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The Best Car Wash Soaps 2020

best car wash soap

The most popular detailing product by far is a car wash soap, which is designed to safely lift dirt, grime and contaminants. Unlike household or DIY soaps, those specifically designed for cars are pH neutral and won’t strip wax previously applied to the paintwork.

The best car wash soap is the Meguiar’s Gold Class Shampoo, which is designed to both clean and condition without stripping any waxes or sealants.

Many large detailing brands offer several different types of car wash soaps to best suit your requirements. A popular option is a wash and wax formula, which adds a thin layer of car wax protection to the paintwork once washed.

Car Wash Soap Comparison

Car Wash SoapShampoo & WaxMax Size
Meguiar's Gold ClassNo128 oz
Chemical Guys CitrusNo128 oz
Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & WaxYes48 oz
Adam's Car Wash ShampooNo800 oz
Mothers California GoldYes64 oz
Rain-X 5077557Yes64 oz
Turtle Wax T-472R ICEYes48 oz
303 Products 30577No18 oz

If you have limited access to a hose pipe for spraying the soap off the car, we highly recommend that you look at a waterless car wash. It’s a highly lubricating product that simply sprays onto the paintwork and wipes clear without any water.

However, investing into a quality shampoo for your car that lasts and provides a shine after each wash is highly recommended. It’s advised that you avoid household soaps as it may strip any detailing products previously applied to the paintwork.

Below is a list of the best car wash soaps that safely remove dirt and grime without stripping the wax from your paintwork.

The Best Car Wash Soap


1. Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Soap

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash Soap
The Meguiar’s Gold Class is a highly rated car wash soap that’s designed to clean and condition the paintwork. This has the result of providing a radiant look due to the ultra-rich paint conditioners included within the formula.

Unlike the wash and wax formula offered by the brand, the Gold Class works with the wax to remove dirt and debris. It won’t strip any layers of wax previously applied but it helps enhance the finish with the paint conditioning properties.

Other features of the Meguiar’s Gold Class include:

  • Foams away tough dirt, grime and contaminants
  • Doesn’t strip wax
  • Suitable for use inside of a foam cannon
  • 1 gallon bottle capacity
  • Both a shampoo and conditioner
  • Doesn’t leave any residue
  • Subtle and pleasant fruity scent
  • Completely biodegradable

The Meguiar’s Gold Class is an excellent all-round car wash soap that rinses without spots or streaks. It also has the reputable backing of the Meguiar’s brand and is available in multiple bottle sizes to best suit your requirements.

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2. Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss Shampoo

Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss Shampoo
The Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss is a popular car wash soap that uses a hyper concentrated formula. The standout feature of this soap is the unique gloss agent, which helps produce a showroom shine after each and every wash.

The brand state that just one cap full of this car wash soap can be diluted with 5 gallons of water. This means that the 1 gallon bottle can last over one hundred washes.

Other features of the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss include:

  • Citrus based formula
  • Multiple bottle sizes available
  • Fast acting lubricating foam lifts dirt away
  • Biodegradable and doesn’t include harsh ingredients
  • Doesn’t strip any previously applied wax
  • Suitable for all automotive surfaces
  • Can be used with a foam cannon
  • Cleaning and gloss agents
  • Streak-free finish

Although this car wash soap is slightly more expensive than most of the alternatives, it’s a high performing car wash soap that won’t disappoint. Chemical Guys produce a variety of soaps but the Citrus Wash and Gloss is one of their most popular.

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3. Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax

Meguiar's Ultimate Wash and Wax
The Ultimate Wash and Wax is another great formula from the Meguiar’s brand. It’s specifically designed to clean and wax your car in one easy step. Unlike other cheap formulas that are purely synthetic, this car wash soap includes carnauba wax.

It’s a pH balanced car wash soap that doesn’t strip any wax but leaves a light protective wax finish after it has dried upon the paintwork.

Other features of the Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax include:

  • Carnauba wax and synthetic polymer formula
  • Lifts dirt and grime to provide a deep gloss finish
  • Available in a 1 gallon or 48 ounce bottle
  • Completely clear coat safe with a pH balanced formula
  • Produce thick suds for lifting dirt and debris
  • Pleasant scent during washing

The Meguiar’s Wash and Wax is the best car wash soap for keeping the waxed paintwork topped up between washes. It’s formulated to safely lift dirt and grime without causing fine scratches or swirls to appear on the paintwork once dried.

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4. Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo

Adam's Car Wash Shampoo
Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo is a is pH neutral formula that’s safe to use on any automotive surface. It’s designed to produce the thickest of suds that safely lift dirt without stripping any existing waxes or sealant on the paintwork.

By using the latest car wash soap technology, the brand states that you can even use this formula in direct sunlight. This is excellent news for those without access to shaded areas as it helps to prevent streaks or water spots forming during the drying process.

Other features of the Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo include:

  • Concentrated formula produced thick suds
  • Pleasant berry scent that smells great
  • Doesn’t streak or leave spots
  • Available in 16 oz, 1 gallon or 5 gallon bottles
  • Safe on all surfaces included rubber, plastic, vinyl, glass and more
  • pH balanced formula
  • Can be used as soap for foam cannons
  • Made in the USA

Although this car wash soap is one of the most expensive per gallon, it’s a worthwhile investment. Unique features such as the ability to use it in full sunlight and much more make it one of the best options available on the market.

Adam’s are so confident of their formula that they provide a 110% satisfaction guarantee and state that it’s the best professional car shampoo on the market. They also offer various other soaps that produce extra suds and much more.

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5. Mothers California Gold Carnuba Wash & Wax

Mothers California Gold Carnuba Wash & Wax
The Mothers California Gold Carnuba Wash & Wax is another excellent option if you prefer to addition of a wax within the formula. It’s an affordable car wash and wax that comes in a 64 ounce bottle for maximum bang for your buck.

According to the brand, it’s able to effortlessly dissolve and remove stubborn dirt whilst boosting your existing waxed finish.

Other features of the Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash and Wax include:

  • Natural wax fortifiers
  • Biodegradable and pH balanced formula
  • Includes carnauba wax
  • Produces the “just waxed” finish
  • Doesn’t leave spots or streaks
  • Only available in a 64 ounce bottle
  • Tops up the existing waxed finish

The Mothers California Gold offers the best value for the money when compared to other car wash soaps. It’s also pH balanced and safe for all automotive surfaces that require cleaning to remove stubborn dirt or grime.

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6. Rain-X High Foaming Car Wash and Wax

Rain-X High Foaming Car Wash and Wax
The Rain-X is a highly rated foaming car wash soap that safely removes dirt, grime and road contaminants. After washing and drying the paintwork, it leaves a water repellent wax finish that’s safe for all automotive finishes.

Rain-X state that in order to produce a deep cleaning foam, all that is required is 1 ounce of the formula into an empty car wash bucket.

Other features of the Rain-X Wash and Wax include:

  • Carnauba wax protection
  • Produces a showroom shine
  • Safe to use on all vehicle surfaces
  • Available in a 20 or 64 oz bottle
  • Evaporates without any residue
  • Streak and spot-free finish

The Rain-X High Foaming car wash and wax formula is highly rated and a great alternative to the alternatives. The soap cuts through dirt but doesn’t strip wax that has previously been applied to the paint. The brand even state that it doesn’t require any towel drying due to the fact it evaporates without residue.

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7. Turtle Wax T-472R ICE Car Wash Soap

Turtle Wax T-472R ICE Car Wash Soap
The Turtle Wax T-472R ICE is a synthetic formula that gently lifts dirt and rinses clean for a streak-free finish. It’s a wash and wax soap, which includes the brands patented Smart Shield Technology that adds a layer of protection.

In order to provide a showroom “just waxed” finish as stated on the bottle, the brand have included gloss enhancing agents into the formula.

Other features of the Turtle Wax T-472R ICE include:

  • Wash and wax formula
  • 1 ounce per gallon
  • Synthetic blend
  • Spot and streak-free finish
  • Suitable for all automotive finishes
  • 48 oz bottle capacity
  • Natural pH soap

The Turtle Wax T-472R ICE is a highly rated car wash and wax that gently lifts dirt and provides a spot-free shine. It’s also an affordable option that’s developed by the reputable Turtle Wax brand for complete peace of mind.

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8. 303 Products 30577 Car Wash Soap

303 Products 30577 Car Wash Soap
The 303 Products 30577 is an affordable car wash soap with a high foaming and pH balanced formula. Unlike other cheap soaps, it’s a concentrated formula that goes a long way. The brand state that just 1 ounce is suitable for producing thick suds in a 5 gallon bucket.

According to the brand, it’s a highly lubricating soap that safely lifts and removes dirt from the paintwork to leave a streak-free shine once dried.

Other features of the 303 Products 30577 include:

  • Ultra concentrated
  • Doesn’t strip wax
  • Bubble gum scented
  • Made in the USA
  • Deep gloss finish
  • Clean and streak-free shine
  • 18 ounce bottle

Overall, it’s a cheap car wash soap that’s made in the USA and designed to provide great results after each wash. The 303 Products 30577 also provides a desirable bubble gum scent, which remains smelling on the car for days after washing it.

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Car Wash Soap Buying Guide

To keep your car looking great, you’ll need to wash it on a regular basis. The best way to really get all the grime and dirt off whilst maintaining your perfect paintwork is to do it yourself. However, if you’re going to wash your car on your own, you need to ensure that you have the best car wash soap that’s effective and safe for your car.

There are many different soaps on the market to choose from, which can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re washing your car for the first time. To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding car wash soaps.

Effective Cleaning

The main purpose of a good car wash soaps is to be able to effectively clean your vehicle. If your soap doesn’t get the dirt and grime off your car’s paintwork in just a few swipes, it’s going to be very frustrating to use.

However, when it comes to the wheels, we strongly recommend using a wheel cleaner to remove the tough dirt and brake dust. The main reason for this is because it will be far more effective and prevent tough dirt remaining on the car wash mitt and potentially transferring onto the paintwork when you return to washing.

car wash soap

Conditioner

Most car washes have ingredients in their formula that keeps your car looking clean and shiny for many days after washing it. We advise that you look at the breakdown of the soap formula to see what sort of conditioner is included in the product.

A good soap should leave your car shiny and brighten up the color even without wax included. Ideally, it should also leave a protective layer that prevents your car from getting dirty quickly again. 

Safe for Waxes

If you like to wax your car, you will need a soap that doesn’t contain any abrasive qualities that may take the wax off of your car as you are cleaning it. A quality car soap will work with a wax instead of taking off removing it.

A reliable indicator that a soap is safe to use with a wax is if it’s labeled as being pH neutral. Many car wash soaps actually contain wax in them as well, so you can get your car clean and shiny all in one go.

These types of soaps are the perfect option for car enthusiasts who don’t have much time to spend on maintenance. A wax not only makes the finish of your car look beautiful, but it also protects your paintwork and keeps you car clean for a longer period of time. 

soap and wax for car

Biodegradable

Since you will be washing your car outside, it’s important to look for a soap that’s biodegradable. This means that the ingredients in the soap naturally break down and absorb into the earth, instead of harming any plants or animals that are outside.

A biodegradable soap also won’t create any outdoor waste. If you are particularly concerned about the safety of your soap, look for a product that’s made using natural ingredients.

Works With Multiple Washing Methods

Everyone has their own preferred method for washing their car. Some people like to hand wash it using a bucket and soap, while others prefer to use a foam gun or a pressure washer for a more powerful, efficient wash.

You also may want to spot clean your car every so often to remove small areas of dirt and debris. Before purchasing any car soap, make sure it’s a formula that can work with your chosen car wash method for maximum efficiency.

Bottle Size

The size of the soap bottle is something else to consider when making your final buying decision. The larger the bottle, the more value you will get for the price.

You should also note the strength and concentration of the soap and consider how much you are going to need for one wash. A very concentrated wash also allows you to get the best value possible.

Smell

Most car wash solutions have a smell to make the car wash experience more pleasant. Smell is a very personal preference, so it’s helpful to note the smell of the car wash before making your purchase.

Some soaps even come in a few different fragrances to choose from. The smell of the car wash not only makes washing your car more fun, but some soaps also leave a lingering smell that you might notice when you’re around your car. Most car soaps feature a fruity or a clean, laundry-like scent.

Lubricity

Another factor to consider when shopping for car wash soaps is its lubricity as it indicates how slippery the car soap is. A slippery soap is much easier to use, because it spreads out easily and covers the surface of your car, which makes for more effective cleaning.

A slippery soap also helps the dirt and debris slide right off of the car, so you won’t have to spend any extra time scrubbing away at the car.

washing car with soap and wax

Avoid Streaks

You will always want your car to have a beautiful, streak-free finish with no extra marks. Ideally, the soap should be usable on all different types of surfaces so you can clean your entire car without leaving marks. The soap should also work well in all different types of weather. Some car wash soaps are much more likely to streak on a hot, sunny day than others.

Since washing your car on a warm day is going to be more pleasurable than doing it on a cold or rainy day, it’s important that your car wash is appropriate for use in all temperatures.

All of the recommendations in this article aim to provide streak-free results when using a high quality car drying towel to dry the car.

Conclusion

Washing your car at home gives you greater control over the way the finish of your car looks. Investing in a good car wash soap allows you to clean your car whenever you want and also very economically as you won’t have to pay the drive through premium.

It may be tempting to make your own car wash soap but we highly recommend avoiding the hassle of it all and buy one of the recommendations. Risking damage to the paintwork with a home recipe is simply not worth it. All of our recommendations above are suitable for every budget and include a wide range of formulas.

procarreviews author

Written By Dan

About the Author

Dan is an automotive journalist and owner of over 10 cars ranging from supercars, tuned cars, classics and your good old beater cars. He always like to get his hands dirty with nut and bolt restorations or detailing sessions using the best products on the market.

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