Car detailing is a big job and it can be a really hard job if you don’t have the right tools in your arsenal for it. There are thousands of brands and unique tools to choose from if you are looking to build a car detailing kit that will make other car folks drool.

If you are working on collecting all the ultimate car detailing tools for your toolbox, it might seem like you need five of everything. This isn’t true, however, and there are some really great tools out there that will do more than one job for you. If you want to build the ultimate car detailing toolbox, read on for a list of the items that you must have to be able to detail cars fast and with great results.

car washing

The Ultimate Car Detailing Kit

This is not a complete list of all of the tools that might be included in a car detailing box, but these are the ones that you had better not live without. At the end of the day, if you like a certain item and get good results with it, it goes in the box too. You can never have too many things in your detailing kit.

1. Buckets

This may sound like a no-brainer, but the kind of buckets that you get matter. You will want to get at least two durable, thick plastic car washing buckets and buy dirt traps for the bottom of each bucket. These screens will trap dirt and rocks under the screen so that you can’t accidentally pick them up with your mitt and scratch the car you are washing.

If lugging around a bucket is not for you, buy bucket caddies so that your buckets will be on wheels. This makes moving them around so much less frustrating and keeps them from being forever in need of relocation to a different part of the car. With a caddy, you can just give the bucket a push with a foot or a knee and you are back to washing.

2. Foam Cannon

While you can certainly detail a car without one, a foam cannon makes a major difference in your reach and ability to cover all of the portions of a car with soap. The cannon also speeds up a step of the process, making it easy to keep the car from drying off and spotting while you are trying to wash it.

Beyond all of that, foam cannons are kind of fun to use and you can impress your friends and clients with your fun foam application method each time you use it.

3. The Right Car Wash Mitt For Your Detailing Tool Kit

It may seem like this one is easy. What is the big deal about a wash mitt? But not all mitts are created equal and buying a cheap one can risk damaging paint on the cars you are working to clean up and beautify.

Buy a big, squishy mitt that has good reviews for holding up well to hard use. You will probably want a few of these as they have to be retired when they start to fray or if they get too dirty and gritty to clean them completely. Consider having one large mitt for the body of the car and a smaller mitt for wheels and tires.

4. A Quality Vacuum

This cannot be overstated enough. Without a quality vacuum, you might as well not be trying to detail cars. Buying a good vacuum that can stand up to the toughest jobs is a matter of necessity for car detailing. You will also want to make sure that the vacuum you pick has a huge range of tools and tips to reach all the nooks and crannies in a car.

Consider a vacuum that has wet/dry functions because people spill all kinds of gross things on their car seats and you may need to be able to suck that mess out of the fabric with some moisture. Also, think about the length of cord that you would ideally like to have. If you are going to be dealing with a lot of very dirty jobs, make sure that the vacuum that you pick has the power to take on these tasks.

5. Stock Your Car Detailing Kit With Quality Microfiber Towels

microfiber towels for detailing

This is another place that you can’t have enough of the right quality item. High-quality microfiber towels are a must-have in your toolbox for drying off cars you have washed. You can also allocate a certain portion of these towels for interior clean-up.

Always remember that you should not use the towels from the interior of the car on the exterior so that you do not bring interior car cleaning products out onto the paint and smudge or even damage it. Buying towels in at least two different colors will help you to keep them straight.

6. A Belt or a Box on Wheels

There are lots of ways to carry around your detailing tools for easy access, and none of them are wrong if they work for you. Some car detailers use a box on wheels to make sure that all their tools are a few steps away, while others use an apron or a belt-style method for holding onto tools.

Do a little research into the styles of your carrying options and pick the one that seems the best for you. You may even want to do a hybrid of carrying choices, a smaller belt option for interior car detailing, and a bigger box for when you are working on the body and the wheels.

7. Brushes and Other Applicators

When working on wheels and other surfaces, you will want to have a large array of brushes and perhaps even hand mitts to help you to scrub these grimy areas that can handle a little elbow grease. You can buy brushes and mitts and any other tool that you might like. This is a matter of personal preference for the most part.

Always remember to clean these items thoroughly after each job you work on so that you don’t miss a rock or some road grime that could scratch up your next project. Brushes can hold onto rocks just like your big car mitt that you use on the paint.

8. Car Detailing Products to Put in Your Tool Kit

This is an area that could probably have its own informative article written about it. To keep it brief, there are hundreds of product choices that you could make for your detailing work, but most of them are not really necessary. 

Water and some elbow grease will often work far better than some gimmicky product or wipe that will likely also leave residue behind that could damage the paint or interior of the car.

Your must-have items in this category are good-quality car soap from a well-known brand. A good finishing spray that will remove dust is fine as well, but remember never to spray these items inside the car as droplets will get on the inside of the windshield and make a mess. 

Wax brands can be controversial, but waxing is sometimes necessary for your detailing jobs. Buy a quality wax and make sure that you have the right tools to apply it.

9. Pressure Washer

This isn’t really inside your tool kit, but it’s a major part of the process of car detailing and you really can’t do a good job without one. Get a pressure washer that offers variable settings and intensities and make sure that it is one that is rated to last.

This is a place you don’t want to scrimp because you are going to be using this item to get stubborn grime and mud off of the paint of the cars that come to you. You absolutely cannot use a cheap pressure washer with only one setting, or you will damage the paint of your clients’ cars.

10. Clay Bars

Yes, bars. Plural. You will need this helpful tool for putting elbow grease into the final clean-up process for paint corrections, and it is a must-do before you even consider waxing a car. You should charge accordingly for your time into this process, but it creates beautiful results.

Clay bars are amazing for all that they are a simple little brick of clay. If you have never used one, you will be stunned at all of the grit and mess that are trapped in the paint of the cars that you are working on. 

Once you see what is left behind after a good wash, you won’t ever skip this step again.

11. Upholstery Steam Cleaner

This is a bit of a next-level item but it really can make all the difference if you are trying to get stubborn stains out of carpet or seats in a car. Let’s face it, some things just can’t be fixed with elbow grease alone and ketchup or wine stains really won’t come out with a bit of rubbing with a towel.

Buying a good steam cleaner can save you tons of frustrating hours of elbow grease and the end result will be so much better for your client. Beyond the hard work portion and time-saving, you will always be much more successful at removing bad smells from the car with a good steam cleaner.

12. A Rolling Creeper

Again, this is a larger item that doesn’t exactly go inside of a tool kit, but it’s a huge help to your detailing work. This kind of work can be hard on your body, and fatigue and injury are common for car detailing specialists.

Investing in a good creeper will make tasks that need to be completed on the lower body panels and the wheels much easier on your body and much more ergonomic. You might think that you don’t need this help, but your body will thank you as soon as you invest in a creeper.

13. Pet Hair Removal Brush

This is another small item that a lot of car detailers try to live without but they are making a mistake. As small as this item is, it can turn your animal-owner car detailing clean-ups into a breeze. 

Pet hair weaves itself into the fibers of the car’s upholstery and carpeting, making it very hard to remove with a regular vacuum.

A good pet hairbrush will lift the hair right out of the fabric surfaces in the car and also lift out animal dander for you to vacuum up. This will make your end product much nicer and save you a lot of frustration while you hand-pick individual animal hairs out of the seats of a car.

14. A Good Hose for Your Car Detailing Tool Arsenal

Another thing that you might not think is necessary, but one that you should not live without. Fighting with a crappy hose that sprays water all over or leaks is just not a good use of your time. 

You might also have issues with your hose water-spotting a car that you just finished getting detailed.

Curly hoses are really nice because they are easy to deal with and less likely to split or fray. Being able to travel with your own hose is nice as well if you don’t have your own shop that you are detailing in. 

Don’t be mean to yourself. Get a new hose and save yourself the frustration of fighting with an old, broken-down one.

The Ultimate Tool Kit Will Lead to Car Detailing Success Every Time

Having the right tools for any job can make the difference between a happy workday and a miserable one. Beyond that, it’s hard to create magic when you don’t have magicians’ tools at hand. 

If you want to be serious about car detailing, you need to invest in serious tools.

Use this list as a jumping-off point to build the car detailing toolbox of your dreams and get to work! You will be so glad that you took the time to step up your game and your clients will thank you as well.

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