Best Car Detailing Products: Top Picks for a Spotless Ride
These top car detailing products will freshen up your car’s look
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED 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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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
- 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.