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When it comes to keeping your car looking its best, a good car-cleaning kit is essential. Whether you're a novice car owner or have been around cars for a while, you know regular maintenance is key to keeping your vehicle running smoothly and looking its best. While most other maintenance ensures your car will enjoy a long life, keeping your vehicle clean will ensure it looks as good on the outside as it's running on the inside.
But with the wide range of car-cleaning kits available on the market, it can be difficult to decide which kit is the best for you. That's where we come in. We've already tested a wide variety of cleaning products, such as car wash soaps, glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, and interior cleaners, but these kits combine car-washing products and accessories into convenient bundles.
Because we've already tested a ton of individual cleaning products, we're going to stick with the usability and functionality of the various kits listed below. We looked at some of the best kits on the market right now and evaluated the key components of each. Some are simple, with the bare minimum of products and make great gift ideas. Others are comprehensive and complete, designed to offer the full gamut of everything you need to detail a vehicle. We also give our top recommendations for the best car-washing kits available for a variety of needs.
Things to Consider When Shopping for Car Cleaning Kits
Looking only to get your wheels and tires clean and shiny? Or are you after a cleaning kit that has everything you need to detail your entire car? Different kits come with different components, so you'll want to make sure you're getting a kit with everything you need to get the job done right the first time.
You'll want a kit with any tools you might need. Buying tools in combination with the chemicals can save you some money and add extra convenience, since some of these kits have dedicated bags or buckets for storing the included tools and cleaning supplies.
Pro Tip: Don't be fooled by the advertised size of a car-cleaning kit. For example, some kits may be advertised as including 20 pieces, but after opening them it is clear that to achieve that boastful number, the manufacturer has counted surplus components such as multiple air fresheners or the lid of a wash bucket.
How We Evaluated Car Cleaning Kits
Car-washing kits are far more subjective than other products with specifications that can be objectively measured and compared. Each cleaning kit comes with different products, tools, and accessories, making them better suited for some needs and vehicles than others. So rather than pick a single winner, we selected our favorite car cleaning kits for various jobs.
Specifically, we unboxed each kit, evaluated the quality of components such as spray bottles and tools, and came to a consensus on what kits were best suited for different needs and their value compared to the competition.
Relentless Drive Car Wash Kit
If you're starting from the ground up and need an all-in-one kit on a budget, you won't find a better solution than the Relentless Drive Ultimate Car Wash Kit. This 20-piece kit includes nearly every tool, accessory, and cleaner you'll need to make your car look good as new, short of a car vacuum.
Of all the kits we evaluated, Relentless Drive's had the largest selection of cleaning tools and accessories, including a microfiber air-vent cleaner and cleaning gel, which works like Silly Putty to pick up dirt and dust in hard-to-clean spaces. And the best part is all the tools come packed inside a well-built carrying case.
Each of the cleaning chemicals comes in a 16-ounce bottle, each with its own spray nozzle. Relentless Drive also includes a 3.5-gallon bucket that collapses when not in use. No heavy-duty wax or polish is included, but the package has everything you need to get your car sparkling inside and outside.
Car Wash Soap
Ceramic Spray Wax
Wheel Cleaner Spray
Glass Cleaner Spray
Interior Cleaner Spray
Large Microfiber Towel
Small Microfiber Towel
Microfiber Mop Glove
Microfiber Tire Brush
Microfiber Vent Cleaner/Brush
Car Dust Cleaning Gel
Meguiar's Classic Wash & Wax Kit
You'd be hard-pressed to find a garage without at least one Meguiar's cleaning product in it, and this kit makes it clear why. Meguiar's Classic Wash & Wax Kit includes everything you need to keep your car clean and protected: sponges, a microfiber cloth, soaps, waxes, and more.
The included cloth is generously sized, and the 16-ounce bottles of cleaners and waxes are large enough to get you and your ride through a handful of washes. You'll need to bring your own bucket, but this affordable kit from an industry titan should get you up and running.
Gold Class Car Wash
Interior Detailer Cleaner
Quick Detailer Cleaner
Six-ounce Wheel & Tire Cleaner
Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Builder Kit
Chemical Guys' Arsenal Builder Kit is a perennial bestseller on Amazon, and it's clear why: The company's premium starter kit has all the tools and chemicals needed to keep your vehicle looking great. The included bottles are substantial, the spray nozzles are sturdy, and the entire kit fits inside the provided five-gallon bucket.
In addition to six soaps and sprays, Chemical Guys also includes a foam cannon for sudsing up your car with minimal effort. There's also a collection of microfiber towels and brushes, rounding out one of the more comprehensive sets we tested.
Heavy-Duty Detailing Bucket (with Grit Guard)
Speed Wipe Quick Detailer
TORQ Foam Cannon
Diablo Wheel Gel
Honeydew Snow Foam
Butter Wet Wax
Signature Series Glass Cleaner
Silk Shine Protectant
Three Microfiber Towels
Adam's Polishes 21-Piece Arsenal Builder Kit
We were going to say Adam's Polishes threw everything but the kitchen sink into its Arsenal Builder kit, but the reality is the included 3.5-gallon bucket could probably double as a sink if needed. While the "21-piece" label is slightly misleading (three strawberry-scented air fresheners count toward that total), this is one of the most comprehensive kits we evaluated.
The tool and towel collection is the best of the bunch. There are 16-ounce spray bottles of almost every type of cleaner. And the foam sprayer, in particular, highlights just how serious Adam's is about getting your vehicle back to its former glory.
Unfortunately, not everything in the kit fits inside the bucket. If you don't mind this kit taking up the space, you’ll have a tough time finding a better all-in-one solution.
3.5-Gallon Bucket with Grit Guard
Foam Spray Gun
Large Microfiber Chamois
Three Microfiber Towels
Three Air Fresheners
Total Interior Cleaner
Wheel & Tire Cleaner
Car Gods Car Detailing Kit
Despite the absence of cleaning tools, Car Gods' Car Cleaning Detailing Kit was one of the more impressive kits we evaluated. It features all the main chemicals you'll need in a quality package.
The 16-ounce bottles are made of thick plastic and feel good in the hand, particularly when paired with the soft-squeeze spray nozzles. Car Gods uses squared-off bottles instead of the more conventional cylinder shape used by other manufacturers. This design allows the bottles to stack much more efficiently inside the included carrying case, which is padded with individual netted compartments for each particular cleaner.
The bottles are numbered for the chronological order in which you're supposed to use each chemical throughout the wash process, but stage three is absent. That's because the third step in Car Gods' cleaning system is to use its Clay Bar Kit—but it's sold separately.
U.K.-based Car Gods doesn't manufacture cleaning tools. But if you don't mind bringing your own gear, this kit is second to none in selection, product quality, and presentation.
Fall Out Eliminator
Diamond Carnauba Wax
Black Angel Tyre Serum
Speed Shine Detailer
Wheel Perfection Cleaner
Glass Perfection Cleaner
Griot's Garage Car Care Kit
Griot's Garage Starter Car Care Kit eschews nearly all the tools and accessories to keep it simple. It includes five 16-ounce bottles: two pour bottles and three spray bottles.
While it might seem like a small detail, the sprayers on these bottles were the nicest of the bunch we used. They felt sturdy, and the extra-large levers made them easy to squeeze, even with gloves on. The generously-portioned containers are a nice bonus, especially considering the car-washing soap is "super concentrated" and only requires 0.5 ounce of soap per gallon of water.
The sole accessory included in the kit is a well-made circular sponge for the Best of Show Wax. As long as you have cleaning tools and towels on hand, this starter kit gives you everything you need to revitalize your ride.
"Best of Show" Wax
Vinyl and Rubber Restorer
Concentrated Car Wash
Invisible Glass Treatment Kit
As the company's name suggests, this kit is designed to keep all the windows on your vehicle clean and protected from Mother Nature. The largest bottle in the kit is Invisible Glass's tint-safe glass cleaner. This 22-ounce bottle is a do-it-all solution for cleaning your windows, windshield, mirrors, and more.
The two smaller bottles (both eight ounces) are Anti-Fog and Rain Repellent. The anti-fog spray is used inside the windows to keep windows from fogging up. The hydrophobic rain-repellent spray gets applied to the outside of your windows to help rain bead more easily.
One large microfiber towel is included, but we've found we usually need both a "wet" and "dry" microfiber to truly make our car's glass sparkle. Further, Invisible Glass boasts a "Streak-Free Guarantee"—they will give you your money back if you're unhappy with the product's performance. In our experience, though, Amazon often doesn't honor manufacturer warranties or guarantees. Buyer beware.
Rain Repellent Spray
Two Microfiber Towels
Rev Auto Wheel Cleaning Kit
If all you want to do is clean up your vehicle's tires and wheels, Rev Auto's Complete Wheel Cleaning Kit gives you everything you'll need to get the job done. The kit includes the company's Brake Away wheel cleaner and Uber Shine tire shine spray, each of which comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle.
There's also an included bristle brush for getting inside rims, a microfiber cloth, and a shining sponge for putting the finishing touches on it. As a bonus, Rev Auto says the Uber Shine is also acceptable to use on vinyl and plastic trim elsewhere on your vehicle to restore color and shine.
Brake Away Wheel Cleaner
Uber Shine Tire Shine
Tire Shine Sponge
Rev Auto Vinyl Wrap Kit
Vinyl wraps aren't cheap, so it only makes sense you'd want to keep your investment in tip-top shape. This kit from Rev Auto is designed specifically for cleaning vinyl wraps.
The kit includes 16-ounce bottles of Wrap APC, Wrap Shampoo, and Wrap Guard. Wrap APC is designed to get light to medium stains, scuffs, and soot from your wrap, while the high-foam Wrap Shampoo is made to clean gloss, satin, and matte vinyl wraps. Once cleaned and dried, the Wrap Guard helps protect and extend the life of your vinyl wraps.
No cleaning tools or buckets are included in this kit, so you'll want to ensure you have some on hand before getting started.
Well Life Car Care Kit
If you're looking for an eco-friendly car cleaning option, Well Life has you covered with its plant-based cleaning kit. It's rather basic compared to the competition, with only two eight-ounce containers of car shampoo and all-purpose lemon-apricot cleaner. Still, what it lacks in quantity it makes up in being a natural solution that should have minimal impact on waterways and wildlife.
The soap and cleaner are free from parabens and phthalates and are PH balanced. Well Life, a small, woman-owned business, also includes a canvas carrying case, a collapsible silicone bucket (2.6 gallons), a pair of vinyl gloves, an expanding sponge, a large microfiber towel (30 by 15 inches), and a bonus silicone smartphone grip to put on your dash.
Car Wash Shampoo
Large Microfiber Towel
Two Vinyl Gloves
Collapsible Silicone Bucket
Silicone Phone Holder
Canvas Carrying Case
Jay Leno's Garage Wash & Gloss Kit
If you're looking for an affordable, no-frills collection of cleaners for your car, Jay Leno has you covered with this eight-piece all-inclusive collection. Everything comes packed inside a 3.5-gallon bucket, which comically counts as two of its "eight" pieces (one for the bucket, one for the lid).
Within that bucket are six 16-ounce bottles, each with the spray nozzle already attached. While having the spray nozzles pre-installed is convenient, this kit helped us to realize why nearly every other manufacturer ships its products with the spray nozzles unattached: two of the bottles leaked during shipping.
Shipping snafu aside, the included bucket is large, and throwing the entire kit and a few microfibers inside with a lid on top is a convenient way to ensure nothing gets lost between washes.
Wash + Wax
Tire & Trim Care
Wheel & Tire Cleaner
Car Cleaning Steps
A clean car begins with a solid plan of attack. Here'sn how to get the most out of your car cleaning kit.
Start with the interior: Remove any trash or debris from the car. Then, use a handheld vacuum or a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to remove dust and dirt from the seats, carpets, and dashboard.
Clean the windows: Use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean the windows. Be sure to clean both the inside and outside of the windows.
Wash the exterior: Use a dedicated car-washing soap; dish or household soaps can include chemicals that are harmful to your paint or finish. Start with the roof and work your way down. Avoid cleaning your car in direct sunlight, and never allow cleaning products to dry on the vehicle's surface. Use a microfiber towel or a soft sponge to avoid scratching the paint; a grit guard at the bottom of your bucket will help keep your towel or sponge from picking up chunks of dirt and debris. Rinse the car thoroughly with a hose or pressure washer.
Dry the car: Use a microfiber towel or a chamois to dry the car after washing it. This will help prevent water spots from forming on the paint.
Clean the wheels: Use a wheel cleaner and a brush to clean the wheels. Rinse the wheels thoroughly with a hose or pressure washer.
Wax the car: Apply a coat of wax to the car's exterior to protect the paint and give it a shine. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying wax.
Maintain the car: Regularly cleaning your car will help keep it looking new. Be sure to wash your car at least once a month and wax it every three to four months. You can also use a protectant spray on the dashboard and leather and plastic surfaces to help prevent them from fading or cracking over time.
How often should I wash my car?
Cleaning-chemical manufacturers recommend washing your car every two weeks or so, depending on how often you use it and the weather conditions in your geographical location. However, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and where you drive.
If you drive on dirt roads in the summer or salty streets in the winter, you'll likely want to wash much more frequently than if you're only making casual commutes on clean, paved highways. But even on the cleanest roads, bugs, dirt, and other debris can be kicked up onto and underneath your vehicle. Evaluate your vehicle every time you drive.
Can I use a pressure washer to wash my car?
Yes, you can use a pressure washer to wash your car. However, using the correct nozzle and pressure setting is important to avoid damaging your car's paint and any external features.
Where should I wash my car?
It's recommended that you wash your vehicle out of direct sunlight and in an area where water and chemicals can properly drain away as needed.
Do I need to dry my car after washing it?
It's important to dry your car after washing it to avoid water spots and prevent rust from forming on your car's metal surfaces. It'll also prevent other dirt and debris from immediately sticking to the vehicle after a wash.
Why Trust Us
Our evaluations were conducted in an environment that provided equal testing procedures for each product: the Car and Driver garage. We evaluated the build quality of the included components, assessed the value of the kits, and took notes throughout our hands-on analysis to come to our conclusions.
Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. We don't need to game search engines to get traffic, or promote lousy products just to make a sale. We're more concerned with our legacy, our reputation, and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest evaluations and expert opinions.
Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.
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