Headlight Restorer
Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit

An effective headlight restorer that promises long-lasting results.

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Wheel Cleaner
Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner

A high-performance and affordable multi-use cleaner that makes tires shine.

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Car Detailing Vacuum
DeWalt DXV08S

A powerful and portable vacuum from a recognizable brand.

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Car Wax
P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax

A versatile car wax for multiple paint finishes and vehicle surfaces.

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Car Wash Soap
Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax

A two-in-one soap at home in any car enthusiast’s shampoo arsenal.

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You undoubtedly know the importance of regular maintenance in keeping your car running smoothly, but dedicating time to car cleaning can also help preserve the value of your vehicle. So if paying a professional isn’t in your budget, what are some of the best car detailing products to consider?

Our product team conducted hands-on testing of several auto detailing products we believe should be on your car care list. This in-depth review will look at five of the best car detailing products for tackling grime inside and outside your vehicle. We also scored each item on factors such as price and performance.

5 Best Car Detailing Products

A man cleaning the hood of a car with a microfiber towel.

  1. Best Headlight Restorer: Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit
  2. Best Wheel Cleaner: Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner
  3. Best Car Detailing Vacuum: DeWalt DXV08S
  4. Best Car Wax: P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax
  5. Best Car Wash Soap: Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax

#1 Best Headlight Restorer: Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit

The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit.

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When it comes to auto detailing, foggy headlights are among the most notable parts of a car. The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit was our top pick for best headlight restoration kit due to the stellar results we saw.

Your headlights may not look brand new after one run-through with the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit, but your kit should at least remove yellowing and improve visibility. Making cloudy headlights look new again could require several passes through the instructions and plenty of elbow grease.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Clarity of Instructions5.0
Overall Rating4.5

Key Features

  • Includes surface activator, clarifying compound, UV-blocking clear coat, three sheets of waterproof sandpaper, three applicator cloths, and one vinyl glove
  • UV protection
  • Lifetime warranty

Our Experience

The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit being used to clean a headlight of a testing vehicle.

The Sylvania kit did an excellent job tackling oxidation buildup on some heavily sun damaged headlights. For a single pass, it outperformed every competitor. We also like that Sylvania includes a sealant that helps protect against UV rays long-term.

The one downside is that you only get enough materials for one car, although Sylvania says the result should last the life of the vehicle.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on 19,000 ratings

Customers appreciate the simple application process and quick results. Negative reviews often mention poor customer service when reaching out to the manufacturer about the lifetime warranty.

What Else Should I Consider?

If you need to restore the headlights on more than one vehicle or don’t feel like paying $20 every time you want to detail your car, consider the Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit or the Cerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit. Both offer plenty of product at a similar price, and Cerakote’s ceramic coating makes it unique compared to other kits.

#2 Best Wheel Cleaner: Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner

The Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner.

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If you’re looking to remove grime, make a wheel sparkle, or restore tire shine, Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner can deliver. It was the standout product in our wheel cleaner review for its ability to remove brake dust and other debris.

Cleaning power aside, our team likes that the Turtle Wax spray is a dual-purpose cleaner for both tires and wheels, and it got bonus points for being biodegradable.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Cleaning Power4.5
Overall Rating4.5

Key Features

  • Acts in under one minute
  • 23.0-fluid-ounce spray bottle
  • Works on all OEM wheels and tires

Our Experience

The Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner being used to clean the tire of a vehicle.

The Turtle Wax spray did an outstanding job of cleaning a dirty wheel that hadn’t been cleaned in years. It cuts through dirt easily, making it a great choice for a degreaser or tire dressing in a car wash kit.

The one downside to the Turtle Wax is that other options are better suited for chrome wheels and custom paint jobs. But at under $15 a bottle, the Turtle Wax cleaner is still an impressive product.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on 4,900 ratings

Numerous reviews note the wheel cleaner’s value and its cleaning capabilities, but some say it causes car paint to deteriorate on custom paint jobs.

What Else Should I Consider?

Our runner-up for best wheel cleaner is Meguiar’s G180132 formula, which is gentler on custom paints and aftermarket wheels. Another inexpensive option is Adam’s wheel cleaner, which also performs well against caked-on grime.

#3 Best Car Detailing Vacuum: DeWalt DXV08S

The DeWalt DXV08S shop vac.

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A vacuum is a must-have for interior detailing. It not only removes built-up debris but can also prepare upholstery for deeper cleaning. Our pick for a car vacuum is the DeWalt DXV08S. Even though it comes in a large package, the DeWalt is surprisingly nimble and has plenty of suction power.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power4.5
Ease of Maintenance4.0
Overall Rating4.5

Key Features

  • 8.0-gallon tank
  • Five hose extensions
  • Wet or dry vacuuming

Our Experience

The DeWalt DXV08S shop vac being used to clean the interior of a vehicle.

Our review team found the DeWalt DXV08S more than capable of handling the standard residue found in most cars. It removed deeply embedded trash easily, and we found it surprisingly lightweight for its size.

Portability aside, it’s still bulky and won’t fit inside most cars while you’re working. This is a device that works best in the hands of professional detailers rather than someone looking for an affordable vacuum.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on around 200 ratings

Though not often reviewed on Amazon, the DeWalt DXV08S comes highly recommended. Happy customers praise the vacuum’s high-quality design and performance.

Some critical reviews report parts malfunctioning or the vacuum not having as much power as advertised.

What Else Should I Consider?

We mentioned this is a large vacuum (it weighs 14.9 pounds), which might deter some customers. One of our favorite products we tested for our best car vacuums roundup was the Milwaukee 0880-20. At just over 2 pounds and incredibly compact, it routinely showed it could hang with larger products.

Whichever vacuum you choose, also consider a carpet brush. We asked Mike Pennington, Director of Global Training, Event Marketing & Consumer Relations at Meguiar’s, about best detailing practices and he recommended using a brush before vacuuming.

“A lot of people don’t realize you can actually brush a carpet prior to vacuuming or while you’re vacuuming, to fluff those fibers up to get all that excess dirt out.”

#4 Best Car Wax: P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax

The P21s 12700W Carnauba Wax.

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Another essential item in any collection of automotive cleaning products is car wax. Our pick is the P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax because of its long-lasting properties and how it works on most vehicle surfaces.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Application4.0
Overall Rating4.5

Key Features

  • Paste-style wax
  • Single-step application process
  • More value per ounce than similar products

Our Experience

The P21s 12700W Carnauba Wax being used to clean the exterior of a vehicle.

Applying the P21S Carnauba Wax proved simple, and we found that a small amount covered a large portion of the vehicle. Although our review team didn’t have any problems with streaking or leftover residue, it’s worth noting we used the wax during the summer when it was more malleable.

We could see this wax being more difficult to work with at lower temperatures, but it delivered solid results.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 1,000 ratings

Many users like the easy application process and say the results are worth the higher price point. However, some customers report struggling to remove the wax and seeing an unpleasant residue.

What Else Should I Consider?

If this carnauba wax isn’t cutting the mustard, Meguiar’s G210516 Ultimate Liquid Wax is another great option from our review of the best car waxes. The synthetic polymer works on most car surfaces from metal to plastic and promises long-lasting results.

#5 Best Car Wash Soap: Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax

The Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax.

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Above, we highlighted the importance of reliable car wax. Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax is a quality product that’s soap and wax in one. It was our Best Overall pick for car wash soaps because of its performance and formula.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Foaming Ability4.5
Water Spot and Streak Resistance5.0
Overall Rating4.5

Key Features

  • pH neutral
  • Safe for use on clear coats
  • Slow-drying formula

Our Experience

The Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax being used to clean the exterior of a vehicle.

Meguiar’s Ultimate Wax & Wash includes plenty of product at around $13 for 48 ounces. You only need 1 ounce of the soap per gallon of water. We even did a 2-to-1 ratio of water to soap and discovered it still performed well.

We also like that it’s a pH-neutral formula, meaning it lacks acidity that would damage car paint. Our review team also discovered the Meguiar’s didn’t leave any water spots or streaks on our test car.

Our only complaint is that the citrus scent doesn’t entirely mask the chemical smell of the soap, but that’s a relatively minor inconvenience.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 7,100 ratings

Positive reviews often highlight the product’s powerful formula and the quality of the finish after a wash. Some negative reviews say the waxing side of the formula isn’t as impressive.

What Else Should I Consider?

If you’re seeking a straight-up car soap, our runner-up pick was the Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap and Shampoo. It’s also pH neutral but features a more pleasant cherry smell and plenty of foaming capability.

Car Detailing Products Testing Process

Our product review team conducted in-person testing on each item we profiled. We looked at five products for each superlative and chose the best overall based on performance, value, and ease of use.

What Is Car Detailing?

Car detailing is a bit of a catchall term for cleaning a vehicle’s interior and exterior. It can be as simple as a car wash or as involved as repairing the leatherwork on a driver’s seat. The best car detailing products are usually specialized items that anyone from a DIY quick detailer to a car care enthusiast can use.

How Do I Choose The Right Detailing Products? 

As we mentioned above, car detailing is a broad term. Before loading up your shopping cart think about the type of work you want to perform on your car. Are you trying to apply a paint sealant to protect the car’s finish? Or do you want a cleaning kit that includes a foam cannon for maximum suds? 

Maintenance is another aspect. Doing touchup work on paint blemishes is another common car detailing, so paint pens may prove helpful. Plus, an aluminum wheel polish may preserve the shine after a deep clean.

Detailing Supplies Buyers Guide

While the hard work isn’t glamorous, a clean and well-detailed car is worth a few beads of sweat. And if you want high-quality results, you’ll need the right tools in addition to the proper exterior and interior cleaners.

Use The Right Towel

Plenty of products suggest cleaning the surface before you start detailing the area, such as the headlights. It’s important to follow directions for the best results, and this includes using a microfiber cloth for drying towels when necessary.

A microfiber towel is an essential part of a car care kit because it doesn’t streak as easily as regular towels. The towel’s design enables it to absorb liquids and other substances, but different piles – the visible strand of a cloth – are better suited for different tasks. You can learn more in our reviews of the best microfiber towels and car drying towels.

Find The Right Car Wax

Anyone seeking a DIY car wax project needs to know about the three types of wax you can use for at-home applications: spray wax, paste wax, and liquid wax.

  • Spray wax: Easy-to-apply coating with a low level of protection
  • Paste wax: Thorough protection but difficult to handle and expensive
  • Liquid wax: Midway point between spray wax and paste wax

Other Tools

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the best car detailing products. The parts of your car you clean and polish could depend on your budget. You may want to consider a few other items:

Our Review Standards

The car detailing products in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors such as the following:

  • Prime shipping eligibility
  • Customer ratings
  • Amazon superlatives
  • Price

For testing purposes, our team ordered the five car detailing products that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a car, noting the product’s performance, value, and more. We assigned each car detailing product a rating out of 5 stars.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

Best Car Detailing Products: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.