The Best Car Detailing Products

Table of Contents

Every true car lover knows that the automatic wash at the gas station just doesn’t cut it. If you want to keep your ride looking sharp, you need to put some time, energy, and elbow grease into the job yourself. From quick detailing sprays to automotive shampoos, polishes, to waxes, and interior cleaners to wheel washers — it seems every square millimetre of your car, truck, or SUV has a separate and distinct cleaning product.

Choosing what to use and when is a cumbersome task, and so we’ve compiled this handy guide to the best car detailing products. This list will help you build out a car care kit for your garage that gives you gleaming, show-room level results quickly and easily.

Regular readers will recognize some of these products from previous lists, but we’ve gathered the best of the best here in one easy guide. For everything from wheels to windscreens, car seats to carpets, and bumper to bumper — here are the best detailing products for your car:

1. Editor’s Pick: Sun Joe SPX3000 14.5-Amp 2030 PSI Max 1.76 GPM Max Electric High-Pressure Washer

Sun Joe’s standout green canister is recognized as a reliable, affordable, and user-friendly brand for the home or garage, and this model is no exception. This 2,030 PSI, 1.76 GPM pressure washer will get your car sparkling clean in no time with maximum cleaning power and a water inlet temperature (max) of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

It comes with five quick-connect tips of 0º, 15º, 25º, 40º and soap to tackle light, medium and heavy-duty cleaning tasks, so yes, even the gunk on your Jeep from that mud-laden back-road trip will come clean.

With two 0.9 litre (32-ounces each) onboard removable detergent tanks, you can carry and store different types of detergent or lots of the same brand for particularly hard-to-clean areas. We also like the 34-inch extension wand, 20-foot high-pressure hose, 35-foot power cord with GFCI protection and the garden hose adapter.

With the right mix of power, accessories, and price tag, we think the Sun Joe high pressure washer makes the most compelling offering in this segment.

2. Runner Up: Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo

Adam’s is known for no-nonsense products with simple labels and stellar results. The concentrated formula, heavy suds, and smooth, streak-free formula make this shampoo easy to use as well as safe for frequent car washes. It is a pH-balanced shampoo that won’t harm your paint. This shampoo generates a long-lasting, this head of foam that is as effective as it is satisfying. The proprietary blends of lubricants makes it easy to wipe or rinse off, and prevents swirl marks.

You can find Adam’s car wash shampoo in sizes from 16 oz. to five gallons. It is effective in a pressure washer or with a simple bucket-and-hose, though we strongly advocate you use the two-bucket method for washing your car or truck. We like Adam’s because it is effective, gentle, and smells great.

3. Best Set: Chemical Guys HOL315 Cleaning Kit

Chemical Guys have a growing reputation for high-end car-care chemical products, including this comprehensive interior cleaning kit. Kits often represent great value for money because they combine all the tools and products you need in one package. This one includes a drill-mounted cleaning brush for heavy-duty scrubbing of your seats and carpet, as well at Chemical Guys’ Foaming Citrus Fabric Clean. The third item in the kit is an empty pump spray, which you can use to dilute the concentrated, high-suds shampoo to use on your car’s carpet and upholstery.

While the sticker price on this set is high, cleaning solution goes a long way when diluted, giving you an effective clean with using large amounts. For spot cleans, just a few drops of the shampoo in the pump spray with some water and a dab of a microfibre cloth does the job.

If you want to clean more surface area, or larger stains, use the included brush head. We like the lemony scent and the playful bubbles, which are both effective and fun.

4. Best Wheel Cleaner: Meguiar's Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner gets even the grubbiest rims shiny and clean with little effort. The safe and gentle, pH-balanced active gel changes colour as it lifts up brake dust and grime from your rims. It turns purple as it breaks down brake dust, and dark brown as it dissolves and separates road grime and grit. Leave this spray-on formula to sit for a few minutes until you see the colour change, than hose it off for a vivid shine.

Meguiar’s is a well-known automotive brand with a great reputation, so you can be confident of great results for your wheels. This cleaner is effective even on heavy deposits of baked-on dirt, including stuck-on bug carcasses and bird deposits.

For best results, apply a generous spray from the 710 ml (24 oz) pump bottle to a dry wheel, let it settle, and then hose off. The bottle doesn’t last long, so this is best used for your seasonal or annual full-car clean and detail.

5. Best Glass Cleaner: Stoner 92164 Invisible Glass - 22 oz.

Stoner’s Invisible Glass offers crystal-clear vision and stellar results for both the outside and inside of your or truck windows. It’s safe to use on tinted windows and won’t damage your vehicle’s trim because it doesn’t contain ammonia. It also doesn’t contain any soap, scents, or dies, which means it is a completely streak-free and residue solution for your glass.

This is a powerful cleaner, and will cut through thick films of grease and dust even on neglected glass. The large, 22 oz. spray bottle is great value and goes a long way. Be careful not to spray too much of it at a time on your interior thought because it does drip.

6. Best Spray Wax: Adam’s Spray Wax

This is the second entry in this guide from Adam’s and it’s another that highlights the company’s job-focused ethos. Even the name is straight forward and to the point. No fancy marketing here, what is it? Spray wax. What’s it called? Spray wax. Adam’s offers simple products dedicated to specific detailing tasks, and the result is a consistent good result.

This spray-on is blended with Carnauba flakes for a deep, lustrous shine. It is safe to use on top of other protective coatings and won’t damage the clear coat or other layers. It offers a deep, glistening shine and long-lasting protection from water marks and swirls. It's compatible with all types of surfaces, including aluminium, plastic, fibreglass, glass, and rubber trim, so you can apply the raspberry scented solution with gleeful abandon. We only wish the 16 oz. bottle was larger.

Adam’s says you can use its spray wax in bright sun and apply it wet, but we know that you get better results if you apply it in the shade and dry thoroughly first. Long story, short, Adam’s spray wax is affordable and effective at boosting shine and protection for your car, truck, or SUV.

7. Best Car Polish: Mothers 35701 California Gold Brazilian Carnauba Cleaner Wax Liquid

Mothers car wax products are a popular choice among both car enthusiasts and driveway detailers and while it might not be the choice of a professional detailer, it has a very user-friendly price point and will still do a great job. We like Mothers 35701 California Brazilian Carnauba Cleaner Wax Liquid because it rejuvenates faded paint on older cars and will restore a deep shine to all painted bodywork.

This car polish is designed to be the one-step plan to preserve your vehicle’s paint, as it is specially formulated to clean and protect in one application, although depending on the surface of your car, you may need two applications.

The polish and cleaner contains Brazilian #1 yellow carnauba wax combined with a light polish that will smooth minor flaws and make your paint snap. You can use it on any car finish, but it is especially effective on fiberglass and gel coats. And although it does not come in a spray bottle, it is available in a liquid or paste.

8. Best Cleaning Cloth: Kirkland Signature Microfiber Towel

Microfiber towels are one of the most crucial and yet overlooked elements to any quality car detailing kit. Kirkland’s Signature towel set is a hidden gem when it comes to car care products. The 36-pack of cloths is great value, and you get machine-washable, multi-use wipes that are lint free and safe to use for your car. There are no tags, and the cloth itself is durable yet soft.

Because there are 36 in the kit, you don’t have to skimp on towels, and can use one on each panel. This means you can buff more effectively, more evenly, and for a brighter shine. It also takes less time to dry each or buff each section. If there’s a downside to Kirkland’s offering it is that all the cloths are the same colour. We’d prefer they were multiple colours so you could dedicate one colour to washing, one to drying, one to polishing and buffing.

There are other options in this price range that have multiple colours included but we find those are lower quality and more harsh than this set of yellow cloths. The trick to a shiny, glistening car you can feel pride is in the finish, and these cloths make that easy.

Car Detailing Tips

This guide includes highlights of the best quality products to use in your car care regime. We’ve selected these products because we believe they make for the best detailing kit you can have. Here’s a quick explanation of what each of these products does, and why they are important. You should consider adding one of each of these to your garage.

Pressure Washer

Pressure washers offer a more thorough and effective rinse at both ends of your wash. A pre-rinse with a pressure washer dislodges more dirt, making the soap more effective. A post-rinse gets rid of more residue than a regular hose.

Foam Cannon

This pressure washer attachment allows you to apply foaming suds to your car, like you get from a coin-wash or gas-station automatic wash. These provide a deeper clean than just a simple spray and sponge, or bucket method.

Automotive Shampoo

Car shampoos are formulated to be safe on your vehicle’s surfaces. Dish soap will actually damage your car’s paint and bodywork, eating away at the clear coat.

Polish

Polishes lightly strip away a layer of your vehicle’s clearcoat to repair scratches, micro scratches and fading. They rejuvenate your paint by giving it a light scrub. Think of them like exfoliation for your bodywork.

Glass Cleaners

Specially formulated glass cleaners are designed for cars without ammonia and to be streak free. While your household glass can be cleaned with regular glass cleaner, the UV rays, dust, and dirt your vehicle glass is exposed to requires a more concentrated solution.

Interior Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

The best interior upholstery and carpet cleaners are versatile and can be used on multiple surfaces. They include potent surfectants to lift and separate dirt, as well as deodorizing chemicals that bond to the particles that cause bad smells and eliminate them.

Microfiber Cloth

No, you can’t use last year’s holey clothes to clean your car. You need a soft-yet-durable fabric that dries bodywork effectively and is gentle on paint. Microfibre clothes are important because they’re lint free, and make effective at buffing or drying any water or chemical residue.

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