When You Should (And Shouldn’t) Use a Quick Detailer Spray

Quick detailer sprays are often marketed as products which enhance the gloss on your paintwork, add some protection, and remove light dust. But when should you actually use a quick detailer, and when is it not safe?

In this article, I’ll go through exactly what quick detailers can and can’t do, when it’s safe to use them, and how to use them properly. So let’s get started.

The Quick Answer

You can use a quick detailer straight after washing your car to add some gloss and protection to the paintwork. Avoid using quick detailers between washes to remove light dust or you risk causing swirls and scratches. Some car owners use quick detailers at car shows to enhance the finish.

What is a Quick Detailer?

Quick detailers are used to add the final touch to a freshly washed and detailed car.

They are designed to remove things like water spots left from the wash process, streaks left from the drying process and excess wax or sealant following paint protection application.

There are a few different types of quick detailer sprays.

  • Sprays used to add protection
  • Sprays used to add gloss
  • Sprays used to act as a lubricant when claying
  • Sprays used to remove light levels of dust (waterless washing)

Some quick detailers fall into multiple categories. It really depends on the formulation.

Looking for some of the best quick detailer sprays and other car care products? Make sure you check out my recommended products page for all my current top picks.

When is it Safe to Use a Detailer?

The safest time to use a quick detailer spray is straight after you have washed your car. This is when you don’t have any dirt, or dust on the surface. Using a detailer when your car’s paint isn’t completely clean can be quite risky, more on that later.

If you use a quick detailer spray straight after you wash your car, it can be really effective at adding some extra gloss and protection to your finish.

You can use the spray after the car have been dried, or during the drying process as a drying aid.

Giving your microfiber towel, and the panel a quick spray before drying can help to add some lubrication and reduce the risk of scratching your car during this process. It also avoids you having to effectively go over the car again with the spray once it’s dry.

You can also use a quick detailer as a clay lubricant. This helps the clay to glide over the surface minimising the risk of the clay causing scratches and swirl marks.

However, you should be careful whilst doing this. It should only be done with quick detailers that explicitly claim to be effective as clay lubricants.

Personally, I prefer to use car shampoo and water as a lubricant rather than a detailer spray because it’s a safer option.

Using a quick detailer as a clay lubricant also uses a lot of product, so it can be quite wasteful, and quite expensive. That’s why I prefer to just use car shampoo and water.

When Should You Not Use a Detailer Spray?

Quick detailers, when used incorrectly, have the potential to scratch and swirl the paintwork.

This happens when you use the spray to remove dust and dirt. Most quick detailers don’t provide enough lubrication to remove these contaminants without scratching your car’s clear coat.

Do not use a quick detailer to remove dust between washing, unless it is specifically marketed as a waterless wash.

Waterless wash products provide more lubrication to stop you scratching your car’s clear coat. Some quick detailers are safe to use a waterless wash products, but not all of them.

I’ve written a full article on using quick detailers safely, so check out out if you want to learn more.

How to Use a Detailer Spray

So how should you actually use your quick detailer spray? Well you can use it on a freshly washed car that’s either still wet, or just been dried.

Either way, you should apply it using a clean, plush microfiber towel. Something like this.

You should spray the detailer on the microfiber towel evenly, and give the panel a quick spray, then very lightly spread it over the surface in straight lines.

Looking for a good quick detailer spray? Check out my comparison between 5 leading quick detailers.

More FAQs

Check out the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about when and how to use quick detailer sprays.

Does a quick detailer remove wax?

Quick detailer sprays do not remove wax. In fact, some quick detailers contain wax. They can be used to top up the protection on your car between applying a sealant or wax. However, they are usually not very durable and will only last a couple of weeks, or washes before they are removed.

How much protection does a quick detailer add?

Quick detailer sprays add very little protection to your car’s paint and are not very durable. They should only be used to add some protection between waxing or sealant, and not as stand-alone products because they don’t provide the same level of UV protection or dirt repellency.

How much gloss does a quick detailer add?

Some quick detailer sprays add more gloss and shine than others. Generally, they remove things like water spots and streaks after washing to provide a cleaner finish. However, gloss comes from the condition of the paint, and whether it’s scratched or not. So quick detailers will only add a very superficial level of shine.

Do quick detailer sprays cause scratches?

Quick detailer sprays can cause scratches if they are used improperly. If you use them between washes to remove dust or bird mess, then you run the risk of scratching the clear coat. Check out this article I’ve written on whether quick detailer sprays cause scratches, to learn more about using them safely.

Can you use a quick detailer spray on glass?

Most quick detailer sprays are safe to use on glass, but it’s always better to use a glass cleaner instead. Quick detailers contain shine enhancing agents which don’t look great on glass and work much better on the paint instead. However, they’re highly unlikely to cause damage if you get some overspray onto glass.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog to learn more about making your car look its best.



Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on autocarehq.com and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

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