10 Most Essential Car Detailing Secrets

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When it comes to getting professional-quality car detailing results at home, the old adage that you need the right tool for the job holds true. While professional car detailers no doubt possess a high level of skill and experience, what they also have is a wide array of specific tools that enable them to get to those hard-to-reach areas. With these tools, they can get those difficult-to-clean spots shining like new. To help you make your car look like it just rolled off the dealership lot every time you wash it, we've put together our list of the 10 most essential car detailing secrets.

​Comparison Table


Car Detailing FAQ

Before we delve into our list of the 10 Most Essential Car Detailing Secrets, we think it would be helpful to go over some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) we get about car detailing.

What Is Car Detailing? How Is It Different From Just Washing My Car With Soap and Water Like I Always Have?

What Are Some Things I Can Do to Transform My Car Washing Experience into a Car Detailing One?

What Common Supplies Are Needed to Detail My Car?


How We Reviewed


To put together our list of the 10 most essential car detailing secrets, we consider aspects such as price, ease-of-use, performance, and reliability. The 10 items that made our list all stand out in several if not all of those categories.


Overall Price Range

The prices of the products on our list range from about $​ up to almost $​$$, meaning that even if you are on a modest budget, there is room for you to up your car detailing without breaking the bank.


What We Reviewed

cleaning car

image source: pixabay

  • Chemical Guys CWS_1010_64 Car Wash Shampoo
  • CarGuys Plastic Restorer
  • CarGuys Super Cleaner
  • AutoRight SteamMachine C900054.M Red Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner
  • SUBANG 11 Pieces Car Cleaner Brush Set
  • S & T 968601 Assorted Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
  • Chemical Guys ACC_326–TORQ Foam Blaster 6 Foam Wash Gun
  • Mop Mob Leak-Free Chemical Resistant Spray Head and 32 oz Bottle
  • Car Washing and Detailing Power Brush Kit
  • Chemical Guys ACC_100.1 Professional Bucket Dolly

Chemical Guys CWS_1010_64 Car Wash Shampoo

Chemical Guys CWS_1010_64 Car Wash Shampoo, 64 fl. oz.
  • Cleans and shines all automobiles
  • Cuts through heavy dirt, grime, and road filth
  • Perfect for two bucket and foam cannon wash
  • Fresh grape scent
  • Advanced foaming technology

Features

This specialty car wash shampoo from Chemical Guys is a must-have for your car-detailing kit. With a special formulation that combines continually foaming bubbles with special slick-wash lubricants, the Chemical Guys car wash shampoo raises dirt and debris off your cars finish before washing it away, reducing scratches and producing the ultimate clean. With just 1 ounce of car wash shampoo sufficing for 5 gallons of water, the 64-ounce size available on Amazon could last you for years.

Pros

  • Scratch-free formulation raises dirt and debris off of the car's finish before sliding it off with slick-wash lubricants
  • Compatible with foam guns and foam cannons
  • An inexpensive way to up your car detailing game
  • pH balanced not to strip wax coatings
  • Cleans all exterior surfaces, including paintwork, rubber, vinyl, glass, and plastic
  • Powerful enough for cleaning wheels and rims

Cons

  • More expensive than other car wash soaps
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

​This can be found in Amazon for $.

CarGuys Plastic Restorer

CarGuys Plastic Restorer - The Ultimate Solution for Bringing Rubber, Vinyl and Plastic Back to Life! - 8 oz Kit
  • – RESULTS THAT LAST! – Are you tired of wasting time and money on plastic restorers that claim to last long? They always look great in the beginning... only to fade after a few days, or maybe a month if it’s decent! Our product will renew, seal and protect any interior or exterior surface and WILL LAST.. for several MONTHS!! How do we do it?! Our product contains a newly PATENTED additive that boosts longevity! Stop purchasing cheap junk with false claims, our product will out last all of them!
  • – SURVIVES RAIN! – Does this sound familiar? You spent all that time perfectly applying a new product and it looks great! Wow, you finally found the one! BUT… after the first rain-fall you look in disgust at yet another crappy product that left ugly streaks down the side of your beautiful vehicle... STOP THE MADNESS! Our product repels water and stays looking good for several months! Never again will you feel that disappointment!
  • – NO MORE OILY MESS! – Do you hate all the oily, greasy gel dressing products that stay wet and never fully dry? That describes about 90% of the plastic and trim restorers on the market today! Well lucky you! We made a product that will restore and leave a great finish, but more importantly, it will completely dry to the touch! No more ruining your detailing towels and supplies with cheap oil based products!
  • – NO HARMFUL CHEMICALS! – Buyer beware! Some of the most popular plastic restorers on the market contain harmful silicon and petroleum distillates! These products will make your plastic and rubber look good short-term, but what most people don’t know is that they dry, brown, crack and cause extreme damage over long-term use! Our product was formulated using the latest advancements in nano-science! It is environmentally friendly and completely safe to use!
  • – WHAT IF I’M NOT HAPPY? – We believe that this stuff is the ABSOLUTE BEST for restoring any type of Plastic, Vinyl or Rubber... ON THE MARKET!! If you don't agree, there's no fine printing to read and no gimmicks here! Get in contact with us ANYTIME after your purchase and we will provide a FULL REFUND! So what are you waiting for?! CLICK 'Add to Cart' NOW, 100% RISK FREE!

Features

If the elements have taken their toll on your vehicle's plastic, rubber, and vinyl parts, the CarGuys Plastic Restorer is just to the trick to bring them shining back to life like new. Able to be used on interior and exterior surfaces, the CarGuys Plastic Restorer not only restores, but it also seals and protects, and it is powerful enough to last months after a single application. Especially if your vehicle is closer to being a classic than straight off the lot, the CarGuys Plastic Restorer is a great tool to have in your car detailing toolbox.

Pros

  • Works on plastic, vinyl, and rubber surfaces
  • Can be used on interior and exterior surfaces
  • Lasts months with a single application
  • Not only restores, but it also seals and protects

Cons

  • Newer cars may need a plastic, vinyl, and rubber protector but not a restorer, making this product more appropriate for older cars
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

This product can be found on Amazon for around $​ for the 8-ounce size.

CarGuys Super Cleaner

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CarGuys Super Cleaner - Effective All Purpose Cleaner - Best for Leather Vinyl Carpet Upholstery Plastic Rubber and Much More! - 18 oz Kit
  • – THE HYPE IS REAL! – Are you tired of using cleaners that work, but not as good as you expected?! You won’t experience that here! Our newly formulated multisurface cleaner is made with the newest advancements in nano-technology to effectively lift away dirt and grime at the molecular level. No more wasting time and energy with nonsense products made with old science and technology!
  • – REPLACE YOUR CABINET OF CHEMICALS! – Do you get confused by all the different types of cleaning supplies that are available? It gets frustrating fast! Just cleaning your vehicle requires some special deep stain remover, a chemical solvent to get rid of bug and tar, a separate floor mat and inner dash cleaner.. and the list goes on and on! Keep it simple with one multipurpose product, CarGuys Super Cleaner... the KING OF ALL CLEANERS !
  • – SUPER CLEAN ANY SURFACE! – This multi surface product works on absolutely every interior or exterior surface except glass and delicate instrument panel screens! That means this ONE PRODUCT will clean upholstery , fabric , canvas , leather , vinyl , plastic , rubber , bird poop , grease , tree sap , metals , wood trim and so much more! This is the most versatile multi-purpose cleaner on the market!
  • – CLEAN FINISH, NO GLOSS! – Stop purchasing inferior products that claim to clean and protect! These products never clean good enough, and they leave behind a cloudy, tacky, thin and greasy film. That’s because the cleaning agents affect the conditioner, resulting in both a bad cleaner and protectant! The correct way is to use a great cleaner, then if you want to, finish with a proper UV guard. Our product is that first step to bringing back that new clean touch, just like the day you bought it!
  • – WHAT IF I’M NOT HAPPY? – There is nothing on the market like this stuff! We believe that this is the ABSOLUTE BEST all around cleaner on the market!! If you don't agree, there's no fine printing to read and no gimmicks here! Get in contact with us ANYTIME after your purchase and we will provide a FULL REFUND! So what are you waiting for?! CLICK 'Add to Cart' NOW, 100% RISK FREE!

Features

This spray-on all-purpose cleaner delivers professional-level car detailing results and can be used on leather, vinyl, upholstery, even carpet, making a perfect cleaner to keep in the trunk for dealing with those emergency spills.

Pros

  • Can be used on virtually any surface
  • Combats a wide range of tough-to-get messes, from grease to tree sap
  • Does not leave a glossy finish

Cons

  • On the expensive side for a multipurpose cleaner
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

This product can be found on Amazon for around $​ for the 18-ounce size and about $​$ for the 128-ounce (1 gallon) size.

AutoRight SteamMachine C900054.M Red Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner

AutoRight C900054.M Red SteamMachine Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner, 11 Accessories Included, Steamer, Steam Cleaners, Steamer for cleaning, Power Steamer
  • CAR STEAM CLEANER: The SteamMachine uses pressurized, 290°F high-temperature steam to loosen and dissolve dirt, cut grease, and grime, expel stains, and disinfect your vehicle. This steamer is versatile and can be used for a wide variety of car cleaning projects
  • VERSATILE STEAM MACHINE: Clean your vehicle’s leather, upholstery, carpets, dashboards and windows with steam. Use indoors for other household cleaning projects
  • AUTOMOTIVE STEAM CLEANER: The built-in carrying handle allows you to safely and easily transport the steamer with you as you clean
  • 11 ACCESSORIES: Use the included brushes, nozzles and attachments to easily lift away stains and messes without using chemicals
  • EXTENDED RUNNING TIME: 40 ounce boiler tank and 1500 watt heating element provides up to 45 minutes of continuous steam cleaning

Features

If you want to give your car detailing that next-level, professional touch, the AutoRight SteamMachine might be just the thing. Unlike a vacuum cleaner, the AutoRight SteamMachine cleans your car's surfaces with scalding, 290-degree-Fahrenheit steam that separates dirt, grime, grease, and other stains from interior upholstery, dashboards, carpets, upholstery, even leather, and windows, delivering a higher level of clean.

Pros

  • A unique addition to your car detailing kit that will help produce those professional-looking results
  • Available for about the cost of one professional detailing, meaning it can pay for itself after just a couple of uses
  • Can also be used on interior surfaces throughout the home or office
  • Comes with 11 brushes, attachments, and accessories to fit any job

Cons

  • A somewhat specialized piece of equipment that is not necessary for car detailing, but is nice to have
  • Some car detailing enthusiasts may prefer to use chemical cleaners rather than steam cleaning
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

This product can be found on Amazon for around $​$.

SUBANG 11 Pieces Car Cleaner Brush Set

SUBANG 11 Pieces Car Cleaner Brush Set Including Detail Brush (Set of 6),3 pcs Wire Brush and 2 pcs Automotive Air Conditioner, Auto Detailing Brush for Cleaning Wheels, Interior, Exterior, Leather
  • Come with 6 different brush sizes, you can choose any one to suit your needs, enough length for easily exploring and reaching into the lug nuts, narrow or tight space,No chance of marring or scratching your delicate wheels.
  • Round shape and smooth surface offer comfortable grip, unique hole on the top of handle is convenient to hang after use.
  • Automotive air conditioner cleaner can help clean car air conditioner,it can reach into the narrow space
  • Wire brush can help you clean hard moved rust and detains,but care for not hurting your car
  • These car cleaner brushes not heavy,convenient to take and store,they will help you clean your loved car effectively

Features

What separates simply washing a car from car detailing is the level of attention to, well, detail. This 11-piece set from SUBANG gives you all the tools you'll need to clean every nook and cranny of your vehicle to spit-shine perfection, making it look like it just came from a professional car detailing.

Pros

  • A variety of brushes of various sizes and shapes perfect for cleaning those hard-to-reach areas
  • Brushes feature high-quality natural boar hair
  • Can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces as well as wheels
  • Includes wire brush for removing rust and other hard-to-get blemishes
  • One of the less expensive ways to up your car detailing game

Cons

  • Some users may already have their own collection of preferred brushes and rags
  • Buying car detailing tools individually rather than in a set allows for greater customization to suit your needs and preferences
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

This product can be found on Amazon for around $​.

S & T 968601 Assorted Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

S&T INC. Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, 50 Pack
  • 11. 5" x 11. 5"
  • Ultra soft, scratch-free cloths are ideal for cleaning any surface
  • Highly durable and machine washable
  • 88% Polyester; 12% Polyamide
  • 5 colors with 10 towels each

Features

These microfiber cloths are soft enough not to scratch delicate surfaces, and they come in a pack of 50 for just $​, making them versatile, soft, and expendable rags, always a good thing to have on hand for any car detailing enthusiast.

Pros

  • Microfiber won't scrape delicate surfaces
  • Lint-free means it won't leave behind more debris as you clean
  • Machine washable
  • Streak-free

Cons

  • Car detailing enthusiasts can be quite picky about their rags, brushes, and towels, and these might not suit all preferences
  • Some users may prefer to use old cloths or towels for rags rather than purchasing new ones
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

This product can be found on Amazon for around $​$ for a 50 pack. A 25 pack also is available on Amazon for around $​.

Chemical Guys ACC_326–TORQ Foam Blaster 6 Foam Wash Gun

Chemical Guys ACC_326 – Torq Foam Blaster 6 Foam Wash Gun – The Ultimate Car Wash Foamer that Connects to Any Garden Hose
  • Foamy Fun: If you love cars, then a clean car brings you nothing but happiness. The Torq Foam Blaster 6 Foam Wash Gun makes cleaning your car fast, easy and fun for the entire family. It easily hooks up to any standard hose, so there are no additional tools or machines required to produce foamy cleaning fun
  • The Detailer's Secret: Car wash foam is one of the professional’s secrets to a scratch free car wash. The Torq Foam Blaster Foam Gun turns a car wash into a foam bubble bath for your car. Bathing a car with slick car wash foam removes abrasive dirt particles gently and without grinding them into paintwork
  • Stop Scratching Your Paint: Over 95 percent of swirls and scratches come from improper car washing and drying techniques and products. Adding slick car wash foam to the equation drastically reduces the risk of installing swirls and scratches on painted surfaces
  • Adjustable Foam Concentration: The foam gun combines the soapy water solution with air and running water to spray foam. How dirty is your car. Very dirty. Not very dirty. Save soap and water by picking the perfect concentration. Simply turn the dial to adjust the dilution ratio of the soapy foam sprayed from the nozle
  • The #1 Brand In Car Care: Beginners and professionals alike choose Chemical Guys, not only for the finest car care products, but the world class customer support and vast detailing knowledge. Chemical Guys is more than a brand it's a lifestyle with a worldwide following

Features

One of the more fun toys you can add to your car-detailing repertoire, a foam wash gun also helps produce those professional-level results by delivering a steady flow of fresh suds with the water pressure of spray nozzle.

Pros

  • Using a foam gun delivers powerful cleaning without grinding debris into the paint as with a sponge or rag, which causes scratches
  • Adjustable to create foams of various consistencies and concentrations for use on different surfaces (e.g., wheels versus windows)
  • Easy (and fun) enough for a child to use, helping to make car detailing day a fun experience the whole family can participate in

Cons

  • More expensive than the old bucket-and-a-rag method
  • Only works if you have a garden hose within reach of your car
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

This product can be found on Amazon for around $​$.

Mop Mob Leak-Free Chemical Resistant Spray Head and 32 oz Bottle

Mop Mob Leak-Free Chemical Resistant Spray Head Bundle with 32 oz Bottle 5 Pack. Low-Fatigue, Heavy-Duty Industrial Sprayer Trigger Nozzle for Auto/Car Detailing, Window Cleaning and Janitorial Use
  • LEAK-FREE, LONG-LASTING DESIGN SAVES YOU MONEY. Protect your wallet from cheap plastic sprayers and bottles that break within a few hours and from losing valuable chemicals to spray bottle leaks.
  • COMMERCIAL-GRADE= RESISTANT TO MOST SOLVENTS & CHEMICALS. Our trigger system is built for heavy duty use with heavy duty product. (Note: These sprayer heads are not acid-resistant).
  • LIFETIME MONEY BACK GUARANTEE! We stand behind all of our products. If you’re not 100% COMPLETELY SATISFIED, just send us an email, and we promise to make it right!
  • EMBOSSED SCALE MAKES MEASURING EASY. Our bottles come with measurements built onto them simplifying the process of measuring out solvents and chemicals for use
  • AVOID WORK STOPPAGES. Our high-quality triggers and bottles are made for industry. From auto detailing to pest control to janitorial & housekeeping to lawn care. This sprayer set will keep both chemicals AND work flowing.

Features

This combination of heavy-duty, chemical-resistant spray heads and 32-ounce bottles from Mop Mob are a must-have for the serious car detailing enthusiast, as they allow for the mixing of one's own unique blends of cleaners. Or, buy in bulk to save money and then pour the contents of larger containers into these more manageable sizes.

Pros

  • Allows for the mixing of one's own unique blends of cleaners
  • Commercial-grade, chemical-resistant components

Cons

  • Some people may already have spray bottles on hand that will suffice
  • Many cleaning products come in their own spray bottles
  • Cheaper, non-commercial-grade spray bottles are also available
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

This product can be found on Amazon for around $​$ for a 5 pack or about $​ for a 4 pack.

Car Washing ​And Detailing Power Brush Kit

Drill Brush Car Washing and Detailing Power Brush Kit with Long-Reach Removable Extension. Auto Care Set Includes 3 Different Size, Replaceable, Soft White Scrubber Brushes with Quick Change Extender
  • Use the power of your cordless drill to clean tires, rims, wheels, lug nuts, mud flaps, etc. Scrub hard to reach areas inside wheel wells and other tight spaces with our drill brush attachment
  • Do you need to get into tight spaces or hard-to-reach areas? Included in the kit is a detachable, extended reach, attachment (for use with any Drillbrush). Get into crevices, behind wheels, grills, and any tight space like never before!
  • Auto Care set includes Three Different Size, Replaceable, Soft White Scrubber Brushes With Quick Change Extender. The soft bristle nylon brushes will not scratch and can also be used on motorcycles, boats, jet skis, ATVs, Clean floor mats, carpets, and footwells. All brushes, and the handy extension use the quarter inch quick change connection for rapid changing of components.
  • The extended reach attachment allows you to get the extra reach you need to clean places that were too hard to clean before.
  • All Drillbrush Products have a 90 day no questions asked Money back Guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with our product we will issue a full refund or ship out a replacement at the buyer's request. Cordless Drill NOT included.

Features

This power brush kit from Drillbrush uses the power of your home drill to clean and buff your car, delivering that professionally detailed look. Just plug the long-reach extension and replaceable white scrubber brush in the power drill you already own, and voila, your very own power brush.

Pros

  • Brings the performance of a power brush into the home at a very affordable price (if you already own a power drill, that is)
  • Especially useful in hard-to-clean areas like wheels and rims

Cons

  • Must already own a power drill or purchase one separately
  • We wish it offered a wax-buffing attachment
  • Using brushes can scratch paint more than a foam gun because brushes rub in the dirt rather than separating it before rinsing it away
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

Chemical Guys ACC_100.1 Professional Bucket Dolly

Chemical Guys ACC_100.1 Professional Bucket Dolly
  • Holds 3.5 to 7 gallon buckets
  • Heavy duty molded plastic
  • Professional quality rolling casters
  • Full 360 degree turning capability
  • Supports up to 300 pounds

Features

This bucket dolly will have you looking and performing like a car detailing pro as it wheels your bucket around with you, eliminating the need to pick it up and carry it.

Pros

  • Eliminates the constant need to pick up and move the bucket
  • Elevates bucket to reduce bending
  • Hold buckets sized 3.5 gallons to 7 gallons
  • Can support up to 300 pounds of weight with heavy-duty molded plastic and strong castors

Cons

  • Costs many times more than the buckets themselves
  • Expensive for just a bucket dolly
  • Quality might be overkill for some users (who needs a bucket dolly that can hold 300 pounds?), meaning less costly competitors may be an option
  • PRICE
  • where to buy

The Verdict

When it comes to producing professional-level car detailing results at home, no single, magic product will suddenly have people asking where you get your car detailing done. As our list shows, however, there are a wide variety of helpful tools and accessories that, when used properly, can have your car not only looking like new but staying that way for miles to come.