How Long Does It Take To Detail A Car?

Are you stressed about having to wait too long for your car to get detailed? Special events and gatherings often call for a nice-looking car, which is only achieved by getting a detailing. There’s a wide range of time estimates ranging from a couple of hours to half of a day; how should you know how long to wait?

Car detailing takes between 2.5 to 10 hours, depending on the detailer, how clean your car is, and which washing package you choose. Quality detailers take between 5 to 10 hours, whereas a quantity detailer requires 2.5 hours or less to get the job done. A detail will last from 4 to 8 weeks.

How Long Does It Take To Detail A Car?

In this article, we’ll talk about how long you should expect a car detailing to take, various factors that influence the time requirements, and how you can speed up the process. We’ll also discuss when you can drive your car and how long until you can touch the paint.

How Long Should It Take to Get Your Car Detailed?

Detailed cleaning sessions often take much longer than a traditional at-home cleaning or drive-through car wash.

It’s a good idea to set aside at least half of a day for the detailing since the wait times may vary.

Ask yourself these questions to figure out how long a detailed cleaning will take:

  • How dirty is your vehicle? Drive Detailed explains brand-new, clean cars are much easier to detail because there’s not too much damage on the outer paint. Instead of scrubbing away at years of dirt and grime, the workers can quickly wash and wax the exterior. Many people detail their new cars to preserve the paint for months.
  • When was the last time you got it detailed? If you’ve never gotten your vehicle detailed, it’ll take much longer. On the other hand, those who take their vehicle to a detailer every couple of months won’t have to wait as long because the wax from the previous cleaning repels dozens of particles and contaminants.
  • How big is your car? Clearly, a big car takes much longer to detail than a small one. If you drive a massive SUV, it’ll likely take a few hours longer than a compact car. The best way to know is to ask the company how long it’ll take since they can provide accurate time estimates.
  • Which detailing company are you bringing the car to? Some companies are much quicker because they detail plenty of cars each day with many workers at the job site. However, high-end details usually don’t have as many employees, which they make up for by spending more time on each car and providing high-quality, specialized services.

As a courtesy to yourself and the detailing company, it’s best to set aside at least an additional one to two hours on top of the company’s estimation.

If they say it’ll take three hours, assume it’ll take up to five.

Too many customers, employees calling out, and other factors can lengthen the initial prediction.

Related: Polishing VS Buffing A Car. What’s The Difference?

Which Type of Detailer Are You Going To?

There are two types of detailing companies: Quality detailers and quantity detailers.

You’ll likely find both options if you live in a big city, but small towns typically only have quantity detailers to choose from.

It’s crucial to know the various differences because they affect how long it’ll take, what the detailed cleaning looks like, and how often you should get it washed.

Quality Detailer Time Estimates

A quality detailer usually takes up to 10 hours per car. Quality detailers provide much more in-depth services because they focus on every nook and cranny.

They often use high-end supplies, spend more time on your car’s appearance, and make it look as new as possible.

A quality detailer is the best choice for those who have expensive vehicles, visit car shows, or want to show off their car’s best angles.

Waiting ten hours should be no problem if you want to enjoy the elegance of quality detail.

Quantity Detailer Time Estimates

A quantity detailer usually spends around 2.5 hours cleaning the vehicle; sometimes more, sometimes less.

Their goal is to detail as many cars in a day as possible without sacrificing their cleaning standards.

You won’t get the same quality as the previous option, but it’s a significant upgrade from a regular drive-through car wash.

A quantity detailing company usually cleans many more vehicles daily than a quality detailer.

If you want to keep your car clean, shiny, and smelling good, a quantity detailer can get the job done at an affordable price. You’ll likely save quite a bit of time and money.

Regardless of if you choose a quantity or quality car detailer, it’s important to get your vehicle cleaned regularly.

Failure to do so will prevent the detailing wax from protecting your vehicle from various debris.

Quantity detailers are much better for those on a budget, so they’re worth considering if you prefer saving money while maintaining your vehicle’s appearance.

Tips To Speed Up Your Car Detailing

If you don’t have countless hours to wait for your car to get detailed, there’s not much you can do other than settling for a regular car wash.

However, you can shave some time off the detailing if you follow these three suggestions:

  • Get your stuff out of the car, so they don’t have to sift through the clutter. Put everything in the glove box or your garage. You shouldn’t have to worry about the company spending extra time moving your belongings to clean the inside of the vehicle.
  • Go to a drive-through carwash a few days before the cleaning. A large part of the detailing process involves removing brake dust, tree sap, and similar contaminants. Scrub them off your car before bringing it to the shop to speed up the process.
  • Book a time rather than expecting walk-in appointments. Booked appointments ensure you’ll have a start and finish time. If you show up for a first-come, first-serve detailer, you might have to wait all day.

When Can You Touch the Paint After a Detailed Cleaning?

Whether you got your vehicle detailed at a shop or you went the DIY detail at-home route, you shouldn’t touch the paint until the following day.

Touching the paint after a car detailing can smear the wax, causing unsightly gaps.

Even though a detailed vehicle has a wax coating that repels most particles, including rain, it will only be partially protected from contaminants around your home, such as bird feces, dust in the air, and fingerprints.

As long as you wait for the whole day to touch the wax, you’ll be good to go.

Note: The best course of action is to talk to the company about which products they use and when they’re safe to touch. Some detailers recommend not driving the vehicle for a couple of hours, which might add to the completion estimate.


Now that you know how long it takes to detail a car, you can set your schedule for a 2.5 to 10-hour block.

Remember always to get a time estimate from the detailing company to know how long you’ll have to wait.

Since most wax coats take about two hours to dry, you might have to wait a little longer to touch the paint or drive the vehicle.

Compare quantity vs. Quality detailing companies to know which is best for you and your vehicle.

Related: Can You Use A Random Orbital Sander for Car Polishing?

Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.