LAST UPDATED: May 31, 2019
Best Car Wash Brushes
Protect your paint from minor scratches with our top best car wash brush picks
The Review Team
How We Decided
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON May 31, 2019
Washing your vehicle by hand can be a chore, especially if you own a large vehicle. An easy way to cut down on time spent washing is to invest in a car wash brush. Soft bristles, an extendable handle, and portability are just a few of the features you’ll want to look for. Keep reading our car wash brush buying guide to find out more.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of a Car Wash Brush
- Make washing your own vehicle easier. Having a large brush head to cover more ground as you wash is guaranteed to make the car-washing process a lot less stressful. Plus, you can make sure to clean those hard-to-reach spots, too.
- Choose the right brush for your vehicle. You never know who’s used the car wash brush before you, and it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s trapped within those fibers. If you can purchase a brush you know gets cleaned regularly, you’ll save yourself time and money spent fixing scratches.
- Give a gift for a friend, family member, or loved one. The car enthusiast in your life probably has most of the tools and chemicals they need to keep their clean car maintained. But if you’re looking for a present come birthday or Christmas time, nothing says “I support your habit” like a soft car wash brush.
- Make a small investment for a big return. Keeping up on washing your vehicle goes a long way when it comes to extending the life of not only your paint but also your headlights, grille, wheels and tires, and countless other components. Spend a few bucks for a high-quality car wash brush, and your car will thank you.
Types of Car Wash Brushes
Most car wash brushes have bristles, like your standard broom. The bristles are gathered in ahead, which can be made of various materials. The head of the car wash brush varies in size and shape as well. Unlike standard push brooms, which have one plane of bristles, some car wash brushes are shaped in a V-pattern, which allows for cleaning of multiple angled surfaces. Bristle car wash brushes are sold alone or with a handle. These handles can either be extendable, fixed, or flow-through.
Car wash brushes typically come in bristle form, but mop-like fibers are also popular. Most brushes of this kind have a long, flat mop head that holds the fibers together. Again, handles can be fixed, extendable, or flow-through. These mop-like fibers can be beneficial if you’re concerned about scratching your paint, but they will pick up microscopic dirt and debris just as easily as a bristle car wash brush would.
The most innovative solution of the three types, drill attachment car wash brushes are best for small detail use. For example, you can use the small brush heads to target surface areas like headlights, around grilles, around the license plate, and even inside and around the lettering. Drill attachment car wash brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes as well, from flat and round to cone-shaped. Car detailing is much easier with a drill attachment car wash brush.
Founded in 1982, Carrand is a car care company based out of California. If you’re not convinced by our top picks, check out its Bi-Level Fiber Brush, which extends beyond a single plane to target sharp creases and steep body lines.
Also based out of California, the gang at CARCAREZ has more than 15 years’ experience in the industry. Its Flow Thru Car Wash Brush extends to 68 inches and is great if you own an RV or extremely tall vehicle.
Founded in New York in 2005, Drill Brush offers a selection of accessories and products for car care enthusiasts. Its Power Scrubber with the All Purpose set won’t just clean your vehicle—it’ll earn its keep in your house as well.
With years of experience in the automotive care industry, the staff at Chemical Guys call California home. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty wheel and tire brush to pair with your car wash brush, check out the company’s Body and Wheel Flagged Tip Short Handle Brush.
Best Car Wash Brush Pricing
- $8-$20: If you’re looking for an entry-level car wash brush just to get you started, you don’t have to pay much more than $20. Most brushes at this price point are not accompanied by a handle, though they are fitted to pair with standard handles sold at your local hardware store. You can pick from a variety of bristle brush types and colors.
- $22-$30: Those interested in the mop-like car wash brushes should look in this price range. These brushes typically come with an extendable or adjustable handle, and some have removable heads that can be washed between uses. Those looking for drill attachment car wash brushes will find them in this price range as well.
- $35-$60: Looking for a complete set so you don’t have to go find a handle? You’ll pay anywhere from $40 to $60 for a car wash brush of this kind, though anywhere around $35 is going to get you a quality product. Some handles at this price point are extendable, while some are fixed.
Abrasiveness and Stiffness
Unlike your kitchen broom, you’ll want to pay attention to the harshness of the fibers on the car wash brush you buy. For example, while it may seem like a stiffer scrub brush would work better on tough grime, having sharp materials constantly and consistently rub against your paint could actually leave tiny scratches behind. Dark-colored cars require extremely soft brushes while lighter colors should be fine with a medium-stiffness brush.
Depending on your size and the size of the car you drive, you’ll want to choose a car wash brush accordingly. Most modern sedans are easy for persons over 5 feet tall to wash with a brush that only extends around a foot. However, large, lifted trucks will require at least 4 feet of extension to reach the roof and hood. If you’re worried about covering the top of your vehicle, choose a longer brush.
Rotation, Swiveling, and Extension
Closely related to overall length is the handle’s ability to rotate, swivel, and/or extend. You may prefer a fixed, long handle if you want an upper body workout. Rotating or swiveling handles can be a pain if you’re trying to reach a certain area, but they do make it easier to clean around mirrors and sharp body creases. Extending handles ensure you reach the topmost part of your vehicle.
It’s inevitable that your car wash brush is going to break down over time. The bristles will fall out, and the head will begin to wear. However, you’ll want to invest in a brush that’s going to withstand water without breaking down after just a few uses. Wood brush heads can be good since they are often treated. Synthetic materials typically hold up well, too.
Drill Chuck Size
Though this pertains only to drill attachment car wash brushes, it’s still a good idea to make sure you purchase the correct size brushes for the drill you own. Manufacturers will often list the chuck size, and you can look on your drill for the size as well. While these measurements are often pretty standard, it’s always a good idea to double check.
- Portability: For whatever reason, you may not have the option of washing your vehicle at your home in your driveway. If this is the case, you’ll likely want to take the car wash brush you bought to the local car wash with you, instead of using the one there. As we mentioned above, you can control what goes on the car wash brush, so it’s better for your car’s paint.
- Frequency of Use: If you’re someone who doesn’t wash their car more than once a month, you probably won’t need to spend too much on a car cleaning brush. But if you wash your car more often, consider paying a bit more to get a high-quality product.
- Typical Debris Types: This might seem like an odd thing to consider, but what sort of nastiness do you get on your vehicle? If your area sees a lot of bugs, tougher bristles will help pick off those stuck-on guts. Muddy regions mean you won’t need as harsh a brush, but a mop-like brush might not be the best choice. Adjust the type of car wash brush you buy to the debris in your area.
Best Car Wash Brush Reviews & Recommendations 2020
There are quite a few reasons we chose the Bargain Crusader Telescopic Car Wash Brush, one of which is the brush’s ability to extend, telescope, and also break down for easy storage. Though the product does use mop-like fibers, they are long and spread out to cover more ground and trap larger amounts of debris as you wash.
It’s not often that you find a car wash brush you can extend and telescope, as well as break down. An easy solution if you don’t have the ability to wash your car at home, this product allows you the freedom of bringing your own brush without having to fold down seats to transport it. The wide, flat base allows for greater coverage over a larger area, and the long fibers can reach into small crevices for a better wash. The stainless steel rod will also hold up well over time.
The biggest drawback we found with the Bargain Crusader car wash brush is that stuck-on debris won’t budge for the loose fibers. You’ll likely need to get a separate rag or brush to attack stubborn contaminants. However, the immense ease of use associated with this product makes it an easy buy for nearly any driver.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: you don’t need high-priced equipment to achieve a clean car. That’s why we chose this car wash brush from Unger Hydropower. V-shaped to allow for body lines and sharp creases, this product can be used for washing your vehicle and so much more.
Light in weight and durable in materials, this car wash brush is 10 inches wide and can be attached to a fixed, telescopic, or flow-through handle. You could easily use this product on a flow-through pole for your lifted truck and then affix it to a fixed pole to wash your sports car. The synthetic head materials are strong and durable, able to withstand the extreme circumstances of washing your vehicle. Gentle bristles penetrate deep without leaving spiderwebs of scratches on your paint.
Speaking of the bristles, they may not be the softest available. Since they are so densely packed within the head of the brush, they are more likely to shed on your vehicle as well. At the same time, Unger really makes their car wash brush a no-brainer when it comes to having a clean car on a budget. Almost any car owner can benefit from their product.
Our honorable mention pick for the best car wash brush comes from CARCAREZ, a brand dedicated to all types of car care products. Their car wash brush features densely packed bristles that are soft enough not to scratch your paint but tough enough to remove most caked-on debris. The 10-inch brush head acts as a sturdy base and is lightweight.
Like our other top choices for the best car wash brush, CARCAREZ brush attaches to a variety of handle types, such a fixed, extensions, or telescoping. You can even hook up a flow-through handle so you don’t need to have a bucket of water nearby. The super soft bristle material makes it a great choice for you darker-colored car owners out there, especially since the density of the bristles allow you to add some elbow grease without risking damage to your paint. The CARCAREZ car wash brush can also be used in a variety of other ways, such as around the house or even on your RV or boat.
Our biggest concern with the CARCAREZ Soft Bristle Car Wash Brush is that those bristles are so close together. It might take longer for this car wash brush to dry than other products and there’s more potential for the bristles to shed since there are more of them to begin with. However, the CARCAREZ car wash brush can improve any car owner’s car washing experience.
This soft bristle brush comes with an extension pole that can give you up to 12 feet of reach. You can contract the pole down to five feet when you don’t need the extension. The brush features flocked synthetic bristles for maximum softness.
The bristles continue around the brush head in a five-sided angled design. This gives you the most range and maneuverability when cleaning your vehicle. This wrap-around design also protects your car from accidentally getting damaged while cleaning.
Unfortunately, you can’t tighten the brush down completely. This can cause it to spin while you’re trying to use it. This movement gets worse once you start using it and the components get wet. The company’s customer support for this issue is also lacking, so if you experience any issues with this brush, you’re on your own.
This lightweight brush head is eight inches in width and features medium soft blue flocked bristles. It also comes in different color-coded softness levels. Yellow is for softer bristles and white if you’re looking for harder or heavy-duty scrubbing.
There are two pole attachment options to give you universal handle compatibility.
You’ll love that around the outside edge of the brush head is a rubberized bumper. This will prevent damage or scuff marks while you’re cleaning your car or SUV. The entire brush head is extremely lightweight, which makes cleaning bigger vehicles easier as it reduces arm fatigue.
Unfortunately, the bristles aren’t secure in the brush head and can fall out easily. This results in finding little blue bristles all over the place after you use it. You may also find the blue bristles to be too stiff for your car.
This car wash brush has a long handle attached that features a non-slip comfort grip. The bristles are soft and long. This helps you reach into tight spots. The flocked bristles are also soft enough to scrub off the dirt, bugs, and tar without damaging your car’s paint.
The extra-long handle on this brush makes it perfect for cleaning your car or SUV. With the handle included, you don’t have to find a compatible handle before you can use it. The brush head also has a protective rubberized bumper to protect your car.
If you intend to use this brush to clean your wheels, then you’ll find the bristles to be too soft. You may also find that the bristles tend to fall out while you’re using the brush. The handle may not be long enough to use it while cleaning the roof of your SUV.
This 10-inch soft bristle brush comes with a telescoping handle. You can extend the handle up to 65 inches in length. The bristles are soft to provide gentle cleaning. The brush head has a rubber bumper around the outside edge to prevent scratching.
Gripping the handle of this brush is comfortable, thanks to the foam grips. This gives you increased comfort and control of the handle and brush head. The extension pole is sturdy and stays secured in place when extended.
Unfortunately, the handle and brush attachment components are plastic and can break under pressure. You may also find the bristles to be too stiff for your car’s paint, which results in micro-scratches and swirls everywhere that you clean.
This portable and automatic rotating car wash cleaning brush have soft bristles that are made from chenille and pp material. The brush has an automatic rotation of the water pressure and the mop head. There’s a box you can put detergent in and have spray foam on demand. The total length is 47.4 inches, and the brush head is 6.7 inches.
The automatic movement and soap receptacle enable this brush to effectively remove the dirt from your car with minimal effort on your part. The super soft and delicate touch of the brush means your car’s paint is safe.
Unfortunately, the construction of this brush and handle isn’t the best. This is disappointing because it also has the highest price tag. There are several parts to this brush that can malfunction or break.
- Storing your car wash brush properly is key to making it last. Before you first use the brush, rinse it off to remove any packing materials still stuck in the bristles. After washing your vehicle, scrub out the brush well. Leave it out to dry and remember to never set it down with the bristles touching the ground.
- Once you purchase a car wash brush, it should be used to clean your car and nothing else. You can certainly clean other cars with the brush, but you shouldn’t mix any other chemicals or cleaning agents besides car wash soap. Doing so could cause discoloration or damage if the substance were to come into contact with your vehicle’s paint.
- When washing your vehicle, work from the topmost section down towards the wheels. Doing so will ensure that the debris you loosen flows down the vehicle to the ground. You should also rinse the vehicle this way as well, before and after washing it.
- Avoid washing your tires and wheels with your car wash brush. If you do need to scrub the wheels, invest in a separate wheel brush that should be much tougher than the car wash brush you chose. Beyond the front of your vehicle, your wheels are the first and last thing to come into contact with debris.
- Leaving your car wash brush in your wash bucket of soapy water for an extended period of time can increase the breakdown process and prematurely wear on the components. After you’re done washing your vehicle, allow the brush to dry and then store. You’ll get much more use out of it.
- As you wash your vehicle, make sure you’re aware of the brush’s location. By that, we mean to be cognizant of not only where the brush head is but the handle as well. It can be very easy to smack the handle into a fragile side mirror or body panel.
- Keep enough pressure on the brush to ensure it contacts your vehicle’s paint but doesn’t overdo it. In spots where a little elbow grease is necessary, by all means, go to town. However, you only need to glide the car wash brush across the paint otherwise. Too much pressure can cause scratches as well.
- Begin washing your car by rinsing it. The more debris you can remove, the better. Spray any chemicals you want to use on the vehicle. Suds up your car wash brush and wash the entire vehicle. Then, rinse the entire car again, repeating the entire process if the vehicle is extra dirty.
- If your extendable car wash brush doesn’t quite reach the roof of your vehicle, use a step stool. Since you are working around wet conditions, make sure your footwear is stable on the step stool’s surface.
Q: What size car wash brush should I purchase for my vehicle?
A: Most vehicles can be washed fairly easily with just a standard 10-inch car wash brush. Really, the size doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re the only one who’s going to be washing your vehicle. If you’d like to make the chore a family event, consider purchasing multiple brushes instead of one large brush.
Q: Can’t I just buy a push broom head and use it to wash my car?
A: You could, but you’d definitely be spending tons of money on car scratch removal. The bristles meant for sweeping up dust and anything else that may end up on your garage floor aren’t necessarily the ones you want to be using on your nice paint job. If you’re still unsure of the difference, check out the types of brushes at your local hardware store. Which would you want running over your paint?
Q: Does it matter what soap or chemicals I use with the car wash brush?
A: The car wash brush should be compatible with anything designed to wash your vehicle. That is, any car wash product you buy shouldn’t in any way damage your car wash brush. Harsher chemicals like wheel acid and tire cleaner could potentially be damaging to your car wash brush, but they shouldn’t be coming into contact with one another anyway. You should invest in a separate brush for your tire and wheel cleaner.
Q: Where can I find handles for the car wash brush head I bought?
A: Check your local hardware store. If you bought the head online, you can probably find a handle online as well. Just check to make sure that the handle you choose fits the brush head you bought. Most car wash brush heads are drilled and tapped to a standard fitting size.
Q: If my car wash brush handle broke, do I need to purchase an entirely new brush?
A: You don’t necessarily need to. As we just mentioned, most brush heads are compatible with the majority of handles available at your local hardware store, so you should be able to find a replacement handle pretty easily.
Q: Can a car wash brush scratch my paint?
A: Most definitely. That goes for car wash brushes at your local self-serve car wash, at the dealership, and even those at a drive-thru car wash. Anything that runs across the surface of your paint—if it has an abrasive material within it—can damage your paint. The key to avoiding this is to wash your brushes thoroughly and keep the bristles clean.
Q: Should I avoid any areas on my vehicle if I use a car wash brush?
A: You don’t necessarily need to avoid typical surfaces on your vehicle as they should all withstand the use of a car wash brush. However, you want to be careful around any aftermarket accessories you installed on your vehicle, which may or may not include stickers and emblems. Push too hard on these on an edge and you’ll likely have to remove or replace them.
Q: Why should I choose a car wash brush over a regular old sponge?
A: Though there are plenty of different types of sponges out there, car wash brushes are often made of a softer material. Your hands don’t necessarily need to be in the soapy water either. However, if you are someone who likes to wash your car by hand you can use a car wash mitt. The wash mitt is made of similar materials to a car wash brush.