Auto Detailing Supplies And Tools: 25 Products You NEED

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The perfect detailing job starts with the right kit.

In this article, we’ll go through the complete list of auto detailing supplies and equipment you need to step up your game.

Whether it's car wash soap, microfiber towels, a glass-like wax, or something in between, we've got you covered.

Let’s get started.

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Table of Contents

Car Wash Soaps

The first thing you need to do before any detailing project is a good thorough wash. Different washes call for different soaps.

Most car shampoos have a slightly higher pH of 7.1-8, which means they’re mildly alkaline. This is needed to break down dust, tar, and organic dirt, and is generally fine on the clear coat.

Products that sway too much to the acidic or alkaline side of the pH scale easily strip waxes and paint sealants, and damage plastic and metal trim, rubber seals, and special finishes.

They are also the ones that clean the best, fastest, and easiest. However, you don’t want to go any harsher than you need to.

pH-Balanced Car Soap

For the safest treatment possible, use a pH-balanced car soap. These are often less potent, requiring more labor to fully clean the vehicle. However, they are harmless to the paint and all other components, which makes them worthwhile.

Torque Detail has its own formulation - Ceramic Car Shampoo - which is a pH-neutral washing solution that’s hard on dirt but soft on the vehicle.

Decontamination Car Soap

If you’re applying a ceramic coating, paint sealant, or paint protection film, you need something stronger that will sterilize the clear coat of all contamination. You don’t want to use them too often, but you shouldn’t need to if you’re properly maintaining the vehicle.

Decontamination soaps dissolve and clean stuck tar, grease, brake dust, bird poop, tree sap, and other pollution that doesn’t come out with regular soap. They will also strip down any waxes or sealants, revealing a fresh surface to work with.

Try Torque Detail’s Decon Soap in your prepping stage before applying other paint protection products.

Car Wash Tools & Equipment

The right tools are just as important as the right chemistry.

There are many wrong tools you can wash your car with. However soft they may seem, brushes are the worst thing to use for washing your body panels, as these will most certainly introduce swirl marks and ruin the finish.

Wash Mitt or Sponge

If you’re handwashing your vehicle, it’s instrumental to use a soft microfiber wash mitt or car-specific sponge. These can scrub the surface without leaving any visible scratches, and are affordable and reusable, so there’s no real excuse for not picking one up. Tip: A high quality car wash mitt is included in our popular Decon Wash Pack.

The Microfiber Towel

Microfiber towels caused a small revolution in the detailing industry. You can use them for anything and everything - washing, wiping, drying, polishing, and applying or removing sealants and coatings.

They’re incredibly soft on the paint, yet powerful in absorbing water and trapping dirt away from the contact area.

Just make sure to wash them after every use and keep separate piles for washing, drying, polishing, etc.

Grab a set of 16x16-inch ultra-plush microfiber detailing towels from Torque Detail.

Car Brushes

Brushes do have a place in the detailing industry - just not on the paint. Washing wheels, grilles, and intricate interiors calls for a variety of brushes of different sizes and shapes.

Auto detailing brushes have extra-soft bristles that are gentler on painted surfaces. Still, never use a brush to wash your body panels if you don’t want to get a bunch of swirl marks and fine scratches freshly installed with every wash.

Buckets (+ Grit guards) and Garden Hose

The two-bucket method is preferred by detailing professionals for its safety and effectiveness.

One bucket is filled with tap water to rinse the mitt from all the dirt and grit you just removed from the vehicle. The other bucket holds the car soap mix. By rinsing first, you keep your wash solution clean. Grit guards trap dirt at the bottom, reducing the chances of bringing hard bits of dirt back on the paint and scratching the finish.

Foam Cannon and Pressure Washer

If you want to have a bit of fun washing your vehicle, a foam cannon attachment for your pressure washer will carpet the car in a thick layer of soapy water.

The foam will penetrate every crevice, nook, and cranny, loosening the dirt and surface contaminants before you go in with the wash mitt.

Alternatively, if your vehicle isn’t too dirty, you can opt for a touchless wash, using just the foam cannon and pressure washer.

Blower and Shop Vacuum

Leaving water to dry in the sun is an excellent recipe for water spots, streaks, and dull shine.

If you’re hand-washing, a clean soft microfiber towel will take care of the drying. However, if you’re washing touchless, you’ll need something more sophisticated.

A dual-action blower/vacuum machine will help you dry the exterior in just a couple of minutes. These work exceptionally well if you have a hydrophobic surface like a ceramic coating, which helps blow the water straight off the panels.

Additionally, the vacuum function will help you clean the interior and trunk without needing to go with a separate machine.

Paint Decontamination Supplies And Equipment

Your auto detailing supplies are not complete without a proper decontamination kit. Over time, your car will pick up a persistent film of brake dust and contamination that doesn’t go away with washing or even scrubbing. This is true even if you have a ceramic coating, although it will occur much more slowly.

Degreasers and Iron Removers

An iron remover contains a special chemical that dissolves the iron oxide (brake dust) and makes it soluble to water. If you grab one of the color-changing products, you’ll literally see the vehicle bleeding the iron out.

Degreasers are used to remove organic contamination like engine and transmission oils, baked-on road tar, bug splatter, bird poop, and tree sap.

However, be extremely careful to properly dilute and quickly rinse off these products, as prolonged exposure to heavy bases can damage some clear coats.

Torque Detail’s Decon Soap is an all-in-one decontamination soap that will clean all of the above in a totally harmless manner, so you should definitely give it a try.

Detailing Clay and Clay Lube

Detailing clay is a staple in the detailing industry. This soft putty-like material is slightly abrasive, breaking away bonded contaminants from the paint and trapping them inside.

Claying the paint removes brake dust, mineral deposits, tar, cement, bug splatter, and other stuck contamination, leaving a much sleeker and more slippery surface.

Torque Detail offers a Clay Decon Kit, including a reusable clay bar and clay lubricant.

Isopropyl Alcohol

An isopropyl alcohol and water mix is used for a final wipedown to remove any fingerprints, adhesive residue, and general dust before applying a ceramic coating, paint protection film, or other care product.

Paint Correction Supplies And Equipment

Scratches, swirl marks, pitting, and other surface imperfections are inevitable over time, unless you’ve fully wrapped your vehicle in paint protection film and topped it with a ceramic coating.

Scratches are physical imperfections in the surface and can only be removed through mechanical abrasion.

Scratch & Swirl Remover

Reverse: Scratch & Swirl Remover is Torque Detail’s all-in-one paint correction product. You simply apply it with a microfiber towel and give the troubled spot a good rubdown.

The product contains fine abrasives that sand and level the clear coat, removing scratches, swirl marks, mineral deposits, baked-on brake dust, and other bonded contamination.

Reverse: Scratch & Swirl Remover is great for light-duty paint correction on relatively well-preserved vehicles.

Sandpaper for Wet Sanding

If you have deep gouges that penetrate the clear coat and reach into the underlying paint or primer coats, you’re looking at a long weekend and lots of elbow grease to repaint the panel, at least partially.

Removing such deep scratches requires sanding the surface layers down to the bottom affected layer, then building them back up one by one. As you do, you need to use wet sanding paper and a soapy water solution to level the newly-applied layers and blend the finish at the end.

Wet sanding begins with 600-grit sandpaper, going up to 2000 and even 3000-grit for a really smooth and clear finish.

Cutting and Polishing Compounds

Scratches that don’t penetrate the clear coat can be removed with polishing. Polishing compounds are liquid or paste materials that contain fine abrasives that scratch and abrade the surface, smoothing out all imperfections and producing a clean, glossy finish.

You use them with a microfiber towel or a special pad attached to a power tool.

Rotary Buffer and Random Orbit Polisher

The two power tools used in polishing are the rotary buffer and random orbit polisher.

Rotary buffers are very similar to an angle grinder with a specific attachment. They are more powerful and take away a lot of material quickly. However, they leave fine scratches on their own and cannot be used for a finishing operation.

The random orbit polisher is gentler and covers its own scratches due to the random motion of the pad.

Battery Drill and Polishing Attachments

When polishing wheels, headlights, chrome, and other trim pieces, it's often much easier to use a battery drill with the correct polishing attachment, as it will fit tighter areas and can navigate around complex surfaces.

However, it’s not recommended to use it on body panels, as the motion is continuously circular and will therefore leave fine scratches and swirls in the finish.

Ceramic Coatings, Sealants, Waxes, And Other Protectants

Maintaining your paint is an uphill battle against brake dust, organic acids, tar, mineral deposits, UV rays, moisture, and dozens of environmental hazards.

If you want to preserve your paint, you must coat it with a protective product. Carnauba wax used to be the go-to solution in the past, but it's no longer relevant for modern polymer and ceramic-based coatings.

Ceramic Coating

Ceramic coatings are the ultimate protection against any contamination, chemical attacks, UV rays, and dirt. They form an incredibly thin yet hard layer on top of the paint, fully encapsulating it from the environment and giving it a deep glass-like shine.

Installation is somewhat difficult, though. It’s easy to mess up the finish, and once it hardens up, it’s impossible to remove without sanding the entire vehicle.

If you’re trying a ceramic coating out for the first time, pick up a ceramic coating spray like Torque Detail’s Ceramic Spray. It’s easy to apply a consistent thickness and fully cover the panel without leaving any streaks or high spots.

Ceramic Spray makes the surfaces hydrophobic and anti-static, keeping the vehicle cleaner for longer and making it easier to maintain. It doesn’t wash away with harsh detergents and it lasts for up to 12 months.

Hybrid Wax & Sealer

A good alternative to ceramic coating sprays are hybrid wax sealant products. These are synthetic polymer sealants that cover the surface of the clear coat, protecting it from contamination, repelling moisture, and making the panels sleek and slippery.

You can apply these sprays with just a microfiber towel, and there’s no way you can get it wrong. Paint sealants last for a shorter time than ceramic coatings, but they’re twice as cheap and easier to control. You can also remove them with a strong detergent and switch to another product if necessary.

Try Torque Detail’s Mirror Shine - a special formulation that offers up to 6 months of protection and is suitable for everything except plastic, from glass, metal, and clear coat to chrome and fiberglass.

Restoration & Enhancement Products

Your auto detailing supplies set is not complete without a few special-purpose products designed to meticulously restore your interior and trim to concourse condition.

Quick Detailing Spray / Waterless Detailer

Quick detailing sprays are amazing products that help you spot-clean the vehicle on the go. Spilled coffee on the car? Got a nasty surprise from the local seagull population? Bug guts after a road trip?

All this and much more can be remedied in seconds with a quick detailer. These are rinseless washing solutions that contain extra lubricants to reduce scratching, as well as polymers to restore the shiny finish of the area you’re cleaning.

Torque Detail has its own formulation - Turbo Waterless Car Wash - a special product that also contains SiO2 ceramic particles, which restore and replenish ceramic coatings and sealants, giving the surfaces extra hydrophobic and anti-static properties.

Tire Dressing / Tire Shine

Even if they only have a few miles on them, tires work in such harsh conditions that they quickly lose their visual appeal and even after a thorough wash will look dull, tired, and discolored to a brownish hue.

Torque Detail’s High-Gloss Tire Shine Spray will return the smooth rubber sheen to your tires, making them look brand new any time you wash the vehicle.

Leather Conditioner

Leather interiors grow dull over time, losing their shine. Prolonged exposure to UV rays will dry out and eventually crack and split the leather, causing irreversible damage.

With some love and frequent maintenance, you can prevent that from happening.

Torque Detail’s Leather Restore replenishes leather, plastic, rubber, and other interior surfaces, returning their glossy appearance and protecting them from damaging UV rays, while not leaving any greasy residue to make you uncomfortable in your own vehicle.

Plastic Restore

Plastic trim is very durable to impact and most kinds of contamination and chemical erosion. UV rays are one of the few things that damage and degrade plastic components over time.

If your plastic trim has faded to a dull matte finish and what used to be black is now dark gray, you need Plastic Restore. This product by Torque Detail penetrates the plastic and restores its molecular structure, which is damaged by the sun. Sixty seconds later, you get deep, glossy, shiny plastic components that look brand new.

Miscellaneous Detailing Supplies And Tools

Finally, on our list of auto detailing supplies are the miscellaneous items that make the job that much easier and organized.

Detailing Lights / Drop Lights

These lights have strong focused beams that help evaluate paint for imperfections. They’re like microscopes for scratches, swirl marks, pitting, and other issues. Everything you never thought existed shows when you shine their light on the body in a dark room.

Supply Carts and Organizers

If you own or plan on purchasing a complete auto detailing supply kit, you’ll have a hard time keeping it together without a proper cart and several organizers.

Things can get hectic when you’re going full tilt, washing, polishing, and coating. It’s easy to lose track and even misplace products, wasting time and leaving yourself open to mistakes.

Containers and Measuring Cups

If you’re aiming to become a pro detailer, you’ll quickly realize you’re using up products and solutions rather quickly.

Buying 16-32 oz bottles will eat a significant portion of your profit. Instead, you can buy bulk in gallons and mix your own products, driving the cost significantly down.

Measuring cups, funnels, empty spray bottles, and color-coded containers will help you stay organized.

DIY CERAMIC COATING - 1yr of Protection
The Best Spray-On Ceramic Coating. Period.

★★★★★ "My car is slick as glass!! I put the Ceramic Spray on my Corvette Stingray and it is very slick and shiny. I should have purchased it sooner. It is a great product. It made my wheels look new. Keeps off dirt and dust." - Charlie F.

15% Off Deal

Bottom Line

From washing and decontamination to polishing, paint correction, coating, and surface restoration, detailing is… well, all about the details.

Getting cars perfectly clean and restored to concourse condition requires patience, attention to detail, and of course, the right tools for every job.

Our auto detailing supplies list is by no means all-encompassing, but it will give you a good start in the industry. You’ll quickly discover what works and what doesn’t for your particular style of detailing.

Published on Mar 07, 2021