What Is A Grit Guard & Do You Need One For Cleaning Your Car?

One of the best ways to preserve your classic car is to keep it clean.

Although you don’t need to go overboard with the car cleaning equipment that you buy, there are some tools and bits of kit that will make your life a lot easier and improve the results you get from cleaning your car.

For example, using two buckets (one for the car wash – something like Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax – and one for rinsing your mitt/sponge) is a small tweak you can make that will make cleaning your car easier and more effective.

Another piece of car cleaning kit you might consider investing in is a “grit guard”.

Maybe you’ve seen people online recommend using a grit guard when you clean your car, or a friend or family member has told you about this option.

But what is a grit guard? And is it necessary to use one to clean your car or can you get away with not having one?

In this article we are going to answer both of those questions, as well as other FAQs about grit guards.

What Is A Grit Guard?

Long story short, a grit guard is an insert that goes into the bottom of your bucket when cleaning your car.

It is like a sieve, and the idea behind it is that the dirt, grit and other grime that comes off your sponge or mitt falls down through the holes in the guard.

Then – the next time you go and put your sponge or mitt back in the bucket – all the dirt and grit is restrained under the guard, and your cleaning “implement” won’t come into contact with it and will therefore not transfer back to your sponge or mitt.

This is as opposed to putting your cleaning implement back into a bucket where the grit and dirt might be fully mixed into the water, and then transfer back to your sponge or mitt.

What Is The Benefit Of Using A Grit Guard?

The primary benefit of using a grit guard is that it reduces the chance of “re-contaminating” your car cleaning mitt or sponge.

The grit – in theory at least – gets caught under the guard and then you can’t get it back on your sponge or mitt. It’s like a one way street for grit and dirt.

In turn, this means you are less likely to transfer this dirt or grit back on to your paint finish, and more importantly you are less likely to accidentally scratch or damage the paint with this transferred detritus.

Are Grit Guards Expensive?

No, you can usually pick up a grit guard for $10-20, depending on where you live and where you are buying from.

For example, here’s a good option available on Amazon.com for around $10:

You could even roll the dice and look to purchase from somewhere like Aliexpress to save a few dollars (but be wary of shipping costs that can sometimes make an order prohibitive … for example here I’d need to spend almost 3x the purchase price just for shipping!)

Most big box auto retailers will sell these products as well.

Are There Any Other Names For Grit Guards?

Yes, in some markets they are called “dirt traps” so if you’re having trouble finding a grit guard, then search for ‘dirt trap’ instead, as that might be the terminology in your local market. You can see an example of this on the Amazon image above.

Is A Grit Guard Necessary?

No, you don’t need a grit guard to clean your car. Millions of people all around the world clean their cars without grit guards.

However, if you want to clean your car to “best practice” standards, it is well worth considering using one.

Which Grit Guard Is Best?

In my experience they are all “much of a muchness” – unless you buy a total piece of junk, any grit guard (provided it is correctly sized for your bucket, so make sure you check that first) will do the job.

For a good trade off between price and positive reviews, I’d buy this item from Amazon.com

However, I would just find whatever you can get the fastest, easiest and for a reasonable price … provided it will fit your bucket of choice.

You can also buy buckets that come with their own grit guards, such as this option on Amazon.com – but it typically seems to be a more expensive way of doing things.

Do You Need A Grit Guard In Both Buckets? (If Doing The Two Bucket Wash Method)

If you do the two bucket wash method, which you really should, then in an ideal world you would put a grit guard in both the car wash and rinse bucket.

If you’ve only got one grit guard, I’d put it in the rinse bucket.

Can You Make Your Own Grit Guard?

I’m sure you probably could, but considering that you can get one for the price of a burger and chips, you probably won’t save much (if anything) by the time you do so.

I’ve seen people use the bottom part of an old clothes peg basket, for example, but by the time you’ve cut that up it would be more efficient to just have driven to the store and bought one.

Recap – What Is A Grit Guard & Is Using One Necessary?

To recap, a grit guard is a small device (usually plastic) that sits in the bottom of your car wash bucket that helps to trap dirt, grit and grime that might otherwise be transferred back onto your car cleaning mitt or sponge.

This means you’ll reduce the risk of re-contaminating your paintwork, and also minimise any risk of scratching or otherwise damaging your paintwork from grit that might accumulate on your sponge or mitt.

You don’t need to use one to clean your car, but when you consider how affordable and easy-to-use grit guards are, it’s well worth investing.


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

Leave a Comment