Best Car Wash Soaps: The Best Products for a Squeaky-Clean Vehicle

Make your car or truck shine with these top car wash products

byNoelle Talmon| UPDATED Nov 18, 2021 8:18 AM
Best Car Wash Soaps: The Best Products for a Squeaky-Clean Vehicle
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While some car owners like the convenience of automated car washes, auto enthusiasts prefer to wash and detail their vehicles themselves. In order to do the job correctly, you need the right tools and products, including a high-quality car wash soap. Before you compound and wax your car, you need to get rid of road grime and other types of dirt and debris that collects on your vehicle's finish. The best car wash soap will enable you to remove surface contaminants so you can work towards making your car shine. However, not all car shampoos are the same. They have different formulas, and some are better suited to your needs than others. Check out our buying guide below to find the best car wash soaps for your application.

Best Overall

Mother’s California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax

Summary

If you’re a fan of carnauba wax, Mother’s wash and wax will fit your needs. The product lifts dirt away while leaving a waxy finish to protect your paint.

Pros
  • Biodegradable wash and wax product
  • pH-balanced to clean your car without risk of damaging your car’s paint job
Cons
  • Provides the best results as a solution between regular waxing
  • You might need a stronger formula to remove stubborn contaminants
Best Value

Chemical Guys Watermelon Snow Foam Cleanser

Summary

When it comes to the inexpensive alternative, this cleaner is among the best choices on the market. It's an efficient wash that leaves your car smelling like a watermelon.

Pros
  • pH-balanced formula is safe and easy to apply
  • You can use it on all vehicle parts and achieve showroom results
Cons
  • The product leaves a snow foam but requires some excessive scrubbing to remove heavy dirt
  • Some users don't like the watermelon scent
Honorable Mention

Zymol Auto Wash Original Formula

Summary

This 20-ounce car wash soap has a coconut scent and is pH-balanced, so it won't strip away wax.

Pros
  • Gentle and safe for use on all surfaces
  • Thick foaming action
  • Strong-cleaning formula
Cons
  • Struggles to remove bug smears and bird droppings
  • May streak or leave behind a slight film

Methodology

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

We took several factors into consideration when compiling our list of the best car wash soaps. First, we made sure to choose products from respected brands that are well known in the industry. We avoided car soap from unknown suppliers with an unknown track record. We chose products that are easy to use and produce good foaming action that effectively remove dirt and road grime from vehicle surfaces. We also researched user feedback to see how these products perform in real-world conditions. Finally, we chose items from a wide range of prices to meet most budgets. To learn more about how we selected our products, go here.

Best Car Wash Soap Reviews & Recommendations

There are two sides to the carnauba wax debate, but any wax on your vehicle is better than none. Washing and waxing your vehicle at the same time is a great way to efficiently clean your vehicle, which is one of the main reasons we chose this product from Mother’s. That, and the brand is known for putting out quality products that make a big difference when it comes time to compare the before and after. Priced affordably, Mother’s Carnauba Wash & Wax can be diluted to your personal specifications and provides a clean surface after it’s wiped away. The product is safe to use on all exterior surfaces, even your wheels and tires. There are a variety of other Mother’s products you can pair with this wash and wax, but even alone it is a great way to protect your investment. For example, the car soap has a pH-balanced and biodegradable formula, so you won’t have to worry about flushing it down the drain. It also leaves behind a streak-free finish.


Because Mother’s provides a washing and waxing formula, both processes aren’t necessarily going to be at their most efficient. Washing a car scrubs everything you don’t want off the paint’s surface, while waxing seals in everything beneath it. That means you’ll likely want to pair this product with a regular waxing routine for optimal results. With some trial and error, any driver can easily use Mother’s California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax.


Product Specs

  • Size: 64 ounces
  • Carnauba scent
  • pH balanced and biodegradable

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Safe for all exterior surfaces
  • Produces a streak-free finish

Cons

  • Stubborn contaminants may require a stronger formula
  • Doesn’t produce a finished-wax look
  • Bottle can be difficult to poor

Chemical Guys offers a budget-friendly alternative for those who want to save some cash by washing vehicles on their own. Along with being highly efficient in removing dirt, grime, and all kinds of contaminants, the product also leaves a unique fragrance that lingers. After using the wash, you might just want to roll to the auto show and show off your sparkling vehicle. When it comes to the application, the Chemical Guys cleaner is safe to use on all vehicle surfaces. You can apply it to paint, rubber, vinyl, glass, and plastic. Thanks to the pH-neutral formula, you don't have to worry about damaging the vehicle in any way. All you need to do is dilute the product in water and apply it to the vehicle surface. It's as simple as that. The liquid will not only clean the vehicle, but wax it as well, leaving a protective coat.


However, although the product foams nicely, you'll still need to scrub to remove heavy dirt. It's not a spray-and-rinse process that doesn't require any effort. Another thing you might want to keep in mind is that some buyers didn't like the scent. It's a unique and strong fragrance that doesn't suit everyone.


Product Specs

  • Size: 16 ounces
  • pH-neutral formula
  • Watermelon scent

Pros

  • Efficiently removes dirt and grime
  • Safe for all vehicle surfaces
  • Sudsy foaming action

Cons

  • Requires elbow grease for heavy dirt
  • Scent may be too strong for some users

Enjoy the perfect combination of gentle and strong with this pure coconut bark soap. It’s perfect for strong cleaning ability while also being gentle on your vehicle’s surface. The unique formula contains pure coconut bark and natural fatty oils. You’ll love how thick and voluminous the soap foam is. You can safely use this wash on all finishes. This super-concentrated formula comes in a 20-ounce container that is equivalent to a 64-ounce bottle in another brand.


Unfortunately, this car wash formula is different from previous versions. If you have bought it in the past, you may not like how the new formula performs. The new formula doesn’t have the same amount of foaming action as the old formula.


Product Specs

  • Size: 20 ounces
  • Coconut scent
  • pH balanced

Pros

  • Gentle on the finish
  • Strong cleaning ability
  • Produces thick foam

Cons

  • Requires elbow grease for bird droppings and bugs
  • May leave behind a slight film
  • May streak

Clean all of your vehicles with this wash and wax formula for pressure washers. It’s safe for use on your car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, RV, and boat. It comes in one-gallon and one-quart bottles. Using this wash in your pressure washer will make quick work of your cleaning tasks. The formula is highly concentrated and can make up to 20 gallons of cleaning formula. You’ll like how it rinses away without leaving any residue behind. You can safely use this biodegradable formula outside without harming the local environment.


One potential drawback of this car wash is that it’s designed for use in your pressure washer. This can be too intense for washing your vehicle. It also isn’t designed for use in a bucket with water.


Product Specs

  • Size: 1 gallon
  • Concentrated formula
  • Biodegradable

Pros

  • Safe to use on a variety of vehicles
  • Leaves no residue behind
  • Produces a shine on newer vehicles

Cons

  • May be too intense if used without a pressure washer
  • Not designed for use with a bucket and water

Give your car the ultimate wash and wax with this formula from Meguiar’s. It’s the ultimate formula of carnauba wax and synthetic polymer technology. It will gently clean your paint while leaving behind a protective coating of wax. You’ll love the deep glossy shine that it leaves behind. This car wash stands out because it produces an incredible sudsing action that will minimize swirls while lifting grime from the vehicle’s surface. A standout feature of this car wash is that it’s balanced to be pH neutral. This ensures that it won’t strip the wax while it’s cleaning. Choose from a one-gallon or 48-ounce bottle. 


Unfortunately, this car wash can have unpredictable results depending on the products you’ve previously used on your vehicle. Possible unwanted results are a lack of a protective wax layer, too much of a waxy layer, or yellowish-colored water spots.


Product Specs

  • Size: One gallon
  • pH neutral
  • A blend of premium carnauba wax and synthetic polymers

Pros

  • Won’t strip away existing wax
  • Leaves behind a protective wax coating
  • Lifts grime and minimizes swirls

Cons

  • May produce yellowish water spots
  • May leave a residue on black vehicles
  • Requires some elbow grease to remove stuck-on dirt

This rich car wash formula is pH-balanced to gently and effectively clean your car. It will remove dirt, road film, and grime without stripping the wax. The rich foamy formula will prevent swirl marks and micro scratches while also being easy to rinse clean. You’ll appreciate how easy this foam is to rinse off, leaving a clean finish. This gentle formula makes it perfect for weekly washings in between more thorough detailing. You can use this concentrated formula in your foam cannon or in a bucket with water.

 

Unfortunately, this car wash may not foam up as much as you’d like. This doesn’t mean it isn’t cleaning, though. While you can use it in a foamer, it cleans better when used in a bucket with a mitt.


Product Specs

  • Size: one gallon
  • Unscented
  • pH balanced

Pros

  • Gently cleans your vehicle
  • Won’t strip away the wax
  • Foams up and rinses off easily

Cons

  • Doesn’t foam up as much as some rival brands
  • May leave streaks behind
  • A little pricey

Optimum offers an inexpensive product you can use for both washing and waxing your vehicle. It contains a blend of high lubricating polymers that bond to the paint to remove harmful particles and leave a glossy finish. With it, you'll save quite some money on regular vehicle maintenance and achieve excellent cleaning results. The product made our list for many reasons. First, it's safe to use on all kinds of surfaces, so you can clean cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, boats, and more. Second, it's easy to apply and rinse off. You can use it anywhere and anytime for quick and thorough cleanups. 


All in all, if you need a product for cleaning light dirt and contaminants from your vehicle, this is an excellent choice. However, for removing heavy residues and build-ups, you might want to look for some other alternatives. The Optimum wash and wax requires quite some elbow grease and doesn't fully remove heavy dirt. It also doesn't provide a very shiny finish, so you might need to use another product afterward.


Product Specs

  • Size: 32 ounces
  • Wash and wax combo
  • High-lubricating polymers

Pros

  • Safe for all types of vehicles
  • Easy to apply and rinse off
  • Great for a quick wash

Cons

  • Not designed for heavy-duty grime
  • Doesn’t produce a very shiny finish

Adam's Car Wash Shampoo is a budget-friendly product worthy of your attention. Thanks to the pH-neutral formula, it's safe to use on different surfaces and ensures excellent cleaning results. Due to the high efficiency and easy application, you'll enjoy using the shampoo for cleaning your vehicle. The shampoo allows you to wash your vehicle in direct sunlight and get rid of all that excessive road dirt, bugs, grime, and more. The formula creates a slick film that lubricates the paintwork and safely works to protect the surface from damage. You can use it on rubber, vinyl, windows, and plastic. Overall, you'll achieve excellent cleaning results with Adam's Car Wash Shampoo without spending tons of cash. 


However, keep in mind that you might need to use a lot of product to remove stubborn stains and heavy dirt. Applying just a little of the liquid probably won't get the job done. Also, many buyers complained about the design of the bottle. It has an awkward cap that might get loose and leak, so make sure to store it properly.


Product Specs

  • Size: 16 ounces
  • pH-neutral formula
  • Wild berry scent

Pros

  • Safe for a variety of surfaces
  • Leaves behind a slick finish
  • Produces a thick layer of suds

Cons

  • Requires a lot of product for stubborn dirt
  • Bottle cap may leak

If you're searching for a car wash kit that will help you with general vehicle maintenance, this might be the perfect one for you. From detailed cleaning to quick washing and waxing, the Aero Cosmetic kit provides excellent results in the long run. With this kit, you can clean and coat your vehicle's surface, removing dirt, grime, and other harmful residue. The formula also protects your vehicle from UV rays. It allows for both wet and waterless washes, so you can use it anywhere and anytime. The water-based formula doesn't contain alcohol or ammonia, which means it's perfectly safe for all vehicle parts. It also doesn't cause skin irritation, so you don't have to worry about your health and safety. 


Lastly, the kit includes a 1-gallon car wash, a 16-ounce wax spray, four microfiber towels, and a comprehensive manual. All in all, it's everything you need for application. However, keep in mind that the product will probably leave an oily residue on your vehicle. It might be a little challenging to wipe it clean, which is a little bothersome regardless of the excellent finishing results. Also, make sure to wipe dry the surface right after the application because the cleaner might leave some streaks on windows.


Product Specs

  • Size: 144 ounces
  • Plant-based, eco-friendly, biodegradable formula
  • Designed for wet and waterless washes

Pros

  • Provides protection from UV rays
  • Safe for all vehicle parts
  • Microfiber towels included

Cons

  • May leave behind a residue
  • Can be a little challenging to wipe clean
  • May leave steaks on windows

Wash your car in less time with this spot-free car wash. Its deep cleaning formula lifts dirt and grime away with a thick foam. The formula is a rich blend of rinsing polymers that adhere to the surface of your car and make the water sheet off.  It stands out because it helps repel water for a spot-free shine. This means there’s no towel drying necessary. You’ll love the bright shine of your car’s paint once you’re done. This concentrated formula means the 48-ounce bottle will last for several washes. 


Unfortunately, you’ll need to be careful about where you wash your car. You shouldn’t use this formula in direct sunlight. If you must wash in direct sun, you’ll need to do it in sections. This can take more effort and time.


Product Specs

  • Size: 48 ounces
  • Concentrated formula
  • Produces a spot-free shine

Pros

  • Provides a deep clean
  • Produces a thick foam
  • Repels water

Cons

  • Shouldn’t be applied in direct sunlight
  • May require towel drying despite manufacturer’s claims
  • May require a lot of product for foaming action

Here’s a great product from Chemical Guys. This time, we have an excellent wash for weekly maintenance. Mr. Pink dilutes in water, applies in a breeze, and rinses clean without residues. With it, you'll get rid of bugs and all kinds of dirt and residue. Mr. Pink offers a pH-neutral formula that proves to be completely safe for all vehicle parts. It provides a gentle wash, removing dirt without causing any scratches or other damages to the surface. The liquid won't even leave water spots or stains under direct sunlight. Additionally, the product is specially formulated for use with foam cannons and foam guns. 


The thing that might bother you, though, is the rinsing process. You'll have to rinse the foam several times to fully remove it from your vehicle. That will require a lot of water and patience, especially if you're planning to apply another product like wax afterward. Also, some buyers complained about it not being very foamy.


Product Specs

  • Size: One gallon
  • Candy scent
  • pH-neutral formula

Pros

  • Rinses off without leaving residue behind
  • Gently washes your vehicle
  • Great for use with foam cannons

Cons

  • May require a lot of water to rinse the product off
  • Not as foamy as some rival brands

Meguiar's Car Wash is designed to help you remove dirt, annoying build-ups, road grime, and contaminants. It's an efficient product that cleans without stripping wax protection and applies with ease. Buyers especially love how the product foams and rinses off. It allows for effortless cleaning and is rich with conditioners that make a vehicle's surface better looking. Overall, the product works gently to remove dirt without damaging the vehicle's surface. It's easy to use, safe, and an excellent option to use with a snow or foam cannon. 


You might want to avoid using it in direct sunlight, though. If you don't rinse it off right after  application, the product might leave some residue. It might even create a thin film you'll have to rub off. Another thing that might bother some users is the lack of super sparkling results. You'll probably need to apply wax for a shiny finish.


Product Specs

  • Size: one gallon
  • Can be used with a foam cannon or bucket
  • Formulated with ultra-rich conditioners

Pros

  • Won’t strip off wax
  • Easy to use
  • Foams and rinses off nicely

Cons

  • Can leave behind a residue if applied in the sun
  • Doesn’t produce a very shiny finish

This concentrated formula contains powerful cleaners that will lift away dirt and road grime. You'll appreciate the thick foaming action that will effectively clean without stripping away wax. It’s safe for use on all of the vehicle’s surfaces as well as clear coats. The result is a spot- and streak-free shine. You’ll like the thick foaming action. The concentrated formula also means that a single bottle will last longer because a little bit goes a long way. Choose from a single 64-ounce bottle or a pack of four bottles. 


One potential issue with this car wash is that it can leave a slight haze on the painted surfaces of your car. Also, because it’s a concentrate, you need to get the right balance of soap to water, or it won’t perform the way you want.


Product Specs

  • Size: 64 ounces each
  • Concentrated formula

Pros

  • Thick foaming action
  • Won’t strip away wax
  • Safe for al vehicle’s surfaces

Cons

  • May leave behind a haze
  • Requires proper balance of soap and water for best results

Get your car clean with this high-shine wash and wax concentrate. It creates a  thick lather that leaves a glossy shine. This formula stands out because it’s VOC-compliant and body-shop-safe for chrome, plastic, vinyl, rubber, mirror, wheels, and tires. This professional quality detailing soap will give you a professional quality clean and finish. The formula contains optical brighteners for added shine and a rich depth of color. It’s a concentrated shampoo, so you’ll need to dilute it with a 1:32 ratio. 


It will effectively clean all of the surfaces of your car, including lacquers, glass, clear coat, paint, enamel, and acrylic. One issue with this car wash is that it has an overwhelming smell of bubble gum. This can be unpleasant for some users. You also don’t need a lot, so you can easily overuse it and not get the full number of washings.


Product Specs

  • Size: 128 ounces
  • VOC compliant
  • Bubble gum scent

Pros

  • Produces a glossy shine
  • Professional-quality results
  • A little goes a long way

Cons

  • Some users may not like the scent
  • Easy to use more than you need

This wash and wax car wash soap removes road grime, dirt, grease, brake dust, and more. It also leaves behind a protective coating to keep dust, dirt, and rainwater from sticking to the surface, which keeps your vehicle cleaner for a longer period of time. It produces thick suds and can be used with a bucket or a foam cannon. The pH-balanced formula won't strip wax, it can be used in direct sunlight, and it won't leave behind any water spots. The product produces a high-gloss, streak-free shine, and a little goes a long way, so you'll have this product for a good chunk of time before you need to replace it. 


The grape smell is also very appealing to most users. However, it can leave a slight residue behind that requires some elbow grease to remove. In addition, it doesn't do a very good job of removing bug smears. Also, the wax element of the formula doesn't last very long.


Product Specs

  • Size: 64 ounces
  • pH balanced
  • Grape scent

Pros

  • Can be used in direct sunlight
  • Thick suds
  • Won’t strip wax

Cons

  • Leaves a slight residue behind
  • Doesn’t remove bug guts very well
  • Wax element doesn’t last very long

Our Verdict on Car Wash Soaps

Our pick for the best car wash soap is the Mother’s California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax.We like this product because it's safe to use on all exterior surfaces, including the wheels, and it's pH-balanced, biodegradable, and produces a streak-free finish. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Chemical Guys Watermelon Snow Foam Cleanser.

What to Consider When Buying a Car Wash Soap

Not all car wash soaps are created equally. First, there are several different types, including concentrated soaps, wash and wax combination soaps, and waterless soaps. Below, we list the pros and cons of each type. Choosing the right type will help you find the best car wash soap for your needs. We also explore the various features you should consider before making a purchase.

Types of Car Wash Soap

Concentrated

A concentrated shampoo formula gives you more bang for your buck. You add a small amount to your bucket of water and have plenty of foam and suds. A concentrated formula is great for maintenance cleaning because it will get your car nice and clean. Some can also do double duty with an added sealant or wax. The drawback of this type of car wash is that most people do not use the right ratio when mixing the soap with water. Use too little, and you won’t have enough cleaning power. Use too much, and you’re wasting product. 

Wash and Wax

A wash and wax product is designed to do double duty. This makes caring for your car easier and faster. It will clean your car while also leaving a protective waxy layer on the surface of your car. This will give you lasting protection. However, a combo soap will not replace a dedicated waxing session. It should supplement your waxing to help it last longer. 

Waterless

Sometimes you don't have the time or aren’t in a place where you can do a full wash. A waterless cleaning product can help you remove contaminants without the need for rinsing or washing. These are nice because you can clean and detail your car anywhere. Their drawback is that they aren’t a replacement for a full washing. Look for one that has high lubricity to prevent scratches. 

Key Features

Concentrated

Most car wash soaps are going to be concentrated, but choosing ones that are will stretch your dollars longer without affecting your car-washing results. It also means that you can increase or decrease the dilution ratio as you see fit, depending on how dirty your car is and the size of the vehicle you’re cleaning.

Foaming Action and Lubricity

Ask any professional detailer and they’ll tell you that washing your vehicle properly is all about suspending the contaminants on your vehicle to safely remove them without scratching the paint finish. Foaming bubbles that provide natural lubricity are the common solution. The idea is to lift the debris off your paint and transfer it via a liquid layer across and away from the surface. This is especially true for dark-colored/black vehicles.

Included Wax

Choosing a car wash soap that includes a waxing agent in the formula will save you time in the long run. Though the wax included is not enough to rely on, it will still provide a protective layer that will delay your paint from oxidizing. In fact, waxing your car after using a wash and wax car wash soap will just increase the effectiveness of the wax and won’t necessarily hurt your vehicle’s paint.

Easy Application

Car wash soaps should be designed to make the car-washing process simple and straightforward. You shouldn’t have to worry about avoiding certain paint colors or exterior materials common on modern vehicles. Specially-formulated products can be helpful; however, washing your vehicle shouldn’t take much more effort than washing dishes. No specialty tools or methods should be required.

Scent

Scrubbing a car requires getting close to the vehicle, and if you don’t like the smell of the car wash soap you purchased, it can turn a simple task into a hassle. Take a whiff of the car wash soap before you buy it. Many are lightly scented to distinguish themselves from the competition. The smell won’t stay on your vehicle and won’t affect the car wash soap’s ability to clean your vehicle. 

Whole Vehicle Formulation

There’s no getting away from washing the entire exterior of your vehicle, so choose a car wash soap that won’t damage materials such as rubber, plastic, glass, metal, or any other components that will get wet. Most car wash products on the shelf are safe for these types of materials—that weather the elements anyways—but it’s a good idea to be cognizant of what’s in your car wash soap.

Additional Materials

It’s possible to wash your car with your bare hands, but we don’t recommend it. There are many products out there you can use to clean your vehicle, whether you have a large truck or a compact sedan. From washing mitts to wheel-cleaning devices, you can pick up the additional materials you need to achieve a clean vehicle without spending too much.

Drying Methods

The way you dry your newly-washed vehicle is just as important as how you wash it. Leaving water on the paint can cause hard water spots to appear. Using an air compressor to dry your vehicle is the most efficient method, but you can also use a chamois or even soft towels. The important thing to remember is not to ground any leftover contaminants into the paint you just washed.

Finishing Touches

Washing your car is the bare necessity when it comes to maintaining the exterior of your vehicle. Consider waxing your vehicle afterward to keep the paint from oxidizing quickly. Clean your windows for a better view of your surroundings. Vacuum your seats and flooring to prevent stains and excessive wear. The better care you give your car, the longer it will last. 

Car Wash Soap Brands To Know

Meguiar’s

If you know anything about car care, you know the name Meguiar’s. In business since 1901, Meguiar’s is headquartered in California. If you’re looking for that birthday or Christmas present, check out the Complete Car Care Kit. It’s everything you need to take care of your vehicle.

Chemical Guys

One of the up-and-coming brands making a name for themselves, Chemical Guys has actually been in business for over 40 years. Its After Wash Shine While You Dry solution can be used on cars, trucks, RVs, boats, etc.

Armor All

Armor All is another household name for car care products. Operating since 1966, its headquarters are in Missouri. The Armor All Complete Car Care Kit might even be on your car lover’s wish list, so check it out.

Rain-X

Based in Texas, Rain-X has been in the industry for over 40 years. If carnauba wax is your thing, check out its High Foaming Wash & Wax with Carnauba Wax Beads. Like all Rain-X products, it will bead up any moisture that finds its way onto your vehicle.

Mother’s

Mother’s is a California-based company that has been in business nearly as long as many other popular brands in the industry. Feeling overwhelmed at the choices for car-washing mitts? Give the Mother’s Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitt a look, especially if you own a black vehicle. 

Car Wash Soap Pricing 

Some car wash products are very affordable and cost $10 or less. These options are typically concentrated formulas and are sold in smaller sizes, such as 16-ounce bottles. Slightly more expensive products can range up to 64 ounces. If you wash your vehicle frequently and want to buy in bulk, products will cost between $20 and $40, and many well-known brands are available in this price range. You can save money by purchasing more quantity up front. Car wash kits that include car shampoo and other items, such as wash mitts and microfiber clots, cost around $50.

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and car wash soap. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • If possible, use two buckets while cleaning your vehicle. Use one for rinsing the wash mitt and the other for putting clean soap on the mitt.
  • If you drop your wash mitt, chamois, or microfiber cloth on the ground, stop using it. It can collect dirt and grime and then scratch your vehicle if you continue to use it.
  • Wash your vehicle in the shade or early evening. If you wash it in direct sunlight, the water and soap will dry quickly and cause spots on the finish and windows. You can also keep the car wet by continually spraying it lightly during the cleaning process.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: What’s wrong with using regular dish soap to wash my car?

A: Dishwashing liquid is designed to clean your plates, glasses, and silverware. It’s not meant for cleaning your car’s surface. The detergents in this soap can dry out vinyl and plastic. It can also prematurely strip away any sealant or wax you’ve applied. In addition, some household soaps lack the lubricity needed to prevent micro-scratches and swirl marks. 

Q: How often should I wash my car?

A: Washing your vehicle every day can feel excessive. However, never washing your car is also not good. Some suggest washing your car weekly, while others recommend at least once a month. How often you wash your vehicle will depend on how quickly it becomes dirty or covered in contaminants. 

Q: Does car wash soap expire?

A: The best way to tell if car wash soap isn’t working is to test it on the undercarriage of your vehicle, somewhere perhaps on the running boards or rear bumper. If the car wash soap is more than a few years old, we recommend just replacing it. You can typically find a good car wash soap for as much as it costs to eat out.

Q: Are there special car wash soaps for darker/black cars?

A: Yes, there is. Black car shampoos have special additives that help them to bring out the shine and luster of your car’s black paint. Look for a shampoo that has advanced lubricants to prevent micro-scratches and swirl marks. Gloss enhancers help to increase shine. Hydrophobic properties will prevent water spots. 

Q: What’s the difference between car wash soap and waterless car wash?

A: Car wash soap is meant for use with water. You can use it with a bucket of water, pressure washer, or foam cannon. A waterless cleaning product is designed for use with a microfiber cloth. A shampoo will perform best during a complete car wash, while waterless detailer is best during spot cleaning. Use car wash soap for deep cleaning and waterless car wash for touch-ups in between washes.