Soup it up: New car cleaners shine, with elbow grease

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

Do you cringe when someone tries to sell you the latest and greatest car care product?

“Never need to polish your car again!” an advertisement proclaims. “Detailer in a can,” promises another.

But then you happen to be in the room during a seminar at the recent Concours d’Elegance of America at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth and you hear Timothy McNair, owner of Grand Prix Concours Preparation, talk about the hours he and his Pennsylvania-based team spend getting every surface, every detail just so before a car is presented to the judging panel and classic car-show spectators.

And yet, it is without hesitation that I share a couple of new car care products with you, because they have been developed and produced by Griot’s Garage, a company based in Tacoma, Wash., with a proven record for bringing only the best products to market.

Griot’s was launched more than 20 years ago by Richard Griot, a car guy who couldn’t find cleaning products that met this expectations. And Griot’s expectations for cleaning products were very high. His father was a scientist who developed the cleaner used to keep the lenses within telescopes and other scientific optical equipment clean and spotless.

Griot discovered his dad’s formula also worked really well on windshields, and from there he developed a series of car care products and the tools needed to use them properly.

Griot’s latest and greatest are Cleaner Wax and Leather 3-In-1.

Cleaner Wax, Griot’s Garage says, puts three benefits in one bottle: it cleans, polishes and protects in one step. Griot’s also says it has “micro abrasives” that remove rather than merely cover minor surface defects such as stains or light oxidation. It also adds “richness and depth to your paint,” and is a Carnauba-based product that protects your vehicle’s finish for four to six months.

But this is no miracle in a can. For one thing, it comes in a plastic bottle. For another, you need elbow grease, or perhaps a hand-held electric random orbital polishing tool, to apply it, and that application is wax on/wax off. You let it come to a haze and then remove that haze with a micro-fiber towel.

Leather 3-In-1 is more than a car care product. It can be used on other leather surfaces, including furniture and clothing. Designed for new leather (1-4 years old), Griot’s says Leather 3-In-1 is safe, penetrates the grain to moisturize, soften and clean, and leaves the surface water- and stain-resistant and protects against UV damage and cracking.

Again, you apply, work the conditioner into the leather and then buff with a micro fiber or cotton towel.

Cleaner Wax and Leather 3-In-1 come in 16-ounce plastic bottles that sell for $12.99 each.

Griot’s Garage products are available at some retail locations or from Griot’s also sells The Detailer’s Handbook (also $12.99) which provides car care instructions “for the perfectionist!”

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at