The market is teeming with a diverse array of car cleaning tools—some of which are more useful than others. And when you’re sifting through pages and pages of different devices and gadgets, it’s challenging to understand which of these tools will make a valuable addition to your toolkit.
Luckily, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of auto detailing must-haves so that you invest in the right products and start detailing like the pros. Check out some of the stuff you should have in your detailing arsenal and set every detailing job up for success.
Professional detailers and car enthusiasts alike will agree that one of the car cleaning tools you actually need is a bucket—preferably two. It may not seem like an obvious choice for your list, but a pair of high-quality buckets will be among your most valuable detailing tools.
Why? It’s simple—you’ll need one bucket to keep your sudsy water in during the washing stages (your wash bucket), and you’ll need the other bucket to store clean rinse water for your wash mitts (your rinse bucket). Ensure you have a couple of solid buckets in your inventory.
Grit Guards/Wash Boards
While Grit Guards may seem unlikely contenders for this list, they’re quite handy additions to your auto detailing tools. Grit Guards are plastic screens that fit snugly on the bottom of your soap buckets mentioned above.
Having Grit Guards keeps your washing tools clean and free of contaminants that could mess up your wash. These tools keep dirt at the bottom of your bucket. Additionally, if your mitt were to fall into the bucket or perhaps you dunk your hand in slightly farther than you would like to, the Grit Guard prevents your precious mitt from being lathered into the dirt and debris at the bottom, acting as a safety screen. In the washing stages, you can scrub your sponges or mitts up against a wash board device to remove extra dirt or debris that might stick to them. These are also made by Grit Guard and snap right into your preexisting bottom guard.
But WHY are they so important? Grit Guards help keep grit from getting into your soap mixture and scratching your paint as you scrub. It’s best to not do any damage to your paint when you are trying to clean!
If you expect to get the best wash on your vehicle, you’ll need the right products for the job. We know what you’re thinking—a bit of regular soap should do the trick, right? Well, to put it plainly, no. Ordinary soap will not suffice for a professional-grade auto detail.
For one, dish soaps and similar products can be harmful to your exterior paint over time. They are aggressive and often too harsh for any exterior protectant you may have on the surface. Plus, they tend to leave streaks, residues, and all kinds of other stuff behind after a wash. You should always use specially formulated pH-balanced car shampoos for any car detailing tasks.
Using these products will ensure you get the best possible clean and shine on your vehicle. Moreover, you can be confident that you’ve removed any contaminants from your paint so that it’s adequately primed for other products—like wax and polish—you might use later on in the detailing process.
Detailing Outlaws Buckanizer
If you asked us a few years ago if we needed a tool like this, we probably would have said, “It would be helpful.” Well, since the release of the extremely innovative Detailing Outlaws Buckanizer, we aren’t quite sure how people ever detailed without it.
This incredible tool is a bucket caddy made from super strong plastic, perfectly formulated to fit on a wide variety of buckets. It also fits into your bucket with both a Grit Guard and Grit Guard wash board. It holds your wash mitt, brushes, towels, or any other tool you need for your detail. Drain holes at the bottom keep it free of water and suds, and the quality engineering means that this tool will likely outlast your bucket!
Washing Mitts and Towels
We can’t discuss car cleaning tools you actually need without mentioning the all-important microfiber washing mitts and towels. These devices are specially designed to gently remove dirt and debris while preserving your paint and giving it an illustrious shine.
Plus, quality washing mitts are super absorbent, so they can soak up more soap and you can be sure you’re using all your products with effectiveness and efficiency. Further, the soft fibers of microfiber products will go easier on your paint and provide an even, streak-free shine in the washing and drying stages.
Microfiber cloths are super beneficial to interior detailing tasks, like wiping dust and polishing dashboards, cleaning glass surfaces, etc. So go ahead and toss out those scratchy old towels and trade up for a few microfiber mitts and towels. Trust us; when you see the difference in your car’s exterior, you’ll be glad you did.
It should come as no surprise that paint sealant should be a top priority for those looking to enhance their detailing tool kits. After all, it’s one of the best ways to give your vehicle added gloss and sheen. Moreover, a quality paint sealant forms a layer to your vehicle that protects it from minor scratches, dirt contamination, and bird bombs.
Plus, the best paint sealants can protect your paint from fading and UV damage from the sun. So, if you’re looking for the cleaning tool to help you protect and maintain that perfect exterior shine, add wax to your list of supplies.
Many of the cleaning tools we’ve mentioned in this guide are most useful for exterior detailing purposes. But it’s wise to remember that the detailing process also entails cleaning your vehicle’s interior. Just like the exterior, this part of the process requires the right tools for the job.
First, you’re going to need a dust buster or handheld vacuum of some sort. This is an essential cleaning tool for any detailer, as it ensures you can keep the inside of your vehicle spotless. A small vacuum can help you make quick work of keeping your carpets and seats free of dust and crumbs.
Quick Interior Detail Sprays
Quick detail sprays are among the other important interior detailing tools you should always have. These sprays are excellent for polishing hard vinyl features such as dashboards, control centers, and center consoles. And if your interior happens to include genuine leather, don’t worry! There are plenty of premium sprays on the market that are specially formulated for leather upholstery. In any case, a few quick maintenance sprays for all your interior detailing tasks are an excellent addition to any auto detailer’s supply list.