One of the iconic images of Americana is that of the open highway. We’re a car culture, a country of people who prefer to drive themselves than to be driven. Sure, lots of people these days are turning to Uber and away from car ownership, but there will always be the diehard car enthusiasts.
Indeed, Uber drivers themselves need to take pride in their ride. But even if you don’t have strangers judging the condition of your car up close on a regular basis, taking excellent care of it is the key to maintaining value and a sense of pride in your purchase. Regular maintenance comes first, of course, but second to oil changes and tire pressure checks are frequent car washes to keep the surfaces in good shape.
The presence of a car wash on every other street corner doesn’t cut it for some discerning car owners. Touchless car washes tend not to do a very good job of getting the car clean, but conversely, traditional car washes can be hard on the finish. No matter how they try, the grit from the last car may be embedded in the brushes and sponges that rake over your car when you go through. No, if you want to keep your car in perfect condition, you have to wash it yourself.
To that end, there are no shortage of excellent car washing and detailing kits on the market. These are usually one-purchase buys that contain everything you need to wash and protect your car. Excellent for car collectors maintaining their classics as well as Uber drivers keeping their money-making machines mint.
Here’s our list of the best car cleaning kits, broken into categories to help you choose what you need to keep your ride gleaming.
Best Starter Car Cleaning Kits
If you have none of the various cleaners and polishes and are just starting out on your quest to have the shiniest automobile on the block, starting with a basic kit is a good idea. These are usually great for getting the car clean and applying a light protective coating. Nothing too high-end here, so prices are generally lower, too.
- Contains the basics for cleaning your car
- Cheaper than larger kits
- Good for more regular washes
- Straight-forward to use
- May be lacking one or two necessary items
- Many don’t include cleaning implements like sponges and cloths
- Interior cleaners often not included
- Not always useful for restoration
1. Griot’s Garage Starter Wash and Dry Kit
While somewhat expensive on the face of it, this very basic kit is made up of high-quality materials. The detailing mitt is deep microfiber that is safe for any surface. The six-gallon bucket comes with a lid, casters, measuring cup, and a grate at the bottom that sifts out dirt and debris. The drying towel has enough capacity for a whole car and can dry in a single pass. You also get 64 ounces of car wash soap, which will last a good long while and would be $12.99 alone.
- Brilliant Finish car wash – 64 ounces
- Microfiber detailing mitt
- Six-gallon bucket with casters
- One-pass drying towel
2. Meguiar’s 7-Piece Ultimate Car Care Set
Everyone knows Meguiar’s. I would wager that you’ve already even used the Gold Class car wash that comes in this very kit. They make excellent products that are widely available. Even better, their kit is a bit cheaper than the Griot’s Garage kit, even though it lacks a bucket. Still, with the included sponge, once you grab a drying towel and bucket, you’re good to go. This one includes cleaners for the interior, too, so you’ll be able to tackle the entire car with the items in this box.
- Gold Class car wash shampoo & conditioner – 16 ounces
- Whole Car Air Re-Fresher – 2.4 ounces
- Perfect Clarity glass cleaner – 16 ounces
- Quik Interior Detailer – 16 ounces
- Ultimate Quik Wax – 15.2 ounces
- Hot Shine tire foam – 19 ounces
3. Armor All National Car Care Kit
We’ve certainly all used Armor All in some capacity before, even if it was just the wipes to clean up the dashboard. This is certainly a basic kit, including just one bottle for each of the surfaces of your car. The key advantage to this one is the price. Even if you pair it with a separate kit of cleaning implements, you’d still be at or below the price of other basic kits. If you happen to already have the mitt and towel you need, this could could save you a lot of money.
Price: $13.47 (33 percent off MSRP)
- Original Protectant interior cleaner – 10 ounces
- Glass Wipes – 25 count
- Tire foam protectant – 20 ounces
- Ultra Shine Wash and Wax – 16 ounces
4. Turtle Wax 5-Piece Complete Care Kit
Turtle Wax is another well-known brand that has been around for ages. This includes a little something for each surface of your car, except for the glass. The key attraction here might be the eponymous wax product, which is a high-quality carnauba wax from the experts on car wax. You even get a microfiber towel for application.
- Zip Wax car wash – 16 ounces
- Express Shine Carnauba spray wax – 12 ounces
- Wet’n Black Ultra Wet tire shine – 12 ounces
- Super Protectant interior protectant – 10.4 ounces
- Microfiber towel
5. Duragloss Car Care Kit
This kit goes a bit further than the Turtle Wax and Armor All, including everything you need to clean and polish virtually every surface of your car. This kit is focused a bit more on a deep clean than the detailing finish work, though it does include vinyl and leather dressing. The wheel cleaner is especially good for brake dust, so if you opted for those cheaper pads on your last change (come on, admit it, we’ve all been there) and your wheels are covered in black now, you might go with this one to address that issue.
- 901 car wash concentrate – 16 ounces
- 265 tire and hose shine – 10 ounces
- 101 wet look polish – 8 ounces
- 821 wheel cleaner – 22 ounces
- 201 vinyl and leather dressing – 8 ounces
6. Jax Wax Professional Easy Wash and Wax Car Care Bucket Organizer Kit
This kit includes a resealable bucket that can be used to carry your car cleaning kit with you wherever you go, say, for example, on the road for car shows. The cleaners included in this one are for the exterior only, but somewhat makes up for that with additional towels and applicators. If this isn’t enough for you, we’ll check back in with Jax Wax for their take on the complete kit a bit later in this list.
- 3.5 gallon bucket
- Liquid Carnauba paste wax – 8 ounces
- Body shine showroom spray wax – 16 ounces
- Wash N Wax soap – 16 ounces
- Two microfiber towels – 16 inches square
- Wash mitt
- Applicator sponge
Find more Jax Wax Professional Easy Wash and Wax Car Care Bucket Organizer Kit information and reviews here.
7. Flash Auto Detailing Kit
Value is the focus of this particular kit. It’s a seven-piece kit focused on exterior cleaning. The spray wax is Teflon-based, like you normally see at car washes. The color coding might be useful to help you keep the products straight at a glance. Everything you need to wash the outside of your car is included, so all you’ll need is an interior cleaning solution and some water. If you like any of these cleaners, you can buy 128 ounce containers to refill the spray bottles with, as well.
- Grape Gloss Teflon spray wax – 16 ounces
- Brown Royal wheel cleaner – 16 ounces
- Deep Purple wash and wax shampoo – 16 ounces
- Aqua Gloss tire dressing – 16 ounces
- One-gallon bucket
- Wash mitt
- Microfiber towel
8. Chemical Guys Best Sellers Kit
Chemical Guys makes some serious car cleaning products and it shows in the prices they command. This kit is basic in the sense that it doesn’t offer any implements for getting the job done, focusing instead on six high-end products for cleaning and protecting your car’s surfaces. If you’ve tried other products and found them wanting, try this pricey option for a slightly higher grade of product.
- VRP Supershine dressing – 16 ounces
- Hybrid V7 Optical Select High Gloss spray sealant and quick detailer – 16 ounces
- Inner Clean interior quick detailer and protectant – 16 ounces
- Diablo Gel wheel and rim cleaner – 16 ounce
- Mr. Pink Super Suds shampoo and conditioner – 16 ounce
- JetSeal sealant and paint protectant – 16 ounce
9. Nanoskin AutoScrub Fine Grade Wash Mitt Pro Starter Kit
This kit is the only one in the basic kits that includes anything like a clay bar that is used to remove the fine pits and particulate that gets embedded into car finish. The wash mitt in this package includes nanoskin, which was developed to replace the clay bar while working faster. This one doesn’t include a bucket, but it does include something else none of the other basic kits does: an apron.
Price: $81.83 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Nanoskin wash mitt
- Detailing apron
- Bubble Bath wash and shine shampoo – 16 ounces
- Nano Shock hydrophobic sealant – 16 ounces
- Rain Prep glass cleaner – 2 ounces
- Rain glass sealant – 2 ounces
10. Carrand 10 Piece Specialty Car Wash Bucket
If some of those products were a bit too intense for you in your search for a basic car cleaning kit, this option might be the one for you. It’s reasonably cheap, for one thing, but that’s partly because it includes implements only, so grab yourself a big bottle of car soap and you’ll be set to perform a basic car wash in your driveway. Or combine this with one of the cleaner-only packages above and you’ll have everything you need.
- Three microfiber towels
- Two microfiber applicator pads
- Microfiber wheel detailer
- Microfiber wash mitt
- Lug nut brush
- Gripper handle
- Three-gallon bucket
Best Waterless Car Washing Kits
In some communities, water usage bans make it difficult to wash your car at home. Drought conditions are starting to be prevalent in areas of the country they weren’t before, so this is a consideration. Additionally, sometimes you’re on the road and don’t have access to a ready water supply. This is where waterless car washing kits come in handy. Simply apply and wipe off to keep your car looking its best.
- No need for water supply
- Useful while traveling
- Your clothes and shoes stay dry
- Saves money in areas where you pay for water
- Must be performed carefully to avoid scratching finish
- Can take far longer than normal car washes
- Generally not as effective — may be better for spot cleaning
11. Griot’s Garage Spray-On Car Wash Kit
Paring everything back to the barest essentials, this waterless kit gives you just exactly what you need to clean the exterior of your car and nothing more. This might not cut it for super dirty wheels that need extra scrubbing, but for glass and body panels, this spray-on, wipe-off car wash should do the trick in a pinch.
Allowing the product to sit for 30-45 seconds loosens the dirt, allowing you to easily wipe it away. This might be the best option for tossing in the trunk and touching up between washes.
- Griot’s Spray-On car wash – 35 ounces
- Three microfiber towels – 15 3/4 inches square
12. Adam’s Waterless Car Wash Collection
This option from Adam’s uses a formula focused on enhanced lubricants, making it extra-slick so that surface dirt is easily removed. At the same time, it doesn’t leave your car glossy so you have the option of leaving it as-is or adding a separate agent specifically for high-gloss finish.
The other charm to this option is that you can choose your initial buy-in. They have options for a one gallon bottle, a five gallon bottle, a 16 ounce spray bottle, a combo with the 16 ounce spray bottle and two towels and this pictured collection. Once you buy any of the options with the spray bottle, you can grab the five gallon refiller later to keep you in wash for a good long time.
- Waterless Wash spray bottle – 16 ounces
- Waterless Wash refill bottle – one gallon
- Two cleaning towels
13. Aero Cosmetics Waterless Wash Wax Kit
Do you have an airplane in addition to a car? Even if you don’t, it might give you piece of mind to know that the car wash you’ve chosen is good enough to meet Boeing’s cleaning specifications for aircraft. This is a biodegradable car wash that can be used as a waterless wash, or sprayed on as a wax after a traditional car washing method.
This is the most basic kit, providing you just the car wash and towels. If you prefer, you can also opt for the starter kit, which includes something called Belly Wash. This quantity should be enough to last a good long time with a total of 160 ounces of car wash. Alternatively, you could also opt for their large kit, which includes a mop scrubber with a long handle.
- Wash Wax All 16 ounce spray bottle
- Wash Wax All 144 ounce refilled bottle
- Four microfiber towels
- Mini bug scrubber
Best Car Interior Detailing Kits
While most of us have a handle on cleaning the outside of the car to some degree, many times the interior is left to paper towels and a bottle of Windex. There’s nothing wrong with this, exactly, but have you ever observed how much cleaner and newer your car feels after it’s been thoroughly cleaned on the inside? For those who love having their car detailed, you can get kits to do it yourself, complete with separate cleaners and conditioners for the specific surfaces inside the car.
- Professional-level cleaning products to restore interior surfaces
- Specialized products are better for certain surfaces
- Help keep your car feeling especially new
- Most kits don’t include anything for the outside of the car
- Somewhat costly
- Depending on your car’s materials, may not be necessary
14. Griot’s Garage Ultimate Interior Care Kit
The outside of the car usually only has three types of surfaces: some kind of metal, glass, and rubber. The inside, however, could have any number of different materials, including vinyl, leather, wood, and different plastics. This kit from Griot’s includes virtually everything you need to address these, as well as a handful of applicators.
The only thing it’s missing is something for upholstered surfaces, which the other two interior kits on this list have. For that reason, pick this one if you have leather seats.
- Interior Cleaner – 35 ounces
- Window Cleaner – 35 ounces
- Vinyl & Rubber Dressing – 8 ounces
- Leather Care Spray – 8 ounces
- Two microfiber cloths
- Detail sponge
- Spare cloth
15. Adam’s Perfect Interior Kit
While this kit is the priciest of the interior kits on our list, you’re paying for a little more attention to detail. The interior detailer and leather conditioner in this kit both include SPF 65 to protect your car’s surfaces from UV rays. It also includes detailing swabs, for those of you who like to get into every tiny crevice — into vents and the corners of the change holder.
You also get two types of towels and applicators to tackle the whole interior. If your carpets could use a scrub, consider the Interior 6 Pack, which comes with a soft hair brush.
- Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner – 16 ounces
- Leather & Interior Conditioner – 16 ounces
- Glass Cleaner – 16 ounces
- Interior Detailer – 16 ounces
- Two dressing applicators
- Two microfiber glass towels
- Two microfiber detailing towels
- Ten detailing swabs
Best Complete Car Care Kits
If you’re a serious enthusiast with a rare antique in your care, you don’t want to piecemeal it. You need a total solution, one with everything you’d need to clean your ride inside and out. Whether you just bought a new car or have just completed a restoration, consider these full car care kits to give you all the tools you need to keep every surface looking new.
- Most kits have everything you need for interior and exterior washes
- Some feature carrying cases
- Items within kits are usually cheaper compared to prices sold separately
- Often include hard-to-find formulations
- Somewhat expensive
- Bottles may run out at uneven rates
- Kits may contain cleaners you don’t need
- May consider testing something from a manufacturer before investing in the whole line
16. Griot’s Garage Master Car Care Collection with Bucket
If you have nothing at all, not a brush nor a single spray bottle, consider this massive offering. This huge kit includes a cleaner for every surface, as well as a towel or applicator to match. You’ll get everything you need to get started cleaning your car at home, and probably even more. It’s a great kit for restoration as well as continued maintenance. The bucket and detailing guide are nice touches, too.
- Car Wash – 16 ounces
- Two microfiber wash mitts
- Microfiber drying towel
- Six-gallon bucket with casters
- Spray-On Wax – 35 ounces
- Wheel Cleaner – 35 ounces
- Two three-finger detail mitts
- Long-handle wheel scrubber brush
- Rubber Cleaner – 35 ounces
- Speed Shine – 35 ounces
- Three Speed Shine microfiber cloths
- Paint cleaning clay – 8 ounces
- Five pairs of vinyl gloves
- Fine Hand Polish – 16 ounces
- Two cotton polishing pads
- Three microfiber polish removal cloths
- Best of Show Wax – 15 ounces
- Six-inch foam wax pad
- Adjustable foam pad holder
- Three microfiber wax removal cloths
- Vinyl and Rubber Dressing – 8 ounces
- Blue detail sponge
- Window Cleaner – 35 ounces
- Four microfiber window cloths
- Interior Cleaner – 35 ounces
- Four microfiber interior cloths
- Leather Care spray – 8 ounces
- Detailer’s handbook
17. Meguiar’s Ultimate Car Care Kit
Striking the balance between the top two, this Meguiar’s kit covers the inside and outside of your car both with cleaners and towels. It doesn’t just focus on the end result, giving you their Ultimate Compound and a pre-waxing glaze, both of which focus on removing paint swirls and scratches before you the liquid wax and detailer.
Choose this one if your paint has some imperfections you need to work out before you get it to the high shine stage. For a little less, you could try their Complete Car Kit, which has a similar set of cleaners, but is maybe not their highest-end product range.
- Ultimate Wash and Wax – 48 ounces
- Ultimate Compound – 16 ounces
- Ultimate Polish – 16 ounces
- Ultimate Liquid Wax – 15.2 ounces
- Ultimate Protectant – 12 ounces
- Ultimate Black – 22 ounces
- Ultimate Quik Detailer – 22 ounces
- Supreme Shine microfiber towel
- Four foam applicator pads
- Microfiber wash mitt
- Water Magnet microfiber drying towel
18. Jax Wax Complete Scratch-Free Wash Wax and Detail Bucket Car Care Organizer Kit
If you’re thinking that if there’s no bucket, it isn’t a complete kit, I’m with you. Here’s one on which you don’t need to spend nearly $400 just to get them to throw in a bucket. Besides that, this is also a very well-balanced kit that covers all the interior and exterior bases. It even has the first appearance of a tire sponge on this list to apply the Super Blue rubber dressing.
- Body Shine – 16 ounces
- Liquid Carnauba wax – 16 ounces
- Wash and wax – 16 ounces
- Super Blue tire and rubber dressing – 16 ounces
- Super Citrus degreaser – 32 ounces
- Bugzapper bug remover spray – 32 ounces
- Glass cleaner – 19 ounces
- Applicator sponge
- Tire dressing applicator
- Wash bucket with grit guard insert
- Two waffle weave microfiber towels – 16 inches by 24 inches
- Wash mitt
Find more Jax Wax Complete Scratch-Free Wash Wax and Detail Bucket Car Care Organizer Kit information and reviews here.
19. Stoner Car Care Complete Car Care and Detailing Kit
Suppose you already have a car wash soap and sponge/towel combination you like. The complete kit you’re looking for should be a bit more specialized. You’re looking to have a product for each minute detail. This kit could be the one for you. With 12 specialty products that do everything from remove bugs and adhesive residue to repel liquids from fabrics, this collection is for carefully treating each surface after you’ve managed the general exterior clean.
- Water spot remover – 7 ounces
- Trim Cleaner – 13 ounces
- Gust spray duster – 8 ounces
- Upholstery & Carpet cleaner – 18 ounces
- Visible Shine Synthetic Sealant – 16 ounces
- Invisible Glass Clean & Repel – 19 ounces
- Invisible Glass cleaner – 19 ounces
- Terminator tar & sap remover – 19 ounces
- Trim Shine vinyl & plastic coating – 12 ounces
- More Shine tire finish – 12 ounces
- Invisible Glass Washer Fluid Additive – 10 ounces
- Spead Bead wax – 15 ounces
- Two cleaning cloths
- Glass cleaning towel
- Two sponges
20. Detail King Auto Detailing Business In A Bucket
This kit has two things none of the others do: a vacuum cleaner and a DVD for how to grow an auto detailing business. Assuming that second part is just extra for the average car owner, the vacuum is a pretty compelling piece. Rather than use your home vacuum, you could leave this one in the garage or shed explicitly for use on your car. Aside from that, you get a full range of cleaners, applicators, and sponges.
If it’s enough to start a business doing it, it’s enough to keep your car looking its best. Oh, and if buying this inspires you to actually start that business, you can get the Start Up Kit II and Start Up Kit III, as well. Be prepared to open your wallet, though.
- Bucket Head vacuum cleaner
- STS 3000 polymer sealant – 16 ounces
- Foam pad
- Black Cherry car wash soap – 16 ounces
- Pink Power interior cleaner – 16 ounces
- Extractor soap – 16 ounces
- RTU glass cleaner – 16 ounces
- Pearl Gloss interior dressing – 16 ounces
- Special Force Plus all purpose cleaner – 16 ounces
- Tire & white wall cleaner – 16 ounces
- Bug Off bug remover – 16 ounces
- Super Blue tire & rubber dressing – 16 ounces
- Two microfiber wax applicators
- Two microfiber super towels
- Super Sucker microfiber drying towel
- Bug sponge
- How to Start, Operate & Grow an Auto Detailing Business DVD
21. Wolfgang Complete Detailing Tool Bag Kit
Chances are, your tools are well organized in a chest or a bag like this one. Why shouldn’t your car cleaning products also get the same treatment? This handy bag makes it safe and convenient to store the full line of Wolfgang detailing products, which includes something for nearly every condition of paint.
You get clay and clay lubricant for restoring rough finish and deep gloss sealant for protecting that restored surface, but also polish enhancer for new cars. Throw in some cloths and applicators and you have a complete solution.
- Auto Bathe – 16 ounces
- Paintwork Polish Enhancer – 16 ounces
- Clay lubricant – 16 ounces
- Elastic Poly clay bar – 200 grams
- Deep Gloss Paint Sealant 3.0 – 16 ounces
- Instant Detail Spritz – 16 ounces
- Two Cobra microfiber detailing cloths
- Two Cobra microfiber applicator pads
- Two poly foam applicators
- Wolfgang handbook and DVD
- Detailer’s tool bag
22. Ardex Detailing Kit
If you want to be sure you have exactly what you need for each element of your car, consider this Ardex kit. The bottle sizes are slightly larger on the essentials, giving you more washes per kit. Unlike a few of the other kits that have overlapping waxes, this gives you one bottle per purpose so you don’t need a guide to sort them all out.
They even throw in a spray bottle and, of course, a few towels and an applicator. For a little bit less, you can opt for the 16 ounce kit and save some money.
- Wash and wax – 32 ounces
- It’s “O.K.” all purpose cleaner – 32 ounces
- Miami Shine liquid paste wax – 32 ounces
- New Concept tire shine and vinyl and rubber dressing – 32 ounces
- A Foam interior cleaner – 18 ounces
- A Spot carpet spot remover – 18 ounces
- Miracle glass cleaner – 18 ounces
- Details coating for hard-to-reach places – 18 ounces
- Spray bottle
- Four microfiber towels
- Applicator sponge
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