There is one question that keeps popping up “What is the difference between car detailing and car washing?” We realize that for most non-car enthusiasts, the difference probably isn’t very significant. However, all car owners, enthusiasts or not, should look at getting their car fully detailed every so often, and should also perform smaller details regularly to have their car looking at its best all the time. When it comes to treating the exterior and interior of your car there are hundreds of different products, tools, techniques, and processes that come into play. Learning the terms of the trade and becoming familiar with some of the language can help you decide about washing and detailing and help you make the best decision for your car. The following are some of the terms of car wash and detailing you should know.


Did you know that an abrasive material can restore your car paint to its original luster? Yes, you can give your vehicle that “new car” glossy look and perfect shine that all car owners want to retain.


Cleaners (such as a carwash pre-soak) that lean toward being acidic are used to remove inorganic soils like salt and sand. Acidic refers to a compound’s position on its pH scale. If a substance is acidic, it has a pH below 7.

Acid Rain

Rainfall made sufficiently acidic by atmospheric pollution that it causes environmental harm, typically to forests and lakes. The main cause is the industrial burning of coal and other fossil fuels, the waste gases from which contain sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which combine with atmospheric water to form acids. Acid rain can cause damage to automotive paint finishes and glass.


Cleaners that employ an alkaline chemical treat organic contaminants, like bug residue, grease, bird droppings, etc.

Alloy Wheels

In the automotive industry, alloy wheels are wheels that are made from an alloy of aluminum or magnesium. Alloys are mixtures of metal and other elements. They generally provide greater strength over pure metals, which are usually much softer and more ductile. Wheels of the past featured steel wheels garnished with hub caps.

Automatic Car Wash

A car wash or auto wash is a facility used to clean the exterior and, in some cases, the interior of motor vehicles. Car washes can be self-serve, fully automated, or full-service with attendants who wash the vehicle. Automatic car washes may feature soft touch or touch-free technology.


Technically buffing refers to the use of a rotary or dual-action polisher, a buffer, and a rubbing compound to machine the surface of the paint on a vehicle.

Car-wash Extras

The extra are things like wheel cleaning, clearcoat protection, and rust-proofing done at a proper detailing or body shop using the proper products and application methods. Most car washes have different packages with a basic car wash price and then different extras that are either added to premium wash packages or available ala carte.


Carnauba wax is a mixture of compounds derived from the Brazilian Mart wax palm, Carnauba wax is considered a premium wax product to protect an automotive paint finish.

Ceramic Coating

Industry-grade ceramic coating is a chemical polymer solution that is applied to the exterior of a vehicle to protect it from external paint damage. Typically applied by hand, it blends with the paint of your car and creates an additional hydrophobic layer of protection. Ceramic coating tends to be quite costly compared to waxes or polymer sealant, when properly applied they last significantly longer than either.

Clay Bar

Automotive Clay Bar is an engineered resin mixture that auto detailers use to remove contaminants and pollutants from the surface of your car’s paint, glass, fiberglass, and metal. Detailing clay can be natural or synthetic.

Cleaner / Wax

This liquid paint treatment is a combination of a light abrasive cleaner and wax taht allows a user to shine and protect a painted surface in one step. Generally used DIY as a professional detailer has a number of tools and products that allow for a targeted repair approach in stages.


Car compounding refers to the process of using compounds (polishing, rubbing, or cutting) in order to restore the damaged car paintwork surfaces


Auto detailing is an activity of systematically performing operations and procedures that keep the vehicle in its best possible condition, especially cosmetic, as opposed to mechanical. Detailing can be performed on the exterior, the interior, or both and usually entails a set of strategic actions with specific car care products and techniques.


Essentially, a glaze is a substance that is applied to the surface of a vehicle in order to fill and obscure any small imperfections or scratches that are visible. Applying a glaze to a vehicle’s surface makes it appear shinier and more vivid.

Hard Water Spots

These are mineral deposits left behind from hard water that had been left to dry on the surface of a vehicle. Hard water spots can be difficult to remove from automotive glass, and they can eat into and damage the paint.

Orange Peel

Orange peel is a paint condition where the texture of the paint rather than being smooth is rough. The texture resembles the surface of the skin of an orange, hence the name “Orange peel”. Gloss paint sprayed on a smooth surface (such as the body of a car) should also dry into a smooth surface.

Orbital Buffer

It’s called a dual-action polisher, otherwise known as a random-orbital buffer. Its two-way action creates a random pattern for quickly knocking out oxidation and eliminating swirl marks without harming the paint. Your car will shine like a jewel in a crown.


Autoxidation (sometimes auto-oxidation) refers to oxidations brought about by reactions with oxygen at normal temperatures, without the intervention of flame or electric spark. The term is usually used to describe the degradation of organic compounds in the air at ambient temperatures.

Polymer Sealant

Polymer sealant is a particular variety of automotive sealant that is made up of synthetic ingredients, called polymers, in a liquid base that is applied to a car’s finish during detailing. … Polymer sealant is an alternative to other types of paint sealants. Some auto enthusiasts prefer wax over sealant, other option to use both, sealant then wax

Recycled Water

To cut down on the amount of water used many automatic car washes reclaim and recycle wash water. Contaminated water is drawn from a holding tank, treated to remove contaminants and chemicals, deodorized, and sent back to the wash system for reuse. This serves to cut down on fresh water and sewer cost and minimizes the impact of contaminated water on the environment. Some municipalities require a car wash business to use a recycling system.

Soft Touch

A soft-touch car wash is also commonly referred to as a cloth car wash or a friction car wash. … The friction of the cloth against the vehicle helps break down built-up materials and pull them away easily. In contrast, soft-touch washes are easy on the finish while still affording the benefit of agitation the contaminants for removal, unlike touchless car washes.


Like soft-touch car washes, touchless car washes are automated, with the vehicle passing through a tunnel where the vehicle is cleaned; however, touchless car washes do not use the foam or cloth applicators that soft-touch washes use, instead of relying on high-pressure washers to both clean and rinse the vehicle off.

Wet Sanding

Wet sanding is a process that’s often used on car paint jobs, to give them a mirror-smooth look. Wet sanding is typically done after dry sanding to get an even finish. Unlike dry sanding, wet sanding is done not to shape a surface, but to remove the large scratches left by dry sanding.

Professional washes and detailing make a huge difference to the looks and longevity of your car or truck!

Bailey’s Offers Many Types of Car Washes |  Learn More
Bailey’s Offers Many Types of Detailing Options |  Learn More

Contact us (859-534-5999) for more information!

Bailey’s Car Wash & Detailing

Bailey’s is a local and family owned car wash providing a range of washing and detailing options for our customers! Since 2002, we have been providing outstanding services to the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area. Our experience, customer service, and overall value is what sets Bailey’s apart from our competition.

We offer…

  • Full Service Car Washes
  • Quick Exterior Car Washes
  • Full Detailing
  • 30 Minute Express Detailing
  • Monthly Car Wash Plans
  • Fleet Services
  • Preventative and Restorative Automotive Services

(859) 534 5999


Bailey's Car Wash
5864 Taylor Dr
Burlington, KY 41005
(Next to new public library off of Route 18 & Taylor Dr.)

8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Monday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Tuesday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Wednesday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Thursday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Friday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Saturday
9:00 am – 6:00 pm | Sunday


(859) 534 5999


Bailey's Car Wash
5864 Taylor Dr
Burlington, KY 41005
(Next to the public library off of Route 18 & Taylor Dr.)

8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Monday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Tuesday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Wednesday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Thursday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Friday
8:00 am – 7:00 pm | Saturday
9:00 am – 6:00 pm | Sunday