Best Car Wash Kit: Spiff Up Your Ride

Be a car care expert in minutes with one of these top car wash kits.

byNoelle Talmon| UPDATED Sep 5, 2022 7:48 AM
Best Car Wash Kit: Spiff Up Your Ride
Spiff Up Your Ride. Deposit Photos
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How you take care of your car says a lot about you, so make the right statement by using the best car wash kit for your baby. I come from a car family where weekly washings are considered normal. These days, we have a professional detailer come to the house to wash our Toyota XRunner and Durango Hellcat. However, there was a time when I did the washing and waxing myself. Like any enthusiast, I have my go-to favorites. First, there is the wash formula that suds perfectly and suspends dirt to prevent scratches. Then the detailer works magic at creating a perfectly smooth surface ready for waxing. Finally, the wax seals and protects, giving you that deep luster and shine. So, what message are you sending with the condition of your car’s exterior? With one of these best car wash kits, you can ensure your car is always looking its best.

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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Summary List 

Our Methodology

I made sure to pick reputable brands that are well-known in the industry. Most of these companies have been in business for decades and have spent many years perfecting their formulas so consumers have access to the best cleaning supplies. I also looked at the types of items included in each bundle, so you're not paying for products you don't need and are getting products you will actually use. I also understand that car owners have different budgetary requirements. As a result, I chose a wide range of products for those who have the ability to splurge to those who just want a basic kit with traditional car cleaning supplies. I avoided products from unknown manufacturers and kits with smaller bottles and items that don't last very long. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Best Car Wash Kit Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Size: 14 products
  • Model: HOL126
  • Weight: 12.37 pounds

Pros

  • Produces great results
  • Foam gun works with a standard hose
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • You may not need every item included
  • Foam gun won’t work with a pressure washer
  • You’ll run out of products at different times

The Chemical Guys car wash kit is a front runner because it comes with a foam gun and a ton of different products. In addition, the kit comes with a bucket, a cyclone dirt trap, Butter wet wax, Honeydew snow foam, Diablo wheel gel, Silk Shine dressing, glass cleaner, a microfiber wash mitt, a short-handle brush, microfiber towels, and a dressing applicator. Collectively, the products are designed to clean your vehicle's exterior by restoring faded trim, removing stuck-on dirt and grime, and producing a deep gloss on the finish. The Chemical Guys products smell great and the foam cannon is impressive despite being hooked up to a garden hose and not a pressure washer. While there are a ton of products in this kit, there may be too many for those looking for a basic wash and wax kit. Such a large kit is an investment, and you’ll find that you run out of some products faster than others, which leaves you buying individual bottles in the long run.

Specs

  • Size: Four products
  • Weight: 6.33 pounds
  • Model: 50825

Pros

  • Infused with a proprietary tropical Caribbean Crush scent
  • Contains carnauba wax
  • Friction reducing detergents

Cons

  • Washing leaves a conditioner residue
  • Weird to clean and wax at the same time

This simple kit has three products and a towel. All three products contain carnauba wax to deliver a deep and lustrous shine. There is a tropical wash solution that has a Caribbean scent to make washing your car like a tropical vacation. If this is your thing, it’s a bonus, but the smell doesn’t help the wash work any better. The second product is a spray cleaner wax for when you don’t have time to do a full wash routine. The third product is a super thick wax that will give you that like-new deep shine finish. A nice feature is the friction-reducing detergents that help lift and remove surface dirt without creating micro scratches. My only complaint about these products is that they all contain carnauba wax, which means you are waxing while you are washing. This does not make much sense since you should remove the surface contaminants, not wax them in. Because of the wax, the wash solution can leave a conditioner-like residue on your car’s surface.

Specs

  • Size: 21 products
  • Weight: 15.77 pounds
  • Model: VAR_ARS

Pros

  • Cleans vehicle inside and out
  • Great for beginners and pros
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bucket lacks a lid and dirt filter
  • Spray nozzles lack quality control

Adam's Arsenal Builder is a robust kit with 21 products that will help you clean your vehicle inside and out. It includes car shampoo, spray wax, tire shine, wheel cleaner, interior detailer, glass cleaner, microfiber towels, a drying towel, a wheel scrubbing mitt, a wash sponge, a foam gun, 3.5-gallon bucket, grit guard, and an air freshener. While it's a bit expensive, it's a significant savings when compared to buying all of the items separately. We like that this kit is so versatile — it's equally as effective for the beginner car cleaner as it is for the professional detailer. Overall, the products are good quality and easy to use. The foam gun works with a standard garden hose, and it can accommodate most types of car shampoo, even those from competing brands. Unfortunately, the bucket doesn't come with a lid or a dirt filter. Also, while the products work well, sometimes the spray nozzles on the bottles will break prematurely.

Specs

  • Size: 12 products
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Model: G55032SP

Pros

  • Promotes a deep shine on the vehicle’s finish
  • Includes products many kits don’t
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Time consuming to use all products in one session
  • Foam applicator could be better quality
  • Lacks a wheel cleaning product

This high-quality car care kit is produced by Meguiar's, which has been in the car care business for over a century. It includes 12 items that are designed to clean your vehicle's interior and exterior, including: car wash shampoo and conditioner, liquid wax, quick detailer, quick interior detailer, ScratchX 2.0, plastic cleaner and polish, a microfiber wash mitt, microfiber towels, and a foam applicator pad. It also comes with a clay bar, which many car wash kits don't have. This product removes surface contaminants to provide a smoother finish. The wax produces a deep shine, feels slick after application, and beads water easily. The tire shine provides a long-lasting shine, and the interior detailer is not greasy like some competitor brands. One downside is that it can take a lot of time — and wiping — to do a complete detailing job on your vehicle using these products. Also, the foam applicator is not the best quality, and the drying towel is synthetic, not a natural chamois. However, few kits even include this type of product in their bundles.

Specs

  • Size: 8 items
  • Weight: ‎9.2 pounds
  • Model: N/A

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Products are easy to use
  • Produces positive results

Cons

  • No bucket
  • Air freshener doesn’t last very long
  • Lacks accessories

This car care kit from Armor All includes ultra shine wash and wax, glass cleaner, protectant, multi-purpose cleaner, wheel and tire cleaner, tire shine, a wash pad, and an air freshener spray. The wheel cleaner is suitable for most wheels, is easy to use, and does a good job of removing brake dust. The glass cleaner doesn't leave streaks behind. The protectant provides a satin finish and the tire shine lasts several days. The large quantity of each product means you’ll get more washes out of this kit than many others on this list, making it a great value. Overall, this kit contains most of the items you need to do a traditional car wash. One downside is that the air freshener spray doesn't last very long. Also, it would have been nice if it came with more accessories for the application of all the products. I also don’t like the spray nozzles for the tire cleaner and shine, which can create a lot of overspray.

Our Verdict

My top pick for the best car wash kit is the Chemical Guys 14-Piece Arsenal Builder Car Wash Kit because it has top-quality products that deliver show-worthy results. For a more affordable option, try the Turtle Wax Complete Carnauba Wash & Wax Kit, which gives you a simple yet effective wash and wax solution.

Things to Consider Before Buying Car Wash Kit

Liquid Contents

The number of products you need in your kit will depend on how detailed of a wash you want to do. A simple wash and wax only may only need maybe two or three products. A more detailed washing could require six or seven different products. Try to avoid products that try to do too many things at once. They do a lot, but none of it well. Instead of a wash and wax combo, look for a kit that has separate wash and wax solutions. In addition, your car has multiple exterior materials, so look for a kit that can address all of these different surfaces. For example, this could include solutions for paint, metal, plastic, glass, and rubber. This will give you the best finish and protection for each material type.

Accessories

Some kits come with more than just the cleaning products. These kits are nice because you don’t need to purchase anything in addition to the kit. A bucket keeps everything organized in storage and is useful during washing. A foam cannon works with specially designed soap to create a thick layer of suds over your vehicle, eliminating the need for the bucket. Other accessories to consider are a mitt or sponge to wash with, an application pad for wax, a tire brush, tire shine applicator, and microfiber towels. The more products you have in your kit, the more tools you will need. It’s best to use a separate applicator for each product so that you don’t have cross contamination degrading the effectiveness of each product. 

Car Wash Kit Pricing 

You can buy a simple car wash kit for less than $50. However, it will have a limited number of products and tools. It will also be basic quality formulas that will not provide any specialized cleaning ability or protection for your car. More expensive kits tend to come with more supplies.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q:  How often should I wash my car?

A: At a minimum, we recommend washing your vehicle every two weeks. Some car owners, however, clean their vehicles weekly, while others do so less regularly.

Q: Can I use hand soap or dishwashing soap to clean my car?

A: We don't recommend it. Household cleaning products are not designed to clean a car's paint and may remove the protective coating on the finish.

Q: How do I dry my car after washing it?

A: You can dry your vehicle with a clean towel that’s designed for use on your car. There are silicone squeegees that will remove the water without scratching your paint. Then for a completely contactless solution, you can use pressurized air to blow the water off the vehicle’s surface.

Q: Is it bad to let your car air dry after washing it?

A: It’s a bad idea to let your vehicle naturally air dry after you wash it. You did all of the work to wash it, so why ruin it with water spots? Minerals and deposits in your water remain on your vehicle’s surface when the water evaporates. These minerals create micro-etches in your clear coat, which dull the look of your car’s paint.