Posted by James Dudra on January 28, 2014
Gone are the days when professionals and consumers had just a few brands of detailing products to select from. It's amazing to see the plethora of products stocked on retailer shelves in any store today. For both the pros and casual DIY consumers, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Which product works? Which doesn't? Of course, the internet has helped us get even more information on prospective detailing products, but you still never know how it's going to perform until you get it home and actually try it.
From the start there are a few things you can do to help narrow down your choices. While there are still no hard and fast rules as to what you'll find when you get home, at least you can be less intimidated by the number of options available.
Step 1 - Research Research Research
The internet has made finding out anything about any company possible. Before even thinking of putting up the cash for a detailing product, it's best to know what others are saying about it. Typically look for "verified reviews" so you know that what you're reading is legitimate. Forums are also a popular place to learn how products work, but again you don't really know who is real and who isn't. Many of today's reputable e-commerce sites have systems in place which will authenticate reviews from real consumers.
Step 2 - Ask for Samples
That's right. Just call them up and explain what you're trying to do. You'd be surprised how many companies are willing to send down a few freebies if you make a case for it. It won't work every time, and you may have to pay a nominal cost, but it's better than making a larger investment into an unknown detailing product.
Step 3 - Ask for MSDS sheets
Only the best detailing product manufacturers will openly give you an MSDS (material safety data sheet). Why? Because they are confident showing you what's inside their products. It's incredible just how many manufacturers continue to try and hide behind so called "proprietary" information. At the end of the day, it's you, the detailer who is using the products and it's your RIGHT to know what's being put inside. If they won't give them to you or put up a stink, look elsewhere.
Step 4 - Check The Labels
In many ways this relates to point three regarding MSDS sheets, but product labels are also a good indicator of how safe a product is to use. Avoid products which use statements such as "DANGER" on their packaging. These products are most likely solvent-based and will pose long-term health risks to you and those exposed to the chemical. Also check the bottom of the bottle to see if it's recyclable. If it's a #3 PVC you're out of luck, it will go in the trash and into the dump for the next couple hundred years.
Hopefully these tips will help you get started as you set out in your research. If you're just getting started in the detailing industry, be sure to check out our detailing starter kits. They have everything you need to get your business up and running right away.