Best Car Detailing Products [2022 Guide] (2022)

From a headlight restorer to carnauba wax, our product review team tests five of the best car care products.

By: Will Moore

08/05/2022 9:07 am

You undoubtedly know the importance of regular maintenance in keeping your car running smoothly, but dedicating time to car cleaning can also help preserve the value of your vehicle. So if paying a professional isn’t in your budget, what are some of the best car detailing products to consider?

Our product team conducted hands-on testing of several auto detailing products we believe should be on your car care list. This in-depth review will look at five of the best car detailing products for tackling grime inside and outside your vehicle. We also scored each item on factors such as price and performance.

5 Best Car Detailing Products

Best Car Detailing Products [2022 Guide] (6)

  1. Best Headlight Restorer: Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit
  2. Best Wheel Cleaner: Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner
  3. Best Car Detailing Vacuum: DeWalt DXV08S
  4. Best Car Wax: P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax
  5. Best Car Wash Soap: Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax

#1 Best Headlight Restorer: Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit

Best Car Detailing Products [2022 Guide] (7)

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When it comes to auto detailing, foggy headlights are among the most notable parts of a car. The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit was our top pick forbest headlight restoration kitdue to the stellar results we saw.

Your headlights may not look brand new after one run-through with the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit, but your kit should at least remove yellowing and improve visibility. Making cloudy headlights look new again could require several passes through the instructions and plenty of elbow grease.

Overall4.5 out of 5
Results5 out of 5
Clarity of Instructions5 out of 5
Value4 out of 5

Key Features

  • Includes surface activator, clarifying compound, UV-blocking clear coat, three sheets of waterproof sandpaper, three applicator cloths, and one vinyl glove
  • UV protection
  • Lifetime warranty

Our Experience

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The Sylvania kit did an excellent job tackling oxidation buildup on some heavily sun damaged headlights. For a single pass, it outperformed every competitor. We also like that Sylvania includes a sealant that helps protect against UV rays long-term.

The one downside is that you only get enough materials for one car, although Sylvania says the result should last the life of the vehicle.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on 19,000 ratings

Customers appreciate the simple application process and quick results. Negative reviews often mention poor customer service when reaching out to the manufacturer about the lifetime warranty.

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What Else Should I Consider?

If you need to restore the headlights on more than one vehicle or don’t feel like paying $20 every time you want to detail your car, consider theMothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kitor theCerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit. Both offer plenty of product at a similar price, and Cerakote’s ceramic coating makes it unique compared to other kits.

#2 Best Wheel Cleaner: Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner

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If you’re looking to remove grime, make a wheel sparkle, or restore tire shine, Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner can deliver. It was the standout product in our wheel cleaner review for its ability to remove brake dust and other debris.

Cleaning power aside, our team likes that the Turtle Wax spray is a dual-purpose cleaner for both tires and wheels, and it got bonus points for being biodegradable.

Overall4.5 out of 5
Cleaning Power4.5 out of 5
Cost4.5 out of 5

Key Features

  • Acts in under one minute
  • 23.0-fluid-ounce spray bottle
  • Works on all OEM wheels and tires

Our Experience

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The Turtle Wax spray did an outstanding job of cleaning a dirty wheel that hadn’t been cleaned in years. It cuts through dirt easily, making it a great choice for a degreaser or tire dressing in a car wash kit.

The one downside to the Turtle Wax is that other options are better suited for chrome wheels and custom paint jobs. But at under $15 a bottle, the Turtle Wax cleaner is still an impressive product.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on 4,900 ratings

Numerous reviews note the wheel cleaner’s value and its cleaning capabilities, but some say it causes car paint to deteriorate on custom paint jobs.

What Else Should I Consider?

Our runner-up for best wheel cleaner is Meguiar’s G180132 formula, which is gentler on custom paints and aftermarket wheels. Another inexpensive option is Adam’s wheel cleaner, which also performs well against caked-on grime.

#3 Best Car Detailing Vacuum: DeWalt DXV08S

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A vacuum is a must-have for interior detailing. It not only removes built-up debris but can also prepare upholstery for deeper cleaning. Our pick for a car vacuum is the DeWalt DXV08S. Even though it comes in a large package, the DeWalt is surprisingly nimble and has plenty of suction power.

Overall4.5 out of 5
Suction Power4.5 out of 5
Maneuverability3.5 out of 5
Ease of Maintenance4 out of 5
Versatility5 out of 5

Key Features

  • 8.0-gallon tank
  • Five hose extensions
  • Wet or dry vacuuming

Our Experience

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Our review team found the DeWalt DXV08S more than capable of handling the standard residue found in most cars. It removed deeply embedded trash easily, and we found it surprisingly lightweight for its size.

Portability aside, it’s still bulky and won’t fit inside most cars while you’re working. This is a device that works best in the hands of professional detailers rather than someone looking for an affordable vacuum.

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What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on around 200 ratings

Though not often reviewed on Amazon, the DeWalt DXV08S comes highly recommended. Happy customers praise the vacuum’s high-quality design and performance.

Some critical reviews report parts malfunctioning or the vacuum not having as much power as advertised.

What Else Should I Consider?

We mentioned this is a large vacuum (it weighs 14.9 pounds), which might deter some customers. One of our favorite products we tested for ourbest car vacuumsroundup was theMilwaukee 0880-20. At just over 2 pounds and incredibly compact, it routinely showed it could hang with larger products.

#4 Best Car Wax: P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax

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Another essential item in any collection of automotive cleaning products is car wax. Our pick is the P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax because of its long-lasting properties and how it works on most vehicle surfaces.

Overall4.5 out of 5
Protection5 out of 5
Longevity4.5 out of 5
Ease of Application4 out of 5

Key Features

  • Paste-style wax
  • Single-step application process
  • More value per ounce than similar products

Our Experience

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Applying the P21S Carnauba Wax proved simple, and we found that a small amount covered a large portion of the vehicle. Although our review team didn’t have any problems with streaking or leftover residue, it’s worth noting we used the wax during the summer when it was more malleable.

We could see this wax being more difficult to work with at lower temperatures, but it delivered solid results.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 1,000 ratings

Many users like the easy application process and say the results are worth the higher price point. However, some customers report struggling to remove the wax and seeing an unpleasant residue.

What Else Should I Consider?

If this carnauba wax isn’t cutting the mustard, Meguiar’s G210516 Ultimate Liquid Wax is another great option from our review of the best car waxes. The synthetic polymer works on most car surfaces from metal to plastic and promises long-lasting results.

#5 Best Car Wash Soap: Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax

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Above, we highlighted the importance of reliable car wax. Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax is a quality product that’s soap and wax in one. It was our Best Overall pick forcar wash soapsbecause of its performance and formula.

Overall4.5 out of 5
Foaming Ability4.5 out of 5
Results5 out of 5
Water Spot and Streak Resistance5 out of 5

Key Features

  • pH neutral
  • Safe for use on clear coats
  • Slow-drying formula

Our Experience

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(Video) New CarPro detailing products 2022 !!!

Meguiar’s Ultimate Wax & Wash includes plenty of product at around $13 for 48 ounces. You only need 1 ounce of the soap per gallon of water. We even did a 2-to-1 ratio of water to soap and discovered it still performed well.

We also like that it’s a pH-neutral formula, meaning it lacks acidity that would damage car paint. Our review team also discovered the Meguiar’s didn’t leave any water spots or streaks on our test car.

Our only complaint is that the citrus scent doesn’t entirely mask the chemical smell of the soap, but that’s a relatively minor inconvenience.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 7,100 ratings

Positive reviews often highlight the product’s powerful formula and the quality of the finish after a wash. Some negative reviews say the waxing side of the formula isn’t as impressive.

What Else Should I Consider?

If you’re seeking a straight-up car soap, our runner-up pick was the Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap and Shampoo. It’s also pH neutral but features a more pleasant cherry smell and plenty of foaming capability.

Car Detailing Products Testing Process

Our product review team conducted in-person testing on each item we profiled. We looked at five products for each superlative and chose the best overall based on performance, value, and ease of use.

What Is Car Detailing?

Car detailing is a bit of a catchall term for cleaning a vehicle’s interior and exterior. It can be as simple as a car wash or as involved as repairing the leatherwork on a driver’s seat. The best car detailing products are usually specialized items that anyone from a DIY quick detailer to a car care enthusiast can use.

How Do I Choose The Right Detailing Products?

As we mentioned above, car detailing is a broad term. Before loading up your shopping cart think about the type of work you want to perform on your car. Are you trying to apply a paint sealant to protect the car’s finish? Or do you want a cleaning kit that includes a foam cannon for maximum suds?

Maintenance is another aspect. Doing touchup work on paint blemishes is another common car detailing, so paint pens may prove helpful. Plus, an aluminum wheel polish may preserve the shine after a deep clean.

Detailing Supplies Buyers Guide

While the hard work isn’t glamorous, a clean and well-detailed car is worth a few beads of sweat. And if you want high-quality results, you’ll need the right tools in addition to the proper exterior and interior cleaners.

Use The Right Towel

Plenty of products suggest cleaning the surface before you start detailing the area, such as the headlights. It’s important to follow directions for the best results, and this includes using a microfiber cloth for drying towels when necessary.

A microfiber towel is an essential part of a car care kit because it doesn’t streak as easily as regular towels. The towel’s design enables it to absorb liquids and other substances, but different piles – the visible strand of a cloth – are better suited for different tasks. You can learn more in our reviews of thebest microfiber towelsandcar drying towels.

Find The Right Car Wax

Anyone seeking a DIY car wax project needs to know about the three types of wax you can use for at-home applications: spray wax, paste wax, and liquid wax.

  • Spray wax:Easy-to-apply coating with a low level of protection
  • Paste wax:Thorough protection but difficult to handle and expensive
  • Liquid wax:Midway point between spray wax and paste wax

Other Tools

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the best car detailing products. The parts of your car you clean and polish could depend on your budget. You may want to consider a few other items:

  • Auto glass cleaners
  • Car paint pens
  • Car scratch removers
  • Car air fresheners
  • Car carpet cleaners
  • Floor mats for cars
  • Car buffers

Our Review Standards

The car detailing products in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors such as the following:

  • Prime shipping eligibility
  • Customer ratings
  • Amazon superlatives
  • Price

For testing purposes, our team ordered the five car detailing products that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a car, noting the product’s performance, value, and more. We assigned each car detailing product a rating out of 5 stars.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more.

Best Car Detailing Products: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.

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FAQs

What products do pro detailers use? ›

Here are 5 must-haves every pro detailer has to keep your car looking fresh and pristine!
  • Car wash detergent. One of the most essential steps of the car care process is to wash your car every couple of weeks. ...
  • Microfiber towel. ...
  • Polishing compound. ...
  • Cutting pad. ...
  • Car Wax.

What products do professional car Valeters use? ›

Products and equipment
  • Some cleaning solution to mix with water when rinsing down your car.
  • Glass cleaner (no ammonia)
  • Foam car shampoo (if fabric seats), or leather cleaner (if leather seats)
  • Wax.
  • Two buckets.
  • A stiff brush.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Wash mitt.
15 Mar 2016

What do professional car detailers use to clean cars? ›

Dishwashing detergent is simply too harsh. It sucks important oils out of your car's finish and can actually shorten the life of your paint. A car detailer will use car wash soap for professional car detailing, like Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash.

How do I detail my car like a professional? ›

Car Detailing 101: How To Detail Like A Professional - YouTube

What wax do professional detailers use? ›

There are virtually endless varieties of wax available that each brings something unique to the table. Our preferred wax is Carnauba wax, which is typically preferred among professional detailers.

What's best to clean inside of car? ›

What to do: Clean with a soft cloth (preferably chamois) and a glass cleaner containing alcohol. Use two cloths to avoid streaks: Apply the product with one, and wipe the glass clean with the other. What not to do: To avoid getting cleaner on your upholstery, always remember to spray the cloth and not the glass.

Is Adams or chemical guys better? ›

Adam's Polishes is a way better company than CG but they've always appeared to be behind the detailing market as if they appear to be following other manufacturers lead. They have very similar products to CG but do not partake in the consumer overload and snake oil that CG enjoys so much.

What products do you need to detail a car? ›

The best car detailing products include microfiber wash mitts, quality car waxes and soaps, a headlight restoration kit, and a powerful vacuum.

Does washing your car remove wax? ›

Waxing your car takes a lot of work, so it is important to know if washing your car will remove the wax. Washing your car will not remove wax if you're using a car wash soap. Although, frequent washing could cause your wax to fade quicker than normal.

How often should you valet your car? ›

We recommend that your car is washed at least twice a month and waxed at least once every 90 days.

What is the fastest way to detail a car? ›

3 Simple Tips To Work Faster- Auto Detailing Business Tips! - YouTube

How do I clean the inside of my car like a pro? ›

Follow these steps to clean every curve, crack, and crevice of your car:
  1. Take Out and Clean Floor Mats. ...
  2. Vacuum Interior. ...
  3. Clear Dust and Disinfect Dashboard. ...
  4. Carefully Clean Console. ...
  5. Clean Cupholders, Door Panels, and Steering Wheel. ...
  6. Wipe Interior Windows. ...
  7. Take Care of Seats. ...
  8. Deodorize.
24 Jun 2022

What do car detailers use to make car smell good? ›

Ozium was created in the 1940s as a sanitizing spray, but it eventually caught on with car people. Dealerships use it to freshen used cars. Car detailers use it. Car owners use it to keep their cars smelling nice.

How do I make my car shine like glass? ›

How To Give Your Car A Glossy Shine - Chemical Guys Car Care - YouTube

Does clay bar remove clear coat? ›

Clay bar detailing is an effective means of removing the embedded particles from the clear coat. The clay encases and adheres to the tiny bits of debris and literally yanks them from the clear coat. If performed correctly, you can remove particles without leaving any traces on the clear coat.

What makes a good car detailer? ›

Anyone can wash and clean their car, but that does not make them professionals. A good auto detailer should have experience in his line of work. The best car detailers have years of experience dealing with all types of vehicles. When looking for the right car detailer, check which detailing packages they offer.

What is the number one rated car wax? ›

Best Overall: CarGuys Premium Series Hybrid Wax

Its carnauba wax satisfies shine enthusiasts, and the polymer additives provide long-lasting protection against UV rays, plus a hydrophobic coating to repel moisture. Lasting up to 6 months, this spray-type wax is easy to apply.

What wax makes your car the shiniest? ›

Editor's Pick: Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax

Its Ultimate Liquid Wax is arguably the brand's most popular offering and it's one of our personal favorites. Seasoned auto detailers swear by this car wax for its ease of application/removal, affordable price, and durability.

Is it better to polish or wax a car? ›

Polish should be used before wax, as it helps to restore auto paint that has lost its shine due to oxidation. Car polish does this by removing a very fine layer of the paintwork so the appearance of scratches is minimized as they settle into the coat. Car polishes vary in terms of their levels of abrasiveness.

Is Dawn dish soap safe for car interior? ›

Is liquid dish soap bad for a vehicle's paint? The short answer is no, damage to a vehicle's paint or clear coat is nothing to worry about. Regular old Dawn liquid dish soap won't damage a vehicle's clear coat, but is not ideal for general maintenance washing since it will remove wax, leaving your vehicle unprotected.

How do you dull a shiny dashboard? ›

Use some weak APC first to remove the shine, then use a matte interior detailer, like CG inner clean.

What is the best dashboard cleaner? ›

The 10 Best Car Dashboard Cleaners
  • Meguiar's Ultimate Interior Cleaner. ...
  • Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant. ...
  • TriNova Premium Dashboard Cleaner. ...
  • Adam's 10 Interior Cleaner. ...
  • Carfidant Ultimate Car Interior Cleaner. ...
  • SHINE ARMOR Car Interior Cleaner. ...
  • Sonax Dashboard Cleaner.
18 Jul 2022

How long does Adam's ceramic coating last? ›

Providing 9H hardness, 5+ years of protection even in the harshest conditions.

Is Adams Polish good? ›

Are Adam's Polishes Products ACTUALLY Worth It? - YouTube

Where are chemical Guys products made? ›

At Chemical Guys, we don't just manufacture the highest quality chemicals here in California, we specialize in manufacturing unique solutions in an ever-changing industry.

What is the best car detailer? ›

Best detailing spray details
Best detailing sprayBrandName
OverallAdam'sDetail Spray
For the moneyMothersCalifornia Gold Instant Detailer
Safe for wrapsChemical GuysWrap Detailer
Ceramic coatingChemical GuysCarbon Flex Vitalize
1 more row
26 Aug 2022

Is a car detailing business profitable? ›

According to guidetodetailing.com, a one-person detailing business can bring in as much as $90,000 per year. That figure is based on an average of three jobs per day for five days at $120 per job.

Is meguiars worth? ›

Absolutely. There's a reason why so many high-end detailers continue to use Meguiars products decade after decade. They're efficient, affordable, and highly effective. They might have less entertaining packaging and smells, but in the end, they outperform many products that are triple the price.

What equipment do I need to start a car detailing business? ›

Equipment Needed to Start a Car Detailing Business
  • Shop-Vac – You'll need a wet/dry vacuum that can suck up both liquids and dry dirt and debris.
  • Buffers – You will need at least a dual-action and rotary buffer for buffing and polishing vehicles. ...
  • Air Compressor – You may need an air compressor for your buffers.

What tools are needed to detail a car? ›

Top 10 Auto Detailing Essentials
  • Buckets. ...
  • Car wash hand mitt. ...
  • Applicators and brushes. ...
  • Foam cannon. ...
  • LED auto detailing light. ...
  • Vacuum and blower. ...
  • Plastic razor blades. ...
  • Drying tools.

How long does it take to detail a car? ›

Car Detailing is an intricate service and depending on the selected package, it can range from 4 hours to 7 days. Detailing time increases and become more aggressive the worser a vehicles condition is. As well as polishing time, vehicles are firstly prepared with a safe-wash, tar remover and clay decontamination.

How long does a paste wax last? ›

Paste Wax – The most traditional wax formulation puts a thick, protective layer over a vehicle's clear coat. Due to its dense consistency, paste wax takes longer to apply, but it also lasts longer on a car's surface. Reapplication time can be anywhere from three to six months.

How profitable is a car detailing business? ›

Profitability Scenarios

According to guidetodetailing.com, a one-person detailing business can bring in as much as $90,000 per year. That figure is based on an average of three jobs per day for five days at $120 per job.

Is starting a car detailing business worth it? ›

A car detailing business can be a very satisfying and a financially rewarding business. Customers are looking for a great service with plenty of cars and other vehicles to clean. There are a few things that will be important to starting a successful car detailing business.

How do I start a small car detailing business? ›

8 steps to open a car detailing business
  1. Gain experience. ...
  2. Write a business plan. ...
  3. Choose a business entity structure. ...
  4. Get your business licensed and permitted. ...
  5. Purchase the appropriate levels of insurance. ...
  6. Invest in the right equipment. ...
  7. Don't neglect your finances. ...
  8. Establish a marketing plan for growth.

How do you deep clean dirty car seats? ›

How To Super Clean Cloth and Leather Seats - YouTube

What is the fastest way to detail a car? ›

3 Simple Tips To Work Faster- Auto Detailing Business Tips! - YouTube

What Is a Stage 2 car polish? ›

A two stage machine polish is given to eliminate light swirls/scratches, oxidation and dull and hazy paintwork that is damaged over the years by poor wash technique, bad contact and strong chemicals.

Is it customary to tip car detailers? ›

The 15% Rule: Tipping 15% of the total cost of service is the standard tip amount for full-service detailing, and for any situation in which you aren't sure how much you should tip your auto detailer. For example, if your mobile detailing cost a total of $100, a $15 tip for the auto detailer would be appropriate.

What's better liquid wax or paste? ›

Compared to paste wax, liquid waxes are gentler on your car's finish. They are a better choice for newer cars or those with well-preserved finishes. Liquid wax is easier to apply and buff off.

Which is better spray wax or paste wax? ›

A paste wax creates a better layer of protection for your vehicle which can be extremely useful during those harsh winter OR summer months. A spray wax, however, is a great way to quickly bring out your vehicle's true shining potential between heavy wax jobs.

Can you put too much wax on a car? ›

There's no such thing as causing damage by waxing too much. However, only one layer of wax will bond to the paint at a time. Adding more layers won't add extra protection or gloss. Waxing once every 2-3 months is optimal.

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