It is becoming more and more common for car owners to detail their own cars. Since the advent of rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber, a detailed car is no longer just a luxury, but a feature 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 just 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 to want to keep it showroom clean, but for those who do, 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 Buffers with a car detailing kit can elevate your car’s finish to its true potential and 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.
Finish Care and Protection
A professional car detail will generally employ a 3-step process on your car’s finish, which means the best car 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 the wet black look and a wheel and rim cleaner that removes grime and polishes to a mirror finish.
Headlights, Taillights, and Glass
Automotive glass takes a real beating which can leave a car looking grimy and weathered if not addressed. The auto detailing kit you choose should include a product that cleans automotive glass, 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. 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.
10 Best Car Detailing Kits
Every car owner, regardless of your level of enthusiasm and skill, can benefit from a car detailing kit. And every car can benefit from a thorough detailing. The best auto detailing kits include a product for every detailing task. They are also affordable, comprehensive and, when used correctly, leave your car indistinguishable from the same model on display on the showroom floor.
Meguiar’s is featured a lot on our “Ten 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 the 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 the Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit is that it is entirely affordable on any budget. For less than the price of a professional car detailing you can ensure your car achieves a spotless finish month after month.
Best Premium Choice
2. Griot’s Garage Master Car Care Collection with Bucket
The auto-cleaning experts at Griot’s Garage absolutely loaded their Master Car Care Collection with products that are as effective at providing a showroom shine as they are affordable.
With everything from car wash and wheel cleaner to leather care and paint cleaning clay, this set has everything to clean your car inside and out. Plus it comes with all the towels, brushes, cloths, and applicator pads you need.
This fully decked out car detailing kit enables you to bring a full arsenal of professional-grade car detailing tools to your car detailing project. You don’t even have to buy a bucket. This may quite possibly be the most comprehensive car detailing kit on the market.
The Adam’s Essentials Car Detailing Kit is centered around an incredibly effective 5-step process that is guaranteed to leave your car’s finish better than the day you bought it. All you need to do is:
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, clay bar kit, interior detailer, hand polish, car shampoo, and much more, You even get a handy bucket with a grit guard to make the process easy.
The Adam’s Essentials Car Detailing Kit is a third-generation best-seller trusted by regular car owners and professionals alike and, after experiencing it for ourselves, we couldn’t agree more.
A car detailing kit can’t make the 10 best car detailing kits list if it isn’t manufactured by a trusted brand in automotive care. Armor All comes highly trusted, so we have zero problems admitting the Armor All Complete Car Care Kit on to our list.
We like the Armor All Complete Care Kit because it combines their most reliable and powerful car cleaners into one small, comprehensive, easy-to-use auto detailing kit. The Armor All Complete Care Kit includes a 10-ounce bottle of Armor All original protectant and a 16-ounce bottle of car wash – To ensure the complete removal of all dirt, dust, and grime from all of your car’s interior and exterior surfaces. You also get a 20-ounce bottle of foam tire protectant because no car detailing is complete without shiny black tires and spotless wheels, and 25 glass wipes for a spotless view.
The Armor All Complete Car Care Kit accomplishes less with more and that is why we consider it one of the 10 best car detailing kits. This car detailing kit, however, would be more suited to keeping up the appearance of an already clean car rather than a hard-hitting mix of tools to clean up any old thing. If a deep clean is what you need, there are other better options on our list to fit your needs.
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 the top-of-the-line necessities.
The kit comes with a citrus wash, liquid creme wax, speed shine detail spray, a vinyl, rubber, and plastic protectant, leather conditioner, and wheel and rim wax. Along with that, you get a microfiber towel and applicator for easy cleaning. With this set, you have everything you need for a thorough, simple, and effective detailing.
And if you’re looking for a next-level car wash to go alongside your detail, check out Chemical Guys Foam Wash Gun kit. The Foam Blaster is an imaginative solution to the annoying problem of poor water pressure.
The Turtle Wax Complete Care Kit includes everything you need to achieve your car’s optimal shine with four powerful cleaning products.
This kit comes with Zip Wax Car Wash and Wax, Express Shine Spray Wax, Wet ‘N Black Tire Shine, and Super Protectant for a quick and easy detail for both your car’s exterior and interior.
With the Turtle Wax Complete Care Kit, you can clean, shine and protect all your car’s surfaces with ease and do so knowing your car will be protected by one of the most trusted brands in automotive care.
The Duragloss Car Care Kit is the ideal car detailing kit for the car owner who only occasionally details their car. This is a no thrills, only essentials car detailing kit. But don’t let that deter you, as it can still get the job done.
Many auto detailing kits include a lot of products that the average car owner may never need or use. We like the Duragloss Car Care Kit because of its simplicity and the cleaning power of the products included in the car detailing kit. They simply work, and you won’t need to worry about a bunch of products sitting unused in your garage.
The kit comes equipped with a car wash concentrate, a surface polish with an applicator, an aerosol detailing spray, a vinyl and leather cleaner, and a wheel cleaner. It is also affordable and costs less than an expensive car wash. It even comes with a handy bucket.
This 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.
The set comes with a wash and wash, wheel and tire cleaner, tire shine, protectant spray, class cleaner, and a multipurpose cleaner. And as a bonus, you get a wash pad and an Armor All air freshener pump to keep your car smelling fresh.
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.
If you are specifically looking for a detailing kit to help improve your car’s exterior, the products included in the Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System are specially designed to dissolve the dirt, debris, and contaminants that a regular car wash has no chance of removing.
One of the least complicated car wash systems on our list, the Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System accomplishes more with less. It includes two 100 gram Clay Bars, a 16-ounce Instant Detailer, and a 15-inch x 15-inch Microfiber Towel.
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.
Though not all a stand-alone car detailing kit, the Mothers California Gold System combines all of Mother’s proven experience into one all-purpose professional-grade car detailing accessory that produces incredible results with only three products.
The automotive cleaning experts at Stoner clearly wanted to cover all of the car detailing essentials when they designed the Stoner Complete Car Care and Detailing Kit.
It includes 12 individual cleaning products that provide everything you need to clean, shine, and protect your car. The Stoner Complete Car Care and Detailing Kit qualifies for our list of the 10 best car detailing kits because of the proven reliability and effectiveness of all of the cleaning products included in the kit.
Each individual product is specially designed to complete a specific task in the detailing process; when all 12 are combined, you are left with a spotlessly clean car, 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. If you do not have any automotive detergent, dish soap will do; however, most car detailing kits will include car soap or detergent.
Use a sponge to wash all exterior panels, windows, lights, tires, and rims, then gently wash away the detergent. 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 dry on your car’s finish.
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 10 Best Car Glass Cleaners.
Follow the same process with the tires and rims, being sure to apply your specially-designed cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t forget that if your tires don’t shine like they are wet, even when they are dry, they are not as clean as they can be.
The next step is to break out your car buffer if you have one. If not, a microfiber rag and some elbow grease can be used to apply the car polish, wax, 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 then carefully apply the car buffer to the panel. Apply gentle, even pressure being sure always to keep 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, and remember to apply your wax before the polish.
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 apply your car detailing kit’s car upholstery cleaner to your seats and carpets. Be sure to first test the cleaner on a hidden area of your car’s upholstery to ensure it won’t damage it. If your car detailing kit does not include a car upholstery cleaner, we recommend any one of these 10 Best Car Upholstery Cleaners.
The last step to detail your car’s interior is to utilize the small detailing brushes included in your car detailing kit to brush and shine the small nooks and crannies of the dashboard, center console, door frames, and anywhere else dirt can accumulate. Remember, the job isn’t done until the interior can be displayed at an auto auction.
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 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does detailing extend the life of your car?
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 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.
What is the average cost of getting a car detailed?
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.
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.
How often should I detail my car?
Generally, it is recommended to detail your car every 4-6 months or two to three times per year. How frequently you need to detail your car will also depend on how you maintain it in between detailings.
If you regularly wash, wax, and clean your car, this upkeep will help keep your car in top shape, prolonging the time between detailing. Also keep in mind that how often you should detail your car also depends on how frequently you drive it and in what conditions.
How do you maintain a car after 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 when they occur will help keep your leather and upholstery in top shape.
What is the best cleaner for car interior?
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 multi-purpose cleaners, be sure to always read the product description and make sure to spot-test the product on a small area first.
Kristen is a writer and editor based in Colorado. She came to motorsports by way of her husband's passion for track days, autocross, and fast cars and is now the proud co-driver of two E36 325s and an overland-in-the-making Lexus GX470. She is a volunteer driving instructor with the BMW CCA Rocky Mountain Chapter and enjoys any event that involves getting behind the wheel or navigating from the passenger's seat.