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Is anyone else watching Marie Kondo’s new Netflix series Tidying Up? My wife sure is. So, rather than hoarding cases of products or try to upsell you some products that you can find cheaper online for a marginal profit, below are some Amazon affiliate links to essential maintenance products that I find myself reaching for on a daily or weekly basis. If you’ve any questions or need a more specific product recommendation, please do reach out. I’ve tried to limit the recommendations (which are limited to what Amazon has to offer, since everyone has Prime nowadays) to the bare bones.
The waffle weave drying towel is probably the most important car care product to have in your arsenal. Simply due to the fact that your surface has the least amount of lubrication when drying. For those with deeper pockets, final rinsing with de-ionized water and blow drying with something like the Metro Master Blaster is probably the best method. We have quite a few drying towels, but for those at home, keeping 2 or 3 in rotation wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The second most essential product; the famous grit guard, but reinvented by another maker which works much better (YouTube it) and called it the Detail Guardz. This little plastic guard allows any loose dirt, crud, etc. that you pick up on your mitt to sink down below the grit guard, so that you do not pick it back up. We like this one with the washboard as you can agitate your mitt on the washboard to really loosen anything that may be lodged in the mitt. This is a must have!
Our go-to is actually Optimum No-Rinse (Here’s the link if you realy want it), but their photo was way too big and made this page too awkward. Our second go-to, is CarPro’s ECH2O. Very similar products. This one might actually smell better. Dilution ratios are very similar for both products. We use about 2-3oz for a 3-4gal bucket of water for rinseless washes (For those of you who don’t cook, that’s a little more than one-shot). You can double that to make a quick detailer solution, but if your car was coated by us, you probably won’t need to use it at QD strength.
Tip #1 - DO NOT USE drying sheets with any microfiber towels, they will eliminate the absorbency of the towels!
Tip #2 - DO NOT USE drying sheets with any base layers that you wear to work out, they will eliminate the breath-ability of the fabric! That is, if you like to wear work out cloths to wash your car (Had to relate it somehow).
Tip #3 - DO use Microfiber detergent to maintain your microfiber towels that touch your cars’ paint! After all, we spend more monies on these towels than we do our bath towels.
Particularly important for those who park their cars outdoors often, or work near industrial areas. Ever notice the little freckle looking spots on your (typically) lighter color cars? Not that they aren’t on the darker colored cars, it’s just way more apparent on lighter cars. Those are iron deposits ingrained onto your painted surface. We recommend using Iron X every 3-4 months, maybe 6 months if you live in more ideal situations, to keep these iron deposits at bay. Don’t know if you need a iron decontamination yet? Try a little spot and see if it turns purple; the chemical reaction when this product is sprayed will turn purple, slowly dissolving the iron to be thoroughly rinsed off. This product should be used outdoors, in the shade, after your car has already been washed, and still wet. They make these in variety of scents nowadays, but it still stinks. Use proper personal protective equipment, or have scuba divers’ lungs and hold your breath. Also works great as a wheel cleaner (though expensive for that purpose).
Generally speaking, wash mitts are not as important since your surface is lubricated the entire time it’s being washed. That doesn’t mean you should cheap out though. Here is a middle of the pack wash mitt that’ll last you a very long time. Microfiber Madness also makes a good wash pad, the Incredipad, which is what we use.
The alternative is a larger bug sprayer or a detailing keg, which has much more capacity, but you really could get by with just the hand pump sprayer if you don’t do this all the time like we do. Unless you use those hand grip trainers all the time, having a pressurized sprayer can really save you years (disclaimer: no research done) of arthritis from squeezing spray bottles. We reach for this sprayer ALL the time, and so we think it deserves an honorable mention on this page.
For those with darker colored cars, sometimes you are left with some streaks when drying the car. We like to use extra plush 500 gsm (minimum) towels as the last towel to touch the car, or to “buff” the car. These towels are incredibly safe to really put some elbow grease into wiping (assuming the paint is 100% clean) when you need it. We left the general purpose MF towels out, but if you really wanted a link to some, TRC makes some as well (link).
Nothing like a clean car with dirty or dried out tires. We’ve been using Optimum’s Opti-Bond tire gel for years now; it lasts a solid few weeks, and is also water based; so if it does sling onto your paint, it’ll wash right off effortlessly. We recommend dressing the tires first to allow them to really soak into the rubber, and come back with a paper towel or shaggy (throw away) towel to absorb any excess to leave a nice satin finish, without it looking overly glossy.