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Ultimate Car Wash Kit Review And Buying Guide For 2020

A look at some of the best car washing kits in the automotive industry

Best Budget Choice Best Overall Choice
4pc Car Care Kit by Armor All

Armor All 4pc Car Care Kit

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Complete Detailing Kit by Adams

Adam’s Essentials Complete Car Detailing Kit

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Car Cleaning Arsenal by Chemical Guys

For all of you out there that were born before 1990, you most likely remember that the average household did not have a kit to was their car and instead took weekly trips to the car wash to clean out the family vehicle.  It wasn’t until more recent years that safe and efficient car washing supplies became easily available to the public for an affordable price.  Looking online, you’ll probably reveal thousands of car wash kits with a single three-word search.  In this article,  will help you find the best car wash kit for your needs!

Why Should I Buy a Car Washing Kit?

-To keep your vehicle looking great

Nobody wants to drive a nasty, dirty ride around town.  While driving a spotless car around may not be that important to everybody, I can’t think of a single person that would prefer to drive a dirty car over a clean one.  This is especially true for those with a clean lifestyle and good hygiene, car collectors, auto detailers, and new car owners.  A clean car is also great for your overall image.  Driving around town in a nasty, dirty car for long enough may lead others to picture you as a slob.

-To hold on to the value of your vehicle

One of the fastest ways to ruin the value of your vehicle is to let it go.  Not cleaning your vehicle regularly will lead to paint defects and other issues with your vehicle’s exterior finish.  Leaving dirt and other contaminants on the vehicle’s exterior for long periods of time causes scratching of the finish’s clear coat which leads to spider webbing, lack of shine, staining of the finish, and the appearance of a faded paint job.  Not only does it cause issues with the paint job, it can also cause scratching and fading of the vehicle’s clear plastic surfaces like headlights, taillights, and brake light covers.

Keeping the vehicle clean is also important for the vehicle’s interior as well, whether you have fabric or leather upholstery.  Fabric is extremely easy to stain.  Dirt and contaminants can also cause fading, scratching, and staining of leather surfaces as well.  I highly recommend getting a great kit that comes with cleaning supplies for the interior and exterior of your ride.

I was recently discussing car cleaning supplies with a used car lot owner.  The owner of the used car lot told me that on average, those that clean their vehicles regularly usually get an average of 15% more than those that do not.  He was telling me that people that get their vehicle detailed regularly can easily fetch an extra 25% more for a car that’s 5-10 years old.  That’s an extra $2,500 if your car is valued around $10,000.

-To save money

As I just mentioned, it’s incredibly easy to fetch a lot more for your car if you clean it regularly (and even better if you do regular details).  However, it can be expensive taking your car through the car wash 52 times per year for multiple years.  In fact, detailing your car every three months can easily cost $1,000 per year itself.  This is where the real benefit of a home car wash kit comes into play!  As you’ll see in this article, you can get a great car washing kit for prices anywhere from $25 to $300, depending on your individual needs.  This can allow you to do your own car washes and/or detailing for up to a year, saving you hundreds of dollars each year!

What items do car wash kits contain?

With the massive market that the car washing industry has become, there are kits of all kinds that contain all types of different items.  Some of the kits only contain cleaning chemicals such as car wash soap, tire foams, wheel cleaners, glass cleaners and interior detailing solutions.  However, as you’ll see later in this article, there are also a lot of great kits that contain tools and hardware such as wash guns, sponges, towels, clay bar kits, and other applicators.

How do I know if a car washing kit is safe to use on my vehicle?

While there are some more advanced cleaners and polishes available in kits, all of the kits that I have listed in this article are not abrasive or have minimal abrasiveness which make them safe to use on all types of vehicle surfaces.  However, it never hurts to test a small amount of the product on a small surface of the vehicle’s interior or exterior just to make sure before you start to cover your whole car with it!

How many washes can I get from a car wash kit?

This is totally dependent on the size of the kit, the contents in it, how dirty your vehicle is, and how good of a clean/detail you’re wanting.  However, most of the kits contain enough solution for at least 4 or 5 good washes, if not more.  And, the hardware and applicators that come in some of the kits can last several years if cared for properly.

Best Car Washing Kit

I’ve gathered a variety of some of the top car washing kits on the market together and have listed them below.  I’ve taken into consideration the best and most well-known brands in the industry, kits with the most and best reviews, and have even listed some products that I have personal experience with. Read on to find out which car washing kit is the best for your needs!

Best Budget Choice Best Overall Choice

1. Armor All 4pc Car Care Kit

4pc Car Care Kit by Armor All

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Armor All is a brand that we should all be aware of, because they’ve been a leading company in the car wash industry for decades.  If you’re looking for a good and affordable detailing kit that is capable of making your car look great, the Armor All 4pc car care set is definitely for you!

The Armor All 4pc car care kit comes equipped with a 16 fluid ounce bottle of Ultra Shine Wash and Wax which is the perfect solution for removing dirt and contaminants safely while leaving your car spot-free and shining.  Because your tires are typically the most dirty objects on your car, the kit includes a 20 ounce bottle of tire foam that removes dirt and moisturizes the rubber on your tires leaving them looking great for years.

The kit also includes 25 glass wipes to clean all glass and clear plastic objects in the vehicle’s interior and it also comes a spray bottle of the famous Protectant solution that Armor All is most known for.  The protectant solution is safe to use on most plastic, vinyl, and leather surfaces (including the dash).  It cleans, shines, and protects these surfaces on the car’s interior.

Armor All’s 4pc car care kit is a great kit for those that are new to self-car-cleaning or those that like to do the occasional home wash to save money.  Its four basic products cover almost all areas of the vehicle’s interior and exterior and is available for about $15.  However, this kit does not come with cleaning buckets, wash rags, or sponges, so you may have to make a couple of additional purchases if you do not already have these cleaning supplies.

2. Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit

Complete Kit by Meguiars

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Meguiar’s really outdid themselves with this kit that’s packed full of value.  Meguiar’s complete kit comes with several of their most popular products that are great for cleaning both your vehicle’s interior and exterior.

This kit comes with a bottle of Deep Crystal Car Wash solution that is capable of producing a huge amount of suds (from just a small amount of the solution) to quickly remove tough dirt, stains, splattered bugs, and other contaminants.  It also comes with a one-step cleaning wax to protect your vehicle’s finish and to leave it shining!  In addition to these great products, the kit also includes a Meguiar’s foam applicator pad and some Hot Shine Foam that cleans, shines, and protects the surfaces of your tires.

For the interior, the cleaning kit is equipped with a bottle of glass cleaner and an interior detailing solution that’s safe to use on leather, plastic, vinyl, rubber, and metal surfaces.  The detailing solution is able to clean and shine all of these types of surfaces while also repelling dust and collections of other contaminants.  This is an all-around great mix provided by one of the leading brands in the car cleaning supply industry.  With a price tag of about $25, you’re bound to save a lot of cash in the future by using this kit versus going to the local car wash (considering it costs about $25 or more for a good interior and exterior cleaning, if not more).

3. Griot’s Garage Starter Car Care Kit

Car Washing Kit by Griots Garage

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Griot’s Garage is another top name in the game with millions of car owners and enthusiasts that use their products regularly.  They’re a little pricier than some of the brands you’ll find at your local big box retailer, but they’re not unattainably expensive and the quality of their products is well worth the extra few dollars you’ll spend.

Griot’s Garage starter kit comes with everything you’ll need to get an amazing cleaning and will even repair your vehicle’s exterior finish while you’re at it.  The kit includes a biodegradable car washing solution that is safe to use on all paint types and paint jobs.  The kit includes a wheel cleaner that is ph balanced and also safe to use on all types of wheels.

Dirt particles and other contaminants easily penetrate and become stuck in your paint job’s clear coat.  If not removed properly, these contaminants can lead to more advanced paint defects in the future.  However, the Starter Car Care Kit comes with a paint clay bar and a jar of high-quality clay that safely removes contaminants from the vehicle’s surfaces.

The kit doesn’t just come equipped with supplies to give your ride a good cleaning, it also comes with a bottle of Griot’s Garage famous Best-show Wax (that has thousands of amazing reviews) and a large bottle of the Speed Shine solution.  Combined, these products really improve the color of your vehicles paint job and send it out shining and sparkling as well!

Finally, this kit comes with Griot’s Garage Vinyl & Rubber Dressing which is made to protect and make the rubber on your tires shine.  This solution does the same for vinyl surfaces in your vehicle’s interior such as your dash surface and other areas.  This solution is very similar to Armor All’s Protectant solution but is higher quality, allowing a little bit of solution to go much further and is also made for safe use on your tires.  This is an all-around great kit that I highly recommend to anybody that wants more than just a basic car wash/cleaning.

4. Chemical Guys Best Car Wash Bucket Kit with Dirt Trap

Wash Bucket Kit by Chemical Guys

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While doing self-car-washes will definitely save you big buckets over time, sometimes you must invest a little up front to make that possible.  As you’ll see, some of these solution kits can get a little pricey when purchasing quality products, but then you may get ready to clean your car and be hit with the little surprise that you need other supplies like sponges, wash buckets, wash rags, etc.

One of my other favorite car wash brands, Chemical Guys, has put together some great assortments to build kits as well.  Among those kits is the Car Wash Bucket kit which conveniently combines great cleaning solutions with all of the other car wash supplies that you’ll need also.  They have managed to whip this kit up for an incredibly low price, providing tons of value.  This will allow you to start seeing those savings almost instantly!

The kit includes a 5-gallon wash bucket to hold water and solution.  Washing your car with dirty water can sometimes cause more harm than good because the dirt particles and other contaminants sometimes get smeared all over the surface of the paint’s clear coat which may cause the appearance of swirls or spider-webbing (caused by refractions of light).  To prevent you from washing with dirty water, the kit comes equipped with a dirt trap which allows the dirt to settle at the bottom of the bucket rather than mixing around in the water. The kit comes with a super soft microfiber wash mitt, two large microfiber towels and an empty spray bottle for spray application of solutions.  The bucket also comes with a lid so that you’re able to safely store your supplies for later use or easy transporting.

The Wash Bucket kit by Chemical Guys comes with the ever-popular Mr. Pink super suds shampoo which works specifically to remove grime, build up, and the toughest of dirt stains.  It also contains a Citrus Wash & Gloss for further cleaning and to help the finish shine as well as a bottle of Diablo Wheel cleaner that is safe to use on all wheels.  To prevent damage from harsh minerals from hard water, the kit also comes with a spray bottle of After Wash which is applied after cleaning to ensure a spot free wash that prevents mineral build up from evaporation of hard water.  You can get all of this for only $80, and usually with free shipping, which is a hard bargain!

5. Chemical Guys 14 pc Arsenal Builder Car Wash Kit with TORQ Foam Blaster

14pc Cleaning Kit by Chemical Guys

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Another great kit by Chemical Guys is the 14 pc Arsenal Builder.  This car washing kit is only about $10 more than the Chemical Guys Wash Bucket kit and contains even more!  This is probably one of the top value-providing kits on the market today and you can get everything that it has to offer for under $100.

This kit comes with a ton of great car washing hardware such as a large and heavy-duty detailing bucket, a dirt trap to prevent washing with dirty water, a chenille microfiber wash mitt, three 16” x 16” professional grade microfiber towels – all of the hardware goodies that the wash bucket kit has.  However, that’s not all of the hardware you’ll get with the Arsenal kit.  You’ll also get a soft Hex-Logic applicator pad and a Body & wheel flagged-tip handle brush.  Another great hardware feature that this kit includes is a Foam Blaster 6 foam wash gun that fits all standard hoses.  This wash gun contains a wash solution container and disperses the solution to the car with pressure and converts to a nice, foamy form allowing you to quickly apply foam all over the vehicle without having to work hard to develop lather.

On top of all of the great hardware that this kit provides, you’ll get a plethora of Chemical Guys’ great cleaning solutions.  The kit includes a 16oz bottle of the Honeydew car wash soap (that works great with the wash gun that comes with the car cleaning kit), a 16 oz bottle of Chemical Guys’ Signature Series glass cleaner, a 16oz bottle of Butter Wet Wax to give your car a great shiny finish after cleaning, a 16 oz bottle of Silk Shine sprayable dressing, and a 16 oz bottle of Diablo Gel wheel & rim cleaner to keep your rims clean and brake dust free.  You seriously can’t beat this deal and the value that this kit provides!  This is the perfect kit for all types of car owners, whether you’re doing an at-home clean, if you’re a car collector or enthusiast, or even if you’re cleaning cars professionally!

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6. Adam’s Essentials Complete Car Detailing Kit

Complete Detailing Kit by Adams

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For those that are a little more serious about keeping their cars clean beyond the standard wash, this is the kit for you!  Adam’s Essentials is one of the leading brands among the car detailing supply world.  This kit does cost a considerable amount more than the other kits that we’ve listed in this article, but don’t let the price tag scare you away!  For about $200, you can purchase this kit which provides all of the basic supplies that you will need to give your car a good detail.  If you think about it, you can get all of this for about the same price as a single car detailing.  However, you’ll be able to give your car an even better detail and you’ll be able to detail your car several more times in the future.

The kit comes with a bunch of great detailing hardware.  Among this car detailing hardware is a large heavy-duty wash bucket with a Gamma seal and a Grit Guard, a Red Wheel face to clean intricate areas of your wheels safely, a VRT foam block for dressing your tires and trim after washing, a Visco clay bar kit to remove contaminants from the clear coat finish, and a 10” super soft car wash pad made out of synthetic wool.

If you’ve ever detailed a car before, you know that you’ll go through towels like no other!  Adam’s took this into consideration while slapping this kit together and included plenty of towels of different types.  The kit comes with a single soft towel for use with the detail spray, two borderless grey towels for H2O Guard and Gloss application, two edgeless utility towels that are perfect for interior detailing, and a huge super plush towel for drying. It doesn’t come with a wash mitt, but with that many quality towels, you won’t need one.

As I said earlier, this kit includes EVERYTHING that you’ll need for a good detailing.  That everything includes a ton of great cleaning chemicals and cleaning solutions.  The kit includes a spray bottle of ECO All-purpose cleaner, a 16 oz bottle of Adam’s Car Shampoo, a 16 oz spray bottle of H2o Guard and Gloss for a shiny finish, a 16 oz spray bottle of wheel cleaner to clean your rims/wheels and remove brake dust, a 16 oz spray bottle of VRT (for vinyl, rubber, and tires), and a 16 oz spray bottle of Total Interior Detailer solution.  As if all of that’s not enough, the kit even includes an air freshener!  So, as you can see, this detailing kit is well worth the $200 and more!

Buying Guide Tips

Here are some tips to help you make a successful purchase:

Check that the contents of the kit matches your needs

To avoid ending up with products that you are not going to use, think of what your cleaning needs are. For example, do you need a kit that includes only cleaning products such as car shampoo, conditioner, detailing spray, glass cleaner, polish, and wax or a version that also contains brush, bucket, washing mitts, sponge, towels, and other tools?

Some bundles contain more products for detailing whereas others target mainly washing purposes, in which case an all-purpose car wash kit may be the best option if you are looking for combined solutions.

A typical kit for car care can include at least 6 products:

  • Car wash cleaner or shampoo
  • Glass cleaner
  • Quick detailer spray and maybe an interior detailer, too
  • Car wax such as carnauba wax
  • Microfiber towels
  • Tire cleaner and shiner

However, if you have dozens of one product in your house such as auto cloths, brushes or mitts, going for a kit that excludes the items you already have would be a more budget-friendly solution.

Go for a car wash starter kit if you are a beginner

For beginners or people who like to have everything ready before cleaning so they don’t end up with unpleasant surprises, car wash kits are practical and functional to use.

If you are new to car cleaning, you will probably not like buying a kit with a ton of products that you might never use, at least in the beginning. For example, what’s the need of buying a car snow foam gun if you are still learning how to perfect your basic car cleaning skills?

In this case and in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed, you can buy a car wash starter kit. As you are getting more experienced, then your own instinct will guide you to level up your game and look for the right products to achieve your goal.

Decide whether you need a car detailing kit vs. a car washing kit

Most of the time, It is easy to distinguish a car detailing kit from a car wash kit since it is mentioned in the title.

However, there are cases that the terms ‘detailing’ vs. ‘washing’ are not mentioned clearly. Instead, a more general term is used, in which case you need to carefully check that the products contained in the bundle meet your specific needs.

Sometimes, it can get more confusing since a detailing kit may include washing solutions and a wash kit cancontain products for car detailing.

Let’s make it simple. If your goal is to deep clean your car, a detailing kit is the best idea. These kits include specialized solutions such as clay bars, tire shine, wheel, and ream cleaners as well as wheel brushes which you may not find in a simple car wash. They also have products both for interior and exterior detailing.

In any case and no matter what the name of the product is, check what it contains so you are sure that what you are buying is actually what you need.

Look for ammonia-free products

Especially if your car has tinted windows, you will want your kit to contain ammonia-free products to protect its tint and prevent it from breaking down.

Also, if you suffer from respiratory allergies or you have asthma, you may want to go for more natural car washing alternatives or products that are free of strong chemical fragrances.

Think green

There are brands that offer environmentally friendly solutions by utilizing biodegradable materials or using fewer chemicals in their products.

Check for good quality brands and users’ reviews

As with everything you buy, reputable brands can guide you in finding good quality products. Users’ reviews can also be very helpful.

Compare car wash kit prices

High price does not mean necessarily great quality, so you need to be careful and make sure that your purchase meets your needs and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does mr. clean autodry car wash system starter kit work?

Mister clean car wash kit is a one-piece system device with 3 different nozzles to wet, soap and rinse your vehicle with filtered water that leaves the surfaces spot and streak-free.

In fact, this last feature, the filtered/deionized water function, is the one that most users are enthusiastic about because it saves them hand drying time and ensures that no water spots are left. It works by removing minerals from the water which causes those spots.

This is especially useful for people living in areas with hard water or anyone who wants to achieve a spotless rinse. Is there anyone who doesn’t? At the end of your wash, you can just let the car dry on its own under shade.

On the downside, some users complain that the filter cartridge is not long-lasting especially for those areas with hard water and they need to replace it every 4-5 washes. With a 3-use filter at $44, a 10-use filter at $72 and a refill soap at $89.99, this is not probably a system that one would describe as budget-friendly.

What is a snow foam car wash kit?

The main goal of snow foam car cleaning is to soften hardened dirt, road grime, tree sap or insect debris so that they can easily be removed without causing any scratches or swirls.

Snow foam can be used as a pre-washing method or preparation for hand washing. The mix of detergent, water, and compressed air creates a thick consistency of lather that covers the full vehicle on the outside and looks like a blanket made of snow.

The most common method of snow foaming is using a snow foam lance bottle which is connected to a pressure washer gun or wand. Snow foam car wash kits oftentimes come with the bottle and car wash shampoo. They also include attachments such as various nozzle tips or some extras including microfiber cleaning gloves, towels, and wool wash pads.

Remember it is best to apply snow foam to a dry cool surface away from direct sunlight so that the detergent does not dry up prematurely. You can leave it on for 5 minutes and then pressure rinse your vehicle.

What is a waterless car wash kit?

If you worry about spending too much water for your home car washing and you want a quick solution to easily remove some light dirt wherever you are, a waterless car wash solution is ideal.

This eco-friendly option includes a spray detailer which is very easy to use. You just need to spray the surface and wipe it off with a soft microfiber towel which helps scoop up those dirt particles. Oftentimes, these sprays are enhanced with built-in wax such as natural carnauba wax that adds protection and shine to the surface.

This one-step solution can be used not only on paintwork but also on wheels, bumpers and sometimes even windows. If done correctly, it will not scratch or damage the paint. Remember that a safe way to use a waterless wash is to use a lot of clean microfiber towels. You can also fold the towel many times so you have different clean sides to use as you are wiping.

If you need a fast cleaning solution for your car between washes and there is no thick mud or heavy dirt to remove, a waterless car wash kit is the way to go.

These bundles often come with a separate bottle applicator for more precise application, refill kits and microfiber drying towels.

Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them, but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. I founded GearHeads.org and then built and ran AutoWise.com until selling it to Lola Digital Media in 2020. I look forward to watching AutoWise grow as part of the AllGear group.