To start a detailing business, you need the right car detailing equipment. And that’s obviously more than just soap, a towel, and a bucket – as any professional detailer knows, there’s a lot more to the job than that.
The right detailing tools are important because they make your job easier and create superior results. Investing in your auto detailing kit at the beginning means you can run a more efficient business—and make more money long-term.
Below we’ve rounded up the car detailing equipment every professional detailer needs. Once you have the right detailing tools, you can focus on growing a successful business.
A Technology Tool for Detailing Businesses
Professional detailing requires a lot of hands-on work. So, when it comes to the business aspects of your job, you want to minimize the effort and maximize efficiency. That’s where technology comes in; think of it as your tool to business success.
Our detailing app was designed specifically for professional detailers in the industry. This business technology will help you achieve greater efficiency, higher revenues, and make you look more professional. (And you can try it out for free.)
The features of the Mobile Tech RX detailing app include:
- The ability to create fast digital estimates and professional, branded invoices
- The option to collect payment through the app
- QuickBooks integration to manage your bookkeeping
- Access to CRM and marketing tools
- The ability to document damage and minimize your risk with photos
- Real-time business reporting for better decision-making
Just like any of your tools, the right detailing software can take the stress and effort out of your job. And that gives you more time for you to grow your business and earn more money.
Car Detailing Equipment
The car detailing equipment you buy will be dependent on the type of business you have. If you’re a mobile business owner, you will have to consider space and power restrictions. But for a physical location, you want to make the best use of the space. And your main goal, either way, should be efficiency. So that means investing in car detailing equipment that can help with multiple tasks.
Here are the detailing tools every professional should consider for their auto detailing kit:
Technical Car Detailing Equipment
- Mechanical Polisher and Sander: While detailing can be done by hand, one of the first investments you’ll want to consider is a mechanical polisher. It will cost $500+ for a good random orbital polisher, but it will produce amazing results. The RUPES Random Orbital Polisher is widely regarded as the best on the market for its design, efficiency, and ease-of-use. It can be used for both polishing and sanding using different pads.
- Foam Pads: In order to use your polisher, you’ll also require a selection of foam pad attachments. Some suppliers offer the polisher and pads as a kit, but you can also buy them separately. Alternative pad attachments can be used for different tasks, like polishing or cleaning.
- Paint Thickness Gauge: A paint thickness gauge can be especially useful when detailing older vehicles. It gives you a reading so you can be extra careful on previously damaged or fragile paintwork.
- Headlight Restoration Kits: Headlight restoration kits are not a necessity but they can help you restore the lights with dullness or discoloration. And it’s a more cost effective option that replacing them, but leaves them looking like new.
Basic Car Detailing Tools
- Detailing Towels: You need a selection of towels in your arsenal for cleaning, polishing, drying, and more. Chamois towels (called “shammys”) are more expensive than other cleaning cloths, but they are very water absorbent. Use them for drying and on larger vehicles. Microfiber towels are the most popular option on the market because of their versatility. You can buy different variations depending on your needs.
- Car Towel Detergent: To keep your towels lasting longer, use a specialist car towel detergent to remove oil and dirt.
- Wash Bucket: Wash buckets can be picked up relatively easily, but not all buckets are created equally! For a more expensive and durable bucket, 3M’s Wetordry™ Bucket has been designed for use while wet sanding. It also has a tray attachment for your tools.
- Dirt Filter: Insert a dirt filter into your bucket so that any grit or debris falls to the bottom of your bucket instead of in your towel or sponge. (Even a tiny grain of sand can cause damage to the paintwork, so a filter is a good idea.)
- Bucket Dolly: A bucket dolly is well worth the investment. The wheels help you easily move your bucket around the vehicle as you work.
- Sprayer Bottles: Any professional detailer needs durable spray bottles designed for use with detailing chemicals. A compression sprayer can be used for products that foam.
- Detailing Hoses and Reels: You can buy a huge selection of hoses with attachments for different detailing tasks. Reels will help keep them all organized.
Interior Car Detailing Equipment
- Vacuum Cleaner: Another staple of your professional car detailing kit is your vacuum cleaner. Using different attachments and settings you can vacuum, blow, inflate and dry using one machine.
- Carpet and Upholstery Extractors: A professional extractor can transform carpets and upholstery to look like new. One of the more expensive items in your auto detailing kit, the price can range anywhere from $500 to $2,000. The pricier options are efficient, compact, and require only one power source (especially important if you need mobile detailing supplies).
- Detailing Steamer: A steamer can be a very useful detailing tool for a multitude of tasks. It will clean and disinfect headliners, dashboards, and cup holders. It can also be used for spot treating the upholstery or even removing chewing gum! Portable options are available if you’ve got a mobile business.
- Ozone Generator: An ozone generator is not essential, but it can be a useful piece of car detailing equipment. Hooked up to the dashboard it can permanently remove stubborn odors, including smoke or mold, in a few hours.
Mobile Car Detailing Equipment
- Detailing Water Tank: For mobile detailers a water tank is an essential of your mobile detailing supplies. Depending on space, a compact tank can hold 60 gallons or a large one can hold 200 gallons.
- Tool Bag/Work Belt: It helps to have your main detailing tools easily accessible. If you’re mobile, these tools can help you keep your car detailing equipment organized.
Auto Detailing Kit
You can pick up a professional car detailing kit for a few hundred dollars. While this can be an easy way to get started, you are less likely to get the same level quality you’d expect when sourcing items individually. It’s certainly more cost effective short term, but you may have to spend more money adding to it.
Be wary of auto detailing kits that are actually aimed at consumers who detail their own vehicles.
It’s also worth investing in tools with warranties, so that you’re protected if they’re not the quality you expected.
Car Detailing Chemicals
In addition to the tools, the chemicals are a key part of your car detailing equipment. Some detailing suppliers, like P&S, offer training so that you can feel confident in which products you need and how to use them.
Exterior Car Detailing Chemicals
- Car Wash Soap: Unlike regular household cleaning detergents, car wash soap has been designed to clean and protect the vehicle’s paintwork. There are many different options on the market, so it comes down to your budget and preference. You can see a review of some of the best car wash soaps available here.
- Waterless Car Wash: Waterless car wash is an eco-friendly option which allows you to clean a vehicle with less requirement for water.
- Paint Cleaners: Paint cleaners are designed for auto detailing and so are able to remove tough stains without damaging the paintwork. You can also buy specific cleaners for bug, tar, bird poop, and tree sap removal. Note that matte or satin paintwork will require a separate specialist cleaner.
- Clay Bars: Clay bars can be used before wax to remove bonded contaminants from the vehicle’s paintwork.
- Degreasers: Degreasers are used mainly for cleaning engines, but some can be diluted and used on other areas, like the wheels.
- Compounds: Compounds can be used to remove marks from sanding.
- Polishes and Glazes: Polish and glazes are used to give the paintwork a high-gloss shine. Some polishes can also clean.
- Waxes and Sealants: Waxes come in a variety of formats, including liquids, pastes, or sprays. They give a polished finish but can also act as a sealant on the paintwork.
Other Exterior Chemicals
- Auto Glass Cleaners: Auto glass cleaners are more powerful than their household counterparts and can even remove bugs, tar and exhaust film.
- Tire and Wheel Cleaners: Tire and wheel cleaners are designed to be safe on different types of tires. You can find biodegradable versions that are better for the environment. You can also then add a tire coating to give the wheels a black glossy finish.
- Auto Metal Polishes: Auto metal polishes bring mirror shine to all the vehicle’s metal work. You can also buy metal polish kits, which include polishes, cloths, and goblets.
- Exterior and Interior Trim Cleaners: These specialist cleaners are designed to detail the trim of the vehicle for inside and out. Some can also protect the trim from further damage.
Interior Car Detailing Chemicals
- Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners: Can be used throughout the car’s interior or for spot cleaning. Some can even remove stains like coffee.
- Leather Cleaners: Specialist auto leather cleaners can be used to clean, condition, and protect leather interiors without causing damage.
- Odor Eliminators: Odor eliminators are the final touch once you’ve detailed a vehicle, leaving it smelling fresh and clean.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Professional detailing can be dangerous work, so there are certain recommendations when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE). Gloves will protect your hands from the detailing chemicals. Many detailers also choose to wear protective eyewear. A mask can be worn while you work or for particular tasks like compounding or polishing. And ear plugs can be a good idea when handling loud machinery. You should also always have a first aid kit on hand.
Mobile Tech RX is the country’s number one business management tool for auto detailers. To make more money and grow your detailing business, try it now for free.