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Five Car Cleaning Must-Haves


By Chris Pollitt

We all, unless we drive a Land Rover, enjoy a clean car. There is nothing better than shiny metal and chrome, than an interior free of dust and dirt, and than an engine bay that doesn’t look like it’s been living under the sea. It’s just pleasing to have a clean classic. However, the act of cleaning it can often be a bit frustrating. Stubborn dirt, oil and road muck not wanting to budge. Unreachable bits of the car that become impossible to clean. That kind of thing. 

Happily, there is a range of car cleaning kit out there that will not only see to it that your car is shinier than the one next to it, but will also hopefully make the job a little bit easier. We’ve rounded up five of them here, and we’ve got it all covered, from brushes to cleaning products. Get this little collection of gear in your garage, and cleaning your car will be a joy from start to finish. 

1) Autoglym Engine and Machine Cleaner

car cleaning, car detailing, car restoration, polish, wax, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,

Autoglym knows what it’s doing when it comes to cleaning stuff, and it’s frankly brilliant Engine and Machine Cleaner is evidence of that. Formulated to tackle dirt and grime that builds up in the engine bay, this stuff is pretty unbeatable. Just spray it on, leave it to sit for a short while, agitate it with a brush if needs be, then wash off. You’ll be astonished at what this stuff can lift off. To give you an idea of how good it is, our Editor was given some to test. When it ran out (though it takes a while, being a 1L bottle), he went out of his way to buy more with his own money.

2) Sonic Scrubber

car cleaning, car detailing, car restoration, polish, wax, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,

There is little more frustrating than dirt that builds up in places that are hard to get into. You end up shouting and losing all feeling in your fingers, only to then discover two thirds of the dirt is still there. If only there was a solution. Well, it turns out there is, care of this Sonic Scrubber, which is basically an electric toothbrush for your car by the looks of things. The Sonic Scrubber comes with four different-sized brushes, it can get into all the small spaces and it’s bright yellow, like a banana, which is nice. Crucially though, look at the reviews. There are many happy customers of this less than twenty quid gizmo.  

3) Automar Detailing Brushes

car cleaning, car detailing, car restoration, polish, wax, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,

Watch any professional detailer at work and you’ll notice one thing – they have a lot of brushes to hand. With the best will in the world, you can’t clean a car with just a sponge. You need the special brushes to get into the wheels, get into the trim and get around the fiddly bits your fingers can’t. This is especially the case if you’re cleaning an engine bay, which is full of clips and catches that will gleefully slice your spong-gripping hand. Buy these purpose-made brushes and make the job easier. They’re less than a tenner, they’re hard wearing and you even get some little brushes with which you can go full ‘James May’ and clean your air vents. 

4) Microfibre Cloths 

car cleaning, car detailing, car restoration, polish, wax, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,

Microfibre cloths are the best thing to happen to cleaning in a long time. However, you’d be surprised how many people use them incorrectly. When we spent a day with our detailing mate, Kev, he taught us that wherever possible you should use a fresh cloth. This way, you don’t risk polishing swirls or damage into your clean paintwork. It also stops any dirt contamination. As such, you need lots. So, buy some cheap ones, and then for the final buff and polish, buy these lovely 40x40cm jobbies. That way, you’ll have plenty to buff the car up. Then, sling them in the wash and they’re ready for next time. 

5) Gtechniq C4 Trim Restorer 

car cleaning, car detailing, car restoration, polish, wax, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,

There’s no getting around this, so let’s get it out of the way. This stuff is expensive. It’s £20 for 15ml. A couple of thimble’s worth. However, it’s well worth it. Gtechnique’s C4 Trim Restorer is one of those products you can’t quite believe until you use it yourself. What’s it for? It makes old plastic trim deep and dark again, rather than being sun-faded and bleached. Clean it with an alcohol-based cleaner, then sparingly apply the C4. A little goes a long way. The tiny bottle will cover most cars a few times over. If you have fading trim, this is what you need, make no mistake. It will take years off your car. If you’re still unsure, you can read the review our Editor wrote here.

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