Everyone owns or at least has access to a bucket when it comes to washing the car. They're not fancy and you can easily pick one up for a pound from pretty much any supermarket. A bucket's sole purpose is to hold water (and car shampoo) so it makes sense to look for the cheapest one you can.
But did you know that a conventional bucket can contribute to damage to your car's paintwork? When you dip a wash brush or sponge into the bucket of soapy water, small containments can get stuck to the cleaning which in turn can leave horrible scratches and swirl marks in your fancy paint.
This is where a grit guard is so useful. These simple bits of plastic filter the grit away from you meaning you shouldn't damage your paint when sponging the car down. We've found the best options grit guards so you can wash your car in peace.
DetailedOnline Car Detailing Valeting Buckets
Best complete set
Did you know two is better than one? When washing your car it's a good idea to use two buckets, one for your car shampoo and another for rinsing for better results. This twin set of buckets with grit guards is a great way to upgrade your car washing kit. Both buckets can hold 15 litres of water and are made of sturdy plastic.
All you need to properly clean your car
Good quality construction
Expensive for two buckets
Meguiars Professional Yellow 5 US Gallon Bucket & Grit Guard
Meguiar's is a go-to brand for car detailing so this bucket and grit guard set will be perfect for washing your car. The bucket can hold a massive 18.9 litres of water making it ideal for cleaning even the largest of 4x4s with ease. The grit guard will collect small bits of dirt which will not only protect your paint but also keep the water cleaner for longer.
Great quality and bucket size
From a very reputable brand
You'll need two for the best results
Auto Care Grit Guards
A twin-set of grit guards will come in handy if you own several buckets and want to try the double-bucket method of washing your car. These guards are designed to be easy to clean and are made from durable plastic making them a solid choice. Each guard fits a 15-litre bucket.
Convert your existing buckets into proper car cleaning tools
Bring your own buckets
Scratch Shield Bucket Filter System
If you simply want to upgrade your current bucket so you don't mark your paint then this insert from Scratch Shield is a clever option. A supposed universal fit means it should fit most buckets easily. You'll need to assemble it yourself but it will help save your paintwork once assembled.
Not as good as twin-pack options
Bring your own bucket
Chemical Guys Cyclone Dirt Trap Car Wash Bucket Insert
An unusual looking option from Chemical Guys, this dirt-trap makes use of 270 dirt cyclones to capture as much dirt and grit as possible and keep the water cleaner for longer. It's incredibly effective at capturing dirt but is rather expensive. It's designed to fit 12-inch buckets and is available in several colours.
Very effective at removing dirt from water
Expensive for a single guard
What you need to know about grit guards:
Why do cars get swirl marks and marring?
Unless you keep your car in a hermetically sealed chamber, small deposits and contaminants will settle on your paintwork over time no matter how little you drive it. Then when it comes to washing your car (especially if you use a sponge) you'll inadvertently drag small, sharp pieces of gravel and grit across your paintwork which will create those small imperfections that are visible in sunlight.
How does a grit guard work?
A grit guard will prevent these small deposits from sticking to your cleaning apparatus (sponge, wash mitt etc) when you're washing your car. It creates a barrier between you and the bottom of the bucket and allows for these sediments to settle at the bottom while you wash your car free from contamination.
It also forms a rudimentary washboard for your cleaning apparatus as you can rub it against the guard to dislodge any contaminants and ensure you're cleaning your car with peace of mind.
Why should I protect my car's paint?
It's not essential to look after your car's paint, you won't fail an MOT based on a few deep scratches, but it is in your best interest. When it comes to selling your car, one with good paintwork will always be worth a fair chunk more than one with rubbish paintwork. And to get a scratch fixed by a professional can cost £100. Smaller scratches can be hidden by a good layer of polish or some touch-up paint but this will still be some extra money and time.
In extreme cases, scratches can lead to corrosion. Paint acts as a protective layer for the metal underneath and once it is compromised (like a scratch), water can get in and cause some nasty corrosion which is unsightly and expensive to repair.
What else can I do to avoid scratches in my paintwork?
Small scratches that can be picked up while you clean your car can be just as easily avoided with a few changes to how you wash your car. For a start ditch the old sponges and instead invest in a proper wash mitt that won't spread contaminants across your paintwork as easily.
Also, look at buying some proper drying towels for better results. Not only will these make your finished job look much better, they're far better for your paintwork than a chamois and won't leave any marring.
Sadly there is nothing to prevent scratches from external sources (abandoned trolleys, other cars, metal buckles on jeans rubbing against your car) unless you're prepared to wrap everything in bubble wrap.