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- Some say a clean car drives better, but at the very least it will look better.
- As the spring season nears, everyday drivers and collectors alike work to keep their car free of dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other road debris.
- As a car collector, these are the products I use and recommend other people to use. You’ll find everything from soaps and waxes to microfiber cloths and leather conditioner.
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During winter, the extent of cleaning your car probably consists of removing snow and salt so you can actually see where you’re going — but during warmer seasons it’s all about attention to detail.
Dirt, pollen, tree sap, bird droppings, and normal road build up are just some of the many things that can prevent your ride from looking its best.
Instead of constantly spending money at the car wash, you can create an arsenal of products that will keep your car in pristine condition — and in the long run, you’ll save a lot of money.
I own three classic BMWs: a 1991 325i convertible, a 1991 318is, and a 1993 525i wagon. With each of them being more than 25 years old, I do my very best to maintain and preserve their appearance and these are the products I use.
Whether you’re a meticulous enthusiast preparing for a car show or an average person trying to care for your car, these are the products you’ll also want at your disposal. You’ll find everything from car wash soaps and waxes to leather cleaners and microfiber cloths — plus a few other unexpected picks.
Check out the best car cleaning and detailing products, below:
Chemical Guys Snow Foam Car Wash
If your at-home car washes include using liquid dish soap from the kitchen, you’re doing it all wrong. Chemical Guys’ car wash eliminates dirt and grime with a pH-neutral formula that’s safe on all surfaces of your car. It has a foaming agent for maximum suds and a fresh honeydew scent.
303 Touchless Sealant (wax alternative)
Waxing your car with traditional paste wax can be a long and tedious process. If you want the protection and shine of wax within minutes, 303 Touchless can provide it. The spray uses a SiO2(silicon dioxide) base to create a hydrophobic and UV barrier on paint, and it’s also safe to use on windows and wheels. It made my car shiny, smooth, and repelled water longer than other waxes I’ve used. Read my full review here.
SuperClean Degreaser has a multitude of cleaning uses, so it comes in handy for many of your car detailing needs. I wouldn’t recommend using it at full strength on your paint, but it works wonders cleaning built-up oil, grime, or dirt on your engine bay, under-body, or exhaust pipes. When diluted, it does a great job at cleaning carpets, floor mats, and chrome pieces as well.
Described as “the ultimate detail brush,” the Brush Hero is perfect for cleaning car parts — most specifically tough to reach areas like wheels. It features a rotating brush head that is powered entirely by water pressure from a standard garden hose. I recently had the opportunity to try it out and experienced amazing results. You can read my full review here.
Mother’s California Gold Clay Kit
Even after washing your car meticulously, there’s still dirt and debris that you just can’t get off. That’s where claying your car comes into play. The Mother’s California Gold Clay Kit comes with two clay bars, Instant Detailer spray, and a microfiber cloth. Simply spray a liberal amount of detailer on the car and use the clay in a sweeping motion. At first, you’ll feel some resistance (that’s all the fine dirt and debris). Once it’s all clean, your paint will be looking and feeling like glass. Whether your car is relatively new or decades old, you’ll definitely notice a difference.
Turtle Wax Microfiber Towels
If you thought using old t-shirts and bath towels as rags was an ok idea, it’s really not. Although you may not be able to see it immediately, they can scratch the surface of your paint. Microfiber cloths are a safe and effective way to detail your car without creating damage. Instead of using the same dirty cloth over and over, this 12-pack ensures you’ll have a bunch of clean cloths at your disposal.
Zymöl Cleaner Wax
One of the most important, but often-skipped, steps to having an immaculately clean car is a decent coat of wax. Unlike thick waxes that take a lot of time to apply, Zymöl Cleaner Wax goes on easy and it works exceptionally well. Derived from a 120-year-old German formula, the wax cleans your paint (though not as a full car wash replacement) and is gentle and safe. For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen my dad use Zymöl on his cars. I’ve tried several other waxes for my own, but this is the one I’ve consistently come back to.
Armor All Extreme Tire Shine Gel and Applicator
While most tire shines dry up and wear away after a day or so, Armor All Extreme Tire Shine lasts for weeks. The gel formula adheres to your tires to create a durable shield from the elements. It’s also a great way to avoid messy over-spray on your wheels and fenders that you’d expect from a traditional tire shine.
Turtle Wax Headlight Cleaner & Sealant
Almost all modern cars have plastic headlight covers that get dull over time. Not only do they start to look bad, but they can also drastically reduce your headlight output. The Turtle Wax Headlight Cleaner & Scrub Daddy Restoration Kit can bring your plastic lenses to like-new condition — improving your car’s appearance and your visibility.
California Car Duster
If you’ve ever washed your car only to find it covered pollen the next morning, you know how frustrating it can be. Instead of having to clean your car all over again or let your fresh wash go to waste, use the California Car Duster. It effectively lifts dust with one pass and there’s no need to use any water or cleaners.
Black & Decker Dustbuster Auto Vacuum
Cleaning the inside of your car is just as important as cleaning the outside. With a cordless design and multiple attachments, the Black & Decker Dustbuster Auto Vacuum is perfect for reaching every part of your interior. Its compact design makes it easy to store in your trunk, too.
If you have leather interior, simply vacuuming isn’t the only detailing step you should take. Leather Honey deeply penetrates into the pores of leather to protect new leather and rejuvenate old leather. In the long run, this conditioner can prevent cracks and tears associated with worn-out leather.
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