Do It Yourself Car Wash Kit for Under $100

During the warm, sunny summer months you might enjoy shining up your car for a stroll around town. Heck, keeping your car clean is good auto maintenance! But regularly taking your car through a car wash can really start to add up. Why not take advantage of the warm temperatures and wash your car yourself? Here’s a guide to putting together a complete car wash kit that’ll last you for less than $100, not including shipping and taxes (that’s tricky math!), so you can save a trunk-load of money throughout the year.

Car Wash Mitt
In order to give your little deuce coupe a really good scrub down, toss out the shop rags and pick up a lush mitt. They’re made of all sorts of paint-pampering materials–sheepskin, microfiber, wool, sponge–but whatever you pick, the thicker the better! The mitt should hold a lot of soap and be super soft on your car’s exterior. Try the Viking Wool Wash Mitt or the California Microfiber Wash Mitt, both a steal at under $9!

Double it up! Use the dual-bucket system to get your car squeaky clean. One bucket is for your suds, the other is for rinsing. There are some really fancy car washing buckets out on the market, but really all you need is a container that holds water. Get a pair of simple 4 Gallon Car Wash Buckets (2 for less than $12) or just a set of plain 5 Gallon Buckets (each under $5).

Grit Guard
Here’s where you can turn your plain bucket into a scrubbing machine–toss a grit guard in the bottom! It’s basically a little plastic screen that you can rub your mitt against to remove excess dirt and grit, and it keeps the grime in the bottom away from your soap. (It’d be a shame to ruin that paint job by running your mitt across the hood with a tiny rock or some grit stuck to it.) You can get two Grit Guards for $15, and they fit in the bottom of any 12-inch bucket.

Car Shampoo
Step away from the dish soap! Dish detergents are meant to strip grease off of plates, but car shampoos are designed to clean, condition and shine up your car’s exteriors. (Plus, you probably don’t want anything that removes grease near your car’s engine or axles, right?) They range from pretty inexpensive to quite pricey, so go with something in the middle for the best deal. Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Shampoo is a great buy at $8, as is Turtle Wax ICE Car Wash for $10.

Hose Nozzle
To get the perfectly even spray of a professional car wash, add a fire hose nozzle to your regular ol’ garden hose. It’ll give you a great rinse when you’re all finished, and you can also spray the kids down when they get a little stir-crazy! A basic one like the Carrand Fire Hose Nozzle ($7) will do just fine, or splurge a little for the Bon-Aire Ultimate Hose Nozzle ($15).

Drying Towels
Once you’ve given your car a good scrubbing, give it a water spot-free finish with a handy microfiber towel. They’re super absorbent and also super-soft so you don’t have to fret about scuffing your paint job. The more you have, the better, so grab a pack of three from Armor All for under $9 or Meguiar’s for under $8. Or you can always bust out that fantastic ShamWow you ordered and never used.

Car Wax
To give your car that professionally cleaned look, add a little elbow grease and wax it up! Turtle Wax is a classic and quite a bargain at $4, but if you want to go a little fancier, try Mothers Reflections Car Wax (under $12). To apply the wax, Viking Applicator Pads will do nicely ($6), and for removal, keep a set of Summit Terry Cloth Towels on hand ($9).

Tire Shine
To top everything off, give your tires a shining to make your car look brand new again! You don’t have to use much so one bottle of tire shine will last a long time, and it’ll also protect your tires from wear and tear. A bottle of Mothers Tire Shine will do you right for only $10, as will Armor All Extreme Tire Shine for under $7. You’ll be turning heads in no time!

BIO: Andrew Kardon is the president and co-founder of, a social shopping
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