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12 Things You Need in a Car Cleaning Kit

Few things in our lives rack up as many miles in terms of use as our cars. The majority of people are in and out of their car at least a couple of times every day. And during all that driving around, both the exterior and the interior of your car can take a beating in terms of road dirt outside and accumulated trash inside.

No matter how busy you are, keeping your car clean makes good sense. It’s good for maintaining the car and keeping the resale value high. It is also simply more pleasant to drive around in a clean car. But taking your car through a car wash can add up quickly.

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For many of us, the best option is to clean our car at home. A DIY car cleaning kit can help you do that. And here are the must-have items you need in a car cleaning kit!

12 Must-Haves for Your Car Cleaning Kit

Now let’s take a look at the 12 essential items you need to keep your car clean!

1. Bucket

It may seem obvious but a bucket is vitally important for washing your car. It also makes a nice container for your car cleaning kit items in between washes. I actually recommend that you have two buckets.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products 2.5 Gallon BRUTE Heavy-Duty, Corrosive-Resistant, Round Bucket, Gray (FG296300GRAY)

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One bucket for your sudsy water and the second for rinsing your washing mitt. There is no need for anything fancy, any bucket that holds water will do. So, find one that works for you and get to washing your car!

2. Car Shampoo

It may seem like when it comes to cleaning, soap is soap. But when it comes to car care that is simply not the case. Car shampoos are specifically designed to clean and shine your car’s exterior. Resist the urge to use dish soap or other products. Purchase some shampoo that’s designed specifically for a car.

Milwaukee Muscle Car Shampoo - 50 Fl Oz - Professional Ceramic Car Wash Soap for Auto, Cars, Motorcycles, RV's and Boats - pH Neutral Formula - Rejuvenates Paint and Ceramic Coating for Cars

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 This is one of those things where a little bit goes a long way, so be sure to read the instructions!  You may only need a cap full or two for a full bucket of suds.

3. Hose Nozzle

If you’ve ever rinsed your car with a plain garden hose you know it is a less than ideal method. Give your hose some rinsing power with a fire hose nozzle or a power wand. A jet spray will really help get your car rinsed and cleaned.

Gilmour 855032-1001 High-Pressure PRO Fireman's Spray Nozzle with Large, Red/BlackGet it!


If you already happen to have a power washer, bring it out!  It can be a huge help when you’re trying to have a quick car wash.

4. Grit Guard

A grit guard is a small plastic screen you put in your soap bucket. Scrub your sponge against the plastic to remove grit and dirt that might scratch your car the next time you use that sponge to wash it.

Meguiar's X3003 Grit Guard, 1 Pack

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Some buckets designed for car washing come with a grit guard built in, but you can also buy one and add it to your own bucket.

5. Washing Mitt

If you want to really take care of your car and preserve the paint, you’ll want a good washing mitt.


anngrowy Car Wash Mitt 2 Pack - Large Size Microfiber Wash Mitt for Car Cleaning Mitts Tools Premium Chenille Scratch-Free Car Washing Gloves Winter Waterproof Car Wash Accessories Rag Sponge Kit

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A nice soft mitt will hold plenty of soap and will go easy on your car’s exterior and paint. Toss out your old towels and exchange them for a mitt for a more professional level of car cleaning.

Plus, kids absolutely love them!

6. Wheel Brush

A wheel and rim brush will make a big difference in how clean you can get your car’s wheels.

TAKAVU Master Wheel Brush, Easy Reach Wheel and Rim Detailing Brush 18’’ Long Soft Bristle, Car Wheel Brush, Rim Tire Detail Brush,Multipurpose use for Wheels,Rims,Exhaust Tips,MotorcyclesGet it!           

This brush will allow you to get the dirt and dust out of even the hardest to reach places.  This is probably the number one tool to have when it comes to really giving your car that nice clean look.

7. Tire Shine

A little tire shine will make your freshly cleaned car look like new again.

Meguiar's G190315 Ultimate Insane Shine Tire Coating, 15 oz

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With this product, a small amount will do. And it also protects your tires from wear and tear over time.

image of a cleaning planner available for purchase and download

8. Car Wax

For a truly polished car, you’ll want to use car wax. You’ll love the shine it gives your car. There are even some car shampoos that contain wax, so do your research to choose the best products for you.

MEGUIAR'S G7016 Gold Class Carnauba Plus Premium Liquid Wax 16 Fluid Ounces

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Waxing the car was one of those things that I worried about doing the first time.  The truth is it really couldn’t be simpler to do, and isn’t anything to worry about.

9. Microfiber Towels

For a spot-free car cleaning, you’ll want to dry your car once you’ve finished rinsing. Microfiber towels are the perfect drying tool.  You can even get ones specifically designed for washing the car.

Meguiar's X2000 Water Magnet Microfiber Drying Towel, 1 Pack , Yellow , 22

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They are super soft and won’t scratch. They are also super absorbent and will remove all the excess water.

10. Car Dash Duster

Dusting the dash of your car is something you should do at least as often as you wash your car, likely more often. Keep a duster in your car for easy maintenance!

[Upgrade] Wemaker Multi-Functional Car Dash Duster Interior & Exterior Cleaning Dirt Dust Clean Brush Dusting Tool Mop Gray car Cleaning Products Brand New (Gray)
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You can buy a duster designed specifically for a car dash. These are nice because they often fit into nooks and crannies for a thorough dusting. But I’ve also been known to use dust cloths and even baby wipes in a pinch to keep the dash dust free.

11. Glass Cleaner

Window cleaning wipes can be handy for cleaning the interior and exterior windows on your car. But for a more thorough cleaning, it’s a good idea to get the anti-glare window cleaner designed for car windows.

Zinshine Glass Cleaner Spray 3-Pack Ammonia Free for Auto & Home on Window/Windshield/Mirror/Ceramic,19 Oz.Get it!     

There are also window treatments you can add after washing that will help water bead up on your windows and roll right off, taking road grime with it.

12. Dust Buster

If you want a self-contained car cleaning kit, a small dust buster vacuum is a must-have. You can quickly clean carpets and seats inside your car to keep them free of dust and crumbs.


Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner: High Power Corded Handheld Vacuum w/ 16 foot cable - 12V - Best Car & Auto Accessories Kit for Detailing and Cleaning Car Interior

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You can also tackle this job with an upright vacuum if you have the right attachments. You’ll love seeing your car crumb and dirt free every time you get inside.

There you have it, the absolute essentials for a clean car!

car cleaning kit

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