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Although car cleaning kits can be used by most anyone, the vast majority of starter kits are catered towards the general public. These car cleaning kits will usually consist of the bare essentials (i.e. car soap, interior cleaner, tire protectant, etc.), however they may be a bit more comprehensive and provide you with extra products to get you introduced into the car cleaning world.
The number of pieces in each car cleaning kit is not that very important. Obviously, it does indicate how many different products are offered in the kit, but you’ll find that after a certain number of basic items, these additional pieces tend to be “nice-to-have” items that just add to the total cost. Furthermore, the count could include products like microfiber towels; for example if you had 3 microfiber towels in a kit, the manufacturer could add a count of 3 to the number of pieces in the kit. As you can see from this example, the extra pieces doesn’t matter much. I’ve included the number of pieces in the kits listed here simply to distinguish one kit from another.
The number of different car cleaning kits available is so vast since a car cleaning kit can be bundled with an endless combination or products and chemicals. To make matters more confusing, the amount of different products and chemicals available in the current car care market is overwhelming. So, I’ve put this list together to not only make it easier to understand why one kit may be better than the other, but to also help you understand why any particular kit is best for you.
How this Car Cleaning Kit List was Compiled
I normally create these “best of” lists based on a manual compilation of reliable sources online. However, I’ve had some experience with many of these products as standalone items in order to determine what does or doesn’t work.
Again, because of the unlimited combination of products that can be bundled together in these starter kits, it’s common to find a kit that has good and mediocre products mixed together. Because these kits are generally marketed towards the general public, they will still sell well. They’ll also get good reviews because these folks may not know any better.
I’m not trying to knock anyone for using these kits. In fact, I could take many of these kits and put them to good use. The good thing about these kits is that they offer a nice variety of products and they do get the job done. To some people, a car wash is a car wash and using a certain type of product may not matter as much to them compared to others. To that end, I’ve explained why I’ve ranked these car cleaning kits in the way that I have below. I hope this helps you in your search to find the best car cleaning kit.
Best Car Cleaning Kit List
- Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit, 12pc
- Adam’s Arsenal Builder Car Cleaning Kit, 21pc / Restock Kit, 6pc
- Chemical Guys HOL126 Arsenal Builder Car Wash Kit, 14pc + 6 Chemicals
- Chemical Guys Wash & Shine Kit, 7pc
- Adam’s Complete 2 Bucket Car Wash Kit
- Meguiar’s Classic Wash & Wax Kit, 8pc
- Turtle Wax Ultimate Car Care Kit, 10pc
- Armor All Ultimate Car Detailing Kit, 9pc
- Turtle Wax Interior & Exterior Complete Car Care Kit, 4pc
- Armor All Car Wash & Car Cleaner Kit, 4pc
Details on Each Car Cleaning Kit
I think this is one of the best car cleaning kits available to buy right now. Not only is Meguiar’s a spectacular brand to go with for car care products, but the particular line of products offered in this kit is excellent. If you’re looking into minor scratch removal and removing surface contaminants from the paint, this kit offers products to handle those tasks. The price is pretty decent at around $65. This kit is perfect for those who already have car wash buckets, grit guards, and wash mitts as those items are not included in the kit.
This kit is called an “arsenal builder”, providing a large collection of items you’d need for a thorough car wash. This would include the buckets, foam gun, grit guard, and even wheel/tire brushes. The price is higher at $100, but you really get almost everything you’d need to wash your car and then some.
The thing that I also like about this kit is that Adam’s Polishes makes things very easy to understand: car soap is called car shampoo, interior cleaner is called total interior cleaner— it’s easy to know what each product is used for. This is a pleasant contrast to the confusing names that many car care companies use these days. Finally, once you get the arsenal builder kit, you can then purchase the restock kit when you need to replenish the chemicals.
Okay, so everyone knows Chemical Guys because of their incredible marketing. The selection of car cleaning kits that they offer is mind-boggling and it’s difficult to distinguish one from another. They do offer some good products, which still use to this day.
If you do plan to go with a Chemical Guys starter kit, I suggest going with their base HOL126 car cleaning kit, which really sets you up well from the beginning. This kit is an “arsenal builder” kit, which offers pretty much everything you need for a complete car wash and includes a foam gun in this specific kit. You can always opt for extra chemicals or products by buying the HOL148 kit, but in my opinion you’re paying extra for non-essentials. There’s also an HOL169 kit, which includes a foam cannon if you want to step up your game with pre-soaking.
This is another Chemical Guys car cleaning kit that is not as extensive as the arsenal builder listed above, but it’s a nice kit for someone wanting to get started with washing their own car. I like the inclusion of a bucket and grit guard to help minimize scratching. This is the kind of kit you’ll find at the local Walmart or Target; I am even seeing these at Costco now. The thing that I wish would be included is a drying towel and maybe some microfiber towels. However, I’ve noticed that these types of kits that cater to the public don’t usually include these items.
This is not a typical starter car cleaning kit, and it is more expensive (about $130) compared to the other starter kits. However, I think it deserves a place on this list because it employs the use of the Two Bucket Wash Method. This is a process of washing your car that minimizes scratching of your car’s paint. This is a simple and effective starter kit that includes buckets, grit guards, wash mitts, and more to fully wash and dry a vehicle.
If you look at the products included in this kit, it only has products to wash your car’s paint and nothing more. There are no extra wheel or tire products are included. The only extra chemical is the detail spray, which is used to maintain your vehicle after you’ve done a full wash. This kit seems to focus on the washing of the car’s paint and nothing more, but it truly provides the whole wash package if you want to wash your car while minimizing scratches.
This is another Meguiar’s car cleaning kit with quality products. Some of these products aren’t typically found in starter kits such as a sponge and a cleaner wax, but they still work quite well. Just like the other Meguiar’s kit on this list, it doesn’t have buckets or grit guards, but the products that are included are superb.
This car care kit from Turtle Wax has a wide variety of products that will take care of a lot of different things when caring for your vehicle. The products are not something a seasoned car detailer would use, but it’d certainly be fine for the average person wanting to care for their car. I included it here because there’s a nice assortment of products and it’s pretty darn affordable ($30).
This is a full car cleaning kit that the average person will be more than happy with. Like the Turtle Wax kit earlier, this is not a kit that a car cleaning enthusiast would normally use, but it will get the job done. This kit is a bit pricier and costs $10 more than the Turtle Wax one.
This is a small kit that only offers four chemicals (no actual car washing products like towels or wash mitts.) It’s a simple and incredibly cheap kit (about $10) that may be of use to those who already has the car wash accessories, occasionally washes their car, and doesn’t want to spend much money. This is more likely catered to people who aren’t that particular about how their car is washed, but just want their car clean.
This is a small and low-cost kit with few basic products. The glass cleaner comes in a wipe-form, if that’s what you like. Again, you’d need to have the car wash accessories (i.e. buckets, wash mitt, etc.) as this doesn’t include them. This kit costs $5 more than the similarly packaged Turtle Wax 4pc kit listed above.
Car Cleaning Kit FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- What should I be looking for a car cleaning kit?
- How many pieces in a starter kit do I need?
- How much should I spend for a car cleaning kit?
- What is a good car cleaning kit to give as a gift?
- Does the brand of the car cleaning kit matter?
What should I be looking for a car cleaning kit?
As I mentioned earlier in this post, there are an unlimited number of combinations of kits when it comes to car cleaning kits. At the minimum, I recommend the following basic items for a car wash (which to me, is a wash of the exterior paint, cleaning of the wheels/tires, and an interior cleaning):
- Car wash bucket
- Grit guard
- Wash mitt
- Car soap
- Drying towel
- Wheel brush
- Wheel cleaner
- Interior cleaner
- Glass cleaner
- Microfiber towels
These are items that I’d consider must-haves in order to perform a car wash, but these items are strictly for cleaning of the car’s paint, wheels, and interior. There aren’t any protection products like wax, interior protectant, etc. Also products that can be used for more thorough cleaning are not included.
This is what makes a ready-to-buy car cleaning kit so attractive as most everything is already bundled together for you. You don’t need to think about what you need or don’t need, you just use what is provided to you in the starter kit. If you need additional products, you can always purchase those separately on an as-needed basis. Sometimes, you just don’t know what you’ll need until you start using these products.
How many pieces in a starter kit do I need?
The number of pieces in a kit does not matter a whole lot. It does give you an idea of how comprehensive the kit may be, but the count can include other non-essential items. I listed the number of pieces in each car cleaning kit here because it helps to identify each kit, as some manufacturers have a large number of different kits available.
What I’ve noticed is that these smaller 4-piece kits have the main chemicals you’ll need and nothing else. This will generally work if you just want your car clean; it just won’t be a “proper wash” which would allow you to wash a car thoroughly. Other kits range between 7-10 pieces for a more extensive car wash. Kits larger than 10 pieces will include some minor paint correction and/or extra car wash accessories like foam guns/cannons, buckets, and wash mitts.
If you don’t care much about the car cleaning process and just want your clean, then you can go with a smaller 4-piece kit and use whatever rags/towels you have around the house to wash your car. If you want to wash your car effectively and safely and you already have the buckets, wash mitts, and drying towel, a 7-10 piece kit will work great for you. And if you want the whole package with everything you’ll need to minimize scratching of your car’s paint, then you’ll want to go with the larger arsenal builder kit.
How much should I spend for a car cleaning kit?
If you want the bare chemicals, the smaller 4pc kits will be very cheap, somewhere around $10-$20. For the average car cleaning kit, you’re looking at around $40-70 which should provide you with a good range of cleaning products, although it may not have the extra car cleaning accessories like car wash buckets, grit guards, wash mitts, etc. When you get into the $100 and up range, you should be getting a full line of cleaning chemicals, the car wash accessories (buckets, grit guards, wash mitts, drying towel), and a pre-soak accessory like a foam gun or foam cannon.
Although some of the pricier car cleaning kits appear to be expensive, it would cost even more if you pieced the kit together yourself with the same products. In that regard, if you can find a starter kit with most products you like or want, then it is probably worth it to go with a kit rather than piecemealing it together yourself.
What is a good car cleaning kit to give as a gift?
I think the most important part of this question is who you are giving the gift to. If the person you are gifting isn’t really into car care or isn’t that particular with their car wash, maybe any of the Turtle Wax or Armor All kits will be a good option. If the receiver is someone who really appreciates their car and wants to take good care of it themselves, but doesn’t have any experience with car care products, any of the other products should be great gifts.
I’d only note that if the receiver is someone who already has used car care products before, I wouldn’t gift a basic kit or a Chemical Guys kit. Since the gift receiver has already used some car care products in the past, not only do they likely still have some of these products that they haven’t fully used up yet, but they will they likely already have those basic or Chemical Guys products in their arsenal.
Also, Chemical Guys may be well-known by everyone, but they don’t have the best reputation within the detailing community. One of the common things you hear is that their products are watered-down and overpriced. I’m not saying that all of their products are bad; I enjoy using certain ones, but their kits don’t always include their best products. In this case, I’d suggest the Adam’s or Meguiar’s car cleaning kits for someone who has some experience with car washing/detailing.
And finally, if you’re planning on gifting a car cleaning kit to someone who is a detailer or a car care fanatic, I wouldn’t recommend a car cleaning kit at all. Since these kits are marketed mostly towards beginners/amateurs, it’s likely not going to fulfill their wants/needs. I’d recommend going with standalone products that are highly recommended in the detailing community. Check out more of our Best Of Lists if you’re looking for ideas.
Does the brand of the car cleaning kit matter?
The brand for the most part does not matter, as it is the products themselves that are most important. Each brand will have their own good and mediocre products. I’ll just provide some of my very subjective thoughts on each of these brands.
Chemical Guys: They get a bad rap around the detailing community, but I’ve found some products work well and some do not. Their impressive marketing leads to both their notoriety and their disdain in the car detailing community.
Adam’s: I like their simplicity product-naming. It makes it simple to understand the purpose of each product— a nice contrast from the obnoxious nomenclature of other manufacturers. I don’t have a lot of experience with their products, but for the ones I have used they seem to work just fine.
Meguiar’s: One of my favorite brands as they’ve been around for a long time and they offer up a large selection of great products. For almost every product I’ve used, they’ve worked wonderfully. I appreciate the fact that they offer high quality products in their car cleaning kits.
Armor All & Turtle Wax: I lump these two together because they are similar in that they are generally aimed at the general public with regards to these car cleaning kits. They both will get the job done and are priced very affordably compared to the other brands.