paint.  A dedicated clay lube might be a cheaper alternative.  

Some people use soapy water as a clay lube but I don’t think that’s a good idea as it does not provide enough lubrication.  Don’t use a cheap clay bar.  But one from a well known manufacturer and not the cheap stuff on Ebay.  Click here to read all about clay bars.

Does a quick detailer remove dust?

Yes, a quick detailer spray is perfect for removing light dust.  But if the dust is stuck to the paint you should give the car a proper wash.

Can you use a quick detailer on windows?

Yes, you can use a quick detailer to clean windows.  It can remove dirt and dirt, dust and droppings and can leave a nice shine.

Can you use a quick detailer on the interior?

Yes, use a quick detailer inside your car too.  But not on the gear stick or steering wheel or any of the pedals because it can be slippery.  

Some manufacturers make detailer specifically for the interior such as Chemical Guys and Meguairs.    These are safe to use on the steering wheel etc.

Another benefit of a dedicated interior detailer is they smell better and can act like an air freshener.

What is the best interior detailer?

Chemical Guys InnerClean Pineapple smells good to me.  My wife loves it.

Also good is Meguiars Interior Detailer which can really make your interior look good without too much shine.  Plus it adds UV protection so your dashboard wont start to discolor from intense sun.

Can you use a quick detailer on a wet car?

Absolutely, yes you can use a quick detailer on a wet car.  It changes the water tension causing it to bead which makes it easier to dry.

You can really scratch your car if you dry it the wrong way.  Click here to read about safe drying tips and tricks.

Best microfibre cloth for using a quick detailer.

I love a recent 12 pack of Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towels from Chemical Guys.  Its perfect for use with a quick detailer.

For a large drying towel I love the Gyeon Quartz Silk Dryer.


A quick detailer spray is a must have product.  You cant call yourself a car lover unless you have one.  

If your car is relatively new or has been polished it should still have a great shine.  A quick detailer will help you keep it.

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