5 Simple Steps On How To Make A Car Shine Like Glass | Autodetailinglab


Knowing how to make a car shine like glass is not difficult once you know the five step method.

Follow this simple routine to the detail and you will not only have a car your can see your face in but you will save paying a detail shop fifty to one hundred dollars!

Black car with final wax layer being applied to show how to make a car shine like glass


Some detailing products will need to be purchased for your first attempt but they will last for many more sessions after and save you hundreds of dollars. 

Lets start with a list of those products and then show when they are used in the five steps on how to make a car shine like glass.

You may already possess some of the items such as a hose or pressure washer and a bucket. So I will list the items specific to detailing only.

How to make a car shine like glass products list

  1. Snow Foam car shampoo
  2. Snow Foam Cannon
  3. Microfiber wash mitt
  4. Two buckets with grit guards
  5. Pack of microfiber clothes
  6. Clay Bar
  7. Car Polish
  8. Car Wax

Step 1: Snow Foam the car

So ensure the car has a deep shine at the end of the process you need to minimise the chances of scratching the surface in the early stages of preparation.

Small scratches or swirls cause light to be deflected off at angles and creates duller paintwork. Imagine a shiny car panel then imagine rubbing sand paper all over it. This creates fine scratches that make the paintwork appear dull.

Sponges = Scratches!

 The same thing happens if you wash a car with a sponge. As you wash the car the sponge picks up particles of grit and they are dragged across the bodywork.

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These fine swirls patterns are the cause of most paint work not looking shiny as the light is deflected away from our eyes.

The trick to avoid this happening is to remove all of the dirt and grime without and human hand pressure.

This is how Snow Foam plays a key part in how to make a car shine like glass. As once it is sprayed all over the car it reacts with the grime, lifting it off the body by use of surfactants.

Then it slides slowly over the surface taking most of the dirt with it. The time it spends on the surface is called "Dwell Time" and is important as the longer it stays in contact the more dirt it will lift off.

This is why snow foam is better than soap and water as it stays on the surface much longer.

How to snow foam a car
  1. Pressure wash or hose the car with clean water.
  2. Attach a snow foam lance on a pressure washer (Or a weed killer type pump gun if no pressure washer available).
  3. Add snow foam mixture to the bottle
  4. Spray snow foam all over the vehicle
  5. Crack open a beer wan allow 10-20 minutes for the now foam to work its magic! (Dwell time)
  6. Rinse off with a hose.
Snow foam dwelling on surface of a red car showing how to make a car shine like glass

This will remove all the dirt particles from the bodywork without a hand or grit filled sponge coming in contact.

It is important to use one of the 3 best snow foam car wash available to ensure this important first step is completed to the highest standard.

If you want to save a good few dollars on purchasing a snow foam set you can easily make your own snow foam cannon with simple items. 

Step 2: Wash the car with two buckets

With the great majority of the grime now removed it is safe to have some human contact with the car (After all you do love your car!)

This needs to be done using the "Two Bucket System"

Let me explain as again this is a again a very important step in hoe to make a car shine like glass.

The two bucket system

You need to use two buckets as one will be filled with water and shampoo the other with just clean water.

Ideally they should both have grit guards fitted at the bottom. This it a mesh type plastic structure that sits a very inches off the bottom of the bucket.

It allows the wash mitt to be dipped into the bucket and not touch the bottom where all the grit gathers.

You take a  microfiber wash mitt and soak it in the bucket containing shampoo. the wash the car starting at the top. 

Car wash mitt in a bucket of car wash shampoo ready to wash a red car

Complete one panel then rinse the wash mitt in the other bucket containing clean water. Rub is across the grit guard, take it out and wring it before repeating the process.

This ensures each time the mitt touches the car there is again minimum risk of scratches and swirls developing on the paintwork.

Once completed the car should be dried with a microfiber towel or electric car dryer.


Step 3: Clay bar the car

Now with a perfectly clean car there is one final step in the cleaning process of how to make a car shine like glass.

Its called "Clay Barring" and it will removes all the imperfections that are stuck to the surface such as tar, sap and road grime. These are difficult to remove with just a wash mitt, shampoo and water but they will really detract from the mirror finish you are seeking.

A Black car being clay barred to remove all surface imperfections

Some cars may not need clay barring if their surface is good. A simple check can be made by running your hand very lightly over the surface to see if you can feel and imperfections protruding. 

Or take one of your microfiber towels and holding it by the edge drag it across a panel such as the hood to see it is snags on any surface protrusions. If it glides across without any snags try another panel. Work around the car until all panels have been tested.

Its likely you will find a few if not all of them have some surface debris. 

To clay bar the car use a good quality clay bar like Mothers California Clay Bar

Take the bar from the packet and tear off a piece and mould it to the shape a disc shape, about the size of your palm. This is important so you can grip it well as you don not want to drop it!

NOTE: If you drop the clay bar on the floor then you have to throw it in the bin. This substance it so effective at picking up particles of dirt once it touches the floor it will be fully loaded with pure grit!

Once shaped spray the panel with some clay lube or a light detail spray. Then work the clay bar over the surface in an up and down or left and right action. But not in circles.

You can even use it on the headlights and windows as it works its magic on all surfaces to leave them blemish free!

As you work the bar over the surface you will feel the clay bar grabbing at the particles. Keep working the spot until it is gliding over the surface.

Then take the clay bar and kneed it until you get a new clear spot then repeat the process on the next panel.

Finally dry the surface with a microfiber to leave the surface ready for the next stage which is polishing.

One clay bar can do up to twenty vehicles. This reinforces what I said at beginning about the products last you a while after the initial purchase.


Step 4: Polish will really show how to make a car shine like glass

Hood of blue car with polish applied to show how to make a car shine like glass

Now we more to the penultimate but most important stage of how to make a car shine like glass.....Polishing!

To recap we now have a clean debris free surface. The only thing between our car and the shine like glass we desire is any surface scratches or swirls that can deflect the light. As we said earlier in the post.

To polish the car use a best microfiber cloth to apply the polish and another one to buff it off. 

Or use a microfiber pad, which is a sponge pad that is covered in microfiber cloth. They are ideally sized to fit the palm of your hand.

Microfiber pad shown in use applying polish

Apply a light coat in small circles to a one or two foot area. Wait until it dries to a haze them buff off with you second microfiber. Check surface and repeat if needed.

There is a large choice of car polishes that will remove any thing from minor swirls to deeper scratches to leave you with the deepest shine just like glass!

This really is the stage that creates the shine so take your time to ensure all blemishes are removed before moving the last stage which is waxing.

Many people who don't know this five step process think that waxing a car is what gives it the shine. But it is the washing, cleaning and most importantly the polishing that does the work of creating the shine.


Step 5: Waxing to protect that shine like glass

Black car with final wax layer being applied to show how to make a car shine like glass


The purpose of waxing a car is to create a protective surface over the car. This will shield the polished paint work from the elements.

In the Summer it will create a barrier from the harmful UV rays and in the Winter the hard shell will deflect the worst of the rain, ice, hail, snow and road salt.

The hard wax coat is created usually by a substance called Carnauba wax. This is from Brazilian palm trees and is the best form of wax. Some waxes do contain bees wax.

Picture of raw carnauba wax

Another substance found in waxes specifically made for darker colour cars is Montan wax. This is a an extract of coal sourced mainly in Germany and California.

You have a choice to use paste wax or spray wax . Paste wax is the traditional way tom apply a wax coat but is time consuming. Whereas spray wax can take the time for a complete wax down to fifteen minutes, obviously depending on the size of the vehicle.

To apply the wax coat follow the same routine as for polishing. For both the routines you can do it by hand or by electric buffer. The buffer speeds up the process but both techniques have equally good a result.

Conclusion of how to make a car shine like glass


So now you have all the information to create the shine like glass on your car I hope you will take action and follow the steps.

It can make for a a very satisfying day if you start in morning and work through the day to get that mirror finish.

Be aware that doing any of the five steps in direct sunlight will not give the best results.

After washing it could dry out too fast and leave streaks.

The clay bar could start dragging on a dry surface

And the polish or wax could dry out too quick and become difficult to remove.

The best time is mild, dry day and in the shade.

I hope you get some great results and look forward to you leaving any questions or comments below.