LAST UPDATED: October 13, 2019
Best Car Detailing Products: Top Picks for a Spotless Ride
These top car detailing products will freshen up your car’s look
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 13, 2019
Your car or truck is exposed to a variety of conditions and elements each day, including road debris, tree sap, and pollen, which can all wreak havoc on the finish. Your vehicle’s interior can also get dirty and stained over time. If you want your car to shine like new, you need a few products (and some elbow grease) to make it happen. Check out some of the best car detailing products in the buying guide below to freshen up the look of your ride.
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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 Car Detailing Products
- Keep your car clean. The best products for car detailing make your vehicle look shinier and easily remove dirt and dust, both inside and out. They're typically easy to use and don't take a lot of effort.
- Make your car look brand new. If you neglect to wash your vehicle, dirt and road grime will build up over time, which can make it look unsightly. The best products for detailing cars really bring out a vehicle’s shine and gloss.
- Protect the paint. You don't need to use professional car detailing products to take care of your vehicle’s paint. Many detailing sprays and car waxes are widely available, affordable, and do a great job of providing a layer of protection, so your paint lasts longer.
Types of Car Detailing Products
If you have the right tools, it doesn't take that long to clean your vehicle. Car wash soap eliminates dirt and dust and cuts through all the grime that builds up over time. If you want to protect your vehicle's paint job and keep it in good shape, you need to invest in a good-quality cleanser.
Car paint sealants deliver a mirror-like shine and protect your car's paint. They feature special polymers and bond to the surface area, so they last longer than traditional wax. They protect against UV rays, sap, and acid rain, which can wreak havoc on your car's paint job. UV rays alone accelerate oxidation, which grossly fades the paint.
When you wax your vehicle, the product leaves behind a protective coat. This prevents harmful UV rays from damaging the paint and causing it to fade, discolor, and oxidize. Wax also brings out the vehicle's color and makes it shine. Finally, wax prevents water spots. Fewer water spots mean less contamination on your vehicle's paint.
A vehicle’s wheels get very dirty because they're constantly exposed to the dirt, salt, and grime from the street. They are also exposed to a lot of brake dust that builds up on the surface area of the wheels. Over time, these particles can damage your wheels permanently. A good wheel cleaner is specially designed to clean off brake dust and road contaminants.
The exterior of your vehicle isn't the only area that needs attention. If you really want to freshen up your car, you need to clean the interior surfaces as well. This includes wiping down the dashboard, cleaning the vents and knobs, and wiping down the seats and upholstery. Certain car cleaning products are specially designed to work on a variety of surface areas, including leather, fabric, and plastic trim.
In addition to the spray-on products you apply to your car's exterior and interior to keep it clean, you also need items such as microfiber wash mitts and towels to carry out the task. Other useful products for car detailing include dusters, portable vacuums, and a chamois cloth, which eliminates streaks and watermarks.
The California-based Chemical Guys produce a wide variety of high-quality car polishes, waxes, coatings, protectants, and sealants for all types of vehicles. We recommend the Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Builder Wash Kit.
Meguiar's, which is based in Irvine, California, has been around for over 100 years. The company creates products for a variety of automotive purposes. It’s a go-to brand if you want to clean your paint, wheels, tires, and interior. One top product is MEGUIAR'S Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax.
Mothers was founded in the 1970s and is based in Huntington Beach, California. It has a great reputation for producing high-quality polishes, waxes, and cleaners. One of its top products is the Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer.
Griot's Garage is a family-owned business that has been making car care products since 1990. It’s currently based in Tacoma, Washington, and one of its popular detailing products is the Griot's Garage Speed Shine.
Car Detailing Products Pricing
- $10- $20: You can find a variety of all-purpose cleaners, polishes, sealants, degreasers, and waxes in this price range. Some may even include a microfiber towel, which is a nice extra.
- $30-$100: Some of the best car detailing products are sold as a kit. They include a wide range of items and products that clean both the interior and exterior, such as shampoo, wax, tire gel, clay bars, drying towels, and more.
Some car washing products are sold separately, while others come as part of a kit. You need to decide whether you want a one-size-fits-all approach or a specific detailing spray that works for a particular application. The downside with kits is that they may include products that you already own or don't need. However, if you buy products separately, you may end up spending more money.
Look for name-brand products with established reputations. All the picks in our buying guide are from companies that have been around for a long time and know how to create high-quality, long-lasting products. It also helps to read reviews to see what other people say about the quality of a product.
Ease of Use
While enthusiasts may not mind spending hours detailing their cars, the average driver doesn't typically want to waste an entire afternoon doing so. Look for products that are easy to use and don't require a lot of time to be effective. If, for example, a wash and wax product is simple to apply, you're more likely to use it.
- Cost: As we previously noted, car detailing products can range from a few bucks to more than $100, depending on what type of deep clean you want to do you on your vehicle. The good news is that the best budget car detailing products also does a good job of producing a nice, clean shine.
Best Car Detailing Products Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This kit features a variety of items to clean and maintain your vehicle, including a foam gun that attaches to a standard water hose. It also has wax, glass cleaner, speed wipe detailer, wheel and rim cleaner, silk shine sprayable dressing, a dirt trap funnel, a bucket, microfiber wash mitt, brush, microfiber towels, and an applicator. The foam blaster works well and quickly covers your car in shampoo, making it easy to clean hard-to-reach spaces. The quick disconnect on the sprayer features good-quality brass fittings. The microfiber towels are perfect for the windows and do not leave any streaks behind. Overall, this kit provides just about everything you need to wash and detail your car and is perfect for beginners. However, the foam blaster can take longer to use than a high-pressure washer. The foam cannon may also malfunction after a short period of use. In addition, it may not produce as much foam as you would like.
Meguiar's waterless wash and wax does not require the use of a hose or bucket and works in just one step. The glossy wax lasts for weeks and can be applied to paint, glass, chrome, metal, and plastic trim. It produces a spot-free shine and protects surfaces from swirls and scratches. This wash and wax effectively cleans your car, motorcycle, boat, or plane without using water. It is simple to use, smells pleasant, and wipes away cleanly. It also works on windows, and rain rolls right off. Overall, it delivers a nice shine and provides a hydrophobic coating. One issue with this product is that it's not designed for vehicles that are covered in dirt and grime. Also, it may leave behind streaks, and the contents may leak during shipping.
Shine Armor's all-purpose interior cleaner cleans dirt and dust off most surfaces inside your vehicle's cabin, such as leather, fabric, vinyl, and cloth. It also works on floor mats, carpet, and headliners and features UV protection and anti-static properties to prevent dust from building up. The spray is simple to use and easily wipes away dust and dirt. It doesn't feel greasy and has a nice lemon scent that makes your vehicle smell fresh. The best thing about this product is that it doesn't take long for it to work, and it's very effective. In addition, a little goes a long way, so the bottle lasts a long time. One drawback is the cleaner is a little expensive. Also, it may not work on stubborn coffee or red wine stains. In addition, if you accidentally spray it on the windows, it can fog them up.
The CarGuys Super Cleaner cleans a variety of surfaces, including leather, vinyl, carpet, upholstery, plastic, and rubber. The formula uses nano-technology to remove dirt and grime. Instead of investing in multiple products to clean multiple surfaces, you can use this one 18-ounce bottle to do it all. The Super Cleaner can be used on everything from the dashboard to the floor mats. It also removes bugs, sap, and tar from your vehicle's finish. You can use it on both the interior or exterior of your vehicle, except on glass surfaces. Users like that it removes built-up grime and overall does a great job of spiffing up your vehicle inside and out. In addition, Car Guys backs up all of its products with a 100-percent, risk-free guarantee if you're not satisfied. However, some users complain that it doesn't remove all carpet or upholstery stains. Some people also don't like the scent, which is a little fruity.
You apply Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer after you've polished and waxed your vehicle. This instant detailer helps to keep your car's finish looking new (or nearly so). It removes dust, fingerprints, and smudges, so your car has that showroom shine so many people want. This detailer also removes minor imperfections. It uses color enhancers and special fortifiers to bring out the best in your vehicle's finish. The product is easy to use and involves spraying the product and applying and removing it with microfiber cloths. The spray trigger emits a fine mist, and it wipes off easily. The more you use it, the better it is for your vehicle. The best thing about it? The low price. One drawback is that some users don't like the smell of the product. Also, it doesn't prevent water spots or help with beading as some rival products do.
- There are a variety of products that are good for car detailing, including soap, wash mitts, drying towels, wheel cleaner, wax, paint scratch remover, etc. You can start out with the essential products and build up your car detailing toolbox if you are aiming for a concourse-ready vehicle.
- If you are an enthusiast and attend a lot of car shows, you may want to invest in a polisher. This tool removes swirl marks much more efficiently than your hands alone.
- Do not use a detailing spray on a hot surface. Try to clean your car in a shaded area, such as in the garage or under a tree, so it will work more effectively.
Q: How do I apply a detailing spray?
A: Many detailing sprays are waterless. Simply shake the bottle, and spray it on the dirty surface. If it's a wheel cleaner, you may need to wait a few minutes before wiping off the surface with a clean microfiber towel.
Q: Will a detailing spray remove small scratches?
A: No. Detailing sprays do not contain polishing compounds. You will need to use a rubbing compound with a soft cloth to remove light scratches. Make sure to read the product's instructions to determine its purpose.
Q: How do I clean my navigation screen?
A: Some products are designed specifically to clean LCD screens. Use a microfiber cloth and, if necessary, spray a tiny amount of cleaning solution that doesn't contain ammonia or alcohol, which can damage the screen.
Our pick for the best car detailing products is the Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Builder Wash Kit. It comes with nearly everything you need to clean your car from top to bottom.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the MEGUIAR'S Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax.