Taken from another post I replied to a while back:
Here is a basic process you can follow for detailing. Hopefully it answers your questions. You might need a bag of chips to sit down with:
1) Wash the car with a quality car soap. Meg'* Gold Class is good. I really love Duragloss #901, which can be found at Car Quest. You don't need to use anything stronger if you plan to polish. Some people will use dish soap to strip wax, but use it sparingly, maybe once a year. It'* said to be bad for plastic. Get a good quality mitt. Wal Mart has some good sheepskin mitts. Feel around for the softest one(*). Then get a good microfiber drying towel, actually a couple. Some people like the Absorber. Waffle Weave towels work great. Use two buckets to wash, one with the soap, and one with just water. Rinse off the mitt after each panel, and rub it to try and remove all dirt. Then wring it out and dunk in the soap bucket. This will hopefully keep you from rubbing any dirt on the paint. When you are ready to dry, use the hose without any attachments. It might not work great the first time, but once you get wax on the car, the water will "sheet" off the car leaving a lot less to dry up.
2) Clay bar the entire car. Cut the bar in thirds. This makes it easier to kneed, and if you happen to drop it, you have only lost a third (you shouldn't use it if it'* dropped). Do the paint first, then you can use it on the windows and rims. Unless the rims are really caked in dust, you shouldn't need a wheel cleaner. The claybar should do the trick. Make sure you use a good amount of lube, as not enough will make the bar grind into the paint and leave residue.
3) Polish- You can buy over the counter polish, but all they really are is cleansers. I have some of the meg'* polish from their three step program, and all it does is remove contaminants, it doesn't really polish. ScratchX is a decent one, but it will be tiring and take hours to do the car. If you have the $$, buy a polisher like a Porter Cable orbital and some quality polishes. Megs professional line can probably be found locally. Otherwise there are a lot of good ones found online. I can go into that deeper if you want to pm me, or there are several websites around. I just recently got some Menzerna polishes that worked great on my Bonneville. Wipe off the polish with the quality microfiber.
4) Seal-There are two options here, sealant or wax. Sealants last longer, and waxes usually look better. Most people that live in a northern climate will use wax in the summer, and sealant in the winter. I actually have a wax (Collinite) that will last 5-6 months. You can use both, some will do the wax on top for a better look. Another option is to use a glaze. Glaze is like a light polish that will leave fillers to hide scratches. The only thing with a glaze is that sealants won't usually bond with them, so you can only use wax on top. Back to waxes, most otc waxes aren't very good for durability and sealants are pretty limited. Duragloss has a good line of products. You may also find professional Meguiars products locally, of which the #21 sealant is a good one. You can find a lot of quality products online, many that aren't very expensive. You will want to do two applications to ensure proper coverage. Usually you want to give 24 hours inbetween coats. Use a foam applicator and buff with a quality microfiber, not a t-shirt. Also wax/seal the rims. This will make it much easier to keep them clean.
-Get some Mothers Back to Black for the plastic behind the hood to restore the dark look. The BTB doesn't last very long though, there are better products found online.
-Use RainX or sealant on the windows to add in cleaning and keep wipers from streaking.
-Get a good leather conditioner for the seats.
-Use a mixture of Simple Green or some other cleaner with water to clean the plastics inside. Follow up with a good protectant like 303 Protectant to protect against UV rays.
-You can also use the cleaner mixture to clean the carpet. Vacuum the carpets well, then spray the mixture on the carpet and work it in with a brush. Then spray it with some plain water to rinse, and vacuum again.
-Dress the tires with a spray or gel tire dressing.
A good site for products: www.danase.com
as well as www.autogeek.net
and a good forum for questions/ideas www.autopia.org
And to reiterate what Ryan said, ignore John Deer Boy on the buffer. Rotaries can be dangerous, but an orbital is not at all unless you completely lacking in common sense. If the buffer you have is the ten inch variety, it'* really only good for putting on wax. You need a quality random orbital like a Porter Cable. They are usually labeled as a polisher/sander.