Car washes and waxes are important for maintaining your car's exterior. But to keep it looking sharp and shiny in between waxes, you'll also want to keep a good bottle of detailing spray on hand. Detailers are used for wiping down the surface of your car, giving it some extra shine and protection while also helping prevent the build-up of dirt and grime. Good detailing sprays work fast, and can make a big difference. They're particularly good when you really want your vehicle to pop, like during car shows and other events.
Picking the appropriate car detailing spray can be a challenge since both physical and online store shelves are littered with an abundance of options. But we've tested our fair share on the cars that come in and out of the CNET Cars garage to determine the best detailing spray we've used this year. Check out some of our best recommendations.
Alright, so we named this our best spray car wax for our 10 best car waxes of 2020, but as we noted back then, this isn't actually a spray wax. It's a quick detailing spray and we like it so much that it deserves the overall spot on the list devoted to products like it. This detail spray is incredibly versatile. Use it to keep a car looking good between washes, combine it with a clay bar and mitt as your tool's lube. It certainly won't let you down no matter how you use it.
We get it. A lot of detailing products aren't cheap, and detailing sprays can go pretty quickly if you have a large vehicle. For the money, Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer does everything you expect a car detailing spray to do and more. A note of warning: We never saw the product fill in spiderwebbing like Mothers suggests it does. Nevertheless, if you need a simple quick detailer, Mothers has you covered.
Car wrapping has become quite a trend in the past few years. Shops and owners come up with some truly wild designs, which sometimes paint just can't touch. But, you can't treat wrap like car paint and it's a little more tedious to keep a wrapped car looking good. Wrap Detailer from Chemical Guys is the right stuff for those of you with a wrapped car, and the company's one of the few who accommodate a true spray detailer without wax, which isn't good to use with a slightly dirty car.
There are a handful of quick detailers on the market for wraps, but CG's Wrap Detailer proves itself with stunning results and provides a pretty decent value for the money. As the title says, this detail spray is also totally safe to use on wrap and it's supposed to protect wrap from aging and block out UV rays. Just spray on and wipe it off with a clean microfiber towel to help make your wrap job look swell.
Ceramic coatings work, and if you pay good money to have one properly applied, it's a good idea to take care of it. We were smitten with Chemical Guys' Carbon Flex Vitalize Spray Sealant -- and not just on a vehicle with a ceramic coating.
While this detail spray worked wonders on a car with a ceramic coating and improved water sheeting, it also did a bang-on job on cars without one. We actually saw some lighter scratches fade away with this stuff applied. It's important to follow the directions as they're stated, and if you do, the results justify the steeper price tag.
We're big believers in P&S' Bead Maker Paint Protectant. Heck, we included it as a bonus product in our best waxes of 2020 roundup. However, it absolutely deserves a proper place here because of the magic it works.
Unlike a regular detailing spray, Bead Maker should always be applied after a fresh coat of wax. Spray the product on a dry surface, ideally, and wipe off with a clean microfiber towel. Give this stuff 8 hours of cure time and the results are spectacular. We've never seen water bead so well with just a spray product, and we've even applied it to exterior windows to help whisk away rain while driving. It works like a charm.
Best detailing spray details
|Best detailing spray||Brand||Name||Price|
|For the money||Mothers||California Gold Instant Detailer||$9|
|Safe for wraps||Chemical Guys||Wrap Detailer||$17|
|Ceramic coating||Chemical Guys||Carbon Flex Vitalize||$14|
|Paint protection||P&S||Bead Maker Paint Protector||$15|
Notes about quick detailing sprays
- A detailing spray doesn't replace wax: These products are meant to help keep your car looking great between a wash and waxes. They're not a replacement, but an easy-to-use product that slots between them.
- Spray detailers and spray waxes are very different: Don't confuse a spray wax for a quick detailing spray. Spray wax products include, well, wax, and it's not the best thing to use on a slightly dirty car. Spray detailers are formulated to work on slightly dirty cars with dust and debris.
- You can use ceramic spray detailers without a ceramic coat: One of our picks exemplifies this scenario. It's a darn good quick detailer spray, but it's also a bit pricey. Overall, you're probably better off choosing a different product.
Enjoy your CNET Cars-approved shine
With any of these spray detailers in your arsenal, you'll be sure to have a boss-looking car in your driveway to make others envious. Or maybe you want a little extra wow factor before pulling into the car meet. Regardless, these quick detailer products will accomplish a magnificent shine.