Tools and products for car valeting

Cleaning your car is one thing. Maintaining a show room finish inside and out is quite another! To keep your car looking fabulous it requires more effort than a bucket of water with a dash of washing up liquid and a quick going over with a vacuum cleaner. So which tools and products for car valeting do you need to achieve a professional show room finish from home?

Pressure washer

If you have a pressure washer, this is a great way to remove excess dirt and grime from the car. However, you do need to be careful because using this incorrectly could cause damage. First Read through your instructions to see if your pressure washer is suitable for car wash and then follow the advice. The key factor is that the washer sprays at a safe PSI, roughly between 1200 – 1700 PSI and that you spray at a safe distance.

If your car is vintage, the paintwork may be damaged by pressure washing so if you have any doubts, wash by hand using buckets and a wash mitt.


Hand washing with buckets gets good results although is time consuming. Professionals advise using three buckets; one for the shampoo and water to clean the car and the other should be filled with just plain water so that you can clean the wash mitt without risking spreading dirt and grit back onto the car. The third bucket should be used only for cleaning the wheels and contain shampoo and water.

Wash mitt or sponge

A microfibre car wash mitt or natural sponge is nonabrasive and will load plenty of suds for easy cleaning.  Make sure you keep rinsing in it in clean water to prevent spreading dirt back onto the paintwork.

Car shampoo

Never use washing up liquid because it can cause a streaky greasy looking finish and it may even cause damage to the paintwork. There are thousands of car shampoos on the market and some are designed to be used in a pressure washer and others more suitable for hand washing.

For best results use a pre wash shampoo first because this will remove all the build-up and grime from the bodywork.  Make sure it is PH neutral because this will not remove any previously applied wax.  

Once the car has been rinsed and looks clean, you can continue this process with a wash shampoo. These usually contain added wax so as well as cleaning, using a wax shampoo provides some protection against damage.

If you are using a pressure washer, check through the product information to ensure that the shampoo is designed for this application.

of pollution in some areas, you may find that your output is also improved by regular or at least annual cleaning.

Chamois leather or microfibre towel

You will need to dry the car, so using a chamois leather or microfibre towel will prevent streaking.

Car Polish

You use car polish to brighten the colour and remove any grease or dirt that may remain after washing. Car polish can come in sprays, creams or liquids and because car polish contains solvents it will remove any impurities. You should not use polish on your car too often because it works by removing a few microns of the paint which enables the colour to shine through.  Apply car polish with a clean cloth and work in a circular motion.

Electric Car Polisher

The job is made easier by using a hand held electric car polisher. This uses polishing pads and is the best way to achieve a professional finish.

Car Wax

Wax polish provides a protective coating and glossy sheen. It protects paintwork from damaging UV rays and helps percent dust and dirt from sticking to your car.  Apply sparingly by hand using a clean soft cloth. You can also use an electric car polisher or buffer for better results and to make the job easier as long as you use with liquid wax.

Cleaning wheels and alloys

If you have cleaned the body work, you will also need to consider your wheels and alloys because this area gets extremely dirty and it will let down the appearance of your car.

There are a range of products available including brushes designed specifically for cleaning alloys and wheels as well as products designed to protect and improve their appearance.  Creating a black tyre shine is simple to do. Just spray the tyre cleaning product on your tyres and leave it to dry.

Cleaning the car interior

Cleaning the car interior is important. After all this is the area of the car that affects you as the driver the most, so it is important to have it looking and smelling showroom clean.

Although you could use some household cleaning products on your car interior you do need to be careful not to use anything too harsh or abrasive that could damage the finish. 

There is a wide range of inexpensive car cleaners available that are suitable for cleaning all parts of the car interior, such as the dash board and trim , the upholstery or the carpets.  Depending on the type of finish you want, you can find multipurpose products that are suitable for all these, or alternatively choose specific products for each section.

Car upholstery cleaner

Car seats become dirty and stained so do require cleaning but you do need to be careful to choose the right product or you could cause damage.  Always test your car upholstery cleaner on a small area before using so that you can ensure that it is safe for the surface. Most car upholstery is manufactured from vinyl and plastics and most upholstery cleaners are designed for these materials. These types of products can also be used safety on the carpets too.

You cannot use general upholstery cleaners on leather. Although these days leather seats are usually covered with a synthetic coating for added protection, it is safer to always use a leather upholstery cleaner to make sure. Again, always test the product in an inconspicuous part of the seating first.  

Vacuum Cleaner

You can’t clean the interior of your car without a vacuum cleaner. The best type to use is a handheld vacuum cleaner so that you don’t have to worry about plugging into the mains. In addition you do need the correct attachments in order to access tricky hard to reach areas.

Why not call in a professional?

Cleaning your car to a professional show room standard is both time consuming and can be difficult and expensive once you have bought all the equipment and necessary products that you need.

The easiest way to achieve a show room finish on your car is to call in a professional service to do it for you.

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