H.E.M.D Glossary of Terms



1.A particle suspended in a liquid used to polish or compound paint.
2.Aluminum Oxide particles attached to paper to form sand paper.

A corrosive material (pH less than 7) that is generally used for wheel cleaning.

All Purpose Cleaner. A cleaner that can be used in many situations for cleaning multiple surfaces

Applicator Pad
A pad used to apply product. This could be a coating, sealant, wax, or anything else that is applied to a surface of a car, inside or out


Base Coat
Also referred to as “Color Coat,” the layer(s) of paint on top of the primer and below the clear coat.

The process of placing a towel down on a surface and lifting it straight up when drying rather than dragging the towel
over the surface, to help reduce the chance of marring the paint. Gas or electric power tool that forces warm air
through a round tube to concentrate the air in one direction. They are
commonly used to dry cracks, crevices, grills, spoilers, and other areas tough to dry with a towel

Brake Dust
Iron particles from the brake rotor and pads, commonly deposited on wheels

A tool comprised of either natural or synthetic bristles to displace dry particulates or agitate liquid cleaning chemicals.
Commonly used on soft surfaces like carpets, mats, fabric seats, soft convertible tops and leather. Usually has a
handle for hand usage but some brushes can attach to buffers

A power tool which can be a rotary machine or a dual action machine. Used for applying protection, buffing, polishing, or sanding paint or clear coat. Reduces the time spent and improves the quality of work performed.

Buffer Trails   
An unwanted result on the paint or clear coat from improper buffer usage

Detailers often say “We’re going to buff your car”. Generally, they really mean “I’m going to apply my wax with a buffer”. When in actuality, when people are looking for someone to “buff” their car, they assume they’re going to be removing scratches and imperfections from their paint. Although waxing will temporarily hide some minor scratches, it won’t remove them and after 2 washes you’ll be right back to where you started scratches and all. You need to “Polish them out” or do a “Cut and Buff” (hence the word “CUT” before the buff, referring to cutting process before the waxing step). So many Detailers use this term way to loosely and at the consumers expense.


Clay Bar
A soft and malleable synthetic bar that can remove contamination from smooth and non-porous automotive surfaces (i.e. glass, clear coat). You must spray clay lube on the surface beforehand so the bar will glide over the surface safely.

Clay Lube
Lubricant specifically made to assist a clay bar to glide over the surface it is being used on.

A chemical designed to emulsify dirt or contaminants.

Cleaner Wax
A type of wax containing a chemical paint cleanser to remove very minor surface defects and contaminant build ups while leaving a layer of protection at the same time.

The act of removing foreign dirt/particulates/contamination from a surface.

Clear Coat
Paint without color. It is the final coat in modern paint systems applied on top of paint to preserve it.

Cloth Seats
Seating surfaces with a fabric/broadcloth covering.

Any product that adds measurable thickness to the top of paint, and creates a cross linked barrier with extended durability.

A paste or cream containing aggressive abrasive particles designed to quickly remove noticeable defects in the paint or clear coat.

A product that is intended to have water added by the end user.

Any foreign particle rested, embedded, or bonded to any part of a vehicle that would ideally be removed when cleaning.

The component in a Dual Action polisher that balances the eccentric orbital motion of the tool.

Removing the top layer of paint or clear coat via polishing or compounding. This is done most effectively with a buffer.

Cutting Pad
An aggressive pad that gets attached to a buffer to help remove noticeable surface imperfections in the clear coat or paint.


A solvent chemical designed to emulsify and flush oils and greases from a surface.

The process of adding water to reduce the concentration of a liquid product.

A product designed to moisturize and protect rubber, plastic, or vinyl surfaces which may also contain ingredients to leave some level of gloss behind

The act of removing moisture from a surface.

Dual Action (DA) Buffer
Refers to a polisher which both oscillates and rotates in order to remove paint defects or apply protection. Generally considered more user friendly than a direct drive rotary polisher.

Refers to longevity. Length of time a product will last before evaporating or breaking down.

Dwell Time
The period of time you let a chemical/product sit on an automotive surface.


Engine Bay
The compartment of a vehicle containing the engine and other mechanical components such as the alternator, air cleaner, battery, etc.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Department of the United States government responsible for protecting human health and the environment. As it relates to detailing the EPA regulates the allowable emission of pollutants into the environment from vehicles and the products that care for them.

A material produced from woven natural or synthetic fibers.

Fabric Guard
A protectant that repels dirt or liquids from fabrics.

Fine Grade
A term typically used to describe a clay bar or polish that is only mildly aggressive or abrasive.

The final step in the paint correction process, intended to remove any remaining fine surface defects or haze.

Finishing Pad
A soft pad that is used to produce a high gloss finish.

Flash Point
The temperature at which a chemical or solvent vaporizes and/or ignites.

Flat Pads
Pads that have no grooves or dimples in the face of the pad.

Foam Gun
An apparatus that connects to a typical garden hose which uses water pressure and a soap/detergent to produce suds, usually for washing automotive exteriors.

Foam Lance
An apparatus that attaches to a pressure washer to produce suds from a soap or detergent to help wash the vehicle’s exterior.

Foam Pad
A pad produced with a cellular structure (can be either open or closed cell), used in paint correction or to apply protectants or cleaners to a surface.

Foam Gun
An apparatus that connects to a typical garden hose which uses water pressure and a soap/detergent to produce suds, usually for washing automotive exteriors.

Foam Lance
An apparatus that attaches to a pressure washer to produce suds from a soap or detergent to help wash the vehicle’s exterior.

Foam Pad
A pad produced with a cellular structure (can be either open or closed cell), used in paint correction or to apply protectants or cleaners to a surface.

A solid material possessing high strength and transparency.

Grit Guard
A plastic screen designed to allow dirt and particulates to settle at the bottom of a wash bucket, reducing the risk of re-contamination of a wash mitt or sponge.

Grit Guard Brand
Grit Guard provides washing solutions to help you wash more effectively and with less risks of adding swirls to your paint. The washing process is where the majority of new swirls are introduced to the paint. Help keep your washing mitt clean and safe with the Grit Guard inserts.

Grams per square meter; A measurement of weight for microfiber towels to add standardization.

Hand Applied
Using an applicator or pad by hand, to correct paint or to apply product.

Hazardous Chemicals
Any chemical that presents a significant threat to the environment or the health of those exposed to it without proper personal protection equipment.

Lacking clarity, usually describing the appearance of the clear coat. A common effect of aggressive machine polishing that can be removed with a finer pad and polish combination.

Lighting which illuminates the area in front of a vehicle to provide visibility in dark ambient conditions.

The fabric or vinyl covering on a vehicle’s interior roof.

High End Detailing
A type of detailing which involves an above-average level of dedication and effort to provide the best possible results.


Industrial Fall Out
Also known as rail rust, embedded iron particles in the surface of the paint.



1. Multiple applications of a paint or coating over a substrate, intended to produce a thicker final result or “film build.”
2. Multiple applications of a sealant or wax protecting the paint or clear coat.

Material produced from natural or synthetic hydes that have undergone a finishing or “tanning” process. Can be finished and dyed in multiple ways and may or may not have a urethane protective top layer applied.

Leather Cleaner
A chemical designed to safely remove dirt and foreign oils from the surface and pores of a leather surface. Often leather-specific cleaners are pH neutral in order to avoid damaging the material or causing accelerated wear.

Leather Conditioner
A lotion-like product designed to feed a leather hyde with oils to keep it soft and supple, and prevent cracks or rotting.

A barrier between two surfaces that add slickness to prevent marring or scratching.

Medium Grade
Refers to the aggressiveness of a clay bar or polish, which is greater than that of a fine grade, They are more likely to mar the paint or clear coat but are stronger options than their fine grade counterparts.

Meguiar’s Brand
Meguiar’s celebrated 100 years of business in 2001 and they continue to impress the world with their top quality products. It is still a family run business that is in it’s 4th generation inside the Meguiar’s family. They started with humble beginnings as a furniture polish laboratory and progressed into automobiles when horse carriages used the same wood as furniture. From there they expanded in to more car care products as the automobiles popularity rose. The Meguiar’s family was committed to designing the best products on the market and they were rewarded with an ever growing customer base. The family worked hard and began selling to manufacturers, body shops, professional car detailers, consumers and more. As the Meguiar’s name became synonymous with car care the customer base grew outside the US and they are now a globally recognized name in car care. The Meguiar’s products have won countless awards and been used by many winners of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Company headquarters are in Irvine, CA but they have a 200,000 square foot state of the art production facility in Nashville, TN. This new facility helps them manufacture over 300 unique products to help you care for virtually every square inch of your car. Meguiar’s is car care crazy and they definitely have the products to meet and exceed your needs.

Metal Polish
A polish containing chemicals and abrasives specifically made for metal.

Metal Wax
A protectant for metal surfaces designed to hold up to higher temps such as exhaust tips and wheels.

Small metal flakes (micas) in paint, used for an aesthetic purpose.

Metering System
A device used to precisely mix or dilute chemicals.

A type of synthetic fabric made with tightly woven fine fibers, which appear similar to natural suede.

Fabric produced from a blend of fine synthetic fibers (typically polyester/polyamide), designed to provide superior moisture wicking and surface cleaning.

Microfiber Detergent
A cleaner used for washing microfiber products that does not leave behind any detergents to help maximize the lifespan of microfiber products.

Microfiber Pad
A type of cutting and/or polishing pad made up of microfibers on the face.

Mobile Detailer
Detailer without a fixed location. Someone who will come to your location.

Material Safety Data Sheet; Information on the product you purchased. It may include information on proper use or potential hazards for the product.

Multi-Step Process
A series of different tasks carried out to produce a final result.

NanoSkin Brand
With new state of the art technology NanoSkin has been manufacturing a complete line of detailing supplies that include protective shields, waxes, polishes, compounds, cleaners, glazes, and other specialty cleaning products. This started in 2003 when NanoSkin first started its research and development with the latest nanotechnology advances. The AutoScrub pads are their prized jewel which shows the exact innovation NanoSkin has become known for. This pad has saved people time, money, and energy when removing contamination from the paint. NanoSkin vows to improve surface quality, reducing polishing time, enhancing surface durability, and surface brightness with future advancements. According to NanoSkin this innovation will “make life easier while saving time for the more important things in life”.

One Step Polish
A single polishing step to correct defects in the paint or clear coat.

Orbits Per Minute The amount of times per minute the center of the backing plate will rotate around the center of the machine.

Orange Peel
A slightly bumpy painted surface that resembles the texture of an orange’s exterior skin.

Orbital Buffer
Uses a fixed oscillating pattern without rotation to work a product on the surface.

Original Finish
A finish that was applied at the factory, not done by a body shop.

A postal service designation for products which are considered “Other Regulated Materials for Domestic Transport Only.” This means it could be dangerous to transport due to pressure from an aerosol container or their potentially harmful/caustic nature.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an office of the US Department of Labor responsible for the oversight of workplace safety guidelines for the use of best practices and personal protection equipment.

Overlapping passes
A technique utilized while applying a polish or protection where each pass overlaps the previous pass by 50% to ensure thorough application.

Airborne particulates generated during the application of a sprayed paint or coating which bond to unintended surfaces.

The result of a porous material becoming dry and/or brittle due to prolonged exposure to sun and air. Often manifests itself as a dull, chalky appearance on the surface of clear coat, paint, rubber, etc.


Paint Prep Pads
Pads with a urethane rubber face, used as an alternative to a clay bar, to decontaminate painted surfaces.

Paint Preparation
The process of readying paint for a wax, sealant, or coating. This can include washing, decontamination, compounding, and polishing.

pH Scale
A numeric scale ranging from 0-14 which describes the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. A pH of 7 is considered neutral.

Pig Tail
A pattern of deep scratches, resembling a pigs curly tail, most often caused by trapped particulates during the process of sanding or polishing with a Dual Action Polisher.

Material made of synthetic or organic compounds with a moderate to low melting point which is easily molded into a variety of forms. Often used both inside and outside automobiles due to it’s relatively good durability, lightweight and low cost.

Describes a type of power tool which is powered by a high volume of compressed air.

A liquid or paste with suspended abrasive particles intended to remove mild to moderate defects from a surface and refining its finish.

A power tool used to correct surface defects or apply protection on paint, glass, or plastic surfaces.

Polishing Pad
A medium grade pad designed to work with a polish to remove moderate surface defects.

The use of chemicals such as tar removers, degreasers, iron dissolvers, or soap to help clean prior to starting the normal wash process.

Professional Detailer
A person who is capable of cleaning, polishing and protecting an automobile at a high level while acting in a professional manner in all aspects of their business.

Any product which provides a sacrificial barrier between the environment and a vehicle’s material surfaces, slowing natural deterioration.

Pounds per Square Inch, a measure of pressure which can apply to gases or liquids.


Quick Detailer
A liquid product designed to add lubricity between a towel and surface, allowing the safe removal of dust or oils on a surface. These products may also contain gloss enhancers or some protection.


Rail Dust
Red or rust color spots on the finish that can penetrate deep into the clear. Caused from transport or embedded brake dust.

Random Orbital Buffer
A power tool which attaches to a backing plate and buffing pad that uses random oscillation to spread a product onto a surface and/or utilize an abrasive to remove surface defects from a surface.

1. Thick liquid which is most often used to harden composite materials such as fiberglass or carbon fiber.
2. A liquid ingredient in some protective coatings and sealants.

To bring back to a previous or original condition.

Random Isolated Deep Scratches; random in the fact that there is no “pattern” to the scratches.

Rinseless Shampoo
A type of shampoo that is typically low sudsing and high in polymers to provide lubricity without the need to flush away excess residue with water.

A buffer that has no secondary action to its rotation.

Revolutions Per Minute; How many times in a minute the backing plate on a rotary machine rotates.

Rupes Brand
Rupes has been following the key principles of being intuitive, quick, creative, and innovative since 1947. This has allowed them to become one of the leaders of the international tool market today. You can find many of their products world wide, from Europe to Japan, to South Africa and Australia. Their LHR15ES and LHR21ES polishers are well known to the detailing community and they show the exact type of quality and innovation that Rupes has been known for.


The use of various grits of sandpaper to remove material from a surface.

Scangrip Brand
For more than 100 years Scangrip has been manufacturing high quality, innovative hand tools for the industrial and automotive sectors. They have achieved tremendous success with their range of durable and functional work lights for various professionals, especially car detailers. The Colourmatch line of lights will help you spot any imperfection in your paint with an unparalleled amount of perfection and ease of use. With the focus on design, functionality, and leading LED technology, Scangrip is cemented as a top company in the automotive/detailing industry.

Below surface defects which typically appear linear in nature.

A type of synthetic protectant, usually polymer or resin based, with durability that is usually longer than that of a wax, but less than that of a coating. It also enhances the appearance of paint.

A liquid or gel which contains a surfactant and a co-surfactant designed to help loosen dirt and contaminants and create a slick surface so the paint is not easily marred while washing.

A subjective term typically used to describe a surface with high gloss and reflective properties.

Short Cycle
To not fully work the polish. Fast arm movement, and not allowing the polish to fully do its intended job to correct or finish paint.

Smooth / Soft Start
The function of a machine to not immediately go to the full selected speed or RPMs/OPMs.

A chemical substance which dissolves other dissimilar chemicals.

Spindle Threads
The threaded connection between a polisher’s spindle/arbor and a backing plate, measured in size and pitch.

Spray on Protection
Any sealant, wax, or coating which can be atomized for easy application.

Spray on Sealant
A form of spray on protection with properties similar to a traditional polymer sealant.

Steam Cleaner / Steamer
A tool that uses a boiler to generate pressurized, high temperature water vapor which can be used to clean or emulsify soluble substances with minimal saturation. Also useful to destroy mold spores and bacteria.

Remaining residue left behind after you have attempted to wipe away excess product.

A compound often used in shampoos, soaps, all purpose cleaners, and degreasers to emulsify and carry dirt and contaminants away from a surface.

Random, circular below-surface defects, which cumulatively often resemble a spider web when viewed under direct lighting.

Synthetic Leather / Leatherette
Artificial leather. A man-made product to resemble real leather.


Lighting to provide illumination to the rear of a vehicle, often also used as a visual indicator of braking, reversing, or to indicate turns.

Usually low tack masking style tape used to protect trim from being hit with a pad during correction or polishing.

Three Step
A paint correction process comprised of three distinct stages of defect removal; can describe any combination of sanding, compounding, or polishing procedures to produce a refined finish.

The distance the center of the backing plate travels in reference to the center point of the head of the machine.

Metal, vinyl, leather or plastic components on a vehicle’s interior or exterior which are attached to the main body, intended for protection or ornamentation.

Two Bucket Method
An approach to traditionally washing a car which employs separate buckets for soaping and rinsing a wash mitt, sponge, or brush.

Two Step
A paint correction process comprised of two distinct stages of defect removal; typically one step of compounding and one step of polishing, but can describe any combination of either.


UV Rays
Also referred to as Ultraviolet Radiation, UV has a shorter wavelength than visible light. UV exposure can cause the degradation of many automotive materials such as paint, rubber, vinyl, and leather unless adequate protection is present.

A tool which employs an electric motor to generate suction, used to collect either wet or dry dirt and grime.

A form of plastic polymer often used to produce dashboard, door panel, and seat coverings as well as convertible tops.

A type of towel or pad with a surface containing “pockets” or waves, similar in appearance to a breakfast waffle.

Waffle Weave
A type of microfiber towel typically used for drying a vehicle after washing, or for streak-free glass cleaning.

Wash Media
The tool used to wash the exterior of your vehicle.

Wash Mitt
A type of wash media consisting of natural or synthetic fibers as opposed to a foam sponge material. There’s typically a place to put you hand inside, hence the term “mitt”.

The cleaning of the vehicle’s exterior in order to prep it for the following steps, usually the decontamination step.

Water Based
A product that has water as the main ingredient as opposed to an oil or silicone.

Water Marks
The minerals that are left over when hard water evaporates. These can lead to the physical etching which can cause serious damage to a vehicle’s exterior surfaces.

Water Purification
Removing minerals and elements from hard water through a filtering system.

Water Soluble
Something that is able to dissolve in water.

Water Spot Remover
Product that is used to remove minerals on the surface after water has dried.

Waterless Wash
A product with a high concentration of polymers designed to quickly emulsify and encapsulate dirt and grime for safe removal with minimal water usage.

or Wattage is a measure of the amount of work electricity does. Volts x Amps = Watts.

A natural substance harvested from various organic sources which can be applied to paint and other glossy surfaces to provide protection.

Descriptive term for the effects of deterioration (patina) due to environmental exposure.

Wet Sanding
The use of water or other lubricants during the sanding process to carry abraded material away from the work surface and prevent loading of the sandpaper.

Natural or synthetic material typically used to produce a polishing pad for aggressive defect removal