LAST UPDATED: September 23, 2020

The Best Car Wash Soaps (Review & Buying Guide) 2021

Best Choice Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash
Premium Pick Adam’s NEW Car Wash Shampoo Gallon Adam’s NEW Car Wash Shampoo Gallon
Best Value Turtle Wax T-472R ICE Car Wash Turtle Wax T-472R ICE Car Wash

Your vehicle’s paint job tends to look dull and lifeless after an influx of dirt and grime from the road begins to accumulate. Washing your car can restore shine and brilliance — but only if you use the right car wash soap. You shouldn’t use household cleaning agents like dish soap, dish-washing detergents, or even hand soap. Instead, if you want the job done right, you need a quality car wash soap. With the right cleaning solution, you can wash your car like a professional. You don’t even need any special skills. You just need the right soap that’ll eliminate dirt and grime to leave your car better than before. 

Car wash soap will serve you well, as this cleaning product is specifically designed to prevent damage to your car’s paint. Wondering how to pick out the best soap to preserve the look of your car? We’ve compiled a list of the best car wash soaps that clean in the least abrasive way possible.

The Best Car Wash Soap

The Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss is one of the top car wash soaps because it contains a citrus base and is extremely environmentally friendly. It is available in a one-gallon bottle and is sure to last up to a year if used on one car.

All you need to do is mix a cap of the solution in five gallons of water and watch the magic; the citrus-based foaming wash lifts and holds all dirt and grime from the deepest crevices in suspension. It makes it easier to remove and ensures a scratch-free rinsing.

The slick citrus-based wash is designed to outshine most waxes; the wash gloss serves as the ultimate gloss enhancer and leaves your car with a glow. The Citrus Wash is perfect for those who prefer a non-hazardous wash that does not damage the surface of their car, and the biodegradable formula makes this solution eco-friendly.

Apart from this, the Citrus Wash is free of artificial colors and additives and you are bound to enjoy the citrus smell it leaves behind.

Key Features
  • Contains about a gallon of wash in the bottle
  • Designed to perform as both a shampoo and a conditioner
  • Features a citrus-based solvent to ensure easy scratch free rinsing
  • Deeply conditions the car to outshine most waxes
  • Free of artificial colors and additives
Specification
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model CWS_301
  • Weight 1.1 lbs

Meguiar’s is an acclaimed name when it comes to automotive tools and supplies. The Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash is specifically designed for ultra-modern cars in need of shampooing and conditioning. The advanced shampoo formula gently washes away any grime, dirt, or contaminants, effectively cleaning your car, and the conditioner clears away debris from the surface to reveal color and clarity.

Moreover, the foaming wash ensures that the wax protection of your car is not damaged in any way; you simply dunk a washing mitt into the solution and lather away.

In addition, the gold class car wash is easy to use and can be used by professionals as well as car enthusiasts. It is perfect for those who have bold colored cars or use vinyl as it tends to refresh the paint job each time you wash it. The premium formula prevents swirl patterns on the car and keeps it looking brand new.

The bottle contains about half a gallon or 128 fluid ounces of solution, which will easily last you 8-10 washes.

Key Features
  • Contains 128 fluid ounces, or about half a gallon of solution
  • Specifically designed to act as a shampoo and conditioner
  • Features an advanced foaming formula that cuts through grime and dirt
  • Ultra-rich conditioner to leave a radiant look to your car paint
  • Contains bio-degradable detergents
Specification
  • Brand Meguiar's
  • Model G7101FFP
  • Weight 9.05 lbs

Adam’s Polishes has been in the car wash game since the 2000s, and all these years it has vigorously tested, researched, and formulated new solvents to deliver the best performance.

This car wash shampoo is formulated to outshine other products as the concentrated formula is a foaming wash, which produces a thick lather efficient for deep cleansing. A few drops of the solution into a bucket full of water is all you need. You will have long-lasting suds that never go flat.

Additionally, the formula is gentle and pH balanced, which ensures efficient cleaning without stripping off the wax as it effectively suspends dirt or grime particles and even reduces water spots. The deep blue-colored wash is notably slick as it uses polymers and cleaners for a lubricated feel. The best part is that it leaves your car smelling like wild berry or candy.

Another great add-on is the Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo is biodegradable and environmentally friendly and perfect for all hobbyists who like to wash their car regularly. Made in America, its quality is superior and reliable.

Key Features
  • Contains long lasting suds that create a thick lather
  • Gentle on all surfaces and pH balanced
  • Uses polymers and advanced cleaners for a lubricated feel
  • Biodegradable and eco-friendly
  • Ensures efficient cleaning without damaging the clear coat or the wax
Specification
  • Brand Adam's Polishes
  • Model CWS2-1GAL
  • Weight 8.25 lbs

Meguiar’s is the brand to choose if you want quality tools and machines for your car. But there’s more to Meguiar’s — this popular auto products brand also offers a wide range of car wash soaps and solutions. And one of the superior quality soaps is Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax.

This dual action cleaning product promises to cleanse your vehicle’s exterior and restore a fresh, lustrous shine. It combines car wash soap and protective wax ingredients in one highly effective solution. It’s perfect for adding that extra “oomph” factor to your car in between regular waxes, and the wash actually boosts the wax’s shine. With every wash, this soap will help add a glow to your car’s paint surface.

Moreover, Meguiar’s Ultimate Wax and Wash doesn’t just add glow and shine; it also adds an extra layer of protection to the exterior surface. It’s formulated with clear coat safe Carnauba and synthetic polymer, which ensure deep cleaning, protection, and pH neutral protection that won’t strip wax. This car wash soap effectively cleans without ruining your most recent wax job. After washing and drying, your car will shine with a deep, glossy shine with minimal swirls.

Each bottle includes one gallon, or 128 fluid ounces, of cleaning solution. Where most other wax and wash products fail to deliver suds, this Meguiar’s formula delivers incredible foaming action that effectively lifts all grime and dirt safely. Meguiar’s is perfect for every car, and we’re certain you will love this car wash soap’s results whether you’re a car professional or just an enthusiast.

Key Features
  • Contains one gallon of solution
  • Camauba and synthetic polymer technology protect and clean the paint job
  • Ensures a deep and glossy shine
  • Foaming action is responsible for the deep cleansing properties
  • Compatible with a wide range of waxes and washes
Specification
  • Brand Meguiar's
  • Model G17701
  • Weight 9.08 lbs

If you’re searching for a car wash soap that works quickly and effectively, you’ll want to consider Mothers 05674 California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax. We would highly recommend this cleaning solution to anyone from professionals to beginners, as well as anyone who’s looking to save time while washing their car as this soap is incredibly easy to use.

The Carnauba Wax included in the solution gives you the same glossy results as any other car wax and there is no need to buy any additional wax, which saves you time as well. The finish will look like a professionally waxed car with ultimate shine and protection.

Furthermore, the wash part of this product might not be too sudsy; however, it is still effective in removing the toughest stains and the most obstinate grime and dirt.

The neutral pH of the product ensures no streaks, watermarks, or swirls are left behind and the product is perfectly healthy to use and is biodegradable.

“Mother” of all features is the most concentrated solution on this list, as it contains 64 ounces of the incredibly concentrated formula, ensuring this product will last a long time.

Key Features
  • Contains 64 ounces of concentrated product
  • Neutral pH ensures no watermarks or swirls are left behind
  • Carnauba Wax ensures a glossy and shiny finish
  • Imparts a protective layer to the paint surface
  • Biodegradable
Specification
  • Brand Mothers
  • Model 05674
  • Weight 3.5 lbs

Turtle Wax features a wide range of car wash products and waxes that integrate innovative technology to deliver the best possible results. The Turtle Wax T-472R ICE Car Wash and Wax makes use of the trademarked ICE Smart Shield technology to intensify and maximize results.

Intensively interlinked polymers build an invisible barrier and provide weather protection. In addition, the product produces a rich lather that suspends grime and dirt particles to clean the paint thoroughly.

The neutral pH environment allows you to remove these particles without the need for excessive scrubbing, which often leads to swirl marks. The solution contains special glossing agents that impart a professional-looking shine to the car, as it maximizes and intensifies the paint surface, bringing out the true colors. The ingredients are safe to use with a variety of automotive finishes, and the bottle contains 48 ounces of product that will last you a long time.

We would recommend the product to all professional car cleaners and waxers as it will provide superior cleaning, ultimate shine, and the strongest protection to your cars.

Key Features
  • Contains 48 ounces of product
  • Neutral pH ensures no swirl marks or water spots are left behind
  • ICE Smart Shield Technology ensures a strong invisible barrier against further dirt accumulation
  • Special glossing agents intensify the shine and color
  • Rich lather ensures proper cleaning of the paint
Specification
  • Brand Turtle Wax
  • Model T-472R
  • Weight 3.36 lbs

If you are in pursuit of perfection in terms of car care, then perhaps the Griot’s Garage Carwash is the way to go as this brilliant finish car wash includes special brighteners that heighten and intensify the color of your car.

We would recommend it to those with fiery car vinyl, or bold colored cars, as it intensifies the colors and leaves your car looking freshly painted.

Due to the incredibly concentrated formula, you need only to add an ounce of product to a gallon of water to ensure a thick, rich lather, and that means the product will last all year long.

The formula is safe to be used on all types of car finishes. It cleans away all dirt and grime particles by suspending them in the solution. This ensures your delicate waxes and sealants are not removed. The product will deliver streak-free results every time you use them because the product is pH neutral.

The formula contains 64 ounces of product and it is perfect for all types of professionals and hobbyists especially those with car vinyl. The premium ingredients impart a streak-free shine that will have heads turning at every corner of the street!

Key Features
  • Contains 64 ounces of product
  • Special brighteners intensify and maximize the shine and color of the paint job
  • Formula safe to use on all types of surfaces and finishes
  • Its pH neutral environment ensures delicate waxes and seals remain intact
  • Produces a streak-free shine
Specification
  • Brand Griot's Garage
  • Model 10866
  • Weight 4.5 lbs

Another product by the Turtle Wax company, The Zip Liquid Car Wash and Wax, delivers a truly spectacular performance in terms of car care. The Zip Liquid Wash is suitable to be used on a variety of surfaces such as exterior paint, metal, glass, plastic, and rubber trim as the formula is eco-friendly and bio-degradable.

The product can be used to clean any part of your car effectively as the advanced foaming action gently cleans the car’s surface by suspending all dirt particles. It even does this without stripping away any wax or sealant from the surface. Nor does it leave behind any streaks or swirls.

Moreover, the Carnauba Turtle Wax leaves a professional-looking wax job that adds shine and gloss to the paint. Apart from that, it creates a barrier to protect your paint job.

Zip Liquid Wash is easy to use and involves only one-step; simply put a cap of the product into a gallon of water and start slathering it onto the surface, wash it off and let it dry for a truly spotless finish. It is highly recommended for beginners who have little experience in washing cars due to its simple and quick process; it will save you a lot of time and effort.

Key Features
  • Contains 64 ounces of product
  • Eco-friendly and biodegradable formula
  • Carnauba Wax ensures high shine and gloss
  • Foaming action ensures rich and thick lather
  • Can be used for a variety of surfaces and finishes
Specification
  • Brand Turtle Wax
  • Model T-79
  • Weight 4.65 lbs

Best Car Wash Buying Guide & FAQ

Of course, there is an array of car wash shampoos, soaps, and waxes available on the market. These crucial products are responsible for maintaining the paint job of any car and making it durable and long-lasting. However, most folks find it difficult to decide which car wash soap will be the best for their cars.

When you’re considering a car wash soap, there are some specific features you need to look at. Choosing a soap that has the right ingredients and formulation ensures your car’s wax and exterior paint will last a long time and be well-protected. The following factors outlined in this buying guide should be taken into consideration when making your decision.

car wash soap

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Car Wash Soap

The following factors are crucial to consider when buying a car wash:

Foaming Properties

You need to ensure the car soap you buy has lots of suds. A soap that develops a thick and rich lather is more efficient in suspending dirt particles from the surface without additional scrubbing. This ensures less damage occurs to your automobile’s surface. Ensure the soap you use has long-lasting suds that will not flatten in the bucket.

Eco-Friendly

Car soaps need to be eco-friendly, as, upon rinsing, the soap tends to end up in the gutter. It might not make much difference to your car. However, in the long run, using biodegradable soap can have a huge impact on the environment.

Value for Money

The money you pay for your car wash soap should be equivalent to the amount you are getting. We recommend buying the 64-ounce versions as they last up to a year and are much cheaper than the lesser ones.

Concentration

The more the concentration of the product, the longer it will last. A good soap to water ratio would be 1 ounce for 1 gallon of water. Most bottles come in ounces divisible by 8 such as 16, 32, 48, and 64.

pH Level

A car wash soap’s pH level determines the acidity or alkalinity of the product. Alkalinity is better as it is effective in breaking up dirt and grime that’s acidic in nature. However, washing with soap that has a very high pH level or a very low pH level could corrode your car’s paint, wax, and coat. A neutral formula with a hint of alkalinity will serve you best.

Water Spot and Streak Resistance

Lesser-quality car wash soaps tend to leave behind streaks, swirls, and water spots. These tend to be disastrous for your paint job, and marks like these also leave your car looking dirty even after a wash. Look for a product that offers a quick-drying solution as these soaps tend to prevent swirls and spots.

Scent

Car wash soaps can have very pungent smells and tend to be scorned by some buyers, especially if you have any allergies or suffer from breathing problems. We recommend choosing a scentless soap if you’re sensitive to strong fragrances. However, a sweet-smelling one like cherry or lemon will be pleasant for most.

Equipment Needed to Wash Your Car

You will need the following equipment when washing your car:

Two buckets

The first and foremost thing you need is buckets. Fill one with soapy water and the other with clear water for efficient cleaning.

Hose

A hose is necessary when you want to rinse off the soap from your car.

A Washing Mitt

Do not just use any cloth to lather on the soap. Instead, use a microfiber washing mitt. It fits your hand like a glove, literally, and prevents any abrasion. Alternatively, you could also use a car wash brush to clean your car.

Foam Gun

Instead of using your hands to lather on the soap to your car, you can invest in a good quality foam gun. It will spray thick lather directly on to the car quickly and efficiently.

Grit Guard

A grit guard can prevent loose contaminants from accumulating onto the wash mitt each time you rinse.

Drying Cloth

Drying cloth should be used after rinsing as you should never allow the soap to air dry.

car wash soaps

5 Important Steps When Washing a Car

The two-bucket method will suit you best as it prevents any streaks or swirls. Fill one with soapy water and the other with clear water to use for rinsing. Follow these steps for a professional-looking wash job:

Step One: Wash Your Car Wheels

Wash your car wheels and tires first using a cleaner as you can easily wash off any dirt later.

Step Two: Use A Wash Mitt

Use a Wash Mitt to pick up the soapy solution from the bucket and start slathering it on to a different section of the car.

Step Three: Rinse The Wash Mitt In Clean Water Periodically

Dunk the Wash Mitt into the clear water bucket to ensure no loose contaminants are picked up. Wring it.

Repeat Steps Two and Three until your whole car is covered with the soapy water.

Step Four: Hose Down Your Car With Clean Water

Use a Hose to thoroughly rinse out your car and wash off the soap. Ensure there is no nozzle on the hose and the water can flow freely.

Step Five: Use A Drying Towel To Dry The Surface Of Your Car

Take a proper drying dowel and start hand drying the car as it prevents any water spots. You could also use a car dryer blower if you’re very serious about the process.

Car Washing Soap FAQ

Looking for the best car washing soap really depends on your needs. Some people will look for the best overall, while others will simply want something to protect the car’s paint job. No matter the case, we’ve got you covered.

What do car washes use to remove bugs?

There are many different ways to keep your car free from bugs, from using a homemade vinegar solution to investing in a wash soap specifically designed to remove bugs from the car’s paint and windshield. Car washes, such as Super Suds Car Wash, likely use a chemical rinse wash that targets caked-on dirt, grime, and bugs. This is helpful because many professional car washing services use a waterless car wash method.

What is a good substitute for car wash soap?

Those looking for an affordable or environmentally friendly way to wash their cars opt for household items like dish soap, vinegar, and even oil. Keep in mind, these products aren’t specifically designed for washing your car, so it’s not always guaranteed that they will work well. The important thing is that whatever you use is pH balanced so that it doesn’t damage the car’s surface.

What kind of soap do you use in a pressure washer?

Depending on what you want to wash, you could probably clean most things with dish soap and your pressure washer. If you want to use a car wash soap with your pressure washer, then these are the top-recommended options:

What is the best wash and wax soap for cars?

Many car owners feel the best car wash soap comes with a layer of wax as well. Combining your car soap with wax not only cleans the car’s surface but it also protects the car’s paint from potential damage. These are the best car wash soap and wax options:

Alternatively, you could use something to clean the surface of your car, like Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Superior Surface Cleanser, and then pair with one of the best car waxes that we recommend.

Sources:

  1. How to Wash Your Car Like a Pro – Popular Mechanics
  2. How Often Should You Wash Your Car? – HowStuffWorks