Not everyone has the luxury of washing their car every week or even bi-weekly. In fact, most car owners likely wash their car once a month due to their busy schedules. If you’re one of those owners but still like the look of a clean car, a bottle of quick detailer is a great investment. Instead of having to roll out your pressure washer and fill up your foam cannon with your favorite car wash soap, you can just grab a microfiber towel, spray down sections of your car, and wipe it off.
Depending on the size of your car and how dirty it is, quick detailer can take as little as 5 minutes. In my experience, the most time you’ll spend using quick detailer is about 15 minutes, which is significantly less time than properly washing your car. Now, I would never recommend using quick detailer if your car is extremely dirty, as you don’t want to risk scratching your paint by dragging all that dirt and grime over the body. But if you’re mostly dealing with dust, fingerprints, and water spots, then quick detailer works great.
The market for these products has changed quite a bit over the last 5 years or so, ever since ceramic products took a firm grip in the car care industry. Now, some companies are introducing graphene-infused detail sprays that claim to deliver even better protection. Other quick detailers are more traditional, acting like waterless car washes. Depending on your needs, we have recommendations below that cover the whole range.
1. Top pick: Adam’s Graphene Detail Spray
For the past six months or so, I’ve been using Adam’s Graphene Detail Spray on my car and have come away loving the results. I must admit, I was initially skeptical about graphene-infused detailing products, but this detail spray has really lived up to the claims. It offers longer protection than other ceramic quick detailers I’ve used in the past—including my runner-up pick—and it truly leaves the car looking glossy and feeling smooth.
When I first got my Toyota Prius Prime, I went ahead and applied a coat of the Graphene Detail Spray after giving the car a wash. I hadn’t waxed the car at all, so it was just protected by whatever the vehicle left the factory with. Recently, I had the car parked at the airport for two weeks while I was out of the country on vacation, which also coincided with the rain we’ve been getting in Southern California. I was quite impressed when I got back and saw how the car looked, despite sitting in those conditions.
Adam’s Graphene Detail Spray leaves behind a very noticeable hydrophobic layer of protection, and it was obvious how effective it was in the recent rain. In fact, I was just able to wash the car again last week and gave it another coat—it’s looking better than new, and I can’t get over how well the metallic effect in the paint shines now.
2. Runner-up: Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Detailer
Before trying Adam’s Graphene Detail Spray, the Hybrid Ceramic Detailer from Meguiar’s was my personal favorite quick detailer. The brand’s Hybrid Ceramic liquid wax is my preferred car wax to use, and the Hybrid Ceramic Detailer was ideal for boosting that protection and providing an easy way to clean off my car between washes. Although it’s no longer my top pick for quick detailers, it’s still one of the best products I can recommend, and I continue to use it periodically since I have a few bottles in the garage.
I used this quite often on my previous car, a pearl white Tesla Model 3, and it really brought out the color and shine. It has all the hydrophobic properties you’d expect from a ceramic-infused detailer, although I did find that the protection doesn’t last as long as Adam’s Graphene Detail Spray. Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic product and my top pick if you want a ceramic quick detailer.
3. Best non-ceramic or graphene: Griot’s Garage Speed Shine
If you don’t buy into the hype surrounding ceramic- and graphene-infused car detailing products, Speed Shine from Griot’s Garage is a classic formula that gets your car looking clean in as little as 5 minutes. This easy spray-on, wipe-off quick detailer doesn’t leave behind any streaks, even if you’re working quickly. It’s formulated to lift all the dirt and grime off the surface of your car as it wipes away with your favorite microfiber towel.
For some professional detailers, Griot’s Garage is the only brand they stand by, and for good reason. The company has one of the best reputations in the car care market, and its Speed Shine only helps bolster that belief. Safely use this on any exterior surface of your car, including glass, plastic, rubber, or chrome. Simply spray it on the panel, wipe it off, and your car will look like new. Just be aware that it won’t leave behind any significant protection for your paint. It’s more like a waterless car wash than it is a spray wax.
4. Best on a budget: Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer
One of the most well-known brands in the car care industry, you’ve likely come across Mothers products if you’ve ever stepped foot into an auto parts store. Ideal for car owners who want a product that gets their car looking clean in a matter of minutes, Mothers’ California Gold Instant Detailer does away with all the marketing jargon to simply say it just works.
To me, it’s the best affordable quick detailer available, which is why it’s my top pick for those on a budget. You should be able to find a 16-ounce bottle for less than $10, and it’s great to use for touch-ups. It is formulated to enhance the shine of your vehicle, but it’s noticeably not as good as my top three picks. However, if you want something simple that’s affordable and easy to use, go with this recommendation.
5. Also consider: Chemical Guys Hybrid V07
If you’ve read any of my other car care recommendations, you’d know I’m a big fan of products from Chemical Guys. I have several of the company’s products in my car cleaning arsenal, including my favorite car wash soap. So, I was a bit surprised that out of all the quick detailers the brand has to offer, I couldn’t find one that I absolutely loved. None of them are actually bad—they’re all quite good—they just don’t deliver the same level of protection and shine I get from my top two recommendations.
Of all the ones I have tested from Chemical Guys, the one I found to be the best is the Hybrid V07 that features what the brand calls “optical select spray sealant technology.” In layman’s terms, it uses rapid bonding technology to bond and disappear into the surface, leaving behind a high gloss finish—which it does well. It also leaves behind basic protection for your paint, but I didn’t find it to be very hydrophobic, especially when compared to ceramic and graphene quick detailers.
Like most quick detailers, you can use this on any part of your car’s exterior, including glass, plastic, and even your wheels or exhaust. It’s another good option if you don’t want to pay the premium for a ceramic or graphene quick detailer.
When is it safe to use quick detailer?
Look, you have to use your best judgment here. If you have any doubts about using quick detailer and you think your car is too dirty for it, wash it instead. If you’ve gone over a month without washing your car and it’s endured over 1,000 miles of driving and is often parked outside, you probably don’t want to use quick detailer. But if you’re driving your car 10 miles to work each day and it’s parked inside a garage overnight, it should be safe to use quick detailer every two weeks if you aren’t able to wash your car.
Some people do recommend using quick detailer every day or every other day in lieu of washing your car entirely, but that sounds like it could get expensive quickly.
Personally, I recommend using quick detailer after washing your car. It might sound a bit strange since your car is already clean, but using one of my top two recommendations after a wash will make your car shine brilliantly and give it protection until your next wash.
What else do I need with my quick detailer?
Anytime you use quick detailer, you should use it with a high-quality, plush microfiber towel—we have a few recommendations here. Aside from that, you just need a little bit of time and elbow grease to get your car looking like new.
How do I use quick detailer?
It’s a pretty straightforward process, but here are some tips. Along with using a high-quality microfiber towel, spray the quick detailer about a foot away from your car. Be generous with the spray, especially if your car is a bit dirty. I personally like to work panel by panel, going from the top and working my way down. I use one side of the towel to wipe away the quick detailer, and then use the dry side to buff out anything that’s left over. If the towel starts getting dirty, grab another one.