From headlight restorer to carnauba wax, our product review team tests and reviews some of the best car detailing products.

Written and Tested By:

Will Moore


Written and Tested By:

Will Moore


Senior Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

Last Updated 01/06/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • The best car detailing products include the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit, Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, DeWalt DXV08S, P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax, and Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax.
  • Car detailing products can vary wildly in price, but all of the products here represent good value and should last for years to come.
  • A lot of these products top our other lists of specific types of products. If our selections here don’t seem like what you’re looking for, we link out to those reviews as well.

Everyone knows 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. If paying a professional isn’t in your budget, what are some of the best at-home 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 some 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.


Car Detailing Products Reviews

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

When considering the top detailing products on the market, we looked for a versatile collection of products that are highly rated and able to be tested and evaluated by us. We considered each detailing product under a different testing lens, each of which was rated on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0 stars.

What Is The Best Car Detailing Product?

We named the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit, Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, DeWalt DXV08S, P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax, and Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax as the best-rated car detailing products on the market in 2024.

Brand/Model Cost Overall

Rating
Award
Sylvania

Headlight Restoration Kit
$20 4.5 Best Headlight Restorer
Turtle Wax

T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner
$0.38/

fluid ounces
4.9 Best Wheel Cleaner
DeWalt

DXV08S
$130 4.5 Best Car Detailing Vacuum
P21S

12700W Carnauba Wax
$60 4.5 Best Car Wax
Meguiar’s

Ultimate Wash & Wax
$0.30/

fl. oz.
4.6 Best Car Wash Soap

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Car Detailing Product Ratings: Our Testing Process

After looking at factors such as product type, versatility, customer ratings, and prices, our product testing team ordered the 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. Each car detailing product was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Learn more about how we tested car detailing products here.

1. Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit: Best Headlight Restorer

  • Cost: Around $20
  • Amazon review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars based on over 23,000 ratings
  • What’s in the box: Surface activator, clarifying compound, UV-blocking clear coat, three sheets of waterproof sandpaper, three applicator cloths, and one vinyl glove
  • UV protection
  • Lifetime warranty

Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit Review

The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit.

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 the best headlight restoration kit due to the stellar results we saw.

You can see how the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Results 5.0
Clarity of Instructions 5.0
Value 4.0
Overall Rating 4.5

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. 

Sylvania: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit:

Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit: Our Experience

Results: 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.

Clarity of Instructions: In terms of improving clarity, Sylvania was hands down the most effective of the headlight restoration kits we tested. The instructions were simply laid out and the liquid compounds had Step One and Step Two written on the bottle, so figuring out the process was a breeze.

Value: The product utilizes wet sanding and calls for the sanding process to be done by hand, which can be more time-consuming than a drill-oriented kit. We also found that Sylvania isn’t as generous with materials as other manufacturers. 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.

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

Sylvania Headlight Kit: What Customers Are Saying

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.

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

  • Cost: $0.38/fl. oz.
  • Amazon review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 based on over 5,200 ratings
  • Available sizes: 23.0 fl. oz. single bottle, 23.0 fl. oz. 6-pack
  • Acts in under one minute
  • Works on all OEM wheels and tires

Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner Review

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

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.

You can see how the Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use 5.0
Grime Penetration 4.5
Overall Shine 5.0
Value 5.0
Overall Rating 4.9

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 from us for being biodegradable. 

Turtle Wax: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner:

Turtle Wax T-18 Wheel & Tire Cleaner: Our Experience

Ease of Use: The Turtle Wax formula is also fast-acting, so you only need to wait about 30 seconds after application before scrubbing and rinsing.

Grime Penetration: Turtle Wax T-18 removed noticeably more caked-in dirt from the wheel than other competitors. It cuts through dirt easily, making it a great choice for a degreaser or tire dressing in a car wash kit.

Overall Shine: The Turtle Wax spray did an outstanding job of cleaning a dirty wheel that hadn’t been cleaned in years while leaving a great shine after cleaning.

Value: 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.

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

Turtle Wax T-18: What Customers Are Saying

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. Some customers say that while it removes grime and brake dust, it can also deteriorate custom paint jobs.

3. DeWalt DXV08S: Best Car Detailing Vacuum

  • Cost: Around $130
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 based on over 260 ratings
  • Weight: 15.0 pounds
  • Power: 120.0 Volts
  • Tank capacity: 8.0 gallons
  • Accessories: Extension wand, crevice nozzle, utility nozzles (two), accessory bag
  • Power source: A/C outlet
  • Wet or dry: Both

DeWalt DXV08S Review

The DeWalt DXV08S shop vac.

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 great 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.

You can see how the DeWalt DXV08S performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power 4.5
Maneuverability 4.0
Ease of Maintenance 4.5
Versatility 5.0
Overall Rating 4.5

This style of vacuum is popular for cleaning vehicles and is often used by professional detailers. It should be noted that this car vacuum is too big to comfortably store in your vehicle and will need its special place in a closet or workshop to lay its hose while off the job. 

DeWalt: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the DeWalt DXV08S:

DeWalt DXV08S: Our Experience

Suction Power: Corded vacuums typically have the greatest suction strength, so this vacuum can easily pick up anything in your vehicle, though you will need an extension cord to reach every area of your car.

Maneuverability: The DeWalt has wheels so it can easily move around your car. The hose is long enough to reach across the seats, and there are extension nozzles and wands that can help you reach floor mats and under the seats. The size of the vacuum prevents you from easily picking it up, though, with the long hose and nozzle, this isn’t necessary.

Ease of Maintenance: Debris collects in the can, but the DeWalt includes a bag that can be attached, which is easily removed and discarded when full. Overall, this vacuum is easy to maintain. It even comes with an accessories bag to help store the extra hoses and attachments.

Versatility: The vacuum was able to pick up glitter, chip crumbs, and pet hair with ease. The high suction power makes it an effective vacuum for any car spill, including wet spills.

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

DeWalt DXV08S: What Customers Are Saying

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.

4. P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax: Best Car Wax

  • Cost: Around $60
  • Amazon review score: 4.2 out of 5.0 based on over 100 ratings
  • Paste-style wax
  • Single-step application process
  • More value per ounce than similar products

P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax Review

The P21s 12700W Carnauba Wax.

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.

You can see how the P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Protection 5.0
Longevity 4.5
Ease of Application 4.0
Overall Rating 4.5

P21S Carnauba Wax has been around for quite some time and remains one of the best car waxes. While this product has a higher price per ounce than others, a dab of P21S goes a long way, making the overall cost comparable to other waxes in the long run. 

P21S: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax:

P21S 12700W: Our Experience

Protection: The wax must be soft to spread easily, but once applied, it looks great and provides durable protection.

Longevity: We applied this car wax in the summer, but it may be more difficult to apply when it’s colder outside. This could affect longevity depending on how well you apply it, but overall, we found that the wax, if applied correctly, should be long-lasting.

Ease of Application: We found the P21S Carnauba Wax extremely easy to apply. A minimal amount is needed to cover a large area, the wax spreads extremely smoothly, and the wide-mouthed container simplifies the application process.

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

P21S Carnauba Wax: What Customers Are Saying

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.

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

  • Cost: $0.30/fl. oz.
  • Amazon review score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 7,100 ratings
  • Available in 48.0-oz. or 1.0-gal. containers
  • 1.0 oz. of soap per gallon of water
  • Soap and wax combination

Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax Review

The Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax.

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 Two-In-One pick for car wash soaps because of its performance and formula.

You can see how the Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Scent 4.0
Concentration 5.0
Foaminess 4.5
Streak and Spot Resistance 5.0
Overall Rating 4.6

If you want the durability of car wax without paying for a professional detailer, Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax may be perfect for your needs. Although it takes extra time and effort to properly wash with this soap, the result is worthwhile for any motor enthusiast. 

Meguiar’s Wash & Wax: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax:

Meguiar’s Wash & Wax: Our Experience

Foaming Ability: The soap was very foamy, but not without effort. The wax soap sat in the bottom of the bucket in a clump and required extra stirring to create foam.

Results: 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. 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.

Water Spot and Streak Resistance: 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.

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

Meguiar’s Ultimate: What Customers Are Saying

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.


Car Detailing Products Buying 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:

Compare Car Detailing Products

Brand/Model Product Type Size(s) Top Feature
Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit Headlight restorer One application UV protection coating
Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner Wax Wheel and tire cleaner 23.0 fluid ounces Acts in under one minute
DeWalt DXV08S Car vacuum 8.0 gallons Five hose extensions
P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax Car wax 6.2 ounces One-step application
Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax Car wash soap 48.0 oz. or 1.0 gal. pH neutral

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.


Best Car Detailing Products: Bottom Line

In this article, along with sharing helpful purchasing tips for those interested in purchasing a car detailing product, we reviewed the top car detailing products in 2024:

  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

Car Detailing Products: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about car detailing products: 

What products do professional detailers use?

Professional car detailers use products such as brushes, polishing pads, clay bars, and wash mitts. Most of these items aren’t exclusive to professionals and are available to the general public.

What products are used for car detailing?

The best car detailing products include microfiber wash mitts, quality car waxes and soaps, a headlight restoration kit, and a powerful vacuum. Of course, the best products for your vehicle depend on its condition and your budget.

How do I detail my car like a pro?

A professional-level car detail will include washing, waxing, and cleaning surfaces ranging from plastic to metal. A car cleaning should cover the vehicle’s interior and exterior and include items such as scratches and foggy headlights.

What is the best car interior detailer? 


Full Car Detailing Products Testing Methodology

Each product in this review was tested under different circumstances because this cumulative review highlights the top detailing products across a wide spectrum of different items we’ve tested and have deemed the top detailing products for any vehicle. 

With this in mind, each testing criterion is different for the products in our review. However, we’ve highlighted a few common criteria we consider when it comes to testing and evaluating every product in our review.

Ease of Use

When using any product, the ease of use always plays a factor in how we score products. If a detailing product in our review can be easily applied to our vehicle or used without much issue, we would score the item higher for ease of use.

Results

Many products in our countless reviews consider the overall result, detailing products included. While this criterion may not be considered in each product in this specific review, we take it into account when looking at the before and after results of a cleaning product to determine the overall effectiveness, playing a role in the final score we give a product.

Value 

When we consider purchasing any product, we want to account for the overall value of an item. Some car products are more expensive than others, so we believe it’s important to be mindful of the products we choose to test. While price plays a factor in value, we also consider the results and ease of use of each product. Products that meet these criteria will score higher for value.

How We Score Products

Star ratings help us to differentiate from the top products in our review. By giving each product a numerical rating, we can honestly evaluate the best car detailing products on the market. While different in use, the car detailing products in this review scored an average of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating is a high score for the products in our review. If we noticed that the cleaner or detailing product exceeded our expectations, leaving a nice shine and noticeable change in cleanliness, you’d see a 5.0-star rating.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating is an above-average score. If the product still exceeds our expectations and leaves a nice result but could have offered more versatility among surfaces, you’d see a 4.0-star rating.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating is an average score. If we notice some streaking or water spots left behind after using a liquid cleaner on our car’s exterior, we would probably give the detailing product 3.0 stars.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating is a below-average rating. For example, if one of the detailing products is ineffective on some surfaces or has a lower value when considering ease of use, we would give the cleaner 2.0 stars.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating is the lowest rating we give in any review. If we notice that a product is defective or completely ineffective during our testing process, you’ll see a 1.0-star score.

Why Trust Motor1.com

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.

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


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