A crisp £50 note to spend on some car shampoo and buckets may sound perfectly easy, but what if you’re starting from nothing? What if all you have to your name is a garden hose? What do you do then?
For a start, you’ll realise that £50 isn’t a lot of money. To put this in perspective; the cheapest Karcher pressure washer will set you back roughly £70, a ‘proper’ detailing bucket is £20 (and that’s before you factor in the grit guard) while some of the better car coatings can cost a lot. As such, we’ve set ourselves the impossible task, can we build a car cleaning kit, tools and all, for less than £50?
There’s not a chance you’ll find a quality pressure washer for less than £50. The same can be said for vacuum cleaners and any other electrical car cleaning tool. We've found some good value alternatives that may not be as powerful as a pressure washer, but for a tenth of the price, you can’t go wrong.
Streetwize Portable Power Sprayer - 5ltr with Lance
This five-litre portable power sprayer from Streetwize will make the ideal budget alternative to a pressure washer. Pressure is built with the simple-to-use hand pump, and the adjustable spray nozzle makes it a versatile option. The sprayer is also designed to take domestic chemicals which means it can be used to spray pre-wash or similar cleaning products onto your car. The best part is that you can also wear it on your back and pretend to be a Ghostbuster: an important detail when it comes to car cleaning.
Halfords 10 Litre Bucket
Buckets (yes, youu2019ll need two). These are hard to get wrong - just make sure it has a handle and no holes. More expensive buckets will come with grit guards and the like, but weu2019re looking to save some cash here and cheap buckets do practically the same job. Weu2019re championing this 10-litre bucket because itu2019s cheap, relatively well-made (be careful of the handle coming loose) and itu2019s a nice shade of green.
Kent Car Care Microfibre Noodle Wash Mitt
A wash mitt is hands-down the best way to wash the car. They're easier to use, better for lathering shampoo and will better prevent scratches, without costing a great deal more. Weu2019re choosing a wash mitt from Kent Car Care because it has chenille microfibre noodles that are effective for cleaning and caring for one is easy (bung it in the washing machine when itu2019s grubby).
Kent Car Care Alloy Wheel Brush
A wheel brush probably isnu2019t strictly an essential purchase, but it will make cleaning those mucky alloys a lot easier and prevent you from accidentally contaminating your bodywork with wheel grime. This fairy generic wheel brush is cheap but will stand up to alloy grit without falling apart.
Halfords Microfibre Cloths 5 Pack
Don't be tempted by chamois cloths, microfibre towels are more effective for everything and you can genuinely never have enough. At this price, you should be looking for quantity more than quality and a five-pack of low-gsm microfibres will be of more use than one higher-quality example.
Tesco Dustpan And Brush Blue Grey
Like the pump sprayer, we're going old fashioned for cleaning out the interior. A dustpan and brush will tackle the larger bits of dirt and biscuit remains but don't expect perfection. This will also come in handy around the home.
All together, using prices that were correct at the time of writing, the tools come to £26.97.
The cleaning products
The shampoo is the most important part of car cleaning, it's. As such we've treated ourselves to some fancy 26JPN pH-neutral shampoo. While we're only getting 500ml to stick to our budget, it's super concentrated (up to 1:2000), biodegradable and above all else, a good cleaning product. And while it's tempting to look for wax-infused shampoo, they're mostly rubbish and the protection they offer is next to useless.
CarPlan Active Super Cleaner
We've spent a lot of time discussing all the specialist cleaners available for cleaning and protecting various parts of a car, when sticking to such a tight budget a simple APC (all-purpose cleaner) will work wonders on pretty much any car surface - trust use, we've tested it. Demon Clean is a heavy hitter in the world of budget car care and we've selected this spray to be part of our lineup because it can be used to clean any hard surface, and leaves a nice citrus scent behind.
Armor All Carpet & Seat Wipes 20 Wipes
While the Demon Shine APC can be used for the vast majority of interior surfaces, it's not designed for those nice soft fabrics that make up seats, carpets and sometimes even the dashboard. The APC would saturate these surfaces and leave behind greasy-looking marks, that's why we're spending a couple of quid on some carpet and fabric wipes. They'll clean stains without leaving behind any nasty marks and are biodegradable once you've done with them.
Armor All Glass Wipes 20 Wipes
The same basic idea as the above wipes, although these are designed for cleaning glass. These wipes can be used both internally and externally to remove grime, insects and other nasty contaminants without leaving behind any streaks. These wipes are also biodegradable.
Little Trees Air Freshener Tree Black Ice
The saviour of mini-cabbers nostrils up and down the nation, Little Trees are cheap but powerful air fresheners that'll add a little extra aromatic boost once you've finished cleaning the interior. The iconic Black Ice is described by the manufacturer as 'an adventurous, masculine fragrance with an air of mystery,' whatever that means.
And with current prices taken into account, this entire kit comes in at £49.44 with a couple of pence left over after treating yourself to a nice pack of biscuits after washing the car. While you won't get any protection at this price, you will get a fully cleaned car.