Sonic Scrubber Pro Detailer review: sweeping the board

Is the Pro Detailer a time and energy-saving gadget or a gimmick that’ll quickly be relegated to the back of the shed?

The Sonic Scrubber Pro Detailer being used to clean wheels

by Ryan Gilmore |

What would happen if you squirted some toothpaste into your mouth and just let it sit for a few minutes? Not a lot would happen I'd imagine. The toothpaste might be a good chemical cleaner, but it requires the mechanical cleaning action of a toothbrush to be properly effective. It’s the same story with car cleaning products. It doesn’t matter how good the shampoo or wheel cleaner is, if it’s not agitated with a decent brush, the results won’t be as good.

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And as 9/10 doctors are always telling us on TV commercials, electric toothbrushes are better for your teeth and less effort than manual brushes, so logic dictates that the same should be true for cleaning cars. That’s why we’re testing the Sonic Scrubber Pro Detailer to see if it’ll make car cleaning easier and with better results.

Is it just an electric toothbrush with tougher bristles?

The Sonic Scrubber Pro Detailer being used on interior fabrics
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR

There’s no getting away from the toothbrush comparisons, there are too many similarities to ignore. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to use an electric toothbrush for car cleaning. After all, they're effective on teeth and featured on endless ‘clean something on a budget’ articles which makes this purpose-made car cleaning brush a sound idea.

This particular brush comes with four interchangeable heads, a large lug nut brush with tough bristles, a smaller tough head for plastics, an angled head for seams and awkward areas and finally a soft head for interior fabrics. As such, it's clear that the Pro Detailer isn't designed to clean an entire car. Instead, it should be used as a detailing brush for small, isolated cleaning.

It’s also got some clever ergonomic features that make it more than just a repurposed toothbrush. For a start, there is a thick rubber handle for maintaining grip if it gets wet. The switch is clever too as it works in two ways, a simple press button for precision cleaning or a push witch for longer cleaning periods.

The good

Close up shots of the Sonic Scrubber
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/CAR

Each brush head proved itself to be pretty handy for whatever cleaning task it was designed for. For interior cleaning on both leather, fabric and plastic surfaces it helped agitate any cleaning chemicals and provided some needed-elbow grease to cut through grime, all without scratching any surfaces. The soft head helped boost the performance of fabric cleaners and stain removers which made lifting embedded stains a lot easier

The angled head was very good for reaching between those awkward plastic trim seams where grime can easily accumulate but removing it can be really difficult. The bristles are also soft enough to be used to clean awkward external places (by door mirrors for example) without scratching the paintwork.

The two tougher brush heads proved useful for cleaning chrome, exterior plastics and the wheels. The bristles would be slightly too hard for paintwork but on unpainted surfaces these heads are perfect for removing stubborn grime that cleaning products would struggle to shift alone. For wheel cleaning in particular, these brushes will help agitation and lather up any alloy wheel cleaner better, great for shifting embedded contaminants.

What’s bad about it?

The biggest annoyance with the Pro Detailer is the fact it cannot be recharged. While it comes with four AA batteries out of the box, they aren’t rechargeable and while they should last a good amount of time, the ability to recharge the brush would be a welcome addition.

Another issue regards the motor and how it begins to struggle if you’re tackling a particularly stubborn piece of dirt and apply too much pressure yourself. For example, while cleaning the lug nut of a Volvo XC60, pressing down too much with the brush overpowered the motor and the brush stopped moving. More power from the motor would solve this issue, but if you're delicate with how you apply it and are patient when cleaning larger bits of dirt, this shouldn't be too much of an issue. The larger head also vibrates your hand a lot as you clean, potentially very annoying.

There’s also a fair amount of fling from the brush if you’re not careful, alright if it’s nice-smelling shampoo suds, awful if you’re using fallout remover.

Verdict

What's so endearing about this brush is that it covers so many bases at such a reasonable price without compromising on quality or cleaning power. While it could do with a gutsier motor and rechargeable batteries would be a nice addition, for the price it is, there's nothing else on the market that's so useful for car cleaning.

If you're after a brush upgrade, need something for awkward locations or want something to take the effort out of cleaning fabrics, plastics or wheels, this is a sound investment and will quickly become a go-to car cleaning tool.

4.5/5

Pros Cons
• Versatile and effective cleaner • Not rechargeable
• Great value for money • Motor could do with a little more power

The competition:

Surprisingly, there’s little direct competition for the Sonic Scrubber. The closest thing we could find would be buying a used electric toothbrush (yuck). A good set of detailing brushes can be purchased for a similar price, but they won’t cover the same bases as the Sonic Scrubber. That’s what makes the Sonic Scrubber such a clever investment, it’s four very different brushes in one with some extra scrubbing power courtesy of the small electric motor.

How we tested it?

With four different heads all designed for cleaning different surfaces, we tested each head on a suitable surface to see its overall cleaning abilities. These surfaces included both leather and fabrics for the soft head, door edges for the tough and angled heads and lug nuts for the lug nut brush. As this is a replacement for traditional detailing brushes, we made sure to use products we’ve previously tested with traditional brushes so we could compare results. These products were Zirconite Fallout Remover, 26JPN Leather Cleaner, Greased Lightning Stain Shifter and Zirconite Nano Shampoo.

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