Garage Tools for Car Detailing: A Comprehensive Guide

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Man cleaning car with foam cannon

There are several things you need to do to take care of your car. Keeping up with routine maintenance is an absolute key necessity, but so is detailing your car. There are multiple standard car cleaning tools that you’ll need to do the job, like buckets, rags, and sponges. However, some more heavy-duty tools can make the job way easier and more effective by hitting the spots you’re more than likely not cleaning enough.

If you don’t clean your car, you’re more than likely going to notice a change in vibrancy and even eventually see the clear coat start to chip away. To prevent that and help make car cleaning easier, here are five types of tools you should keep in the garage to detail your car. This article discusses specific products for each type, and the recommendations are based on reviews from customers who have used the mentioned products. A more detailed explanation of our methodology can be found at the bottom of this article.

Pressure Washer

Person pressuring washing a car

When detailing your car, an affordable hose can work just fine, especially if you have good microfiber cloths and car-washing soap. However, having a pressure washer to do a lot of the heavy-duty work for you can make cleaning your car a breeze. There are a couple of different types of pressure washers you can go for as well: electric and gas-powered. Gas-powered pressure washers usually come with more power and are more mobile since you do not have to work with a power cord. However, they tend to cost more and require more maintenance. Electric pressure washers allow you to plug the tool into your home or use batteries and are typically lightweight.

Westinghouse 3200 PSI 2.5 GPM Gas Powered Pressure Washer is popular amongst Home Depot shoppers, with a 4.5 out of five rating from 17,500 reviewers. It even comes with a soap tank, so you don’t have to use a foam cannon. Ryobi’s 2300 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer comes with a 4.5 out of five-star review from over 6,000 buyers. It comes with a 25-foot hose, a handle, an extension wand, and three different styles of nozzles. At the 2,300 PSI range, it’s a great middle-ground pressure washer for both light and heavy-duty cleanings like vehicles and sidewalks, so you’ll be able to get more use out of the tool.

Foam cannon

Man cleaning car with foam cannon

A foam cannon may sound like a frivolous expense when you could just dump soap into a bucket of water and call it a day, but there are a few reasons why you may want to consider using one. Besides efficiency, a foam cannon allows you to use less water throughout the duration of the car wash. Additionally, it helps to prevent scratches by placing a protective layer between the foam and the paint, so when brushes and cloths grab onto dirt, they won’t scratch up the surface.

Most foam cannons work the same. All you have to do is attach it to a water source and spray. However, you do have the option of using either a hose or a pressure washer. Tool Daily Short Foam Cannon on Amazon has a rating of 4.5 out of five from over 3,000 buyers, and it comes with a quick connector attachment along with five different nozzles. However, this foam cannon can only be used with pressure washers with a max 4,000 PSI. Garden hoses will not fit this tool. Although, Armor All does sell a 2-in-1 Foam Cannon that has versatile connectors allowing you to use either a pressure washer or garden hose to get your car looking clean.

Drill brush attachments

Drill scrubbing attachment to clean wheel

To get into all the nooks and crannies of the vehicle, like your wheel’s rims and the grill, you’ll want something backed by some power. Amazon sells many drill brush attachments, but the Holikme 30-Pack Drill Brush Attachment Set comes with many different styles of brushes and a 4.5 out of five rating from over 26,000 buyers. There’s even an attachment for your drill to extend the brush so you can reach deeper places that need a good clean, like the wheels. Just make sure you have a good cordless drill with a charged battery to last the duration of your car cleaning chore.

It’s not recommended to use the heavy-duty scrub brushes that come with the set on the paint of your vehicle, though. The chances of scratching it are high. However, according to several reviews, many buyers have used these brushes on their cars, both exterior and interior. They’ve stated that they work great at getting stains and dirt out of carpets and polishing up the headlight and taillight covers.

Cordless Buffer

Ryobi buffer being used on car

There are a few reasons you would want to use a buffer on your car. If you have small scratches, etching, and oxidation, using a buffer can help smooth away those small defects. However, don’t expect a deep scratch to suddenly be gone. Additionally, a buffer will give your car the same shine it had coming off the car dealership lot. Bauer at Harbor Freight sells a reasonably priced 20V Cordless 10-inch Buffer with a 4.7 out of five rating. It comes with two large handles for more support and grip, which is necessary considering it runs at a powerful 3,000 orbits per minute. To top it off, because it is a cordless buffer, you don’t have to worry about a cord gliding across your car’s paint and potentially causing damage.

Ryobi also sells a reliable 18V Cordless 10-inch Orbit Buffer with a 4.7 out of five-star rating. Like Bauer, you’ll have to invest in the battery line to use this tool. However, this buffer comes with a wrap-around handle and a D-handle, so you have options for maneuvering the buffer around the car. The orbits per minute are a bit more at 3,600, but it does come with a variable speed dial, so you can slow it down if necessary, and with the random orbit motion, your car will polish with a swirl-free finish.

Cordless vacuum

Person using car vacuum

Instead of spending money on usually clogged public car vacuums, why not invest in one for your car? There are a few different styles of vacuums you can choose from, too. At Harbor Freight, you can purchase the Bauer 20V Cordless 3.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum, which gives you all the capacity you’ll need. It comes with a 4.7 out of five rating from over 300 buyers. If you need to use soap and water to clean the seats of your car, this vacuum can easily suck up the water. Additionally, you have the option of using it as a blower as well due to the inlet and outlet ports. You will have to invest in Bauers power tool line by purchasing a battery separately, but there are many tools sold within the line that you’ll want to keep in your garage.

If you’re looking for a vacuum that is a bit smaller and easier to maneuver around the car while you’re cleaning, the Worx 20V Cordless Car Handheld Vacuum has high ratings at Lowe’s from over 800 buyers. This vacuum is incredibly light, only weighs 3.5 pounds, and comes with a retractable hose reaching 4 feet. Additionally, its cube-like features make it easy to store anywhere in your home.

Why we chose these car detailing tools

Man wiping car with cloth

The car detailing tools discussed in this article were selected after thorough research of the technology and what is commonly used by professional detailers. Additionally, high reviews from consumers who have used the products were taken into consideration. None of these products have less than 4.5 out of five stars, and they are all under $300, making them both top-rated and affordable. We do encourage you to do any extra research before purchasing any tools for your vehicle to avoid making mistakes when detailing your car.

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