Where do we begin?
While a bucket and sponge may get the job done for the majority of people, detailers use an array of tools to achieve the perfect finish. I will break down all the tools I use in my professional arsenal. Keeping in mind this is a beginner guide so I will not go over the top and break the bank. Primarily I use Auto Finesse products, a premium brand with simple and effective products. I will cover the products required to carry out a basic detail and maintain its finish. Let’s get started.
One bucket is required for your wash solution, one for rinsing out your mitt and another for your wheel washing.
2x Grit Guards (3rd Optional for wheel bucket)
Grit guards sit in your wash and rinse buckets and prevent dirt from your wash mitt that has sunk to the bottom from rising back up into the wash solution. An absolute necessity for a scratch-free wash – you can also use a third guard in your wheel bucket.
2x Wash Pads
A Microfibre or lambswool pad is best however a synthetic wash pad can be purchased for relatively cheap. These types of pads ensure dirt and debris are trapped deep in the pile of the pad preventing it from running over the surface of the paint. Keep one for your paintwork and one for alloys.
£45 set of 3
An expensive bit of kit at first glance, however, these to me are the single best detailing product I have ever purchased making cleaning all areas of wheels and wheel arches an absolute breeze.
2x Drying Towel
Not something to be overlooked – a quality drying towel will have a deep pile and allow any dirt missed from the wash stage to be trapped in the pile and not dragged over the paintwork. Buy 2, cut one in half and use the smaller two for the wheels.
A powerful prewash to be used before the wash stage ensures a bulk of the grime is removed from the paint before any physical contact.
Lather Car Shampoo
A gentle shampoo with no fancy gimmicks, a fresh smelling extremely lubricated shampoo that will not remove wax from the paint.
Imperial Wheel Cleaner
A ph neutral cleaner that will also ensure the longevity of your wheel wax while still breaking down dirt and grime from alloys.
Clay is a detailers best friend, it removes particles of dirt that are trapped in the paintwork itself and will retain it in the clay itself – this is dirt that can not be removed from even the most thorough of washes as it is trapped in the pores of the paint.
Glisten Spray Wax / Quick Detailer
Used as a lubricant when drying your car to add a layer protection and leave a glossy shine. Used alongside your clay bar for lubrication. Offers better protection and gloss than most quick detailers and spray waxes. This keeps the wax on your vehicle topped up and will ensure the longevity of your current wax.
Satin Tyre Dressing
A water-based dressing that leaves a Satin (obviously) finish to tires. This can also be used on exterior rubbers, plastics and wheel arches.
An all in one polish that will remove minor swirls and put down a layer of carnauba wax. A quick and easy polish to use that leaves a stunning finish.
Radiance Carnauba Creme Wax
I chose this as it is the most beginner friendly wax however if you are feeling up to the task you could go for a paste wax such as Auto Finesse Essence or Fusion. A Wax will keep your vehicle protected for typically 2-3 months and give you a stunning shine. Something often forgotten about waxes is that they contain agents which protect paintwork from the suns UV rays which is what fades paintwork – seen mostly in yellow and red paint but all colours are affected.
Mint Rims Wheel Wax
An easy to apply wax that will ensure the build-up of brake dust and grime on your alloys is kept at a minimum.
£2.95 pack of 6
You can buy packs of these on eBay for under £5 and can be used from everything from applying waxes, polishes and tyre dressings.
Pack of Microfibre Towels
£21.45 Pack of 36
Necessary for almost all detailing tasks and no detailer should be without quality microfibres. Costco offers a large pack that can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks, set aside a few that will only be used on paintwork.
Total Cost £287.10
Total Cost with 5L Products £388.60
There we have it. My Guide to the essential tools needed for Detailing and maintaining your vehicle. All the products listed above can be purchased from:
For Everything Detailing your in the right place, see more of my guides and product reviews here.