CCM is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Top 7 Best Car Wash Soaps 2024

car wash soap
Share
Tweet
Share
Email
Share

Basically, a good car wash soap has to remove as much dirt and contaminants from your car as possible with the least effort. That’s always a balancing act, a compromise though. 

You want a car wash soap that is strong enough to remove dirt, yet not too aggressive so it won’t corrode your car’s surfaces. So forget that old bucket with dish soap, that’s not the way to go! Car soaps are specially formulated to clean your car effortlessly while being gentle for your car’s paint and finish.

There are so many car wash soaps on the market that choosing between them seems a daunting task. That’s why we made a list of the best car wash soaps, based on hands-on testing. Each shampoo in our selection is formulated for a specific purpose. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a shampoo to strip away all previously applied waxes to start with a blank sheet, a soft soap to just clean without removing previous protective layers, a classic wash-and-wax or one which leaves the latest protective coating, for a foam gun or bucket use? 

Check ‘em out, they’re all there:

Different types of Car Wash Soaps

Basic Car Wash Soaps (Wash Only)

Wash-only car wash soaps are pH neutral and clean the car surface without removing protective coatings. They are gentle on all car surfaces and ideal for frequent car wash use. They leave no residue or protective coating.

All-In-One Car Wash Soaps

Most consumer car wash soaps claim to do several things at once, like “Wash & Wax” or  “Wash & Shine” or “Wash, Protect & Shine” or “Ceramic Wash” or “Graphene Wash”. 
Do they deliver on those promises? Yes and no. 

It’s only human to want perfect cleaning results, a brilliant shine and a bulletproof, long lasting protection layer in one short, effortless washing action. Sadly, that’s not how the cookie crumbles…

Separately applied protective quality coatings can last for weeks up to several years, while all-in-one car wash soaps leave a protective film that will only last anywhere from a few days up to a couple of weeks at best. 

It’s not all bad news though… It has to be said that some all-in-one products do clean well and leave a thin, glossy water repellent layer on your car coating, but it will only be (very) short-lived. 
And that’s OK, as long as you don’t overstretch your expectations. If you don’t compare a combined car wash soap to a dedicated single-stage coating, you won’t be disappointed. 

We’ve selected and tested for you some all-in-one products that do a good job at what they promise.

Strip Wash

A strip wash is ideal to remove all previously applied organic waxes along with heavy road pollution, grease, tar, tree sap,… and start with a blank canvas.

Contrary to popular belief, a strip car wash soap does not remove all protective coatings, only organic wax layers (carnauba, beeswax,…). 
Recently applied organic wax layers may need two or more wash sessions to completely remove them, depending on the quality of the wax and the thickness of the layer. 

Strip wash will not chemically react with, nor remove, synthetic waxes, sealants, ceramic or graphene coatings. Most synthetic waxes can be removed with simple isopropyl alcohol. Ceramic or graphene coatings cannot be washed off. If needed, they can only be removed by polishing the car paint.

Which Car Wash Soap should you use?

To get fast, efficient results without damaging your car paint, it’s important to first identify the contaminants that stick to your car. 
Accordingly, you can select a pH-neutral (pH-balanced), pH-adjustable or high-pH car wash soap.

If you mainly drive on back roads, it’s mostly dust or mud that’s covering your car. A soft, neutral car wash soap (pH-neutral) works best. A pH-adjustable car wash soap diluted to a pH-neutral solution is of course equally effective. 

If you mainly drive your car on highways at high speeds and in busy traffic, there will be a lot of organic and greasy road film covering your car like road grime, grease, tar, exhaust pollution, insect guts, cooling and brake fluid, … 
For this type of contaminants, a car wash soap with a higher pH (higher alkalinity) is most efficient. It will also effectively neutralize any corrosive acids on your car coating. A pH-adjustable car wash soap diluted to a high-pH solution is equally effective. 

pH-Neutral Car Wash Soap

Best use a pH-neutral car wash soap if you have recently applied a natural wax coating that you want to preserve. 
While this type of gentle cleaning agent will remove dirt and grime, it will not harm your car’s protective wax coating.

High-pH Car Wash Soaps

Like we mentioned previously, organic waxes (carnauba, beeswax,…) will be removed as a side effect if you use high-pH (high alkaline) soaps.
That’s why these car wash soaps are called “strip wash soaps”: they strip away all dirt along with old organic coatings that are carnauba- or beeswax based.

Most modern quality protective coatings like synthetic waxes or sealants, ceramic or graphene coatings are chemically resistant against all car wash soaps and will not be removed or diminished. However, they will wear mechanically with each car wash by rubbing motions, no matter which soap you use.

Suds

Most people prefer a car wash soap that produces a lot of suds. They think it’s great fun to have lots of foamy suds to work with.
It’s not all about fun and perception though. Thick suds also form a lubricating barrier between the car paint surface and sharp dirt and grit that is picked up and moved around by the wash sponge or mitt during the washing process. This foamy barrier prevents scratching or marring and makes it easier to clean your car swirl free. 

Thick, clingy suds also greatly increase dwelling time, the time the soap has to loosen the dirt. That makes the soap much more efficient. With a blanket of suds on your car surface, soap residue doesn’t get much chance to dry and leave streaks either.

Concentrate vs Price

Don’t be fooled by the big price differences between different car wash soaps. The most expensive little bottle is often cheaper than the big “bargain” bottle. 
You have to compare apples with apples, because prices can be very deceiving. The actual price of the car wash soap has to be calculated per car wash, not per ounce of product you get. 

Some “expensive” products only need a few ounces per washing bucket because they are very strong concentrates.
Large size discount bottles on the other hand, often need a multitude of that to be effective because they are already heavily diluted. You’re actually just buying more water. 

That’s why more often than not, small bottles are the economical choice.  Just goes to show that size isn’t (always) everything 😉

How Did We Test The Car Wash Soaps? 

We‘ve tested many car wash soaps with different formulations for you to select a product according to your specific needs. 

In our review we didn’t list products that underperformed. We only recommend “best” products, not second choices. We won’t waste your time telling you how badly this or that soap performed.

We did our tests on several types of cars: a red aging Jeep, a black metallic sports car, a light gray compact family car and a black off road Jeep. Some of the products were even tested on a classic car, but in this case we only used the 2 bucket method.

To wash the other cars we went all-out and used buckets and wash mitts, a water hose, a pressure washer and a foam cannon to try how the soaps did with different washing techniques: two-bucket and foam cannon.

Both buckets were filled with 2/3 of tap water, for the foam cannon we only used demineralized water. 
First thing we always do is rinse the entire car from top to bottom with a pressure washer to remove caked sand and dirt and avoid scratching the paint during the washing process. 
After washing the car, we always dry it gently with edgeless microfiber towels to prevent water spots from forming. 

Check out our post on how to wash your car for all the details.

Best Car Wash Soaps

Best Overall Car Wash Soap

Best Overall
  • Type: wash
  • Washes up to: 16 cars (16 oz. bottle) / 128 cars (1 Gallon)
  • Content: 16 oz. / 1 Gallon
  • Suds: thick, luxurious suds
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: fresh wild berry scent
Best Overall
  • Type: wash
  • Washes up to: 16 cars (16 oz. bottle) / 128 cars (1 Gallon)
  • Content: 16 oz. / 1 Gallon
  • Suds: thick, luxurious suds
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: fresh wild berry scent

The reason why we’ve chosen Adam’s Car Shampoo for Best Overall is that it just does so well what it’s supposed to: wash a car and make it fresh and shiny with little effort.

This is a best seller from Adam’s Polishes and arguably one of their best products. We highly recommend this car wash soap that can be used as a bucket wash car shampoo, but is also equally suited for a foam gun. 

You could for example use Adam’s Car Shampoo to wash your classic car with the two bucket method, while using it with a foam gun for your daily driver. Any way you use it, you won’t be disappointed, just like many customers confirm in their reviews.

This pH neutral professional grade car wash soap does an awesome job at removing the toughest dirt while protecting with awesome lubricity properties. It lifts dirt particles with ease and creates a slick surface using advanced cleaners and polymers. 

Even washing our muddy Jeep was no problem. The mud came off without scratching the paint. We did a quick rinse with a pressure washer first to blow off the caked mud, of course. As many customers confirm, the thick luxurious suds make cleaning even the dirtiest car very enjoyable!
If you can’t wash your car in the shade, it’s even safe to use in full sunlight.

With one squirt per bucket (about 1oz), one 16oz. bottle washes up to 16 cars, a gallon will last up to 128 car wash cycles using the two-bucket method. 
If you’re using a foam cannon, you’ll need 2 to 4oz per fill. With our pressure washer, 4oz gave awesome thick suds. 

Adam’s Car Shampoo is safe on all surfaces and will not dry out any trim or rubber. Its wild berry fragrance adds a pleasant smell, although some customers say they  would prefer a more neutral smell. This gentle soap won’t remove any waxes or coatings and leaves a nice shine on your car’s coating without leaving water spots.

Highly recommended!

 

PROS:

  • Works equally well for both bucket wash as well as foam cannon
  • Awesome thick suds
  • Safe for all materials and surfaces
  • Won’t remove protective coatings
  • pH neutral, won’t remove wax coatings
  • Concentrate, takes little storage space
  • Made in USA


CONS:

  • Budget-wise, we recommend buying the gallon size which is a much better deal, or the 5-gallon if you wanna go big

Best Budget Car Wash Soap

Best Budget
  • Type: wash
  • Washes up to: 20 cars
  • Content: 64 oz.
  • Suds: adequate suds
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: light, soapy
Best Budget
  • Type: wash
  • Washes up to: 20 cars
  • Content: 64 oz.
  • Suds: adequate suds
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: light, soapy

Why did we select Armor All Car Wash Formula for our Best Budget? 
There’s a lot of  budget-friendly options out there, but besides this one having a ridiculously high efficiency for the few dollars it costs (you can bucket-wash your average car 20+ times with just one 64oz bottle!), we found it actually works pretty well too. It overclassed its budget competitors with ease. If you don’t wanna spend much but want the most bang for your buck, look no further, this is it! 

Testing this product soon revealed its fortes and downsides: 
We found that it does a good job when you use it for the two-bucket method. It’s not as slick and foamy as the premium products in our listing but it cleans well and has a fresh soapy smell. 
It says on the label that it can be used for foam cannons too, but don’t expect the rich, clingy suds you get from a high end foam cannon soap. Although it foams adequately and does its job, you won’t be awed or OMG’in. 
To get real thick foam, we had to multiply the dose several times. Even then, the foam is much runnier than the specialized products in our listing.

In short: Is this the perfect car wash soap? Maybe not, but you get the most bang for your buck for sure! 
If you’re not looking for the best but just want to wash your car in an efficient way without damaging your car paint, you will be pleasantly surprised by this pocket-change product! 
Yep, even free shipping is available.

 

PROS:

  • Works well for bucket wash 
  • Safe for all materials and surfaces
  • Won’t remove protective coatings
  • pH neutral, won’t remove wax coatings


CONS:

  • Mediocre performance with foam cannon
  • Large bottle, takes more shelf space

Best For Foam Cannons

Best For Foam Cannons
  • Type: wash
  • Washes up to: 16 cars (16 oz) / 64 cars (0.5 Gallon) / 128 cars ( 1 Gallon)
  • Content: 16 oz. / 0.5 Gallon / 1 Gallon
  • Suds: high, intense foam
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: honeydew or watermelon or blueberry
Best For Foam Cannons
  • Type: wash
  • Washes up to: 16 cars (16 oz) / 64 cars (0.5 Gallon) / 128 cars ( 1 Gallon)
  • Content: 16 oz. / 0.5 Gallon / 1 Gallon
  • Suds: high, intense foam
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: honeydew or watermelon or blueberry

The Chemical Guys Snow Foam Car Wash Soap has been a big hit for over ten years and for a good reason: it creates awesome, rich, clingy suds. Especially when you use it with a foam cannon, the foam party is on!

It’s not only show, though. These suds do an excellent job at loosening road grime by sticking to dirty car paint like sxxx to a shovel.
It’s available in different scents too: Honeydew, Watermelon and Blueberry.

This stuff really rocks if you like suds. Man, did we enjoy foaming our car!
It doesn’t run off the sides nearly as quickly as the other products we used in our foam cannon. It’s like your car is coated in a soft, foamy white blanket. Hence the name: Snow Foam. You can put layer over layer to build it up even thicker. 
Is that necessary? Nope, but it was fun! 
The Honeydew scent we tried smelled awesome too, which enhanced the fun factor.

That’s what the tens of thousands of reviews say too: awesome foam, nice smell, great results!

This pH-balanced professional grade soap is made in the USA with the best ingredients for professional use and weekend warriors alike. It’s safe to use on any vehicle.

Although we needed 3oz of product for our foam cannon bottle to get “shaving cream level” suds, just 1 ounce did the job for a bucket wash.

After drying the car with microfiber towels, there was no trace of mineral deposits on the car paint and it looked like a million bucks. 

Right on, CG!

PROS:

  • Works very well for bucket washing and excels for foam cannon use
  • Safe for all materials and surfaces
  • Won’t remove protective coatings
  • pH neutral, won’t remove wax coatings
  • Made in USA


CONS:

  • The whole driveway was covered in thick, very persistent foam

Best Budget Wash & Wax Car Wash Soap

Best Budget Wash & Wax
  • Type: all-in-one wash and wax
  • Washes up to: 16 cars (48 oz.) / 42 cars ( 1 Gallon)
  • Content: 48 oz. / 1 Gallon
  • Suds: superior suds
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: sweet cherry odor
Best Budget Wash & Wax
  • Type: all-in-one wash and wax
  • Washes up to: 16 cars (48 oz.) / 42 cars ( 1 Gallon)
  • Content: 48 oz. / 1 Gallon
  • Suds: superior suds
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: sweet cherry odor

This 2-in-1 car wash soap is “the king of compromise” if you ask us. 
Don’t want to spend hours first washing, then waxing your ride to achieve perfection but you still want some form of paint protection in one effort? Want the best deal out there?
Look no further, this is it! 
This product has a huge and loyal user base. Customers love its simplicity and its no-nonsense time-saving approach.

In our experience, Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax does a great job at thoroughly but safely cleaning your car. It contains polymers that greatly enhance its lubrication properties. You won’t scratch or mar your coating and it leaves a protective wax film to repel dirt and water. Many customers are fond of the amount of suds this product gives too.

For a bucket wash, it really is a great product. It’s slick and sudsy and leaves a glossy, water-repellant film that in our case held up till the next wash. We’re not saying it can compete with a full-blown separately applied paint protection, but it’s certainly an added value. 

For foam cannon use it’s better than average if you dose it up heavily, but not an outperformer. 
However, you can’t knock ‘em for that, they don’t advertise it as a product for foam cannon use either…

Should you ever find the time, we recommend you try Meguiar’s Gold Class Carnauba Wax. It’s perfectly compatible with this wash and wax product and adds a longer lasting protection layer with an even deeper gloss. 
Both products enhance each other in the most complementary way. 

Tried, tested and approved! Worked like a charm! 

 

PROS:

  • Quick & easy time-saving 2-in-1 product
  • Great car shampoo with good lubricity
  • Leaves a thin, glossy protective polymer wax layer
  • pH-neutral, safe on all coatings and surfaces
  • Great suds
  • pH neutral
  • Made in USA


CONS:

  • Thin wax layer wears fast like with any all-in-one product
  • Not the best performing foam cannon soap (and not advertised as such)

Best Premium Graphene Car Wash Soap

Best Premium Graphene
  • Type: wash and protect
  • Washes up to: 8 cars (16 oz.) / 64 cars ( 1 Gallon) / 320 cars ( 5 Gallons)
  • Content: 16 oz. / 1 Gallon / 5 Gallons
  • Suds: highly sudsy
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: fresh citrus scent
Best Premium Graphene
  • Type: wash and protect
  • Washes up to: 8 cars (16 oz.) / 64 cars ( 1 Gallon) / 320 cars ( 5 Gallons)
  • Content: 16 oz. / 1 Gallon / 5 Gallons
  • Suds: highly sudsy
  • pH: neutral
  • Scent: fresh citrus scent

Adam’s Graphene Shampoo is as innovative and high-end as it gets.
It is infused with the latest protective graphene technology. This high graphene content soap leaves a microscopic graphene layer to protect your car paint. This thin coating is extremely hydrophobic, it repels dirt and water. It also enhances and reinforces existing protective coatings. 

Like with all new technologies though, there are believers and non-believers.
Some reviewers say that they don’t believe that it actually works, so we started testing with kind of a negative prejudice in the back of our minds.
But despite our skepticism and much to our surprise, in our tests it came out on top! 

It does need twice as much product than the classic Adam’s Car Shampoo but has a fluffy suds layer both with bucket and foam cannon wash.
It feels very slick and makes wash mitt movements effortless. You can’t apply it badly and get in trouble like when you apply a full graphene coating (those little bottles), which is a relief to most users, I can imagine. No stress with this product, you can’t go wrong even if you tried.

Don’t ask how, because we don’t have the equipment to see what’s going on at a molecular level, but this car wash product performed exceptionally well with just 3oz of product in our foam cannon bottle.
It somehow makes water run off faster and makes it harder for dirt to get a hold. 

That this protective coating isn’t as tough or long-lasting as a full-blown graphene coating, is a given. But considering the little effort that went in, this stuff is awesome!

With a 4.7/5 review rating, I guess most customers can confirm our findings…

 

PROS:

  • Leaves a water and dirt repellent coating
  • Incorporates the latest graphene infused protective technology
  • Works great for bucket wash and foam cannon
  • Tops up existing protective coatings to make them last longer
  • Safe for all materials and surfaces
  • Won’t remove protective coatings
  • pH neutral, won’t remove wax coatings
  • Made in USA


CONS:

  • Only maximum 8 washes out of one 16oz bottle 
  • Premium price

Best pH-Adjustable Car Wash Soap

Best pH-Adjustable
  • Type: pH Adjustable Wash or Strip Wash
  • Washes up to: 33 cars for moderate cleaning / 4 cars for extreme strength
  • Content: 100 oz.
  • Suds: suds
  • pH: adjustable pH-cleaning power for every cleaning task
  • Scent: fresh citrus odor
Best pH-Adjustable
  • Type: pH Adjustable Wash or Strip Wash
  • Washes up to: 33 cars for moderate cleaning / 4 cars for extreme strength
  • Content: 100 oz.
  • Suds: suds
  • pH: adjustable pH-cleaning power for every cleaning task
  • Scent: fresh citrus odor

Turtle Wax’s Max Power Car Wash soap is kind of the oddling in our lineup.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a pH-adjustable car wash soap.
In plain English: by decreasing the dilution, meaning more product in less water, you’re enhancing the soap’s cleaning power for roadgrime, grease and oil, brake dust, bug splatter,… by actually raising the pH level.

This soap’s neutral 7-ish pH zone is from 1-3oz per gallon of water, 6 oz. per gallon results in around 8.5pH for aggressive cleaning, and 9 oz. per gallon will give you about 10pH for extreme cleaning power or to strip old wax layers.
So, this car wash soap’s pH can actually be adjusted according to the kind of contamination by simply adding more or less water as instructed.

Although this versatile car wash soap worked great for bucket use, it’s not really meant for foam cannon application. They don’t advertise it as such either.

The reason is very simple, actually: you can’t get a moderate pH dilution ratio and sudsy foam at the same time if you use a foam cannon. 
If you’re looking for a neutral-pH foam cannon wash, this is not the soap you want. A neutral-pH dilution ratio would not allow for a decent amount of foam to form.
Actually, this soap will never perform like a specialized foam cannon soap. It wasn’t designed for that purpose. 

In our experience, if you want an acceptable amount of foam that doesn’t run off immediately, you’re gonna have to lower the dilution dramatically to somewhere around 2-5oz per foam cannon bottle, which is very strong and concentrated. 
This will de facto make it a high pH strip soap. 

If your intention is to remove all previously applied, old coatings and start with a blank sheet, this is a very effective way to do it.
However, for weekly routine car washes in between protective coating applications, the foam cannon approach is not the way to go if you’re planning to use this soap.

If you use it after a pre-rinse with a pressure washer, using the two-bucket method afterwards, this is a great and affordable way to clean your car though.
Its unique pH Boost Technology allows you to adjust cleaning power to your needs, from low, medium to high pH for maximum efficiency and economy. 

Using Turtle Wax Max Power Car Wash we especially loved the freedom the dilution ratio gives you. 
It allowed us to use the ridiculously economical 1oz per gallon dilution ratio to just freshen up a recently washed car. It was just strong enough to wash off minor dust and little mud streaks behind the wheel arches.

We tried it again after one week at medium strength. It did its job with ease. The 8.5pH didn’t seem to affect the 2-week old wax coating either, which was great!

Lastly, 10 days later we used 5oz in a full foam cannon bottle to strip away all contamination and coatings as a preparation to apply a new protective coating.
It foamed OK and stuck to the car surface long enough to do its job. 
After rinsing the car with our pressure washer, the car was ready for the next coating. We must say that the foam is harder to rinse off than average. Maybe because it clings to the surface dirt? Who knows?
Bottom line, the result was more than satisfactory, and that’s what counts in our book!

Online product reviews are generally also very positive except for the fact that some people say they think the undiluted product is too runny. 
The vast majority however, say they would buy this product again because they don’t need to store different soaps for different uses and that they are impressed by this soap’s cleaning power and affordability.

If you’re looking for an affordable multiple-use car wash soap, you should try Max Power. You won’t be disappointed! 

 

PROS:

  • pH Boost Technology delivers flexible cleaning power (pH 7-10.2)
  • Multiple use: fresh-up, full car-wash, strip wash
  • Great results 
  • Safe on all surfaces
  • Safe for protective coatings if used in lowest concentration
  • Illinois, USA based company


CONS:

  • Large bottle takes a lot of storage space
  • Foam cannon use only for strip wash

Best Strip-Wash Car Wash Soap

Best Strip-Wash
  • Type: strip wash
  • Washes up to: 8 cars (16 oz.)
  • Content: 16 oz.
  • Suds: high, thick suds
  • pH: high 10.6
  • Scent: mint
Best Strip-Wash
  • Type: strip wash
  • Washes up to: 8 cars (16 oz.)
  • Content: 16 oz.
  • Suds: high, thick suds
  • pH: high 10.6
  • Scent: mint

This powerful strip wash shouldn’t be used routinely. It’s specially formulated to prepare your car for a fresh protective coating or paint correction. 
If you want to remove old wax layers to start fresh, this awesome car wash soap will do the trick. Its concentrated, high suds formula removes any dirt, contaminants and old wax layers, but doesn’t harm ceramic coatings. 

Adam’s strip wash has a pH of 10.6. You can safely use it on all your car’s surfaces. 
We used it before applying a new layer of carnauba wax on our classic, and were impressed by the ease of use of this product. 
Adam’s says to use 2-3 oz. in 5 Gallon buckets or 3-4oz in a foam cannon. Because we were using it on a classic car and didn’t want the product to penetrate any paint imperfections or cavities, we used the two-bucket method  sparingly with a microfiber sponge.
Even when used in direct sunlight, it didn’t leave streaks nor water spots.

We must say that this strip soap does a much better job at degreasing than old-school dish soap ever did. Although it is suited for the two-bucket car wash method, we recommend using a foam cannon on modern cars. This gives the product a longer working time.

Thumbs up for Adam’s, great job guys!

PROS:

  • Safely removes old wax layers
  • Powerful, degreasing car wash soap 
  • Can be used with foam gun or two bucket method
  • Concentrated high suds formula
  • Fresh mint fragrance
  • Made in USA


CONS:

  • Not intended for routine car wash use

Comparison Table Of The Best Car Wash Soaps

Brand Name
Best Overall Adam's Polishes Adam's Car Wash Shampoo
Best Budget Armor All Car Wash Formula
Best For Foam Cannons Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash Soap
Best Budget Wash & Wax Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax
Best Premium Graphene Adam's Polishes Adam's Graphene Shampoo
Best pH-Adjustable Turtle Wax Turtle Wax Max Power Car Wash
Best Strip-Wash Adam's Polishes Adam's Strip Car Wash Soap

Final Thoughts

There are so many car wash products out there that promise all kinds of different  things and use different descriptions like “Wash & Wax” or  “Wash & Shine” or “Wash, Protect & Shine” or “Ceramic Wash” or “Graphene Wash”
The labels on the bottles aren’t very helpful either using terminology like “neutral/high pH”, “alkaline”, “ceramic”, “graphene”, “strip wash”, “polymers”, all kinds of brand names,… It’s so easy to get lost.

That’s why, as a general recap, we’ve selected the best car wash products for you and translated all this mumbo jumbo into different practical uses to choose from: 

Best Car Wash Soaps For Dust / Mud From Unpaved Or Back Roads

If you mainly drive on back roads, it’s mostly dust or mud that’s covering your car. A soft, neutral car wash soap works best, like our Best Overall: Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo, our Best Budget: Armor All Car Wash Formula, or our Best For Foam Cannons: Chemical Guys Snow Foam Car Wash Soap.

A pH-adjustable car wash soap like Turtle Wax Max Power Car Wash, diluted to a pH-neutral solution is equally effective. If your car is just dusty and not caked with mud, a waterless or rinseless car wash soap would be an excellent option too.
All of these neutral-pH soaps are completely safe and won’t remove protective coatings.

Best 2-in-1 Car Wash Soaps

If you’re looking for a pH-neutral car wash soap that leaves a protective coating too? Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax is a very popular choice for good reasons: it’s very affordable, cleans well and leaves a slick protective polymer coating that respects and protects all previously applied coatings. If you don’t mind paying a premium price, Adam’s Graphene Shampoo is the new kid in town that incorporates graphene nanotechnology into Adam’s high end car shampoo. It’s damn cool and protects longer. It’s also great to top up and protect previously applied graphene coatings. It’s completely safe on all surfaces too.

Best Car Wash Soap For Road Grime From Interstate Highways And Congested Traffic

If you mainly drive your car on highways at high speeds and in busy traffic, there will be a lot of organic and greasy road film covering your car like road grime, grease, tar, exhaust pollution, insect guts, cooling and brake fluid, … 
For this type of contaminants, a car wash soap with a higher pH (higher alkalinity) like Adam’s Strip Car Wash Soap is most efficient. It will also effectively neutralize any corrosive acids on your car coating. 
A pH-adjustable car wash soap like Turtle Wax Max Power Car Wash, diluted to a high-pH solution is equally effective. 

Happy detailing!

FAQs

How Do I Remove Car Wax Coating?

We recommend using Adam’s Strip Car Wash Soap. This strip wash soap has a high pH but is completely safe to use on all surfaces. It’s specially formulated to safely remove all organic waxes. 
It’s also ideal to remove all surface contaminants before paint correction.

What is Car Wash Soap made of?

Car wash soap is made of a bunch of chemical ingredients with their own specific function. Let’s have a closer look at what car wash soap ingredients do:

  • surfactants (surface-active agents): they loosen dirt by reducing the surface tension
  • sequestering agents: they remove water hardness
  • chelators (or chelating agents): they remove water hardness and inorganic soils
  • solvents: they dissolve substances to form a solution
  • builders: they soften, buffer, and emulsify
  • water: it dissolves more substances than any other liquid 
  • preservatives: they slow the breakdown of the soap
  • polymers: they lubricate

These ingredients and their relative percentages are experimented with in the manufacturer’s (or external) laboratorium till the most ideal composition for a particular application is achieved.Knowing that there are thousands of chemical combinations involved, research can take several years to perfect a formula. It’s an incredibly complex process.

Most car wash soap brands update their formula frequently to keep up with the competition. That’s why on many labels you’ll see “improved formula” or “new formula”. It’s an ongoing “arms race” between competitors to deliver the most efficient product and win the hearts (and wallets) of the consumers.

Why Does My Car Get So Dirty?

There are a lot of reasons why your car gets so dirty. It depends on how often you drive your car and in which conditions. 

Between each car wash these determining conditions will change:

  • dry or wet driving conditions 
  • hot or cold ambient temperatures
  • hours and intensity of UV exposure (sun)
  • amount and type of fall-out (pollen, acids, dust, tree sap, bird droppings, insect splatter, industrial fall-out…)
  • type and brand of protective coating (if any)
  • the age of the protective coating
  • dwell time of contaminants
  • interaction between contaminants
  • type and condition of roads driven
  • total distance traveled since last car wash

So that’s why sometimes your car is already dirty after 3 days and other times it remains shiny and clean for a couple of weeks.

Is Car Wash Soap Toxic?

Often, the most cost-effective, man-made chemical ingredients have a disastrous effect on our health and the environment in general. 

These are two well-known examples: 

  • phosphates: they indirectly lead to death of aquatic life due to oxygen deprivation
  • hydrofluoric acid (HF): this highly toxic carcinogen can cause severe chemical burn injuries with deep penetration and can irreversibly destroy underlying bone structure

However, these chemicals are still widely used in car wash soaps!  And that’s just to name two of the most infamous harmful ingredients… Many of those overly aggressive ingredients are really not necessary to get perfect results. In the long run they might also harm your car’s coating.

A little knowledge goes a long way to get awesome results by using the least harmful products in the correct concentration. Overkill by excessively using harmful, toxic products will not only damage your car’s coating but also harm your health and the environment we all live in.

That’s why in the last few years, partly because of institutional (EPA, DEQ,…) and consumer demand, many manufacturers have been shifting their research to developing more environmentally-friendly car wash soaps. Many of these less harmful products nowadays perform on par or even outperform their harsh old-school competitors.

In our search for the most efficient products, we always keep an eye on your health and their environmental impact. Let’s keep collateral damage at an absolute minimum! After all, why kill a mosquito with a cannon? 

What Is a Foam Cannon? 

A foam cannon is a car wash accessory that looks like a plastic bottle with a brass or plastic nozzle. It generates thick suds when you attach it to a pressure washer gun. 
Soap, water, and air are mixed under pressure inside the foam cannon to generate thick suds. You can use a foam cannon to cover your car in a thick foamy blanket to loosen dirt and grime touchless.
Some foam cannons are designed for use with a hose or an air compressor. However, most popular and effective is the type that can be used with a pressure washer. 

For modern cars, foam cannons perform very well.  However, we do not advise using this washing technique for a classic car because the foam penetrates all nooks, crannies and imperfections because of its long dwell time. It keeps your classic exposed to water and chemicals for much longer than strictly necessary. This trapped moist can and will stimulate rust.

Is a Foam Cannon Eco-Friendly?

A foam cannon is not so eco-friendly because it has a far greater environmental impact than using the classic 2-bucket car wash technique. Suds flow uncontrolled in any direction, and lots of it. The soapy runoff often ends up in a storm drain and straight into rivers and eventually in the ocean. Because it’s generally used as a pre-soak before the manual car wash process, it uses a lot more soap than the two-bucket method. That makes it more expensive too. 

If you’re looking for the most environmentally friendly car wash method, check our post on How To Wash Your Car Eco-Friendly.

Many detailing companies are racing to develop environmentally friendly foam-gun car wash soaps that deliver thick suds that can compete with standard foam gun soaps. However, at the time of this writing, there’s still a long way to go.

It’s up to you to choose depending on your priorities.

Why You Should Trust Our Reviews And Content

All our website content and reviews are 100% unique, protected and based on our own thorough research. 

They are the result of our hands-on testing, data analysis, expert consultation and customer review analysis, enhanced by our own extensive expertise.

We do not compromise: our focal point is always on you, our valued visitor.

Our website content and reviews are your unbiased, unsponsored tools to get the job done better and quicker, with less expense. 

Learn More 

Share
Tweet
Share
Email
Share

Subscribe To Our Newsletter. It's 100% Free!

* indicates required

2 thoughts on “Top 7 Best Car Wash Soaps 2024”

  1. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just nice and i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to
    keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Top 7 Best Car Wash Soaps 2024”

  1. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just nice and i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to
    keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top