19 Best Car Cleaning Kits: Compare, Buy & Save

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. To that end, there are no shortage of excellent car washing and detailing kits on the market. Discover the solution for maintaining your classic or keeping your money-making Lyft machine mint from our list of the best car cleaning kits.

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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 Lyft and Uber and away from car ownership, but there will always be the diehard car enthusiasts.

Indeed, rideshare drivers themselves especially 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.

If you're a relative novice to cleaning your own car, you might want to take a peek at this Popular Mechanics guide or even this post on Consumer Reports.

Which is the best car cleaning kit?

You have a few different options when it comes to selecting a kit for cleaning your car. Some focus on giving you the basics right out of the gate, while some are for special uses. Depending on your familiarity and the conditions you're working in, you may be looking at any of the following types of kits, examples of all of which appear on our list:

Starter Car Cleaning Kits: Building Your Toolset

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.

Pros:

    • Contains the basics for cleaning your car
    • Cheaper than larger kits
    • Good for more regular washes
    • Straight-forward to use

Cons:

    • 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

Do Waterless Car Washing Kits Work?

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.

As you'll see in the pros and cons below, these are super-useful and work wherever you are, but they are unlikely to yield the same results as standard, water-based approaches. Novices can also easily scratch the clear coat if care isn't taken to remove the grit step-by-step.

Pros:

    • No need for water supply
    • Useful while traveling
    • Your clothes and shoes stay dry
    • Saves money in areas where you pay for water

Cons:

    • 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

Don't Forget the Inside: 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.

Pros:

    • Professional-level cleaning products to restore interior surfaces
    • Specialized products are better for certain surfaces
    • Help keep your car feeling especially new

Cons:

    • Most kits don't include anything for the outside of the car
    • Somewhat costly
    • Depending on your car's materials, may not be necessary

Complete Car Care Kits: For Those Who Want It All

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.

Pros:

    • 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

Cons:

    • 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

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