"Darren, I am frustrated and overwhelmed. Can you just tell me what you use. I don't want to read a thousand different reviews with a thousand different opinions. I just want to know what YOU use."
Darren's Advice: If you want to simply cut to the chase and start seeing what I use, simply scroll down to my specific list of auto detailing products below and get started. With that said, I do believe it would be worth your while to read your way down as I apply some critical thinking and a voice of reason I think most of you will find adds even more depth to your understanding.
Today is a world of information overload! When I first started in the business, I didn't have enough information.
Now you are literally drowning in a sea of endless opinions, from endless so-called experts and so-called professionals. The Internet and its endless platforms allows anyone to voice that opinion...regardless of its validity or not.
"Information is NOT the problem. Too much information IS the problem."
And now you find yourself bouncing from one opinion to the next, trying to find the perfect car wax, car polish, window cleaner, etc., etc., etc!!
Once again...I totally get it. We all want the best.
But your relentless pursuit of the "best" is likely preventing many of you from taking action.
Due to the amount of inquires I get from people looking for answers to their car questions, I need to add some "behind the scenes" info for your understanding:
"I could take any subject below and write an entire book, make endless suggestions as to what to use and how to do it. But many of you keep searching, never pulling the trigger on anything that would actually get you closer to where you want to be."
But read on....
I lost count as to how many people just like yourself have written in and told me how frustrated they get, or how worthless they feel every time they go onto another detailing forum looking for answers.
Trust me when I say; I know that feeling all too well. Precisely why I do not go on ANY detail forums these days.
After a couple minutes, my head wants to explode!
Endless opinions, endless "experts".
"So if you really want to get closer to producing professional level results; quit the endless searching and just start doing!"
Sure Darren....easy for you to say.
But once again; you are going to get a different opinion every time you ask!
SERIOUSLY, you will!!
It is a known fact that when a person is presented with too many choices, they literally become unable to make a decision. These are a few of the common frustrations I hear from guys like yourself:
"With modern technology and chemical engineering, it is hard to go wrong. You could literally pick just about any product and get pretty good results."
But with that said, guys (and a few girls) still want to know what I use (or would use) if I were you.
What you are going to find below is my list of recommendations that to me represent a sure thing (I know; no sure thing truly exists in life other than death and taxes). But when it comes down to MY professional detailing business, I need products that I consider to be the closest thing to a sure thing as possible.
And the products below are what I consider "sure things".
Therefore I have come to rely on certain products that I know will perform regardless...hence the products I consider a sure thing.
Before I lay out "Darren's Secret List", let me add one of my biggest and most common words of advice that seems to help a lot of people who find themselves confused, overwhelmed, and frustrated:
Pick a product or tool (hopefully something from my list below) and just start doing! Not only will you be pleasantly surprised, but you will also be at least one step closer to getting more of what you want.
And guess what?
promise you that whatever product or tool you do decide to get....it
won't be your last one! You will continue to buy more products moving
Just accept this. But in the meantime you gotta start somewhere.
And that somewhere is exactly why I created this page. A place for you to start.
So quit overthinking everything to the point where you do nothing. Start slowly and work your way from there.
Get a hand on the basics, and build from there.
I will start with the exterior as this seems to be the priority of many car owners.
Exterior car care goes as follows:
I have some definite opinions to washing your car that are completely counter to what you probably think or have been told:
Crazy as this seems coming from a professional detailer; it is one of my "voice of reason" moments. So let me be a voice of reason to you and your world:
"Most people will spend a good hour or more washing their car at home because they are overly worried about taking their car to the car wash, or they think it is the better way. The major problem with this is that most people will wear themselves out or run out of time simply washing their car."
If you have now worn yourself out of time and/or energy, then how are you ever going to get to the more critical and more fun parts of the detailing process?!
So there...that is my voice of reason.
Take your car to a trusted car wash, save yourself the time and effort, then go home and do the "fun" stuff of car care and detailing.
But I get it...
There are those of you that will insist on doing it yourself or simply don't have any other options.
So for all of you who still want to wash their cars themselves, I recommend the car wash kit from Chemical Guys just below.
Chemical Guys HOL121 Best Car Wash Bucket Kit (11 Items)
Before you wax your car, you will first need to prepare the surface by removing embedded pollutants that attach to your cars paint and will not be removed with traditional washing and waxing or even polishing. There is this stuff floating around in the air you breathe called pollution. Tiny particles of "contaminants" (How is that for a very un-scientific label) settle onto your cars paint, along with the more traditional "dirt" and begins to etch and embed into the surface. You can test how significant this is by using a plastic sandwich bag.
After your car has been washed, place the baggy over your hand and slide across the "clean" surface of your paint and glass.
Pretty disturbing isn't it?!
If you do not remove these pollutants (also called industrial fall-out in the industry...I know; sounds way more dramatic and cooler than "dirt") you are in fact applying wax directly over all these tiny particles of pollution (fall-out).
You need to remove these before you do any else to your car. And the process is done on a clean car, where you have removed or washed away traditional superficial dirt. (you know the kind that actually washes away with soap and water)
Meguiar's G1016 Smooth Surface Clay Kit
Car wax serves two basic goals:
Car waxes come in (3) basic types of car wax products: paste, liquid, and spray.
Based on how you think and the conclusions you have personally come to, I offer my top picks in car waxes for each of the categories.
Darren's Note: If I had to choose a single wax (which is what I have done in my personal life) I would pick the Q-7 spray wax from CSI. Since I am so often asked what is the best car wax, I simply respond by saying that the best car wax is the car wax that will make it onto your cars paint the most often. And that is one of the major reasons I prefer the Q-7 wax over alternatives is my willingness to wax my car far more often with this wax than any other wax.
This is has been one of my "dirty little secrets" for many years. Only recently has it become available to the general public. I know the founder/formulator of this wax personally. He was the original founder/developer/formulator of System One. (The original Single Product Polish system on the market)
If you are interested in reading my additional car wax reviews you can read my best car waxes review page.
Darren's Note: Since this is labeled as a tire dressing, most people will be using it initially as a tire dressing. What most manufacturers don't talk about is the fact that the rubber compound used on tires varies dramatically. This means that the rubber compound on your particular tires will affect the appearance/results of ANY tire dressing just as much if not more than your choice in a quality tire dressing. Off-road tires in particular do not "dress-up" particularly well as compared to performance street tires. his is due to the rubber compound far more than the tire dressing itself. I add this as a note so you will not have unrealistic expectations for this or any other dedicated tire dressing.
Like most of the ClearCoat Solutions Inc, products (CSI), this tire dressing has so many uses:
For additional tire dressing reviews you can read my best tire dressing reviews.
Kraft Tool PL600L General Purpose Large Turtle Back Cellulose Sponge Box
The topic of wheel cleaners is a much debated topic filled with many opinions. The biggest debate being between the type of wheel cleaners people choose to use. I have numerous videos addressing this debate between acid or non-acid based wheel cleaners.
Since I am trying to simply this page into letting you know exactly what I use, I am only going to give you 2 choices based on acid vs. non-acid. If you want to see the comprehensive discussion on wheel cleaners and the different types I recommend if you have a problem with what I use, you can see that at car wheel cleaner.
Wheel Cleaner (acid base)
Meguiar's D14001 Wheel Brightener - 1 Gallon
Darren's Note: I no longer use this or any other acid based wheel cleaner due to environmental concerns. The run-off from these products is of no good to the environment never mind my own personal health. Since I no longer do any mobile detailing I do not have to deal with overly dirty wheels. My own cars are maintained on a very consistent and regular basis so cleaning the wheels is not a problem for me due to my vigilance. See the Simple Green product below
You must also note that when cleaning wheels, you will go through a disturbing amount of wheel cleaner. I think most guys come to this conclusion very quickly when they buy a 16oz. or 32oz. of traditional, dedicated wheel cleaner that is consider a "ready to use" (RTU) product. For this reason I recommend the gallon sized concentrates like this Meguiar's wheel cleaner or the Simple Green cleaner just below.
Also note that if you are dealing with wheels that have years of accumulated brake dust then an acid based wheel cleaner might be your only solution at the beginning until you have cleaned your wheels as thoroughly as possible at which time you can switch to a much safer wheel cleaner like the Simple Green product below.
Simple Green 19128 Crystal Industrial Cleaner/Degreaser, 1 Gallon Bottle
Darren's Note: The obvious concern you may have with this product is the fact that not only is it not a dedicated wheel cleaner, but is a product that is not officially labeled and produced by a dedicated car detailing company like Meguiar's or Mothers, etc. If you are new to me and my presence on the many social media platforms, you may not be familiar with one of my "unique value propositions" to guys just like yourself. And one of the key factors I have brought to the wold of cosmetic car care and auto detailing is the use of products and tools from outside of this industry. Simple Green is an all-purpose cleaner that I have been using for decades and one of my own personal secrets that I have only begun to reveal to the industry through my YouTube channel.
I love this product for so many reasons:
Every car owner needs a quality quick detailer to extend and maintain any of your car washing or detailing efforts. These products are so handy for light touch-up's to remove light dust, smudges, finger prints, road grime, etc. I also carry a bottle in my car for any mishaps while out in my travels: bird droppings, sprinklers, etc.
Darren's Note: One of the reasons I am so in love with this particular detailers is the versatility of it. If you read the list of features and benefits below you will begin to see why.
D1 Polish Enhancer
The CSI Ceram-X car polish is my absolute favorite and what I consider my "sure thing". It never let's me dwn and I know I can use it on any paint, any color, in any situation.
But when it comes to polishing your paint, there are many levels of engagement or commitment as to what polishing your car means in you and your world:
Since each of you reading this page will come at this moment with different needs, I am including the two different sizes of my favorite car polish. With that said, I will help you decide what the winning size for you might be:
Ceram-X 8 oz. size:
Ceram-X 32 oz. size:
I will continue to add more and more of my "What Would Darren Use" products to this page as I move forward with developing this site. Hopefully this will give you a very good starting point in helping you achieve better results when it comes to detailing your own cars.
Endless opinions exist as to the best auto detailing products. I hope you will come to appreciate the products I have come to love and use during my long career as a auto detailing professional1