When was the last time you washed your car by hand? Since you’re here, chances are that you regularly perform that act. There is another thing that your presence here indicates – that you aren’t happy with the performance of the soap that you used to clean your car the last time around, right?
That’s one of the reasons why you should invest in the best car wash soap. After all, nobody wants to spend hours washing their car, only to find the paint as lifeless and dull as it was before washing. That leads us to the second reason why your car deserves a top-notch washing product.
As you’d see by going through our car wash soap reviews, they are designed not to harm your vehicle’s paint. That means that apart from giving it a sparkling appearance, these soaps will also let your car’s original paint last longer.
Best Car Wash Soap & Shampoo Reviews (Editors’ Picks)
1. Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap
The Chemical Guys Mr. Pink is a 2-in-1 car wash soap that not only cleans but also conditions your car’s exterior. That’s because it comes with a built-in shampoo and has a neutral pH formula. While the former leaves your car sparkling clean, the latter prevents any of the ingredients from damaging the car’s paint.
As a result, you can use this formula on any color vehicle and even under direct sunlight. The lubricity of the soap is such that once you’re done cleaning, you won’t have any problem rinsing it off. At the same time, it forms enough foam to capture dust, grime, and other environmental irritants.
On top of everything else, the Mr. Pink is surface safe. That means that you can use it on both the paint as well as the wheels. However, if you intend to do that, make sure you reserve different drying towels for paint and the tires. Or you might end up doing more harm than good.
2. Meguiar’s G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash
One of the best-selling car wash soaps on the market, the Meguiar’s G7101 is a competitively priced product. Its advanced formula leaves your vehicle squeaky clean after a wash but not at the cost of the paint job. You can count on this model to clean without removing the paint’s built-in wax protection.
As one might guess by its popularity, the G7101FFP has a huge foaming capability. That allows this product to remove tough dirt, bird poop and road grime from the paint. Also, the fact that it comes in highly concentrated form means you won’t have to order another for months.
What is more, you might find it good to know that this car wash soap is foam cannon ready. Though that doesn’t mean that you cannot use it in a bucket. Provided you’re going to use it with a foam cannon, you keep the formula at 5:1 in favor of water.
3. Mothers 05632 California Gold Car Wash
Of all the products that you see in this review, not many can compete with the Mothers 05362 when it comes to versatility. That’s mainly because while other car wash soaps are available in 2, 3 sizes, this product gives you the option to choose from any of its eight sizes on offer.
However, and as you might guess, it isn’t only its multiple-size bottles that have earned this soap a place in our review. It has a balanced pH formula that remains safe to use even when used in concentrated form. Also, the absence of any acidic substances means that it won’t dull the paint after repeated use.
Playing an equally important role in its cleaning ability is this product’s super-sudsy formula. You can easily remove this soap after its job is done and it won’t leave any water spots behind. It has a very mild scent which is very hard to smell, a huge plus point if you ask us.
4. Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Car Foam
Simply because it has honeydew in its name doesn’t mean that this car wash soap has a weak formula. Like all the other products which we recommend, the Honeydew too contains pH neutral ingredients. So you can apply it to your car’s paint and get rid of dirt, dust and other irritants.
Additionally, since it makes loads of studs, this car wash soap is capable of deep cleaning action. Its foaming ability helps remove grime and bird poo with gentle swipes. And you don’t have to empty the entire bottle to get bubbles. Simply prepare a 5:1 mixture to get better results.
You might have been wondering why we haven’t discussed the purpose of honeydew till now. That’s because its scent, albeit well-advertised, is meek. However, if you still find it offensive, you can diffuse it away by diluting the mixture by adding more water.
5. Rain-X 5077557 Car Wash with Carnauba Wax Protection
If you came here looking for a car wash soap that would protect your vehicle against rain, you won’t go wrong with the Rain-X 5077557. The presence of carnauba wax in its list of ingredients means that this soap sucks up moisture. So there won’t be any water spots on your car’s paint after a shower.
Luckily, the utility of carnauba wax doesn’t start and end with dealing with water particles. It is also resistant to UV rays and protects the paint from immature fading. That means once you coat it on your automobile’s exterior, you won’t have to polish it to retain its shine.
Aside from that, the wax, when applied on the paint, will form a layer over it. This layer will protect the car’s exterior from any sort of damage. The lubricity of the carnauba car wax helps you clean your car by simply washing off bird poo or dirt.
Best Car Wash Soap & Shampoo Comparison Chart
Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap
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Meguiar’s G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash – 1 gallon
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Mothers 05632 California Gold Car Wash – 32 oz.
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Chemical Guys CWS_110 Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash Soap and Cleanser
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Rain-X 5077557 Carnauba Wax Protection
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Car Wash Soap Buying Guide
Since you’ve scrolled all the way down to this section, we assume you’d have made a choice by now. However, if you’re still a fence sitter, there’s nothing to worry about. In this section, we’re going to provide information that will make you an informed buyer.
Use it to purchase the best car wash soap for your needs.
What to Consider When Buying a Car Wash Soap?
Following are the questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing a car wash soap:
Type of Car Wash Soap
Walk into your local auto parts store, and you’ll see three types of car wash soaps. They include concentrated, wash and wax, and waterless/rinse-free. It goes without saying that it’s what you want the soap to do which should determine which soap you purchase.
The most common car washes, concentrated soaps are tough on debris and contaminants. They might deserve your attention if you haven’t washed your car’s paint for ages. Make sure you dilute their formula before applying as using them in concentrated form can damage the paint.
Wash and Wax
Those car shampoos that offer wash and wax properties leave a waxy residue in their wake. That residue, in turn, protects the paint from accumulating dirt for a couple of days, if not more. They’re a smart choice if it’s too hot where you live, as they protect the paint from damage.
Car wash soap manufacturers know that climate change is coming. That realization has forced them to come up with waterless soaps. These products cost as much as your traditional car wash soap, and provide comparable results. You might want to choose them if there are water restrictions in your area.
Heavy Foam or Light Foam
Broadly speaking, two types of car wash shampoos are available on the market. The first produces a huge concentration of lather and is preferred by the majority of car owners. The second, which doesn’t produce much foam, isn’t recommended by experts. Here’s why that’s the case.
At the cost of sounding pedantic, you should always choose soaps that produce heavy foam. That’s because these soaps do most of the work for you. Their fluff helps release dirt and other impurities on the vehicle’s pain.
Once the dirt loses its contact with the paint, the foam automatically captures it. All you need, then, is to wipe off the foam – which you can easily do with a light swipe and that too without damaging the paint.
If you’re unable to create a thick form, it will make it difficult for the soap’s bubble to trap and remove dirt particles. You’ll have to apply as much effort as when you’re scrubbing the vehicle – and the results would be disastrous.
Wonder why that’s the case? As you vigorously scrub your car’s paint with the hope of giving it a good shine, you’ll end up leaving scratches on its surface. These scratches, as you might guess, will end up marring your vehicle’s appearance.
Wax or Conditioner
Unfortunately, while we had a clear answer for you in the debate between heavy and light foam, thinks are a bit murky here. Both the wax as well as the conditioner are able to give your car a shiny appearance. Though that doesn’t mean that both of them are one and the same.
Car Wash Wax
Car wash soaps which also offer the facility of waxing provide the best of both worlds. On the one end, they help remove dirt and grime. On the other end, you can count on them to wash and protect at the same time.
Remember, there’s a difference between a full-on car wax and soaps which offer waxing properties. The former is more concentrated, and should only be used once in a while. The latter, however, are everyday use items.
Here’s what to look for if you want to buy the best car wax.
Car Wash Conditioner
As the name implies, conditioners give your vehicle a sparkling appearance. They aren’t that good at removing dirt, though, as the main job of these products is to give your car a shine that could last till the next wash.
Does that mean you can’t use them to rid your car’s paint of dirt and grime? Of course. The conditioners rinse clean the vehicle which has little to no dirt, so we recommend you use it with and not in place of car wash wax.
Read on to find more details on choosing a car leather conditioner!
Matte or Glossy Effect
When your car is delivered from the factory, it does so with a matte look. Down the line, and after several washes, it ends up adopting super glossy looks. Depending on what more pleases your eye, you can choose a car wash soap to give your car either effect.
Provided you want your car’s paint to boast glossy effect, make sure it contains synthetic gloss enhancers. That’s because these formulae lack wax which only removes dirt and grime.
In its place, they contain conditioners which bring out the gloss on any paint, enhancing its shine and making the exterior of your car look sleek and glossy. That’s what makes them perfect for car shows.
Cars that have matte paint reflect less light and are therefore better at hiding imperfections on the surface. That makes them desirable for people who intend to keep the same car for years.
Provided you have an old-model vehicle, make sure the term ‘detergent’ isn’t mentioned in your car wash soap. You can also go for dedicated matte car wash soaps, though, provided you have extra-deep pockets.
Features and Specs
Here are some of the most features and specs which are a must-have for the top-rated car wash soaps:
Car wash soaps which have an acidic formula might, in the long run, disturb the thickness of the paint. While there is no harm in going for basic soaps, we still recommend going for those with a neutral pH to be on the safe side.
Make sure that the soap you’re buying to wash your car has a lot of suds. Soaps that produce a thick lather can easily suspend dirt particles from the paint, and that too without scrubbing. This minimizes the chances of any damages to your car’s exterior.
Even if your car’s soap isn’t eco-friendly, it won’t do damage to the paint. However, since spent soap ends up in the gutter, it will surely be damaging to the environment.
Soaps that have a concentrated formula last longer. That’s because, for every gallon of water in the bucket, you’d need to put a few ounces of the soap.
Spot and Streak resistance:
Soaps that offer spot and streak resistance dry quickly. So you won’t have to deal with the problem of unwanted water spots in the aftermath of washing.
Equipment Needed to Wash Your Car
In case you have been living under a cave or have only recently bought your first car, these are the items you need to give a good scrub to your vehicle.
7 Things to Use While Washing Your Car
Pretty obvious, right? What isn’t as obvious is the formula of the soap that you should use to wash your car. Make sure that the product you’re looking at has a neutral formula (pH = 7). Otherwise, if the final formula is acidic (pH < 7) or basic (pH >7), you might inadvertently damage the paint.
Why do you need two buckets when one can do the job? Because one cannot hold both the soapy water and clean water for cleaning the washing materials. Conversely, if you submerge the sponge in soapy water, it can catch residue which, in turn, might damage your car’s paint.
Here you have a choice. If you for some reason don’t like sponges, you can also go for mitts. Regardless of whether you go for sponge or mitt, reserve one for paint and other for wheels and tires. That’s because to clean tires you need solvents that are scraggy and might leave lines if applied on the paint.
Most car enthusiasts shun a normal hose in favor of pressure washer. The latter, with its stronger stream, will quickly remove the filth. Some pressure washers also give you the option to add soap – thereby allowing you to clean and rinse simultaneously. Don’t forget to check out our roundup of the high-quality pressure washer reviews.
Never try to air dry your car or else you’d leave water-spots on the paint that are difficult to remove. Use a smooth drying towel whose surface won’t be able to leave scratches behind.
Why Is It Important to Wash Your Car Regularly?
There are plenty of benefits you can reap by regularly washing your car. Some of them are as follows:
Five Benefits of a Regular Car Wash
Keep Your Car Looking New
Everyone loves the looks of a brand new car. Their attractive and shiny appearances help these vehicles attract lustful glances from the passersby. Also, as people who regularly use car wash soaps are aware of, newly washed cars have a brilliant smell.
What’s more, when we say ‘regular’ car wash, we don’t mean that you should have a water bucket in your hands once you get home from work. Most people utilize the free time on their weekends to give their automobile a decent scrub. There’s no reason why those of you who aren’t busy shouldn’t do the same.
Retain Its Resale Value
Imagine a scenario in which you’ve to choose between two cars. Both of them are clean, but one has spots which tell you (the buyer) that it was cleaned especially for this occasion. Will you purchase it? Of course not. Then why should anyone else buy your vehicle if it is poorly kept?
Apart from dirt and dust particles, sun damage and bird droppings are also threats to your car’s paint. You can say the same about acid rains, which are uncommon but not unheard of. Therefore, if you want to protect the investment that you made while purchasing your car, wash it regularly.
Saves The Paint Job
Dirt left on the paint damage it in two stages. In the first stage, which comes a few days after the wash, it starts scratching the paint. The second stage arrives when you have totally ignored the after-effects of the first one. And it turns the scratches into chips which, if left uncared, can rust.
That means that if you want your car’s original paint to last longer, you might want to wash it regularly. Otherwise, as experts tell us, be ready to pay at least $300 for a new paint job. As that’s the minimum amount which you’d have to pay to get your car a new coat.
Save Money and Environment
When we narrate the benefits of a regular car wash, we overlook this extremely crucial factor. Models that go under the pipe regularly consume less fuel. As a result, they not only weigh less heavily in your pocket but also have a smaller carbon footprint.
Not sure how that happens? Then perform this simple act. Try to drive a car with tires covered under layers of mud. You’d know on pressing the accelerator that the engine has to expend more power to turn the tires. However, if the tires were clean, the engine would come under less load and consume less fuel.
Ever tried driving a car with a dirt-laden windshield? Or one whose front screen was under so many layers of snow that you had to manually create a peephole? Then you don’t need us telling you why regular car washes are necessary for your safety.
Even if you don’t live in such extreme weather conditions, your car’s side-view mirrors are bound to get dirty in everyday conditions. Similar is the case with signal lights, which let those behind you see in which direction you’re going to turn next. So, regular car washing is necessary both for your and others’ safety.
What Happens When You Don’t Wash Your Car?
Following are some reasons to motivate you to regularly give your vehicle a scrub.
Unwashed car looks ugly
In case you’re oblivious to this fact, we live in a world full of judgmental people. They will start talking about how dirty your car is, and will end up passing judgments on your cleaning habits. Even if you aren’t bothered by other’s opinions, why not wash your car and deprive them of any talking point?
It consumes more fuel
Whether or not you liked Physics in your high school, your car will still obey its rules. And there’s one rule which states that any moving substance with more load will encounter greater wind resistance. As a result, if it has inordinate levels of dirt, it will cost more in terms of fuel costs.
Reduction in paint’s shine
Ever wondered why some vehicles, after a few years on the roads, acquire a dulled appearance? Dust and dirt particles, if left untouched, can coat the outer layer of the paint. Even when they’re gone after a wash, they won’t allow the paint to retain its original look.
Potential damage to car parts
Provided you regularly drive your car in inclement weather, chances are that mud, dirt, and rain might have attached themselves to its surface. In the long run, these minerals, if left untouched, can interfere with the paint job. So you shouldn’t give them a chance to accumulate by regularly washing your car.
Reduction in resale value
Stemming from the second reason, a car which is unkempt for long becomes a hub of stain spots. They might not bother you but if you ever decide to get rid of your vehicle, the buyer would most likely notice these things. And if they’re too much to ignore, any deal that you hope to strike might be off.
Ultimate Guide on How to Properly Wash a Car
How to Wash Your Car?
There are few fruits of labor in life that you can gain as quickly as a meticulously clean car. Provided you’ve done the job brilliantly, the resulting shininess and sparkling appearance of your vehicle will be a reward well-deserved.
Before you start washing
Tick the following items on your to-do list before washing your car.
Evaluate the car’s condition
Before you haul out the buckets, sponges, and pressure washers, determine how dirty your vehicle is. Is its tires a symbol of your poor hygiene or is there nothing but fine dust on the paint?
Once you have evaluated its condition, you’d know whether the car needs a quick touchup or a full-scale wash. If it requires a quick touchup, a simple water and soap wash will do. Otherwise, you might need the whole cleaning regimen, including waxes, clays, and polishes.
Read the soap’s label
As stated earlier, there are three types of car wash soaps. If your car hasn’t been washed in ages, you might need a concentrated formula – though you should dilute it before using it.
However, if it’s too hot in your part of the woods, go for wash and wax option. They won’t let the sun’s rays damage the paint job. And finally, if there are water restrictions in your state, you might want to go for a soap that states rinse-free/waterless on its label.
Get the supplies
We have a separate section on the equipment you need to wash your car. So we won’t be going into too much detail to explain why and how you need these supplies.
Here’s the entire cleaning regimen that you need: Soap; two buckets; pressure washer/water hose; multiple sponges/mitts; drying towel.
Washing your car
Follow these steps to help your car retain its original shine.
Step: Rinse the car
You’d have thought that the wash stage would come later. In actuality, you need to wash the car before doing anything else. Doing that will help the paint get rid of loose contaminants such as dirt, dust, and mud. Use car wash soap in this step.
Step: Prepare its surface
The car’s deep-rooted blemishes such as scratches and swirls will come to the fore once you’ve washed it. If you can’t see them, caress the paint with your hand. Once you notice bonded contaminants, use a clay bar to remove them.
Step: Polish the surface (Optional)
The first two steps will be enough to give your vehicle a shiny appearance. However, if you want better results, you can polish it to give its exterior a mirror-like look. You can apply polish both with a dual-action polisher for better results.
Step: Apply wax (Optional)
If you have taken the trouble to apply polish, why not follow it up with wax? Being a protectant, wax helps the paint better resist the harmful UV rays. It also keeps substances such as bird poop from jamming onto the paint surface.
Step: Clean windows and wheels
To clean windows, choose any window cleaner that doesn’t contain ammonia – as it can damage the window’s tint. As for the wheels, any solvent wheel cleaner with less potency should do the job.
Do’s and Don’ts When Washing Your Car
Following are some do’s and don’ts which you might want to follow when washing your car.
- Do make sure you’ve all the cleaning supplies nearby before you start
- Do start by evaluating your car’s condition and pick supplies accordingly
- Do use a vacuum and detailing brushes when cleaning heating and a/c vents
- Do wash up bird droppings, pollen, and other gunk as soon as you notice them building up
- Do use a milder, dedicated car wash soap which should neither be too acidic nor too basic
- Do move your sponge in a back-and-forth motion as it would avoid the formation of swivel marks
- Don’t use household cleaning products to wash your car
- Don’t move the mitts/sponges in circles. Otherwise, you might end up creating swivel marks.
- Don’t wash when it’s too hot out there or under the sun. Heat speeds drying and makes washing difficult. It also increases the odds of the formation of deposits or spots.
- Don’t air-dry your car. Doing that will create watermarks on its exterior surface that won’t dry off the paint properly.
- Don’t wait for too long before washing your car. Accumulated dirt, bird droppings and dust can reduce the thickness of the car’s paint, before forcing it to chip off.
How Often Should You Wash Your Car?
All of us tell anyone who would listen that we should regularly wash our car. The problem is no one would define what the term ‘regular’ means. Do two washes per week come in this category? What about those people who daily give their car a scrub?
Unfortunately, this question covers so many factors that its answer isn’t a straightforward one. You should, therefore, keep these factors in mind when deciding how often you should wash your car.
Daily driving routine:
Do you drive your car for hours every day? Then chances are that you’d be exposing it to a lot of bird poop, dirt and dust particles. If left untouched, these irritants can get into the paint and cause it to peel off.
People living in the city have to deal with pollution on a daily basis. Those in the country-side expose their car to insects, bugs, leaves, and in some cases, fallen twigs. For the ones who live near the sea, sand and salt are real issues for them.
Car’s parking area:
Do you live in a condo? In that case, you might have no choice but to park your vehicle outside where it’s exposed to all sorts of environmental factors. Conversely, if you have your garage, the environmental threats to the car’s paint won’t be as acute.
In contrast to what some people believe, those living in rainy areas have to wash their cars more frequently. The mud particles which attach themselves to the car’s mud-guard won’t go away unless washed.
Keeping all these factors in mind, you should:
- Wash your car once in a week: If your daily driving routine involves driving many miles and your location and the weather in your area is inclement to the health of your car’s paint.
- Wash your car once or twice per month: If your car doesn’t have to deal with any of the conditions mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Make sure to also check out our foam cannon buying guide.
FAQs and Answers
Q: Are car wash shampoo toxic?
A: If your car wash shampoo has these substances in its list of ingredients, it’s toxic:
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
- Phosphate, triclosan, surfactants
Q: What’s the difference between car wash soap and dish wash soap?
A: In contrast to car wash soaps, their dish wash counterparts contain detergent. That enables them to remove everything from the surface that is being cleaned.
While it’s one we want them to do when washing dishes, the same action will let them strip polymers of the surface of the paint. Hence the reason why experts warn against using dish wash soaps on our vehicles.
Q: What’s the difference between car wash soap and shampoo?
A: There’s virtually no difference between the two. Both these terms are used interchangeably to describe car wash substances.
Q: Should you air dry your car after using car wash soap?
A: No, you should not. Air-drying a car might evaporate water quickly, but it will also leave swirl marks on the paint’s surface. These marks won’t be easy to rub off. Use a microfiber towel to dry your car once you’re done washing it.
If you need to see the best car wash soaps in action before making the choice, visit your nearest car detailing workshop. They’d most likely be using one of these products on the automobiles of their clients. A mere glance at those cars will be enough for you to make up your mind.
However, if you don’t want to undertake this trip, our car wash soap reviews and buying guide has got you covered. All the products that you see in this review are trusted by thousands like you. These are people who don’t want anything but a shiny car that is the envy of their neighborhood.
If you’d also like your model to attract lustful glances from strangers, you might want to choose one of the products given in this review. Provided you do that, and follow the washing tips given above, the resulting sparkling appearance of your car won’t let you have any complaints.