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Have you ever wished you could give your car the same deep clean that professionals can? The right car wash soap can take you closer to that goal. This article covers the best car wash soaps for 2023, from powerful suds to gentle formulas and everything in between. So, keep reading.
Factors To Look For in a Car Wash Soap
When buying the best car wash soap, there are several factors to consider beyond the price tag. Here are some of them.
Generally, the thicker the suds, the better the soap is for your car’s finish since the extra lubricity will minimize the risk of scratching the paint. Pretty much all soaps produce suds. However, some are more powerful than others. Check our picks for power washers and foam cannons if you want options that make the most suds.
The pH level of a car wash soap indicates its acidity or alkalinity. While more alkaline products can be more effective at cleaning your car, too much alkalinity (or acidity) can damage the paint. Meanwhile, pH-neutral car wash soaps balance effective cleaning and paint protection.
Choosing a low-quality or inexpensive car wash soap can often leave your car looking dirtier than before you washed it, thanks to the water spots, swirl marks, and streaks. To avoid these unsightly issues, choose a high-quality car wash soap. Thankfully, all our picks do not cause water spots. Just dry your car after washing, and you should be good to go.
When you wash your car, the dirty water may run into gutters and drains. A biodegradable car wash soap will reduce the impact of your soap on the environment.
Best Car Wash Soap Overall: Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo
Adam’s Polishes is a well-established company producing high-quality car wash shampoos since 2000. Their best car wash soap, Adam’s car wash shampoo, stands out for effectively removing dirt and environmental contaminants while being gentle enough to keep your car’s paint in excellent condition.
This car wash soap is safe on any surface, including paint, glass, and vinyl, and its pH-balanced formula won’t harm your car’s wax/ceramic coating. Plus, it leaves behind a pleasant wild berry fragrance.
Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo
Adam’s car wash shampoo effectively removes dirt and environmental toxins while being gentle on any surface.
- Suitable for multiple surfaces
- Lathers nicely
- Does not leave water stains
- Wide berry fragrance
Best Ceramic Car Wash Soap: Turtle Wax Ceramic Wash & Wax
If you recently applied one of the best ceramic coats on your car and want to keep it pristine, look no further than the Turtle Wax ceramic wash & wax soap. But it’s not for previously-coated vehicles alone. Your non-coated car will still benefit from a polished and glossy finish with this product.
Designed with input from industry-leading detailers, this professional-grade car wash soap is easy to use and rinse off. Plus, it leaves a refreshing mango tropical scent to enhance the experience further.
Turtle Wax Ceramic Wash & Wax
Turtle Wax ceramic wash & wax will leave your car with a high-gloss finish thanks to its built-in ceramic component.
- High lubricity
- SiO2 polymers boost color and gloss
- Water beading effect
- Doesn’t produce as much suds
Best Car Wash Soap for Black Cars: Chemical Guys Black Light
Chemical Guys Black Light foaming car wash soap is our pick for the best car wash soap for black cars, and for good reason. This soap is specifically formulated for cleaning and enhancing black and dark-colored vehicles.
It creates abundant suds and has strong hydrophobic properties and excellent contamination prevention.
You can use this soap for ceramic-coated cars, with a foam cannon, or for manual cleaning. The foam and suds adhere to the car’s surface, lifting impurities and facilitating the safe, scratch-free removal of contaminants.
Chemical Guys Black Light
Black Light combines hydrophobic properties, abundant suds, and contamination prevention with a perfect formula for dark-colored cars.
- Excellent foaming and sudsing
- Premium formula for dark-colored cars
- Excellent shine
- Slightly more expensive
Best Car Wash Soap for Power Washer: Turtle Wax Pro Pure Wash
Turtle Wax Pro Pure wash soap is ideal for those looking for a soap that works well with power washers. When combined with a power washer, the soap’s powerful foaming formula bursts into life, producing large amounts of suds.
The soap is easy to use, thanks to the slick & slide polymers that provide extreme lubricity. It goes without saying that the Pro Pure wash breaks down tough stains without removing wax, sealants, or coatings. It also leaves behind a sweet tropical scent.
Turtle Wax Pro Pure Wash
Turtle Wax Pro Pure wash is perfect for power washers with its extreme foaming, highly lubricating formula.
- Lots of suds
- High lubricity
- pH-balanced formula
Best Car Wash Soap for Foam Cannon: Chemical Guys Extreme Maxi Suds II
Chemical Guys Extreme Maxi Suds II is perfect for foam cannons. It is a pH-balanced, super slick cleaning solution that effectively eliminates dirt and debris from your car while leaving behind a cherry scent.
This soap is formulated with high-quality, concentrated ingredients and includes foaming action enhancers that generate significant amounts of suds. Additionally, a water softener is added to help reduce water stains and streaks on your vehicle’s surface.
With just one ounce of concentrated soap mixed into a gallon of cold water or 1 to 3 ounces in a foam cannon, you can produce a thick, rich lather that effectively cleans your car’s exterior without causing any damage. It is safe on all surfaces, including metal, glass, rubber, and vinyl.
Chemical Guys Extreme Maxi Suds II
Chemical Guys Extreme Maxi Suds II is a pH-balanced, super slick car wash soap that generates significant suds for a deep clean.
- Water softeners for a spot-free wash
- Highly concentrated formula
- Forms lots of suds
- Few complaints of leaking bottles
Best Budget Car Wash Soap: Rain-X Foaming Car Wash
Rain-X foaming car wash is our budget pick, costing less than half the price of most other solutions on this list. While it’s not as powerful as the others, it gets the job done and is gentle on your paint. Just don’t expect some super glossy finish.
The product produces a decent amount of suds, considering the price. And it will not strip or dull your car wax. It’s biodegradable, too, so you can rest assured that you won’t be doing much harm, if any, to the environment.
Rain-X Foaming Car Wash
Rain-X foaming car wash is a budget-friendly option that effectively cleans your car without damaging your paint and is biodegradable.
- Low-cost car wash soap
- Not the most glossy
Best 2-in-1 Car Wash Soap: Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax
Meguiar’s Ultimate wash & wax soap is a must-have to keep your car’s finish clean, protected, and shiny for longer. This 2-in-1 wash and wax formula is pH-balanced and will not remove the previous coating.
Its unique blend of synthetic polymer and quality carnauba wax provides additional wax protection every time you wash your car. This soap generates a rich, luxurious lather that effectively removes dirt and grime while enhancing the shine of your vehicle.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax
The Wash & Wax 2-in-1 formula generates rich suds and provides additional wax protection every time you wash.
- Glossy waxing effect
- Good sudsing action
- Wax friendly
Best Waterless Car Wash Soap: Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine
Our next pick is the Optimum No Rinse wash & shine, a waterless car wash soap that combines intense vehicle wash and car wax in a single solution. It’s perfect for areas with restricted water access since you can wash a car with 1 oz of the product and just 2 gallons of water.
While it seems expensive at first glance, you only need a small quantity, making it last twice as long as other car wash soaps. The No Rinse wash & shine soap is suitable for your car’s exterior and interior and leaves behind a pleasant scent.
Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine
This waterless car wash soap combines intense cleaning and waxing in a single solution. It’s perfect for areas with limited water access.
- Eco friendly
- Lasts relatively longer
- Leaves a lovely odor
- Not ideal for filthy cars
Tips for Car Washing
Car washing is essential to maintaining the appearance and value of your vehicle, and doing it properly can save you money on costly repairs in the long run. In this section, we’ll provide some helpful tips to ensure you get the best results when washing your car.
Choose the Right Soap
Using dish detergent is a common but terrible idea for washing your car as it is not designed for auto surfaces. It can strip wax and degrade paint over time. Always use a soap formulated for vehicles unless you’re intentionally removing your car’s waxy clear coat.
Use Two Buckets
To avoid scratching your car’s paint when washing it, it’s recommended to have two buckets—one with your wash soap for washing and the other for rinsing off any dirt on your microfiber towel or car wash mitt. This will prevent micro scratches and swirl marks as you wash.
Don’t Wash in Direct Sunlight
Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight to prevent soap and water stains. Instead, park it in the shade or wash it early in the morning or late in the evening.
Use a Microfiber Drying Towel
Drying your car after washing is recommended to ensure that water streaks do not form. However, if you’ve been using cotton or polyester towels, swap them with microfiber. It’s more absorbent and far less abrasive. If you aren’t sure which to get, see our best car microfiber towel recommendations.
Maintain Your Car’s Shine with the Best Car Wash Soap
There you have it, folks—the best car wash soaps on the market and some tips to help you wash your car like a pro. You’re good to go whether you choose a foamy, sudsy, or waterless option. Just don’t use dish soap on your car.
Can I Wash My Car With Just Water?
Yes. You can wash your car with just water. However, you shouldn’t always do this for a few reasons. For starters, water alone will only remove some surface-level dirt. It also won’t remove grease and oil stains. Finally, the friction between your wash mitt and the paint surface will increase the chances of scratching.
Can I Use Dish Soap to Wash My Car?
No. You shouldn’t use dish soap to wash your car. It is not recommended as dish soap is too harsh—it can strip your clear coat and damage the paint. Instead, use a soap designed specifically for car washing.
How Do I Choose the Right Car Wash Soap for My Car?
You can choose the right car wash soap by looking out for your specific needs—regular, waterless, ceramic, or even a wash and wax soap. Also, look for pH-balanced formulas that are gentle on your car’s finish.
Can Car Wash Soap Be Used for Other Cleaning Purposes?
Yes, car wash soap can be used for other cleaning purposes. While car wash soaps are designed for auto cleaning, they are suitable for other household jobs as well, be it windows, tiles, and so on.
Can I Wax My Car After Washing It With a Wash and Wax Soap?
Yes, you can wax your car after washing it with a wash and wax soap. However, it is recommended to wait until the car is completely dry before applying wax to ensure the best results.