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5 Car Detailing Products for Beginners.


DJ Mayo Studios Porsche

Enthusiasts always want product suggestions to assist in their efforts to a spotless better-than-new automobile, but many times I feel people get hung up on thinking price equates to performance, and waste too much of their budget on things that make a minimal difference. Those with experience will often be the first to point out that a product with double the price doesn’t give double the performance. Many products (especially high-end waxes) have diminishing returns in which a much higher price might give a very slight advantage if any. With this Ask-A-Pro article, I’ll highlight 5 products that are “must-buys” for nearly every car enthusiast.

1. Optimum Power Clean. This versatile inside/outside cleaner is a great value (dilutes 3 parts water to 1 part cleaner) that is also very effective on a wide variety of surfaces. Coming back from a long trip and your front end is full of bugs? Pre-treat it with Optimum Power Clean. Light carpet stains? Optimum Power Clean can help to effectively break down many stains so they can be removed. Need to clean your exhaust tips but don’t have metal polish? How about that dirty and neglected license plate? Could your engine bay use a light cleaning? Optimum Power Clean can be used in all of these situations with outstanding results.

2. Einszett (1Z) Cockpit Premium. I use no other interior product more often than Cockpit Premium. The hard surface cleaner/dressing/protectant is used on nearly every car we do interior work on. With a light lemon-like smell, mild cleaning ability, and the perfect no-shine/all natural look, we’ve had many clients purchase the interior product on their own. Make sure to keep a spritz bottle with 1Z’s Cockpit Premium in your glove compartment along with an all-purpose microfiber towel to keep your center console, dash-board, and door panels free of dust and light debris, and your interior will always look perfect!

NOTE: If you have a vinyl-heavy interior (Corvette, Honda, etc), you’ll want to use a product like Meguiar’s #40 instead.

3. TUF SHINE Tire Brush. Tire care is very underrated, but any good detailer knows that something as small as tires can break an otherwise great detail job if not handled correctly. Giving your tires a thorough cleaning every other month (for daily driven cars), or every 6 months (weekend toys) is a must to keep them looking black and new. I hope that by now you’ve read this outstanding article from Utah’s top detailer, Greg Nichols, covering TUF SHINE as a brand and product line. In the event you haven’t been keeping up, Detailed Image is the exclusive online merchant of TUF SHINE products, to include a little gem I consider the best brush for cleaning tires yet. With perfect density, stiffness, and size, this brush is perfect when paired with the TUF SHINE Tire Cleaner or even Optimum Power Clean (another great use!). Don’t let your tires look aged and tired when a small amount of money and some elbow grease will have them looking better then when they were first mounted on your wheels.

4. Dodo Juice Red Mist Tropical Edition quick detailer / spray sealant. It’s no secret I’m a fan of Red Mist Tropical; I even wrote a full article on it. If you’re not using this after every wash, you’re already missing out, but right now I want to highlight an alternative use for it: the underside of your hood, the underside of the trunk, the water channels in your trunk, and your door jambs. After giving your vehicle a thorough cleaning, use Red Mist Tropical on these areas for months of protection. Without UV rays from the sun beating on these areas, you’ll notice the small amount of time you spend sealing these surfaces will last for months.

5. E-Z Detail Brush. I didn’t want to put “no brainer” products on this list originally as I feel things like Grit Guards, microfiber towels, buckets, and wax/sealant are all standard things everyone should have without question. However, I hate seeing clean cars with clean wheel faces, but the inside of the wheel is dirty and black from brake dust build-up. My fellow car lovers, PLEASE clean your wheels thoroughly, especially if you have large or beautiful wheels.

While the Porsche 911 posted above (courtesy of DJ Mayo Studios) has been professionally prepped, with the proper care, products, and tools you will be on your way to transforming your car to better-than-new condition!

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Marc Harris and Jacob Bunyan
Auto Lavish
Rochester, MI

19 comments on 5 Car Detailing Products for Beginners.

  1. Brian.E says:

    Great article. Write ups like these are what really help people who don’t really know where to start when they start getting a little deeper into detailing. And Red Mist Tropical should be in everyone’s collection, it’s great for paint and trim in my experience.

    • Brian,
      Thanks for commenting and I completely agree about Red Mist Tropical (no secret I love it!). While my purpose was to give some insight on some not-so-often talked about products, I’m sure there are experienced guys that haven’t looking into some of the things I mentioned as well.

  2. Tim says:

    I would add 303 Aerospace protectant to this list. It isn’t expensive and doesn’t bleed when used on exterior plastic trim.

    Thanks again for another awesome article. I love the work you do.

    • Thanks for the kind words Tim and I always appreciate enthusiasts like you commenting and taking a look at our work. There are many products I would add to the list, but I wanted to try to keep it to a basic 5 products that are often over-looked. The 303 Aerospace Protectant you mentioned is great, but is often talked about in detailing circles.

  3. Dave says:

    A fantastic list!
    I love my Ez Detail brush but really wish i would have gotten the mico vs. the big one.
    Any chance you’d do a top 10? 😉

    Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks a lot for reading and commenting Dave; guys like you really inspire us to keep pumping out more content. I have no plan on doing a top 10 list: I wanted to post 5 things that I feel most beginners (and even some experienced guys) would likely overlook. The good news is that I have a follow up article on 5 detailing products for advanced car care lovers written in the same way: things I feel many advanced guys might overlook, so stay tuned for that!

  4. Peter says:

    Is there any difference between the Dodo Tropical Mist and Optimum Instant Detailer? I’ve had great experience with OID and was wondering if the Tropical Mist offered anything more for the more expensive price?

    • Thanks for the good question Peter. The Optimum Detailer you refer to is a completely different animal compared to Red Mist Tropical. While the Optimum product is more of a traditional quick detailer that is meant to have some cleaning ability as well as some protection, Red Mist Tropical is a solvent based “quick detailer” that’s really more like a spray sealant than anything. While Red Mist Tropical doesn’t have good or even decent cleaning ability, it has the best slickness, gloss, and protection of any spray product I’ve used. Make sure to read my full review on Red Mist Tropical for more information:

      I’d also like to note that a little bit of product goes a long way; especially with concern to Red Mist Tropical. While it’s not the product you’ll want to keep in your trunk for bird bombs, it’s certainly a product you’ll want to have in your arsenal.

  5. Eric says:

    Agree with all the products listed! The tire brush is one of the best I have used, and the ez detail brush is flat out awesome!

    at first I didnt like the way 1z CP worked, but after seeing how a couple others (besides 303 – love that stuff) worked, I realized that its actually a better product! non-greasy so it doesnt come off on your clothes!!!

  6. Kevin says:

    use 303 on stoft bed covers

  7. Daniel says:

    I know I’m very late in the game, but I’m curious as to why on the 1z that you have a note that if your car is heavily vinyled you want to use Meguiars. Will the 1z cause damage to vinyl?? Thanks in advance

    • Daniel,
      Very good question! I find 1Z Cockpit premium to be an outstanding product, but many times vinyl needs a bit of extra dressing / protection. On cars like my own Honda S2000, I often use Cockpit Premium in cleaning, and then a light coat of 303 Aerospace Protectant or equivalent. If you have vinyl pieces on your interior, you might want to try something similar. Remember to lightly wipe the surfaces after 10 minutes to mute down the shine of products like 303 Aerospace as well for a more OEM-style finish.

  8. Brandon says:

    Love the article! The list of products is amazing. Love my turf shine brush! i use it in all our vehicles that we detail.

  9. Car Tailing says:

    Hi, amazing post you have it here! Thanks for sharing! One thing, is there any difference between the Dodo Tropical Mist and Optimum Instant Detailer? I was wondering if the Tropical Mist offered anything more for the more expensive price? Thanks!

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