Using a Drillbrush for Faster Car Detailing and Vehicle Clean-up

Posted by John Cittadino on

Using a Drillbrush for Faster Car Detailing and Vehicle Clean-up
Drill-powered Automotive Scrubbing

The open road! The wind in your hair! Cruising down the highway and passing by those slowpokes in the right lane. Car enthusiasts and vehicle owners know the thrill of getting behind the wheel and driving wherever you want in your 4-wheeled bundle of joy!

However, things aren’t perfect outside the safety of your garage. From dirt and dust, to weather and salt, to tracked in debris and backseat spills, the more you drive, the more your car needs to be washed.

There’s a never-ending battle to keep your car looking showroom perfect, which is why you need something in your arsenal to make cleaning your car a less tedious ordeal.

Drillbrush Power Scrubber is a line of drill-powered cleaning brushes that can convert your cordless drill into a bona fide cleaning machine. By removing the strain of hand scrubbing, Drillbrush can cut down on the time you need to spend cleaning your car, giving you more time for Sunday drives.

Today, we’re going to go over what we have available in terms of automotive scrub brushes, as well as every vehicle surface they can scrub and some additional pointers on how to clean with a Drillbrush.

Let’s roll!

Automotive Brushes

Automotive Brushes

Assorted White brushes, the Home & Auto Drillbrush Scrubber!

When it comes to automotive scrubbing, our White brushes are the go-to items.

Soft White Drillbrush Power Scrubbers are billed as our home and auto brushes, as their soft, flexible bristles are perfect for cleaning delicate materials, such as wood, glass, and fabric. This carries over to most vehicle surfaces, as you’ll primarily be scrubbing windshields, upholstery, and floor mats.

Soft White brushes are available in every brush shape we currently sell and despite their designation for “delicate” surfaces, they are tough enough to drive away stains.

While White brushes are the primary option for cars, trucks, and other vehicles, there are certain scenarios where Medium Blue, Stiff Red, or even Ultra Stiff Black brushes can be useful. We’ll go into those later in the article.

In addition to brushes, we also have the Cotton Buffer. This drill-powered buffer does exactly what the name implies; buffing out automotive surfaces. It can be a handy tool in situations where a brush is less optimal. Some of our scrub pads can also do some automotive work, primarily our Soft White & Foam pads.

Not that we’ve introduced the brushes, let’s see how we can use ‘em!

Wheels and Rims

Wheels and Rims

A Soft White Original Brush scrubbing rims.

When the Drillbrush Power Scrubber was first invented by company founder Anthony LaPolla, it was designed to help him clean the rims on his customer’s vehicles at his car wash.

Since the initial prototype over 15 years ago, we’ve improved upon the design and developed quite a few options for cleaning rims.

The Drillbrush Original, Mini, Jumbo, and Cone-shaped Corner brushes are all excellent for the job. The first three are all bullet-shaped scrub brushes which have bristle clusters around the outside to scrub inside corners and crevices. The Cone-shaped corner brush has long, tapered bristles that come to a point and are used to get into wedges and tight angled corners.

Original brushes can get into most spots and are overall great general cleaning brushes. The Mini and Corner brushes are particularly useful for getting into tighter spots, as both are slightly smaller than the Original and the latter of which is specifically designed for cleaning inside 90-degree angled corners. Jumbo brushes have a longer, silo-like shape that can hit corners like an Original, as well flatter surfaces, like tire walls.

A Cotton Buffer cleaning in and around rims on a car.

The aforementioned Cotton Buffer is another option for cleaning rims, as it too has a bulleted shape. The cotton fibers are gentle on more delicate rims, though they can easily pick up gunk and dirt. Luckily, all Drillbrush products can be washed and cleaned, so follow the advice in our brush care guide to get the Buffer back to it’s normal beautiful self!

Be cautious, however, when scrubbing rims. Drillbrush works great for plastic and stock rims, but high-end or chrome rims can easily be scratched by dirt particles during the cleaning process. If you feel your rims are too sensitive for a Drillbrush, then just clean them by traditional means. If that’s the case, don’t fret! There are plenty of other surfaces around the car you can use a Drillbrush to clean; like tires!



A Drillbrush Soft White 2 inch Short brush spot cleaning on a tire wall.

Tired of dirty tires? Drillbrush can help!

As we touched upon briefly in the previous section, Soft White Jumbo brushes work well on tire walls. Just spray the sides and circle around the wall with the brush. In addition to the Jumbo, our Original, Mini, and 4 inch Flat brushes can also do the trick, so feel free to choose whichever brush best suits your cleaning style. For tire treads, use a Jumbo or flat 5 inch brush for the surface and follow it with our grout cleaning Edge brush to reach gunk stuck in the bottom of the grooves.

For lettering, a Soft White 2in Short detail brush can be used, as the bristles can weave into the intricate details of the letters. Drillbrush is non-scratch and safe to use on whitewall lettering, as well as on full-fledged whitewall tires.

A Drillbrush Ultra Stiff Black Jumbo brush on a Bobcat tire.

Standard, commercial-grade car tires aren’t the only tires you can scrub. You can venture into motorsport and utility tires too!

Vehicles with large wheels or large tire treads, like dune buggies, tractors, or construction vehicles, are often getting the brunt of some of the dirtiest tasks. To keep those treads working their best, you can use an Ultra Stiff Black Original or Jumbo brush to clear out dirt and mud. For finer treads, use the aforementioned Edge brush to wedge your way in there.

Jason of the Jessica Powers Racing team using a Drillbrush Ultra Stiff 7 inch Industrial Brush on a dirt late model tire./i>

Another use for an Ultra Stiff Black brush is on tires for dirt track racing cars. The crew for dirt late model driver Jessica Powers reached out to us in 2019 to show us how they use our Ultra Stiff Black 7 inch brush to prep their tires between events. Using the brush, as well as a grinding wheel, they went over the tire treads to knock out any accumulated dirt, mud, and stones. When they’re done, the treads are clean and able to grip better for the next Heat.

Other motorsport tires that suit our Black brushes include dirtbikes, ATVs, UTVs, mud boggers, and more!

Lug Nuts

Lug Nuts

A Drillbrush Ultra Stiff 1 inch Long brush being used on a lug nut.

We’ve cleaned the rims and the tire, so we’ll wrap up the wheels with the lug nuts. Nasty build-up can make your wheel an immovable object when it’s time to change them and no one wants to spend all that time detailing their car only for the lug nuts to be rusty and crusty.

Fortunately, Drillbrush has just the thing; the 1 inch Long brush. Built specifically for lug nuts and bottles, this brush has long, tendril-like bristles that can weave their way in and around lug nuts and the holes they reside in.

A Soft White 1 inch brush should do it for most situations, but our Ultra Stiff Black-bristled variant is great for cleaning lugs on heavy machinery or with tough rust stains.

If you don’t have a 1 inch Long brush, the 2 inch Long Detail brush can also be used on most lugs as well. While slightly larger and with slightly shorter bristles, it employs a similar “engulfing” strategy to scrubbing.

With some cleaner and a few quick bursts of the detail brushes, you can finish scrubbing your wheels and their components properly. Afterall, skipping the lugs would just be nutty!

Windshields and Windows

Windshields and Windows

A Drillbrush Soft White 5 inch Flat Brush scrubbing the windshield of a Saturn Ion.

A windshield doesn’t just shield you from the wind. It also protects you from everything else flying at your vehicle on the road. Kicked up dirt, clouds of mosquitoes, muddy ground water, chunks of road salt, the dreaded bird poop; the list goes on!

Our flat brushes are the way to go for windshield scrubbing. I typically lean towards the 5 inch White brush as it’s a larger brush that can go over more of the surface faster, but a 4 inch brush in the same color will work just as well. Simply lay down some glass cleaner and water and start blasting away stains!

Brushes aren’t the only options for windshield scrubbing. Our Foam and Soft White 4 inch pads are great for polishing glass and are both available in our 21-piece kits.

For glass, especially windshields, using a close-quarters drill makes the job even easier, as its design is comfortable to use on large flat surfaces. If you have one, give it a try! If not, we have a list of close quarters drills we recommend.

When you’re done up front, head around the vehicle and hit up the rest of the windows. You should end up with a spotless shine and a great view of the road ahead.

Headlights and Taillights

Headlights and Taillights

A Drillbrush Soft White 4 inch Flat Brush cleaning a taillight.

Much like the windows, headlights can get coated in filth. If you want to get the most out of your headlights, especially in the dark or in inclement weather, making sure they’re clear is a must!

Cleaning the outside is simple; just grab a Soft White 4 or 5 inch flat brush and some cleaner and you’re good to go! For some uniquely shaped headlights, you may also choose to employ an Original, Mini, Jumbo, or Cone-shaped Corner brush to get into odd angles and corners.

If you’re looking to clean foggy headlights, Bridgestone Tire’s website has a great step-by-step guide on cleaning them that goes into great detail, which you can find here. However, you can still use a Drillbrush to in this situation as well.

After applying the headlight restorer, you can use a White brush to remove the cleanser after it has done its job. The drill does the work for you so you don’t have to put your whole arm into it to get that circular scrubbing motion recommended by the Bridgestone article.

Naturely, these methods work on the taillights as well, along with any other light cover on your vehicle from turn signals to that little light inside the car your father told you to never turn on while driving.

With a Drillbrush Power Scrubber, you can make sure your headlights stay “lit!”

Floor Mats

Floor Mats

A Drillbrush Soft White Edge Brush getting into the grooves of a rubber floor mat.

As someone who experiences slushy New York winters every year, I understand the struggle of keeping your floor mats clean. Dirt, salt stains, crumbs, and more await you when you finally pull the mats out to give them a thorough cleaning.

Floor mats typically come in two materials; rubber and carpet.

Rubber floor mats are by far the easiest to clean, as they keep their stains on the surface. For mats that are relatively flat with little in the way of grooves or divots, using a simple Soft White 4 inch or 5 inch flat brush with some cleaner and water will work just fine. Scrub the entirety of the floor mat until all of the caked on substances are loose and wipe it clean with a rag or by spraying them off with a hose.

If you have a treaded floor mat with channels that improve grip and disperse water, you can use a wheel-shaped Edge brush to get into the grooves. These brushes have a thin strip bristles around the outside of the block that allows it to get deep into tight grout lines. An Edge brush is a great way to make sure nothing gets missed!

Should the mess be a bit much for the Soft brushes, a Medium Blue brush can be used to tackle tougher stains. However, make sure you do not go full bore on the drill, as high speeds can damage softer rubber mats. Staying at a moderate speed should be enough to do the trick and keep your mat pristine.

A Drillbrush Medium Yellow Original Brush knocking dirt off of a carpeted floor mat.

Carpeted mats can be a bit more challenging. The fibers on car mats are very tight and dense, meaning particles and debris can get trapped in there.

Vacuuming will get rid of most of the mess, but for salt stains and deep set particulates, using a bullet-shaped Original or Jumbo brush will bring out what’s lying beneath the surface.

While we’ve mostly recommended White brushes for carpet applications, Medium brushes of any color (Yellow, Green, or Blue) work the best for this task, as the stiffer bristles can penetrate deeper into the fibers and pull out small particles.

When you think you’ve gotten everything, run the vacuum over it one more time and walah; your mats are ready for another family road trip!



A Drillbrush Soft White 4 inch Flat Brush scrubbing back seat upholstery.

Mid-drive snacking. It’s the scourge of seats. A bane upon all upholstered surfaces everywhere. There’s a reason our photographer doesn’t allow open beverages in his car; he knows what an absolute pain it is to get spilled substances taken care of.

However, when used in conjunction with a good upholstery cleaner, Drillbrush can help take the fuss out of whatever your kids or careless friends leave plastered on your seats.

First, put down some cleaner. You’ll want something that works well on fabric and upholstery,, like this Turtle Wax cleaner we highlight in our 7 Best Cleaners to Use with a Drillbrush blog. Once the seat is thoroughly soaped up, use a Soft 5 inch flat Drillbrush to scrub down the surface

To get in between cushions and along the back edge of the seat, use a Mini or Original brush. This will help remove any crumbs lodged in those often forgotten corners.

Don’t forget to clean the passenger and driver’s seat too! We’ve all run late some days and had to eat breakfast on the road, so make sure you scrub out the remains of that Egg McMuffin.

With Drillbrush, you can keep your seats neat without using too much elbow grease! Just make sure you keep your foot down on your new “no eating in the car” initiative.



A Drillbrush Soft White 2 inch Short Detail brush cleaning off a rearview mirror.

We’ve done most of the major structures in the interior already, but there are still some more spots you can hit that a Drillbrush can assist with.

Mirrors, both side and rear view, can be easily scrubbed with a 2 inch Detail brush and some glass cleaner. The center console, often home to garbage generated while on the road that often is forgotten about, can be given a deep scrub with our Mini and Original brushes. If you need to reach down into the center compartment, a 5 inch extension affixed to a Soft White Mini brush should do the trick!

Dashboards are also a piece of cake! Place your cleaner of choice and scrub the top of the dash with a Soft 5 inch Flat brush. For that little wedge between the windshield and the dashboard, use a Mini or Original brush. You can also employ the services of a Drillbrush extension if you’re having a hard time reaching it.

Lastly, we already took care of the floor mats, but sometimes tough stains find a way off the mat and onto the car’s interior fabric. These are often covered in coarse carpeting, so our White Brushes shine once again. Place down some carpet cleaner and use a 5 inch flat for the floor and an Original for all of those curves and contours.

Make sure you also get under the seats as well if you have the space. That spot is a haven for assorted debris. A 7 inch extension and a Soft White Original should do the job, but you can switch to a Mini brush if the clearance is low.

Trunks and Truck Beds

Trunks and Truck Beds

A Drillbrush Soft White 5 inch Flat Brush scrubbing the fibers of a trunk bed.

Messes aren’t just caused by what’s on the road, but what you’re carrying as well. If you’re putting your truck to work, it’s likely you’re hauling tools, equipment, and even granular materials between job sites. Even the grocery-getter isn’t safe. I know I’ve experienced the pain of a grocery bag tipping over on the way home, only to spill flour or meat juice in the trunk. With Drillbrush, however, you can spruce up your storage space for whatever you need to carry next.

Most trunks have a coarse fabric material that is somewhat grippy and resistant to seepage. Trunk liner can be cleaned just like any other carpet. Put down some carpet cleaning solution and use a 5 inch flat Drillbrush to penetrate deep into the fibers. A Soft White brush should do the trick, but you can up it to a Medium Yellow, Green, or Blue if you’re dealing with a particularly difficult mess. If all goes right, though, the trunk will look like new again!

Truck beds can be lined in a variety of ways, but we’ve got the tools to tackle all of them!

Spray-on liner is a great way to seal your truck bed, as it creates an extremely durable, gritty surface, but a great way to scrub it is to use an Ultra Stiff Black flat brush, preferably a 5 inch or a 7 inch. Our bristles are strong enough to scrub dirt and grain out of the coarse spray-on surface without damaging the liner.

For those who want to make a less permanent alteration to their truck bed, getting a bed-lining insert is a popular choice. We recommend our Medium Blue or Stiff Red brushes for these. Insert liners often feature various grooves and treads for grip, as well as slots and pockets for storing items. For most of these, a bullet-shaped brush can handle the job, as our Originals, Minis, and Jumbos are great at cleaning curved and contoured surfaces.

If the grooved flooring is particularly thin, an Edge brush will work wonders to get deep inside the ridges. A great strategy we employ is to start from the cab and go down each grout line toward the back of the truck. This forces dirt, rocks, and grit caught within the grooves to get kicked out of the vehicle.

Some go with the simple truck mat option, which is typically a smaller rubber insert that goes on the floor of the bed. These can be cleaned similarly to the floor mats we mentioned earlier; get some Medium Blue brushes and swap between your flat, bullet, and edge brushes as needed.

The only thing you shouldn’t clean with a Drillbrush is a stock truck bed with no liner on it. Stock beds use the same paint as the vehicle’s exterior, which is delicate and prone to scratching if dirt particles move across it. We go more into detail as to why in a later section, but make sure you’re only using Drillbrush scrubbers on actual lining.

With Drillbrush, you can sleep soundly knowing your bed is clean; your truck bed that is!

Other Uses

Other Uses

A Drillbrush Medium Blue 4 inch Brush cleaning a boat hull.

The brushes and methods described above can apply to other vehicles and automotive-adjacent tasks as well, like bicycles, RVs, and trailers.

Drillbrush products are also able to clean up messes around garages and workshops. Our Stiff Red and Ultra Stiff Black brushes are tough enough to scrub concrete and metal surfaces, removing heavy duty stains with ease.

We can also handle vehicles with no wheels. Our Medium Blue brushes also act as our Marine line, able to scrub around boats and jet skis with ease!

When it comes to automotive scrubbing, Drillbrush can clean almost everything. Almost…

What Our Auto Brushes Cannot Do

What Our Auto Brushes Cannot Do

A Drillbrush on car paint, which we do not recommend you do.

While we’ve gone over the many car care tasks our brushes can assist in, there are surfaces and situations where a Drillbrush is not appropriate.

The main thing we stress is to not use Drillbrush products on car paint. While Drillbrush bristles are non-scratch, dirt particles on the surface of the paint will cause scratches when scrubbed at fast speeds.

A similar thing occurs with chrome finish on rims and trim, which is why we recommend using Drillbrush primarily on interiors, wheels, glass, and other non-scratch surfaces.

While some scratches may be tolerable if you’re scrubbing a winter beater, if you’re looking to clean show cars or do restoration projects, Drillbrush is not the tool for the job.

For more information, check out our blog on the subject.

Car Cleaning Made Easy

Car Cleaning Made Easy

We hope our advice helped put the “hot” back in your hot rod! If you want some more car care tips, feel free to check out our Home and Auto Cleaning Guide, as well as our Drillbrush DIY Guide Videos, which has many installments based around car cleaning.

For those of you that are ready to start scrubbing, you can find our selection of automotive brushes here.

Photo of Author John Cittadino

John Cittadino | John is the lead graphic designer, script writer, and video editor for Drillbrush. John is a die-hard motorsports fan and loves storytelling and illustrating.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published