Well to reiterate what Phanley stated above, definitely check out Autopia.org for incredibly in depth detailing information. You'll probably end up buying the bulk of your detailing supplies at properautocare.com. (They've got fairly decent writeups on all of the products they sell.) So for some quick pointers, here we go. Washing: Definitely don't wanna have your car in the sun while washing. That's just inviting hard water spots all over your paint and glass. I try to wash my car around dusk or the best, I've found, is in the rain so the car never dries and you can take your sweet time going around the car being thorough, then just pull it in a garage to dry it off and leave it there till the rain stops and the roads dry. Now washing is argueably the most important step of detailing because it is where you'll remove all the particulate that can induce marring on your paint in any subsequent steps. Start from the top and work your way down and generally, of course, use a different mitt for the paint as you do for the wheels and undercarriage. Rinse your mitt often as you don't want to be dragging particulate across the paint and inducing more marring. The two bucket method helps with that greatly. (1 soap bucket, 1 rinse bucket with clean water to dunk your mitt when it gets dirty) You'll be fine using the cheap Meguiars car soap you find at any Autozone or where ever. For drying, a combination of the California Water Blade and synthetic chamois (The Absorber) work quite well. Now be careful with the CWB, as its the same concept; you don't want to drag particulate across the paint while drying. That's why washing thoroughly is sooooo important. (Also when washing try not to use alot of pressure with your mitt on the paint for rough spots like sap or bug spatters... you can get those problem spots later much more safely) I'm sure you can figure out drying from there. Now, if this is your first time detailing and the car hasn't been cared for by a professional detailer before or for quite some time, you'll want to clay your paint. You can get a clay bar at Autozone or O'Reileys and I'd suggest either Meguiars or Mothers. If you are going to clay, the easiest way would be right after you've gone over the car with your wash mitt and using the auto soap as lubricant while the car is still wet, go around the car and clay the paint till it's smooth as glass. (This is where you'll attack tree sap, bug spatters and all sorts of other embedded contaminants without marring your paint) You can also clay the glass too. Make sure to kneed the clay often to always get a clean surface on your paint. And if you at any time even once drop your clay bar on the ground, TRASH IT! For that reason it would be smart to use smaller portions of a whole clay bar just in case you drop it. After you're done claying, just rinse and dry as normal. Polishing: Now here's where the real art of detailing comes in. There are a rediculous number of options out there for polishes and its pretty much personal preference that wins out here. All I can say is personally I very much like the Menzerna and 1Z lines of polishes as they seem to me to work much better on our german paint and leave minimal fillers on the paint if any at all. And why are fillers bad? Well, if you're trying to remove marring from your paint completely, you don't really want polishes that cover things up. Otherwise, get a good glaze (Meguiars Mirror Shine line have excellent glazes as well as polishes/compounds) and cover that stuff up. Polishing by hand is quite the challenge if you want to really get rid of any substantial marring on paint so unless you want to go ahead and get a Porter Cable Random Orbital (the BEST noobie polisher) or a rotary polisher (Professional grade. Can do ALOT of damage if handled improperly) then I'm not going to really get into the issue. Protecting: Ok, so now you've polished or glazed your paint to your heart's content. Now you want to protect all that hard work. There are two basic ways of protecting your paint. Sealants and waxes. Now if you've just glazed your paint, you'll be going the carnuaba wax rout, and just applying a layer (or 5) to your paint and you're done. Carnuaba waxes generally last about 2 weeks to a month. It provides a deep wet look to your paint. Now, if you've polished the paint to a point where you're satisfied the marring is gone or minimal, I'd say seal it. The thing with sealing is that you want the paint to be as free from fillers and oils as possible so the sealant can bond to the paint. Two of the best more respected sealers out there are Klasse and Zaino. Both brands have cleaners to use before the application of the actual sealant to prep the paint for optimal bonding. Zaino boasts "99.9% optical clarity" so what that really means is any scratch or swirl that is left on your paint after polishing is going to be magnified and made extremely shiny and evident. Sealants generally will last about 6 months which is the advantage to them and they will usually provide a more clear sharp shiny finish for your paint. Alot of times, detailers will seal their paint, then apply a "topper" carnuaba wax for the depth and gloss. (S100 is my favorite) For upkeep, you might want to get a good Quick Detailer (QD). This will prolong the protection of which ever product you chose to protect with. It's pretty simple, if you used a wax, use a carnuaba QD. If you used a sealant, use a sealant QD. (For Zaino, the QD would be Z6). Never use this as a wash substitute. It basically is for removing smudges, light dusting or the like. Make sure you're using a very good plush Microfiber towel. So that's pretty much a quick run down of some basic detailing knowlege with the products intersperced throughout that I've come to trust over my years of detailing. Oh and for interiors (vinyl and rubber surfaces) 303 Aerospace protectant is the best product I've found. (You can actually use it on any plastic/rubber surface on your car. Tires, trim... you name it) I'm not sure what the current favorite is for leather care honestly, but I'm sure a quick search on Autopia will reveal enough reveiws and opinions to keep you reading for a few hours. Well... home some of that helps.