While you can use literally any bucket for washing your car, dedicated car wash buckets are usually slightly bigger, much sturdier, a perfect fit for grit guards, and will last long. Here is my recommendation for the best car wash buckets for car detailing.
Quick Overview of Best Car Wash Buckets:
1. Meguiar’s 3.5 Gallon Professional Car Wash Bucket
Meguiar's Car Wash Buckets are the best buckets that I can recommend to you. They’re the sturdiest buckets on the market, and unless you’re extremely negligent, those buckets will last you for a lifetime.
Even though this is a 3.5-gallon bucket, it has the same diameter as 5-gallon buckets, making it even easier to use since it’s smaller in height. The great thing about being the same in diameter is that all standard grit guards will fit this bucket, even from some other manufacturers.
I prefer this bucket because of its lower height, so I can store it more easily. That’s especially important for people like myself, who live in an apartment, and it’s always a struggle to find additional space for auto detailing tools and products.
I also highly suggest that you immediately purchase the Meguiar’s X3003 Grit Guard with this bucket so you have everything prepared.
2. Chemical Guys Heavy Duty 4.5 Gallon Detailing Bucket
Chemical Guys Heavy Duty Bucket is probably the most sold car wash bucket on Amazon, and the reason for that is simple. It’s an extremely durable bucket with one extremely important benefit – it’s transparent.
Even though the transparent look may not seem very important, with a transparent bucket like this, you’ll be able to quickly see if the water inside became too dirty so you can replace it. But if you don’t like transparent type detailing buckets, don’t worry. Chemical Guys also gives you the option to purchase black buckets, which are much nicer.
Chemical Guys are extremely proud of this bucket, and they’re so confident in its quality that they even recommend using this bucket as a seat while compounding and polishing cars. I haven’t tried this because of my weight of 105kg (230 lbs), but I’m sure that it’s sturdy enough to sustain anyone below 200 lbs.
3. Adam’s Collapsible 5 Gallon Car Wash Bucket
If you’re extremely tight on space, or you often take auto detailing supplies to your road trips, buying this Adam's Collapsible Car Detailing Bucket is totally worth it. When you need it, you just need to stretch it out and pour the water in, and when you don’t, you just collapse it, and it won’t take a lot of storage.
The best thing about this bucket is its price. For almost the same price as competitors, you’ll also get a grit guard included. And if you decide that you don’t need a grit guard, you can get it even cheaper, which is fantastic.
This bucket isn’t extremely popular, but again, if you’re tight with storage, this is the best option. I bought only one bucket to try it out, and I’m more than happy with it. However, it’s not as sturdy as typical plastic buckets, and I very often keep auto detailing products in my plastic buckets, so I’m not in need of more collapsible buckets.
The Importance of Using Dedicated Car Wash Buckets
Buying some standard garden buckets is what most people end up buying when they need a bucket for washing their car.
But those typical household buckets aren’t exactly the best choice for a few reasons:
- These buckets may not be as chemical resistant as dedicated automotive buckets.
- Standard garden or house buckets are usually smaller, which isn’t favorable when washing a car.
- Grit guards may not fit those buckets.
- Car wash buckets are usually more sturdy, thus making them last much longer.
- You’ll have a bucket that’s used only for washing cars, which is extremely important.
One more thing: stay away from cheap “all-in-one” packs with sponges, soaps, and buckets that you can get for $5 in local stores. Those are always the cheapest products, and buckets are very low quality. I know that because I once bought it, and the bucket broke in 2 months.
Don’t forget to use grit guards inside the buckets. Grit guards trap all the dirt from wash mitts or brushes, so you don’t drag the dirt all over the car and scratch the paint.
How Many Car Detailing Buckets Do You Need?
In general, you only need two buckets to detail your car.
However, if you’re extremely careful when detailing your vehicle, I highly suggest that you buy three buckets so that you can utilize the 3-bucket method when washing the car.
Here’s how you should use car wash buckets:
- One for washing wheels
- One for washing the car
- One for rinsing the wash mitt
So, the ideal scenario is that you have three buckets. That will allow you to detail even the dirtiest car quickly, without the need to change the buckets all the time, etc.
Final Wrap Up
Let me quickly conclude this article.
Each of these buckets is for a different category of car detailers:
- Pick a Meguiar’s bucket if you need a smaller bucket. 3.5 gallons is actually more than enough for most people.
- Buy a Chemical Guys bucket if you want something with a lid, so you can even use it as a seater.
- Buy Adam’s car wash bucket if you’re tight on space and need something collapsible.
It’s hard to determine which one is the best choice since each bucket is different, but I hope that this article is thorough enough to give you an in-depth look at what you should look for when buying auto detailing buckets.
Now that you know which buckets to use, I invite you to check my article on how to detail a car. In that post (it’s a lengthy one), I show all the tips and tricks I use to get a flawless finish, both inside and out.