Car Cleaning Buyer's Guide

Whether you just want to give your car a quick onceover or want to dedicate a day to some serious detailing, you need the right products and processes in order to get the most out of the experience.

In this guide, we take a look at why you should put some time aside to wash your car, what products you should be using and what brands you can choose from.

Why it's important to wash your car

Washing your car isn’t just about making it look and feel great. It’s really important to wash your car on a regular basis for several reasons.

  • Value: It’s a low-cost way to protect the value of your car and maintain its appearance.
  • Avoid damage: It keeps your car free from road dirt and grime, which can eat into your paintwork. In particular, when dirt is mixed with rain it can become an acidic compound that will cause noticeable damage to the surface of your car.
  • Safety: It keeps your mirrors and windows clear, which is essential when it comes to safe driving.

How often should you wash your car

To stop the build-up of road dirt and grime, we recommend washing your car every two weeks. One of the great things about car cleaning is that you can work it around your schedule and spend anything from 15 minutes to a full day getting your car into a satisfying condition.

Car cleaning must-haves

There are loads of different car cleaning and car detailing products out there, but if you strip things down to the most basic level then here are our car cleaning must-haves:

  • Water/outside tap
  • Reachable plug or an extension lead
  • Bucket and sponge/wash mitt

Car cleaning products

Snow foam

Snow foam is the perfect product for the pre-wash stage. Applying it before shampooing will help to reduce the risk of your sponge or wash mitt accidentally causing scratches or swirl marks as it passes over heavy contamination.

The product generally works by coating your vehicle in a rich blanket of foam that clings to the paintwork and gently loosens dirt. The easiest way to apply it is to add the snow foam to a pressure washer or foam gun.

Shop snow foam

Car shampoo

Using car shampoo to keep your car’s bodywork clean will not only keep it looking its best, but will also go some way to removing the films and particles that can eat away at your paintwork.

We recommend using a two-bucket method, with your shampoo in one bucket and clean water in the other, so that you can rinse your wash mitt or microfibre cloth every so often.

Shop car shampoo

Wheel cleaner

Dedicated wheel cleaners contain a powerful blend of cleaning agents and degreasers that separate brake dust and road dirt from your wheels on contact. Using a wheel cleaner will help you to avoid corrosion and ensure that your wheels look as great as the rest of your car.

Shop wheel and tyre cleaning

Car polish

There’s a common misconception that car polish is the part of the car detailing process that makes your car shiny. What polishing your car actually does is essentially exfoliate the surface and remove a minute layer (i.e. any dirt, scratches and other minor imperfections). This then sets your car up for the waxing process.

Shop car polish

Car wax

Car wax will protect and enhance the paintwork of your car, while also giving it a deep and glossy shine. It does this by smoothing out the painted surface and filling swirls and scratches with a protective coating.

Shop car wax

Car vacuum

A good vacuuming will help to remove any loose dirt, stones, dust, leaves and more that have built up in your car during use.

We’d recommend investing in a dedicated car vacuum as they’ve been designed to access all those tricky narrow areas, and are generally lighter and more manoeuvrable than home vacuum cleaners.

Shop car vacuums

Interior cleaners

There is a range of products you can use here to make your upholstery, surfaces, dashboard and glass shine. These include upholstery sprays, cleaners and disinfectants, leather detailers, interior detailers and glass cleaners.

Shop interior cleaners

Car cleaning accessories

Having the right car cleaning accessories will make the car detailing process a breeze. Our favourites include wash mitts and microfibre cloths (for washing and drying), alloy brushes (for wheels) and foam applicator pads (for polishing and waxing).

Shop car cleaning accessories

Car cleaning brands

Auto Finesse

Established in 1999, Auto Finesse is a relative newcomer to the car cleaning market but has made a significant impact with its range of luxury products. From shampoos and polishes to waxes and protection kits, Auto Finesse products are designed for and trusted by professional car detailers across the UK and beyond.

Shop Auto Finesse products


Autoglym has been leading the way in the research and development of premium car products since 1965. The company’s products are produced by experts for experts and enable consumers to achieve the greatest finish for their vehicles. Our Autoglym range includes everything from snow foam through to interior detailers.

Shop Autoglym products


CarPlan is one of the leading car care brands in the UK and has been manufacturing first class cleaning and detailing products since the 1960s. The company’s Demon line offers technologically-advanced solutions that place a particular emphasis on durability and efficiency.

Shop CarPlan products

Chemical Guys

Chemical Guys was founded with the aim of providing the automotive community, business professionals and vehicle enthusiasts with the best car care products at any price. The company is fuelled by a passion for cars, adventure and the road ahead, and this is reflected in their collection of products.

Shop Chemical Guys products


Our Halfords own-brand car detailing products provide powerful and effective cleaning at an affordable price. We offer an extensive range that includes a variety of washes, cleaners, waxes and polishes, alongside handy accessories like microfibre cloths, wash mitts and wheel brushes.

Shop Halfords products


For over a century, Meguiar’s cleaning products have been enjoyed by car owners around the world. An ever-expanding product range and the pursuit of innovation keeps the company at the forefront of car detailing, and mean that Meguiar’s continues to deliver some of the most ground-breaking car cleaning solutions on the market.

Shop Meguiar’s products

Turtle Wax

Since launching the first ever bottled car wax back in 1944, Turtle Wax has grown to become one of the most innovative car care brands in the UK. The company is a best-seller of spray wax, car wash, carpet and fabric care, and more, and you’ll find Turtle Wax products in more than 90 countries across the world.

Shop Turtle Wax products

The car cleaning process

Once you’ve chosen your products, it’s time to choose your process.

For a simple overview of the main car cleaning steps, check out our guide to cleaning your car in 3 easy steps. Or if you’re a keen detailer, then our ultimate guide to car cleaning will be right up your street and will leave you with a car to be proud of.

Shop all car cleaning products