How Long Does It Take to Detail a Car? (Expert Estimation)

Car detailing is crucial when it comes to maintaining your car’s aesthetic appeal and longevity. Unlike a regular car wash that focuses merely on the surface, detailing involves a thorough cleaning and restoration of your car’s interior and exterior. But how long does it take to detail a car?

In this blog, we’ll answer this question in detail, explaining the factors affecting the detailing process, duration based on types of car detailing available, and more.

How long does car detailing take? 

Quick Summary

  • Basic interior cleaning: 1-2 hours
  • Comprehensive interior and exterior detail: 4-8 hours
  • Interior detailing: 2-6 hours, depending on vehicle size and condition
  • Exterior detailing: 3-5 hours, varies with vehicle size and paint condition

What is Car Detailing?

Car detailing differs from basic car wash by including deep cleaning, polishing, and waxing of the exterior and comprehensive cleaning of the interior, ultimately restoring the original condition of the car.

Types of Car Detailing Services

Exterior Detailing: This involves cleaning and restoring the exterior surface of the car. Techniques include hand washing, polishing, waxing, claying, and more.

Interior Detailing: Interior detailing involves a deep cleaning of the cabin, utilizing vacuuming, steam cleaning, brush cleaning, and leather trimming to rejuvenate the interior.

Factors That Affect Detailing Time

Several factors influence the time required to detail a car properly:

Vehicle Size and Condition

Logically, a larger vehicle or one that’s particularly dirty requires more time. A compact car might be detailed in a few hours, whereas an SUV or a vehicle with extensive contamination could take longer.

different size of vehicles from compact cars to SUV trucks

Detailing Service Level

Lite detailing might just go through the car’s surface, requiring less time, whereas full-service detailing for both interior and exterior can take up a significant part of the day.

Detailer’s Skill and Efficiency

Professionals, like those at Hollimon Auto, utilize their experience and specialized tools to work efficiently without compromising quality.

Estimated Time Frames for Detailing

The time required for car detailing can significantly vary based on the selected service. Detailing options range from basic interior cleaning to comprehensive detailing, which addresses both the vehicle’s interior and exterior comprehensively.

Interior Detailing

Estimated time: 2-6 hours

Interior detailing is a comprehensive process involving vacuuming, shampooing, steam cleaning, and cleaning of all surfaces and crevices. The time required can vary depending on the vehicle’s size and the interior’s condition. 

For a standard car, interior detailing can take between 2 to 8 hours. This time allows for precise cleaning and treatment of leather, plastics, and fabrics, ensuring every corner is addressed.

Exterior Detailing

Estimated time: 3-5 hours

Exterior detailing focuses on the vehicle’s surface, including washing, clay bar application, polishing, and waxing. The process can range from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the vehicle’s size and the paint’s condition. 

This doesn’t include time for additional treatments such as sealants and ceramic coatings, which can protect the paint and give the car a lasting shine. Ceramic coating alone can take up to 6 hours – 3 days depending on the protection you choose.

Complete Detailing

Estimated time: 4-8 hours

With a full detailing job that includes both the interior and exterior, the process can extend, ensuring every aspect of the vehicle is precisely cleaned and restored. This level of detailing is more time-consuming, reflecting the detailer’s commitment to quality and thoroughness.

Real-Life Example

John owns a Lexus NX that hadn’t been detailed in over a year. Opting for a full-service detail to address both the dirty interior and the dull exterior, the process took approximately 6 hours. 

The result was a vehicle that looked almost as good as new, with restored paint gloss, clean wheels, and a fresh, sanitized interior.

before after image of a detailed Lexus NX

The Benefits of Professional Detailing

Detailing is not just about aesthetics but also about preserving the car’s value and longevity. Regular professional detailing can help maintain the car’s resale value, protect the paint and finish, and improve the overall driving experience. It’s an investment in the vehicle’s future.


The time it takes to detail a car varies widely based on several factors, including the service level, vehicle condition, and the detailer’s expertise. For those seeking quality and thorough service, professional detailers like Hollimon Auto offer a range of options to fit different needs and schedules. Regular detailing not only keeps your car looking its best but also contributes to its longevity and value.


What exactly is included in a car detailing service?

Car detailing includes deep cleaning both the interior and exterior of your car, including vacuuming, shampooing, polishing, and waxing to restore the vehicle’s original condition. It’s more thorough than a regular wash, addressing every nook and corner.

How often should you get your car detailed to maintain its condition?

Ideally, detailing your car every 4 to 6 months can maintain its aesthetic appeal and longevity. Regular detailing helps protect the paint, maintain interior hygiene, and preserve the car’s value.

Will the detailing time vary based on the type of vehicle you own?

Yes, detailing time can vary based on the vehicle type. Larger vehicles or those with more complex interiors may take longer to detail thoroughly compared to compact cars.

What are the main factors that affect how long detailing a car takes?

The main factors affecting detailing time include the vehicle’s size and condition, the detailing service level chosen, and the detailer’s expertise. A dirty car or a more comprehensive detailing package will naturally take longer.

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