If you’re new to car detailing, it’s likely that you’ve been swamped with a plethora of products that you can buy. Each ‘job’ has dozens of different products from a wide range of detailing companies, so it can often be tough to know what to shoot for.
I’ve already written a guide on the beginner’s car detailing kit, but I wanted to look more at the enthusiasts for this guide and products that I like to keep stocked.
What I’ve found is that products come in and out of vogue for me. Some I’ve used for years and have no reason to change, whereas others get chopped and changed a little more often.
Either way, this guide on the essential car detailing products includes products that I think are the best of the best.
One of the driving factors behind this page was to allow people to possibly surprise loved-ones with car detailing gift ideas, that stretch further than the leather chamois packs that you can pick up from most road-side garages. As an enthusiast detailer, I know that any product on this page I’d love to receive.
So, let’s dive into the list. Remember, this page will likely keep evolving over the years, so feel free to keep checking back.
1. The Rag Company Microfibre Towels
All detailers are going to use a load of microfibre towels for a huge range of jobs. Personally, I like my towels to be pretty versatile and work within a number of jobs.
Whilst I have dedicated drying towels that are super absorbent, I tend to just have one other towel type that comes in the form of “Creature Edgeless” from the Rag Company.
These guys are the best of the best when it comes to microfiber towels. The quality of their products is almost unrivalled in my opinion and they last for ages. They’re a little more expensive than most, but I’ve found that given they last so long, it’s a worthwhile investment.
The Creature is made up of a 70/30 Polyester/Polyamide slit and are 425gsm. But, the best thing about these towels is that one side is a slightly shorter nap than the other, meaning that they work great for things like chrome, metal and trim, along with buffing and removal of sealants, waxes and coatings as well.
They’re made from 100% South Korean plush AA-Grade microfibre as well, which is the highest grade that you can get.
- ☑️ PREMIUM EDGELESS, TAGLESS 70/30 Blend 365gsm Professional Microfiber Polishing Towel With Over 380,000 Fibers Per Square Inch That Deliver a…
- ☑️ PERFECT CHOICE: Wax, Compound, Sealant, Glaze, and Polish Removal; Polishing Chrome and Other Shiny Metals; Polishing Wheels, Wheel Wells;…
- ☑️ DUAL-PILE CONSTRUCTION: One Side with Slightly Longer Fibers to Remove Loose Particles and for Buffing, and a Shorter Knap, Tighter Terry Weave…
2. Snow Foam Lance
There is little doubt that snow foaming is the best part of detailing. There is something about covering your car in foam and changing the colour (assuming not white).
But, there is actually a wide debate throughout the detailing forums about how useful snow foaming is. You see, snow foaming alone doesn’t remove all that much dirt. You certainly couldn’t snow foam most cars and call them clean.
That being said, I truly believe that any step you can add in that means you don’t need to make contact with the paint is pivotal. Snow foaming might not remove much dirt, but as long as it removes some, then it’s worthwhile for me.
A decent lance isn’t all that expensive either. The majority are much the same, even the branded ones. But you do need to make sure that you get the right extension for the pressure washer that you have. These can usually be picked when you check out.
The one that I use is the EZ Car Care version with the Karcher extension (it comes with extensions for all major pressure washers). I’ve had it for ages now, but it’s one of few that I have seen that comes with a 12-month warranty. I don’t know about you, but as soon as see a company are willing to put a warranty to their product like this, I feel that they truly believe in their product.
I’ve already spoken about different snow foams that I use in other articles, so once you’ve picked up your lance, it’s worth taking a look to see which products I think are best.
Also, take a look at how to snow foam a car for some pretty cool tricks!
3. Pressure Washer
For me, I don’t think I’d be able to do as good a job detailing a car without my pressure washer. I know some people don’t use them, but when you consider the amount of grime that these can get off alone, they are worth every penny.
You don’t even need to break the bank with these either. I’ve used everything from cheap, own-brand versions right up to petrol powered professional products and to be honest, there’s not that much difference to me.
I’ve currently got the Karcher K2 and it’s been working flawlessly for over 3 years now. Until it breaks, I won’t be changing it any time soon.
The only thing that I don’t like about it is that the high-pressure hose that comes with it is a little rigid and short. I actually swapped mine out an after-market high-pressure hose and it works much better as a result.
- Select the ideal power setting with a simple twist and click of the lance
- Ideal for cleaning delicate surfaces such as car or harder surfaces like stone and brickwork
- The integrated suction tube allows detergent to be applied to any surface being cleaned
4. Wheel Cleaning Brushes / Wheel Woolies
Wheel woollies have probably been one my best purchases to date. Cleaning the wheels is never an easy job and to be honest, one that I don’t enjoy all that much.
I used use a series of wheel wash mitts and fairly cheap and nasty wheel brushes. I used to always come away absolutely pitted as a result.
Wheel Woolies aren’t cheap. In fact, some find them eye wateringly expensive, but that’s only people who’ve never used them. The fact that you get three, all in different sizes mean that you can get them into all cracks and crevasses.
They last for ages as well. These are another that I’ve had for years, used dozens, if not hundreds of times and never let me down.
- D8D12D15A Wheel Brushes Kit (3 Brushes) Wheel Brush
- Wheel Brush – 100% Lambswool Scratchless Brushes for Car Rims
- Handle made of dense fiber, no metal design, will not scratch the car
5. Dual Action Polisher
I don’t care what anyone says, if you haven’t polished your paint using a DA polisher or equivalent, then you simply aren’t getting the most out of the products that you use on the car.
Many people are scared and put off by using a DA Polisher, thinking they are going to burn through their paint. You’re not! As long as you approach it with some common sense, then honestly, you can’t really go wrong.
There is a lot to choose from on the market as well, which is both good and bad. There are some cheap options that are often not worth the box they are sent in and then some that are really well made and as long as you take care of it, will last a long time.
I opted to go for the Meguiar’s MT320 with the added pads. I know these are a little more expensive than some brands, but as they are Meguiar’s I wanted that added security that comes with their brand. I know that if anything went wrong, there was somewhere I could contact.
My pack came with a number of polishing pads as well. Nothing too intense, three different grades in total and then I just paired this up with the Meguiar’s 105 and 205 polishes. In my opinion, few better polishes, especially if you are just starting out.
It’s also worth noting that I don’t just use my DA Polisher for polishing. I use it on my glass, sometimes for applying wax and I’ve even used it on really dirty interior car seats with a dedicated attachment.
It’s not the cheapest detailing product that you can buy, but if you want to take your car to the next level, then you need a DA polisher.
- Digital torque management, electronically adjusts torque to maintain speed when machine polishing
- New billet counter weight ensures smooth, precision and balance in the DA machine.
- The dual action orbit and rotation mean that you never have to worry about damaging paint.
6. Collinite 845 Wax
I love a good wax. It’s my favourite form of LSP (Last Stage Protection) that you can apply in my opinion. Whilst wax won’t’ give the longevity of a sealant or a ceramic coating, it will offer up an amazing finish and a depth to the paint that the others simply cannot.
There are so many waxes to choose from though. I’ve opted for Collinite 845 as it’s a wax that’s about as good value as you can get in the industry. It works well, is very cheap and lasts for a good amount of time. You can even layer it up to make it last longer if you like.
I love this wax and its one that I often recommend, it’s not actually my favourite wax. That comes in the form of Swissvax Crystal Rock. This is the best car wax in the world in my opinion and I’ve not seen another get near it.
You may be asking why I’m stating to get Collinite 845 over Crystal Rock. Well, it comes down to price. Crystal Rock is literally 10x the price of Collinite. Eye-watering, right!
- Long lasting Carnauba car wax
- Automotive, marine, RV, aeronautical and industrial use
- Easy to use
7. Car Air freshener
What’s the point in doing all this work and not having a great smelling car. There are a lot of air fresheners to choose from, but most are either too strong or just don’t last.
I love the range from California Scents and in particular the Cherry Scent. You simply open the can and leave it in the car. I actually pop mine in a cup holder in the back and it perfectly scents the whole car without losing space for that Starbucks cup up front.
They aren’t the cheapest, but if you buy in bulk then they actually work out to be very reasonably priced, especially given how long they last.
- Long lasting cherry flavour airfreshener
- Fit type: Universal Fit
- Item Package Weight: 0.24 kg
8. Wash Mitt
Throw away the sponge and the leather chamois and invest in a decent wash mitt, ideally lambs wool if you can. As much damage can be done with a sponge as it can with a pan scraper, such are the lack of forgiveness with them.
The good thing is that there are lots of good wash mitts to choose from and they aren’t all that expensive. Most will dry pretty quickly as well, which means you don’t need to store wet mitts that can become damp and mouldy.
My go-to is the Meguiar’s A7301. I couldn’t even tell you how long I’ve used this for now, must be close to a decade. I’ve not had the same one each time, but I always replace with the same brand and type.
It’s probably the most important tool in my bad and I simply wouldn’t wash any car, regardless of state, with anything other than a good quality wash mitt.
- Meguiar’s Luxurious Lambs Wool Wash Mitt
- Plush Lambswool for scratch free cleaning
- Gentle Mesh Netting on the rear for hard to shift bugs
So, there you have a range of essential detailing products that will be a great addition to any detailing enthusiast or even beginner. I realise that some of these can be expensive, so you don’t have to go all out and buy the lot (unlike me), but they can be added to your kit or bought as a detailing gift.
What’s great about this list is that it’s likely going to keep evolving and expanding as new products come to market. The industry is buzzing right now and there are so many exciting new companies pushing the boundaries of what we need as detailers.
If you have essentials that you include and think I’ve missed, please leave a comment below as I’d love to hear and possibly update this list.