Application – Each of these car wash kits is outfitted a little differently, with application methods ranging from the old fashioned bucket full of water with washing solution added, to wash-and-wax spray, to a waterless-spray formula. For all three products, application is the first step. Some require a rinse and then dry while others allow users to go from washing to drying. Two of the kits included specialty products like tire care spray or gel, which we also tested. All three products include specialty towels for drying. We tried out all of the car wash kits according to product directions under ordinary conditions. Our criteria for rating each product’s application was how easy the car wash kit was to use according to their instructions.
Effectiveness – Anyone who washes their car wants to see a noticeable difference, and that’s how we evaluated the effectiveness of these three car wash kits. We looked for any dirt or grime left behind, as well as swirls, scratches, blemishes, or other marks that didn’t get cleaned away. We also tried out all of the accompanying products—like waxes and tire sprays—to see if they also cleaned according to package claims.
Packaging – According to our consumer research, the greatest complaint that customers had about car wash kits was when the packaging failed and caused the product to leak. A car wash kit is great but not if it leaks car wash solution all over the place. We reviewed the packaging of the shipment itself, as well as the packaging of the individual items. We looked to see if anything was damaged during shipping, and we also inspected the condition of each item to see how well it held up to ordinary usage and storage. Product packaging ranged from unscrew-and-pour, to spray bottles where the nozzle needed to be turned to open or close it, to squeeze bottles.
Usage – We used each car wash kit according to package instructions and evaluated how well they performed by how many car washes they provided. We found that even though instructions provided guidance on how much product to use, some variables might influence the number of washes possible per kit; for example, someone washing a large SUV will naturally use more product than someone washing a compact car simply because of the larger square footage that needs to be cleaned.