It is becoming more and more common for car owners to personally detail their rides. Since the advent of rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber, a well-groomed car is no longer just a luxury but an also aspect that can affect the amount of money you make every day as well. Owning one of the best car detailing kits can elevate your ride from grocery getter to moneymaker in no time flat. Or make your pride and joy shine like the star that it is.
Why Use a Car Detailing Kit?
You don’t have to make money off of your vehicle as an incentive to keep it showroom clean. For those who derive self-satisfaction from driving a showroom clean ride, the best way to ensure a spotless interior and exterior is with an auto detailing kit.
Any professional car detailer will tell you that prep work is the key to achieving a finish on par with cars on stage at the Mecum Auction or in the impressive collections of Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld.
Pairing one of the 10 best car polishers with a car detailing kit can elevate your car’s finish to its true potential. Also, it’ll ensure that you have a professional auto detailing kit on par with the pros.
What to Look For in the Best Car Detailing Kits
Before you run out to your nearest auto parts store, you should first know what is included in a professional car detailing kit. The best car detailing kits will include a cleaning product for every part of your vehicle. Look for products that not only ensure a spotless finish but also protect your car from scratches and repel water.
What Comes in a Car Detailing Kit?
Car detailing kits will contain most or all of the following items:
- Water bucket
- Car wash hand mitt
- Applicators and brushes
- Car wash soap formulated not to remove wax
- Wheel cleaner
- Glass cleaner
- Microfiber drying towels
Depending on the brand, some kits will come with extra accessories, such as interior detailing brushes. A popular addition that has become more common among kits is foam cannons, which attach to a garden hose to spray soapy suds and take the elbow grease out of washing.
Finish Care and Protection
A professional car detail will generally employ a three-step process on your car’s finish, which means the best car exterior detailing kits will:
- Clean the exterior surface panels of dirt, dust, and automotive grime
- Correct scratches and remove unsightly swirls and blemishes for the paint and clear coat
- Protect from further scratches and repel water
Tires, Wheels, and Rims
No professional car detailing kit is complete without addressing the car’s tires, wheels, and rims. The best car detailing kits will include a tire cleaner that provides a wet black look — to say nothing of a wheel and rim cleaner that removes grime, grease, and brake dust without the use of acidic solvents.
Headlights, Taillights, and Glass
Automotive glass takes a real beating which can leave a car looking worn and weathered if not addressed. The auto detailing kit you choose should include a product that cleans automotive glass, is safe for metalized and ceramic window tint, repels water, and doesn’t streak.
Interior Detailing Kit
Detailing the exterior of your car while neglecting the interior is like only cooking a meal halfway. Professional car detailing kits include a set of brushes and cleaning products designed for the more delicate, tight, and hard-to-reach areas of a car’s interior while leaving a UV protective layer. They will also include a leather or upholstery cleaner to remove stains from your seats and carpets.
Engine and Chassis
Lastly, an auto detailing kit on par with the professionals will include a product that cleans the engine compartment and the chassis of the vehicle. Both of these areas are prone to accumulating stubborn dirt and road grime.
Every car owner, regardless of their level of enthusiasm and skill, can make good use of a car detailing kit. And every car can benefit from thorough detailing. The best auto detailing kits include a product for every cleaning and protection task. They are also affordable and comprehensive and, when used correctly, leave your car indistinguishable from the same model on display on the showroom floor.
The Best Car Detailing Kits
- Best Overall Choice: Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit
- Best Budget Choice: Armor All Premier Car Care Kit
- Best Premium Choice: Griot’s Garage Master Car Care Collection
- Best Waterless Car Wash Kit: Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax ALL
- Best Travel Kit: P21S Auto Care Kit
- Best Hybrid Ceramic Detailing Kit: Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions
Meguiar’s is featured a lot on our “10 Best” lists. That’s because they have a reputation for quality car cleaning products. These powerful cleaning products, when used in conjunction with one another, produce a comprehensive, professional car detail that will turn your car into the envy of the block.
We like Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit because it includes nearly all of those high-quality and dependable products. You won’t find yourself running back to the automotive store because this all-in-one kit includes everything you could need to achieve a showroom shine, including a microfiber wash mitt, applicator pad, and microfiber towel.
The best part about Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit is the remarkable value for detailing products that work exceptionally well. For less than the price of professional car detailing, you can ensure that your car achieves a spotless finish month after month.
The Premier car cleaning kit from Armor All comes with eight top-notch car cleaning products to keep your car sparkling inside and out. Designed to tackle tough messes on the interior, exterior, wheels, and tires, this kit will give your car a next-level clean.
Thanks to the easy-to-use spray bottles, your car is a few quick sprays away from a like-new finish and a spotless shine.
We like the Armor All Complete Care Kit because it combines the brand’s most reliable and powerful car cleaners into a comprehensive, easy-to-use auto detailing kit. The mix of products ensures the complete removal of all dirt, dust, and grime from all of your car’s interior and exterior surfaces. You also get a gel tire cleaner and tire protectant because no detail job is complete without shiny black tires and spotless wheels.
The Armor All Complete Car Care Kit accomplishes less with more, and that is why we consider it one of the ten best car detailing kits. This collection of Armor All products is suited to keeping up the appearance of a well-cared-for car, truck, or SUV. Jobs that require more intensive cleaning and care are listed below.
The Armor All’s eight-piece kit comes with the following:
– Armor All Ultra Shine wash and wax shampoo
– Armor All Extreme wheel and tire cleaner
– Armor All Extreme Tire Shine
– Armor All Original Protectant spray
– Armor All Glass Cleaner
– Armor All Multipurpose Cleaner
– Wash pad
– Armor All air freshener pump
Aero Cosmetics has a 33-year history with aeronautics across the military, corporate, and private sectors. The teams that support NASA, Air Force One, and commercial aircraft companies use this product faithfully, which speaks about its quality and results. The solutions are alcohol- and ammonia-free and contain all water-based ingredients that will gently clean and protect your vehicle. Not to mention that the Waterless Car Wash Wax is nontoxic and will not irritate the skin or eyes on contact.
The formula is slippery and easy to apply. What is left behind is a high-gloss, UV-blocking, non-sticky, invisible layer. As a bonus, the wax mixed in with the solution works remarkably well on windows and leaves a slippery, hydrophobic layer on the glass.
The Complete Car Care kit includes the following:
– Wash Wax ALL
– Tire soap
– Interior cleaner that works on carpet, leather, and vinyl upholstery
– Rubber care that restores and protects rubber and plastics
– 4 microfiber towels (16×16 in.)
– Foam applicator
A few customers mentioned seeing some haze after applying the product. On dark-colored vehicles, this is bound to show up from time to time. Thus, carefully test this product on a small section or limit the application to one panel until you’re confident of the results. The company offers a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the outcome.
The P21S Auto Care Kit is the ideal car detailing kit for the car owner who appreciates German ingenuity and attention to detail. This is a no-thrills, essentials-only car detailing kit packaged in a case ready to travel. The only pieces you need to supply are a wash bucket, a microfiber wash mitt, and drying towels.
Many automotive detailing kits include a lot of products that the average car owner may never need or use. We like the P21S kit because of its simplicity and the cleaning power of the products included in the car detailing kit. The P21S carnauba wax is fabulous and works as a perfect finishing touch after a thorough cleaning. For years, the P21S Carnauba Wax has been my go-to wax for a deep, rich shine.
The portable travel case comes equipped with the following essentials:
– P21S Bodywork car shampoo is made of all-natural ingredients
– P21S Paintwork Cleanser that removes old wax and swirl marks before waxing
– P21S Gel/Wheel cleaner effective at removing brake dust and heavy-duty grime
– P21S 100% Carnauba Wax that gives the paint a deep, wet shine
– Wheel sponge
– Terry applicator pad
The Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Collection includes everything you need to achieve your car’s optimal shine with the company’s hybrid ceramic SiO2-based detailing products. Turtle Wax products are a staple on the auto parts store shelf. In order to stay current, the company developed a set of cleaning and polishing products with the protection and glossy shine of nano-ceramic technology.
SiO2 molecules were combined with a blend of water-repelling polymers to create a formula that looks slick, is easy to apply, and forms a tough shell of hydrophobic protection.
This nine-piece Ceramic Collection kit comes with:
– Hybrid Solutions Ceramic wash and wax
– Hybrid Solutions Ceramic spray coating to protect the finish for up to 12 months
– Hybrid Solutions Ceramic wet wax quick dealing spray
– Hybrid Solutions Ceramic polish and wax compound to remove oxidation, swirl marks, and surface scratches
– Microfiber edgeless detailing towels
– Microfiber car wash mitt
– Foam polishing pad
– 5-gallon wash bucket
– Grit guard bucket insert separates car wash shampoo from dirt and debris
With the Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Collection, you can clean, shine, and protect all your car’s surfaces with ease and do so knowing that your car will be shielded from the elements by one of the most trusted brands in automotive care.
The Adam’s Essentials Car Detailing Kit is centered around an incredibly effective five-step process that is guaranteed to leave your car’s finish better than the day you bought it. Adam’s kit has all the necessary chemicals to:
– Wash and dry your car
– Deep clean your car’s clear coat and finish
– Polish paint and exterior panels
– Wax your car’s finish, paint, and clear coat
– Deep clean your tires, wheels, and rims
The Adam’s Essentials Car Detailing Kit includes all of the items you need for the process, including towels, foam applicators, a detail spray, a clay bar kit, an interior detailer, hand polish, car shampoo, and much more, You even get a handy bucket with a grit guard to separate the dirty stuff from the wash mitt when dunking into the sudsy water.
The Essentials Car Detailing Kit is a third-generation bestseller trusted by regular car owners and professionals alike. Especially after experiencing it for ourselves, we couldn’t agree more.
Detailing your car can be a painstaking process. If you’re not exactly sure where to start, this car detailing kit from Chemical Guys has you covered with top-of-the-line necessities. With this set, you have everything you need for a thorough, simple, and effective detailing job on your SUV, car, or truck.
The eight-piece detailing kit comes with the following:
– CG Citrus Wash & Gloss
– CG Butter Wet Wax
– CG VRP vinyl, rubber, and plastic protectant
– CG Leather Condition
– CG Speed Wipe detail spray
– CG Wheel Guard and Rim Wax
– Microfiber applicator pads, 2-pack
– Microfiber towels, 3-pack
And if you’re looking for a next-level car wash to go alongside your detail, check out the Chemical Guys Foam Wash Gun kit. The Foam Blaster is an imaginative solution to the annoying problem of poor water pressure.
Suppose you are specifically looking for a detailing kit to help improve your car’s exterior. In that case, the products included in the Mothers California Gold Clay Kit are specially designed to lift off the dirt, debris, and contaminants that a regular car wash has no chance of removing. One of the least complicated paint cleaning systems on our list, the Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System accomplishes more with less.
These powerful car detailing products combine to remove grains of metal, tree sap, and airborne environmental deposits that have, over time, become deeply embedded in your car’s finish. Lightly glide your fingertips over the finish after a car wash, and you’ll feel the impurities stuck to the surface.
Mother’s clay kit includes:
– 3 clay bars
– 1 Instant Detailer 16oz. spray bottle
– 2 microfiber towels 15″ x 15″
Though not an all-around car detailing kit, the Mothers California Gold System combines all of Mothers’ proven experience into one all-purpose professional-grade car detailing accessory that produces incredible results with only three products. Clay barring is typically a prerequisite before polishing and sealing with wax or ceramic coating.
The automotive cleaning experts at Stoner clearly wanted to cover all of the car detailing requisites when they assembled the Stoner Performance Essentials Detailing Kit.
It includes indispensable cleaning products that provide everything you need to clean, shine, and protect your car. The Stoner Performance Essentials Detailing Kit qualifies for our list of the best car detailing kits because of the proven reliability and effectiveness of all of the cleaning products included in the kit.
The 15-piece kit includes all of the following:
– Coating Wash
– Trim Shine Aerosol Can
– Trim Shine Trigger Bottle (Water-Based)
– More Shine Tire Finish
– Wheel Cleaner
– Leather Cleaner, Conditioner, and Protectant
– Invisible Glass
– Invisible Glass Clean & Repel
– Speed Bead Quick Detailer
– 5-Gallon Wash Bucket
– Grit Guard Dirt Trap
– 4 Microfiber Cloths
Each individual product is specially designed to complete a specific task in the detailing process. When used as directed, you are left with an immaculately clean vehicle, inside and out.
How to Detail Your Car With a Car Detailing Kit
Most professional auto detailers will start with the exterior of the vehicle and move to the interior. Wherever you decide to start is up to you.
However, it is important to remember that auto-detailing works best when you move from large to small. It won’t do you any good to spend time washing the windows only to have to spray the entire car down with water to clean the surface panels.
Start with cleaning the largest components and surface panels first, moving to the smaller surfaces, and finally finishing with the smallest nooks and crannies.
The first step in any car detailing process is giving the car a thorough cleaning with an automotive detergent that will clean and remove the old wax. If you do not have any automotive detergent, a small amount of Dawn dish soap will do. However, most car detailing kits will include car soap or detergent formulated not to harm the paint or clear coat finish.
Begin by scrubbing the tires and wheels, as they are typically the dirtiest parts of the vehicle. Use a separate bucket of detergent for cleaning the wheels and tires. Or dump the dirty water and rinse it if you only have one bucket. Apply your specially designed wheel cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spray down the wheel wells to rinse out the build-up of dirt, road grime, and salt if necessary.
Starting from the top, use a microfiber wash mitt to wash all exterior panels, windows, and lights, and then gently spray away the detergent and filth. Repeat until all of the dirt, dust, mud, and grime have been removed from the exterior of your car. Once finished, dry your car with a microfiber towel. Do not let any water evaporate on your car’s finish.
Decontaminate the Paint and Then Polish
Glide your fingers over the paint finish using a light touch. If the finish doesn’t feel smooth as glass, then the paint is due for a clay bar treatment. This step will remove stubborn, entrenched contaminants embedded in the finish. Use a clay bar or synthetic clay bar and generous amounts of lubricant to remove tree sap, road grime, and other impurities. A quick detailing spray or soapy water works well as a lubricant when clay barring.
The next step is to break out your car buffer if you have one. If not, a microfiber or foam applicator pad and some elbow grease can be used to apply the car polish or rubbing compound of your choice to the exterior surface panels.
Apply a small amount of your chosen polishing compound to the car buffer pad or microfiber towel, and then carefully apply the car buffer to the panel. Apply gentle, even pressure while keeping the car buffer pad parallel to the panel that you are polishing.
Be careful not to hover over one spot for too long, or you may burn the finish. Once you reach the desired level of shine, follow up with a coat of your favorite sealant and wax. Use a small, soft brush to remove the excess wax caught in the crevasses and seams between the panels and lenses.
The next step in the process is to utilize the individual cleaners that are designed to clean different sections of your car’s exterior. Use the glass cleaner included in your car detailing kit to clean all of your automotive glass, being sure to leave some for the interior. If your car detailing kit doesn’t include a glass cleaner, check out our recommendations for the best windshield cleaners.
Finally, clean and dress the trim pieces to complete the Concours level of cleanliness. Apply a tire dressing of your desired level of gloss to even out the black sidewall color.
Detailing the interior of your car can be intimidating the first time. There is a lot of leather and upholstery that can easily be stained or ruined by harsh chemical cleaners. But detailing your interior doesn’t have to be scary. Just as with the exterior, when detailing the interior, it’s important to start large and move progressively to smaller components.
The first step is to thoroughly vacuum the seats, carpet, and dashboard. Use a brush to agitate and loosen the particles embedded in the carpet and seat crevasses.
Apply car upholstery cleaner to your seats and carpets to remove stains and stubborn soil. For best results, use a leather-specific upholstery cleaner and conditioner on leather-covered surfaces and seats. Leather-specific products will gently clean the leather and rehydrate the fabric with necessary emollients. They also smell luxurious. First, test the product on a hidden area of your car’s upholstery to ensure it won’t damage it.
The next step to clean your car’s interior is to utilize small detailing brushes to lift the dust and dirt out of the small nooks and crannies of the dashboard, center console, door frames, and anywhere else dirt can accumulate. Wipe down the dashboard and door panels with an interior cleaner that also protects against harmful UV rays. A good one will not leave streaks and will dry without leaving behind any residue.
Use a mild glass cleaner or interior spray that doesn’t leave streaks to wipe down the infotainment screen and windows. If the interior glass is tinted with a window film, use a glass cleaner that is safe to use on window tint.
Remember, the job isn’t done until the interior can be displayed at an auto auction or car show.
Get Started With the Best Car Detailing Kit
The important thing to remember when you detail your car is to detail it regularly. Detailing your car on a regular basis ensures that you always have a clean finish that is protected from the elements. Detailing your car can also extend the life of your car’s finish and increase the overall value of the vehicle. No matter how often you choose to detail your ride, selecting one of these 10 best car detailing kits is the perfect place to start.
While some people are worried that excessive scrubbing and cleaning will shorten the life of their car’s paint or upholstery, the truth is that proper detailing greatly extends the life of a car. With that being said, always make sure that you read the product instructions for proper application and use.
Dirt and grit in the interior fabrics gradually break down the fabrics and cause them to eventually wear out entirely. Similarly, exterior finishes like chrome and paint can wear away faster when exposed to the elements. Top detailing kits include products that add an extra protective layer to the exterior.
If you take your car to a professional, a basic car detailing, which usually includes a wash, wax, vacuum, interior polish, and tire cleaning, will cost in the range of $50-125 for a car and $75-150 for an SUV, van, or truck. Additional or upgraded services will cost more.
Specialty automotive detailing shops will spend hours to days working on a single vehicle, depending on the level of service requested by the customer. Of course, the cost will coincide directly with the number of work hours.
If you choose to detail your car yourself, after the upfront cost of investing in a car detailing kit, you will find that with a little time and elbow grease, this is by far the more cost-effective way to keep your car clean.
Generally, it is recommended to detail your car every 4 to 6 months or two to three times per year. How frequently you need to detail your car depends on how you maintain it between detailings, how often you drive the vehicle, and your tolerance for dirt and imperfections.
If you regularly wash, wax, and clean your car, this upkeep will help keep your car in top shape, prolonging the time between detailing.
After detailing your car, you obviously want to keep it in prime condition for as long as possible. For the exterior, we recommend washing your car regularly and reapplying a quick detailer as needed to any spots that need a touch-up.
Similarly, vacuuming your interior regularly and cleaning up any spills or stains as soon as possible will help keep your leather and upholstery in top shape.
The best cleaner for your car’s interior will be the one best suited to the material you are cleaning. Be sure to select an appropriate cleaner for whatever interior surface you want to clean, whether that is carpet, upholstery, leather, vinyl, or plastic.
While some brands offer multipurpose cleaners, always read the product description and instructions before using it. Make sure to spot-test the product on a small area first.
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