Grit Guard vs. Dirt Trap: Ultimate Comparison

In the world of bucket inserts, grit guards have been around for ages. They are the go-to option for car detailing for many car owners. However, in recent times, the innovative dirt trap has taken the spotlight of bucket inserts. It seems like there might be the time for a comparison!

This table compares grit guard and dirt trap according to different criteria:

CriteriaGrit guardDirt trap
PracticalityEasy to useEasy to use
Contaminant trapping capacitiesRegularExcellent
Scrubbing capacitiesGoodExcellent

To better understand the differences between them, we would need to examine these criteria in detail. Luckily for you, that is exactly what I will do in this article! Stay around to get all the insights!

What is a grit guard?

A grit guard is a bucket insert meant to keep the dirt at the bottom of the washing bucket. It is a plastic or metal grate with fins on the bottom that acts as a filter. The grit guard separates the contaminants from the rest of the water in the bucket.

The contaminants fall to the bottom of the bucket through big slots on the grit guard. After the contaminants settle, the grit guard keeps them down.

Keeping the contaminants at the bottom of the bucket can help protect the paint from scratches and swirls. If the dirt and grime remain floating in the bucket, they could reattach to the washing cloth you are using and harm the paint.

For many car owners, grit guards are a central part of their washing utensils. Grit guards can also offer other benefits such as preventing water from swirling. This bucket insert has fins that help stop water movement, helping to keep contaminants from going up.

As an added feature, the grit guard can also work as a washboard thanks to its rough surface. Given this use, many companies have also created an angled washboard accessory that is sold separately. 

Grit Guard is, in fact, the name of the company. However, due to the success, this bucket insert has had, it is the name popularly used to refer to the grit guard insert. Nowadays, not only the grit guard company produces this type of bucket insert.

If you want to know more about how grit guards work, you can check my article about it here.
It really explains in detail how grit guards work and what their function is.

What is a dirt trap?

A dirt trap is a bucket insert that filters the dirt to the bottom of the washing bucket. The dirt trap has narrowing funnels that offer unidirectional filtering, thus preventing contaminants from resurfacing. This feature helps protect the paintwork of the car.

The innovative unidirectional filtering technology of the dirt trap is one of its main appealing characteristics. Using the venturi effect, the dirt trap is able to keep the contaminants from going up and mixing with the clean water.

The dirt trap is designed to perfectly fit the bottom of the washing buckets. Once in, the dirt trap will stay in place, eliminating the possibility of contaminants mixing with the water. 

The surface of the dirt trap has ridge rings around all the funnels. These rings function as a washboard for the wash mitt or cloth. You can rub the washing utensil against the surface to remove all the contaminants from it.

As you might have noticed, the dirt trap and the grit guards share many similarities. The dirt trap is a modern bucket insert that hit the market about fifteen years after the grit guard did. 

Grit guard and dirt trap: a comparison

To compare these two bucket inserts, it is necessary to look at certain aspects in detail. For this comparison, I will take the price, practicality, dirt-trapping capacities, and scrubbing capacities into consideration.


Both the grit guard and the dirt trap go around the 10$ price label. There is no considerable difference in this regard between both items. Understanding the benefits they can offer will help you better decide on one or the other.


The grit guard is an easy-to-use bucket insert. There is not much to do other than place the grit guard at the bottom of the bucket and let it do its job. The diameter of the grit guard fits the bottom of the bucket perfectly. 

However, the grit guard might not be entirely still. In some cases, this bucket insert could move around a little bit. At the moment of removing it from the bucket, it is very easy to just pull it out. 

The dirt trap is also effortless to use. Its diameter allows it to fit the bottom of the bucket without a problem. You just need to push it down, and it will stay fit with little movement. No other steps are required to make it work.

At the moment of removing it from the bucket, there are finger holes for you to grab the insert and pull it out. These holes make the task really easy.

In this regard, there are no significant differences between one and the other.

Contaminant trapping capacities

The grit guard has big open slots that filter the contaminants to the bottom of the bucket. These big slots allow the contaminants to pass through without much trouble. Furthermore, the grit guard has fins to prevent water from swirling.

Water swirling could stir the bottom of the bucket, causing the contaminant particles to resurface and lessen the water quality. These fins are an added feature to the grit guard and its contaminant trapping capacities.

Unfortunately, the big slots of the grit guard are a two-way avenue for contaminants. With the same ease, they can go down to the bottom or up to the top of the bucket. There is no filtering technology to help keep the contaminants down. 

The fins are not enough to prevent water movement when you introduce the washing utensil to the bucket. This movement causes the contaminants to float in the water, as they can easily cross the grit guard slots.

In contrast to this, the dirt trap has its unidirectional filtering technology. The funnels of the dirt trap are built with a wider side on the surface and a narrower one on the bottom. This technology is one of its best features.

There is virtually no chance of contaminants going up, as they would no longer fit through the narrower side of the funnels. In this sense, the contaminant trapping capacities of the dirt trap are superior.

Scrubbing capacities

The grit guard has a rough surface that is very useful for scrubbing the contaminants off the mitt. This use was one of the added qualities of the original design. The scrubbing capabilities of the grit guard have been a great success since its beginning.

Such success opened the door for an angled washboard accessory to be created. The washboard accessory uses the same design as the grit guard. You just need to attach it to the grit guard on the bottom of the bucket.

The downside of the capacities of the grit guard is that the scrubbing causes too much water movement. Since the grit guard does not have an effective filtering technology, scrubbing the wash mitt may result in the contaminants resurfacing. 

With the angled washboard, this side effect worsens due to the bigger space the contaminants have to move under the grate. 

The dirt trap, on the other side, counts with ridge rings throughout all its surface. The rings can help remove all the contaminants of the washing utensil and directly send them through the funnels.

Thanks to the unidirectional filtering technology of the dirt trap, there is no risk of contaminants going up during the scrubbing. The innovative system also improves the scrubbing capacities of the dirt trap. 

Grit guard and dirt trap: which one is better?

Having all the information and the facts can help decide on the best bucket utensil between grit guard and dirt trap. 

After having thoroughly reviewed both products, let’s take one final look at the aspects evaluated in the table below. I graded them from F to A.

CriteriaGrit guardDirt trap
Dirt trapping capacitiesCA
Scrubbing capacitiesBA

It is crucial to highlight that deciding which one is better could be a subjective thing. However, with all the facts at hand and having seen the performance of grit guard and dirt trap in the different aspects, we could conclude that the dirt trap offers better benefits.

The central function of a bucket insert is to keep contaminants from harming your paintwork. In this criterium, the dirt trap offered the best results, making it, for me, better than the grit guard.

Either way, if you have been using grit guard with excellent results and consider it better, you are also right! There is no right or wrong! Just performance, facts, and preferences!

Key Takeaways

  • Grit guard and dirt trap share many similarities
  • Dirt traps have unidirectional filtering technology
  • Both grit guards and dirt traps are easy to use
  • Grit guard is actually the name of a company
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge