The bamboo skewer: an effective, inexpensive detailing secret

Tim McNair has detailed hundreds of the finest cars on the planet, and one of his favorite detail tools can be bought by the dozens for less than the cost of a decent cup of coffee. His secret weapon? The humble bamboo skewer. A hundred pack costs about $2 and can be found in most any grocery store.

  • Why the Skewer: The skewer is strong enough to dislodge crud, yet not hard enough to damage paint.
  • How to Use It: See that pointy end? Now put it to work. The skewer is great for picking away dirt, old wax and general buildup from nearly any nook or cranny, whether it involves emblems, trim, seals, fasteners and more.
  • Wheel Buddy: How does Tim get wire wheels looking so clean? He’ll take the time to methodically remove the dirt surrounding each nipple. Yes, it’s time consuming, but the results will show.
  • But Wait, There’s More: To clean hard-to-reach areas, Tim says, wrap a small microfiber cloth around the skewer. Now the skewer can serve as the handle for a small, effective cleaning pad–perfect, he notes, for cleaning HVAC vents and around audio equipment. Wrap a thicker microfiber towel around a skewer to clean between body panels.

To learn more from Tim, watch these:




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wspohn Dork
6/3/20 10:58 a.m.

And if you bring a hibachi, you can have yakitori sitting around the cars after the day's activities are over (assuming you didn't use all the skewers). yes

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
6/5/20 7:40 a.m.

In reply to wspohn :

Good idea!


ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
6/5/20 11:41 a.m.

Ahhh!! Dude, I recommended wooden chopsticks as my favorite no-cost housecleaning tip on our web show last year.  Seriously, you either get them for free or buy a gross for $5 at the Asian grocery. You can trim down the tips to get in tiny spots and they don't hurt finishes. Plus, when they get gunked, you pitch 'em. Perfect around sinks and stove edges and stuff in the kitchen.

CFreeborn New Reader
2/18/23 11:16 a.m.

This is an old luthiers (in my case guitar maker) trick. Long handled q-tips for cleaning up glue squeeze out. Twirl some cotton from a cotton ball, or I use the cotton that sits on top of aspirin when you open a fresh bottle. I'll sculpt the end of the skewer for exact applications - i.e. flat, angled, etc.

Popsicle sticks with their ends cut straight, angled and beveled also work well as cotton swab "paddles"

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/21/23 3:07 p.m.

In reply to CFreeborn :

Whatever works, right?

I watched the technician clean a piece of camera equipment the other day, and he used a similar process to make his own little cleaning tools. 

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