words and photos by Andy McCulley

Now that the season to be jolly is over, we enter the season to compulsively clean.  Since North Carolina has seen a significant drop in temperatures to below 60 degrees, I figured that it is far too cold to do anything with the cars other than detail them in the heated garage.  I decided that other clean freaks would enjoy an article specifically on basic Porsche detailing, so I will conduct a written demonstration of some of the methods, processes, and products that I use for very basic detailing.  As a disclaimer, I hold no responsibility for anyone who screws some part of this process up and concurrently causes damage to their vehicle.  I should also mention that this article will mention my preferred methods and some of my favorite products for detailing.  There are various products that would do the job just as well, and many methods that are much more detailed and intensive than mine.  
I will let you in on a little secret.  I don’t really enjoy driving.  Sure, I indulge in an occasional spirited run in the country on some empty and circuitous roads, but long trips (> 1  hour) are absolutely tortuous for me.  One thing I do love, however, is cleaning.  My life is straight out of a Windex commercial…. I love to clean, and take great pride in making sure my car emits a gleaming effulgence sure to blind anyone who stares at it.  So, basically, I own a Porsche for the purpose of having another object to clean.  Seems logical to me.

The subject for today’s demonstration will be my dad’s mint 1993 928 GTS.  This car is black/black, and thus requires a ton of upkeep to continuously look top shelf.   The GTS won’t require much cleaning, but just a little bit of freshening up before being put into winter storage. Before beginning my winter cleaning, I order any small parts that can easily be installed on the interior and exterior.  This includes small wear items, or items that I’ve observed to need replacement.  The only parts I chose to replace this winter on the GTS were the two stickers that separate the hatch metal from the rubber stopper.  I ordered these from 928 International.  In addition, I ordered new front rotors and some new carpet pieces which will be installed in the spring. 
This is the old sticker. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a pic of the newly installed one.
Now, for the detailing.  

Make sure that the car has not been driven for at least three hours.  I prefer to wash a car that has been sitting for a day, as heat will speed up any reactions that detailing products will have with automotive surfaces.   I begin the detailing process by carefully opening the driver’s side door (using a microfiber to separate my fingers from the paint… I do this when opening the door under any circumstance), and gently setting myself into the seat without disrupting any of the bolsters.   After backing the car out of the garage, I get out (lifting myself off of the door sill) again being careful not to disrupt the bolsters, and shut the door (again consulting the help of my handy microfiber to separate my hand from the window).  I prefer to push on either the glass or the keyhole when shutting the door to prevent damaging the paint.  It’s easier to remove fingerprints from glass than to remove a surface scratch from the clear coat. 

"So, basically, I own a Porsche for the purpose of having another object to clean."

With the car outside, I begin by applying a protectant to the rubber seals.  I do this first so that any residual protectant (specifically protectant that has dripped onto the paint) is removed when washing.   Moving on to washing, I begin by filling two buckets with grit guards at the bottom with water (one with soap).  Grit guards are used to agitate your wash mitt to remove grit and separate it from the rest of the contents of the bucket.  Good grit guards can be found here: 


For soap, I chose to use Gtechniq Anti-Static UV wash.  For a wash mitt, I chose to use a use a new microfiber mitt.  I typically only use a mitt once for the painted surfaces of the GTS, as this is the only full-proof way to prevent using a mitt with engrained dirt particulates.  Once a mitt is used, it is downgraded to detailing my daily driver, then to washing my dad’s Suburban, then my mom’s company car, and finally to wheel/wheel well duty.  
After filling both buckets, I rinse off the surface of the car thoroughly in an attempt to remove as much surface dirt and dust as possible.  This will help to assure that I don’t induce any swirls into the clearcoat during the washing process.  I’m sure to rinse all areas, including the wheels, wheel wells, and undercarriage.

Following the preliminary rinse, I wash the painted surfaces beginning at the roof and hood, then work my way to the sides, rear, and front.  After all painted surfaces have been cleaned, I wash the windows in no particular order other than cleaning the windshield last, as the windshield is typically the dirtiest.  I then rinse the car, and observe to make sure I haven’t missed anything.  I then move on to the wheels.  

For a wheel cleaner, my only advice is to steer clear of any acid-based wheel cleaners, as these will almost certainly damage your wheels or calipers.  My wheel cleaner of choice is Sonax Full Effect.  It reacts with iron (the main component of brake dust), and goes on yellow, and turns purple once the reaction has occurred.  I then agitate the cleaner with an old sponge (using a third bucket), and rinse the wheel.  I do not use a bucket for this process, as brake dust would quickly contaminate all of the water.  Instead, I prefer to rinse the sponge with the hose to rid it of brake dust.    

After cleaning all of the wheels, I clean the tires and wheel wells using the same sponge that I used for the wheels, and rinse these areas.   Finally, I address the undercarriage.  For this portion of the car, I prefer to use an extendable pole with a small circular brush attached. 

I pour a small amount of cheap car wash over the brush, and agitate many areas under the car.  I then rinse thoroughly, and begin drying the car.  

Drying is where I begin to get creative.  The detailing world has seen a recent surge in the popularity of touchless methods of drying.  Products such as the Master Blaster have been introduced to the market to address this increased demand for thouchless drying  tools, but being a cheapskate, I have opted for the old fashioned leaf blower method.  

Basically, I get a leaf blower and begin blowing the water off of the car beginning at the roof and working down to the undercarriage.  This method really only works if the car has either a wax, sealant, or coating on it.  I then use a clean microfiber towel to remove any excess water.
The application of the leaf blower as a drying instrument is becoming increasingly popular among detailing fanatics.
Now, if you don’t feel the need to polish, you can throw a coat of wax, a sealant, or a coating on the car and call it a day at this point.  Since I like to touch the surface as little as possible, one coating I like to use is Permanon Platinum.   Permanon can be diluted with distilled water, sprayed on a wet car, and rinsed off.  

The genius of Permanon not only lies with its ease of application and removal, but with its versatility.  Permanon can be applied to virtually all surfaces from the paint and windows to the undercarriage, wheel wells, and wheels.  Permanon bonds with the surface instantly, and should be rinsed immediately after being sprayed onto the surfaces of the car.   

After rinsing the car, you can dry it using the aforementioned leaf blower method.  Permanon is quite costly, and there are alternatives.  One such alternative is CarPro Hydro2.  I have yet to use this product, and have heard that application can be a little bit more tricky, but it does effectively the same thing as Permanon.  From what I have heard, the trick with Hydro2 is to rinse it IMMEDIATELY after application, as streaks may develop if it is allowed to dry on the surface. 

Here is  a link to a sample-sized container of Permanon:  http://www.autogeek.net/permanon-platinum-coating1.html

I won’t address the details of polishing here, as the particulars are quite explanation intensive.   I will thoroughly address this topic in another article.  
Moving on, it’s time to tackle the interior.  I typically choose to do this after addressing the exterior of the car for no particular reason whatsoever.  In my opinion, the most important aspect of interior maintenance is cleaning.  Many people feel that conditioning their leather repeatedly is the best way to maintain its finish and suppleness.  I find one flaw with this rationale.  

Most conditioners on the market today are oil based.  Oil attracts dirt.  Dirt is abrasive.  Interior finishes are worn down by abrasion.  So, basically, if you keep your interior clean, there will be less abrasion on the surfaces, and the interior will remain in better condition than it would otherwise.  There are many different products that are excellent when it comes to interior cleaning.  My personal favorites are Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil and Leatherique Pristine Clean. 

Contrary to common practice, I like to apply the conditioner (Rejuvenator Oil) before cleaning the surface.   The Rejuvenator Oil(which, despite the name, is water based) should be applied generously to all leather surfaces and allowed to sit in the sun for a few hours.  This allows the leather to absorb the product, and for the dirt within the pores of the leather to rise to the top.  After this process is completed, apply some Pristine Clean and agitate with a soft brush (I typically use a new paint brush). 

Since the GTS sees minimal use, I only apply Rejuvenator Oil once a year, but I’d recommend at least two annual applications on a daily driver.  I usually clean the leather once per month, which may seem excessive to some.  Anyone who questions this strategy is welcome to take a look at the leather on my 12 year-old daily driver.  
It is almost as-new.
At least once a year, I like to clean the window seals. I use a clean paintbrush with a small amount of all-purpose cleaner for this area
For plastic and vinyl surfaces, I use 1z Einszett Plastic Deep Cleaner, and agitate with a paint brush.  For protection, I typically opt for Gtechniq L1 Leather Guard (safe on plastic, vinyl, and leather).  This product does not leave behind any residue or give a shine to surfaces to which it is applied, but provides protection arguably superior to more common products on the market.  It is expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion. 

Moving on to the carpet, I borrow a steam cleaner and fill it only with warm water to extract years of filth from the carpet.  Cleaners will only attract more dirt, matt down the carpet fibers, and give the interior a cheap detergent smell.  Just be sure to use the water sparingly, and to attempt to suck out as much of it as possible before leaving it to dry.  Obviously, this is only needed once every few years, or after just purchasing an older car.  Also, while some of the carpets are out of the car, I recommend cleaning the floor boards with a spray detailer or all purpose cleaner and wiping them clean. 

That’s all for today’s demonstration.   I will be writing a series of articles related to detailing, and wanted to begin with something relatively comprehensive.  More specific topics will be covered in the coming weeks.  Hope everyone is enjoying the cold, and remember…. 

Keep it clean!  


Allen Walker
01/24/2015 15:41

Nice work, Andy. Good to see you're still in the 928 game.

matthew mariani
01/27/2015 19:09

Wow, i thought i was good at cleaning.
That's a beautiful museum piece GTS you've got there.
Good luck with it

01/27/2015 19:53

Always great to see a well cleaned car, especially a 928. Once you do a major cleaning it isn't too difficult to keep up with it and keeping it looking new. Nice car...Bob

01/28/2015 16:52

Thanks for the article. I look forward to reading the series.

Jeff Spahn
01/29/2015 16:02



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