Washing your car requires a special kind of formula that can protect and work in harmony with the finish on your paintwork. Modern car wash soaps are specifically made to be powerful cleaners whilst simultaneously being gentle on your car and on the environment too.
The choice of the best car wash soap products has never been better. And happily, the costs have also never been as keen. So, let’s take a look at the top ten currently on sale, see what they have to offer, and find out which is the perfect one for your car…
- 1 Top 10 Best Car Wash Soaps On The Market In 2021 Review
- 1.1 1 Chemical Guys CWS_402 Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap and Shampoo (1 Gal) – Best Frequent Use Car Wash Soap
- 1.2 2 Adam’s Car Shampoo 16oz – pH Best Car Wash Soap – Best High Foam Car Wash Soap
- 1.3 3 Nu Finish Car Wash Soap – Best Citric Oil Car Wash Soap
- 1.4 4 Mothers 05674 California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax, 64 oz. – Best Concentrated Car Wash Soap
- 1.5 5 MEGUIAR’S G7164 Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner Hfsrq, 2Units – Best Luxurious Car Wash Soap
- 1.6 6 Rain-X 5077557 Carnauba Wax Protection, 64 Fluid_Ounces – Best Protective Car Wash Soap
- 1.7 7 Armor All Foam Action Car Wash – Most Gentle Car Wash Soap
- 1.8 8 Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash and Gloss Concentrated Car Wash, 1 Gal – Best Thick Foam Formula for Washing Cars
- 1.9 9 Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit 144 Ounces – Best Waterless Car Wash Soap
- 1.10 10 Nanoskin CHERRY SUDS Wash & Shine Shampoo [NA-CSS640], 5 Gallons – Best Bulk Car Wash Soap
- 2 Best Car Wash Soap Buying Guide
- 3 Speaking of great smelling cars…
- 4 So, what is the Best Car Wash Soap?
Top 10 Best Car Wash Soaps On The Market In 2021 Review
1 Chemical Guys CWS_402 Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap and Shampoo (1 Gal) – Best Frequent Use Car Wash Soap
Mr. Pink from the Chemical Guys comes in two varieties. You can choose either Candy or Pina Colada. They do look and smell like some kind of refreshing drink, so best to keep them securely locked away from young children.
Bigger is better…
Mr. Pink comes in a choice of three sizes. The smallest size is 16 oz, followed by 64 oz, and finally, the one-gallon plastic carton we’re reviewing. We’d recommend you go with the largest size, as it works out at substantially less expensive per wash.
Mr. Pink is a concentrated gentle shampoo that’s intended for weekly or more frequent washes. It has a PH neutral formula that won’t strip your car of any wax coatings or sealants. This makes it perfect to use between waxing and extensive detailing.
What’s in it?
The formula contains a mixture of polymers with hyper surfactants that combine to lubricate, lift and gently wash away dirt and potentially abrasive debris from the surface of your car. This prevents the possibility of producing micro-abrasions and swirls that ultimately lead to a dull finish.
As well as being gentle on your car’s bodywork, it’s also gentle on rubber seals, plastics, vinyl, and glass. The slick lubricants guide the product across all surfaces of your car without causing damage.
Versatile and practical…
It can be used in a bucket, a foam gun, or foam cannon. Whichever method you use, the good news is that rinsing is quick and easy. Plus, it doesn’t leave any unwanted water spots or residue.
- Gentle formula.
- Doesn’t strip off wax coatings or sealants.
- Safe to use on all car surfaces.
- No residue after rinsing.
- Cannot strip wax if required.
2 Adam’s Car Shampoo 16oz – pH Best Car Wash Soap – Best High Foam Car Wash Soap
This is one of the most expensive car wash soaps on our list. The 16oz bottle we’re reviewing doesn’t represent the best value for money, so this smaller size is possibly a perfect choice as a tester. The five-gallon option is where the cost savings are.
So, is it any good?
The short answer is, yes, it is.
It has a pleasant aroma and can be used in a bucket, a foam gun, or foam cannon. A single 5-gallon bucket with a couple of ounces of Adam’s Car Shampoo will be sufficient to clean a small to medium-sized car. Using a foam gun or foam cannon will use more product but will ensure a cleaner result.
The low PH formula is mild enough not to strip wax from your car’s bodywork. Similarly, it won’t damage any of your rubber trims or plastics. You can also use this on your wheels to clean off brake dust. However, Adam does make products specifically for wheels if you need a more powerful wheel cleaner.
Lots of foam…
The shampoo creates lots of foam and has a lubricating effect on surface dirt and grime. Using the shampoo feels effortless and, once washed off, leaves your car free of residue and smelling of summer berries. We’re sure you all agree, no bad thing at all!
Finally, Adam’s shampoo is also biodegradable. Hopefully, its environmental credentials will be enough for Greta Thunberg to crack a smile and have the polar bears dancing on their retreating icebergs.
- Thick foam.
- Highly lubricating.
- Gentle formula.
- Smells great.
- Struggles with thick brake dust.
3 Nu Finish Car Wash Soap – Best Citric Oil Car Wash Soap
This is another environmentally friendly car wash for all the tree huggers amongst you. It’s the only car shampoo on the market to use natural oils from oranges. Another plus is that it smells great too.
The costs on this one?
It comes in just one 64 oz size but happily is good value for money. Even if you have multiple cars, boats, motorcycles, and other vehicles to wash, Nu Finish Car Wash Soap isn’t hard on the wallet.
Despite having a mild formula that leaves any wax surface intact, the cool thing is that it’s still strong enough to remove bird droppings, tar, and bugs. It’s powerful but gentle at the same time. The orange-based car shampoo also makes it safe for any rubber, plastics, or glass. You can use this on every part of your vehicle with no issues.
Now, who wouldn’t want that from their car wash?
The formula produces fewer soap suds than a lot of competitors but does no less of a job because of it. It still works effectively at lubricating and shifting dirt. And it always makes cleaning your vehicle a quick and easy process.
The fact is that all you need to do is, wash, rinse, and dry. The result is a finish with no streaking and no water spots.
- Made from natural ingredients.
- Environmentally friendly.
- Gentle but powerful formula.
- Good value.
- It doesn’t produce much lather.
4 Mothers 05674 California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax, 64 oz. – Best Concentrated Car Wash Soap
This is another affordable car wash soap with environmental credentials. It has a biodegradable formula with no toxic chemicals or anything that can cause problems once it’s washed away.
That’s a good start for sure…
It comes in a competitively priced 64 oz bottle. You can get a pack of six, though frankly, there’s little in the way of savings. If available, go for the 5-gallon option for the best bang for your buck.
Another boost to its competitive pricing is that it has a highly concentrated formula. So, when you add it to your bucket, soap cannon, or gun, go easy. You’ll find you need less than a lot of other car wash soaps.
It advertises itself as being ultra-sudsy and powerful. However, although we agree that it’s a powerful car wash soap, we don’t think that it’s particularly sudsy. Compared to Adam’s Car Shampoo and Mr. Pink, there’s distinctly less lather. Just be aware, though, that the lack of a super-sudsy formula doesn’t mean you need to add more.
Does it do a good job, though?
Happily, despite its lack of suds, we can assure you that it does a great job of cutting through the dirt and grease without harming your paintwork or rubber trimmings and accessories. What’s more, the formula also boosts your existing wax to give your car that newly shiny waxed look.
This is one of the few shampoos for cars that doesn’t strip away the wax but adds a boost to the finish at the same time. It makes it great to use in between full wash and waxes.
- Biodegradable formula.
- Highly concentrated.
- Good value for money.
- Boosts your existing wax finish.
- It doesn’t produce a lot of suds.
5 MEGUIAR’S G7164 Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner Hfsrq, 2Units – Best Luxurious Car Wash Soap
With over 115 years in the business, Meguiar’s know a thing or two about car care. MEGUIAR’S G7164 Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo is just one in their range of extensive car care products. This is a single application wash and shine product.
Like all of their products, Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo doesn’t contain any detergents. This means that it won’t strip away any protective wax on your car. Consequently, you’re left with a high shine after washing.
It’s safe to use diluted in a bucket. Alternatively, it can be used in a foam gun or cannon. Used in a bucket will ensure the most economical application. However, for the best results, a foam cannon is recommended. A ratio of 5:1 should be used.
It’s a rich and luxurious product that produces plenty of suds. Once it comes into contact with dirt and grime, it lubricates and lifts them off the surface of your car. The formula then enhances the polish to leave your paintwork looking fresh and new.
The high suds and luxurious formula ensure that your car doesn’t get scratched, and you’re therefore not left with swirls or marks. Plus, once your car is rinsed, there are no streaks or water spots either.
Quality comes at a cost…
There is always a small premium to pay for MEGUIAR car care products. However, the quality and high gloss finish that can be achieved more than justifies the extra cost.
- High lather.
- Thick and luxurious feel.
- Enhances the existing polish on your car.
- Suitable for all painted and clear coated surfaces.
6 Rain-X 5077557 Carnauba Wax Protection, 64 Fluid_Ounces – Best Protective Car Wash Soap
This is a biodegradable and environmentally friendly product. It’s gentle on your car and the planet too. Since it’s also highly concentrated, you only need a single oz per bucket of water; it’s also budget-friendly.
Unfortunately, the 64 oz bottle is the largest you can buy. However, it still represents good value. If you want to first give it a try, you can get a small 20 oz bottle, which is the least expensive single bottle in our review.
Beads of wax…
Rain-X creates a deep foam that penetrates, dissolves, and lifts dirt off your car, safely, without damaging its surface. Additionally, the shampoo contains beads of wax in the form of a soft gel. These settle after rinsing and help to protect your car’s finish.
It’s a great two-in-one product as a quick wash and shine option when you don’t have the time to separately wax your car. Simply rinse, apply the soapy water, rinse off, and finally clean with a dry chamois. Honestly, that’s all there is to it.
Watch the windows…
The product won’t leave streaking or water spots on your paintwork. Never the less, the wax beads may leave a small amount of waxy residue on your windows. If this happens, don’t worry, a quick wipe with a dry cloth will soon take it off.
Finally, when you’re done, you can relax in the knowledge that the shampoo leaves a protective coating. It doesn’t have water-repellant qualities though Rain-X Spot Free Car Wash has it if required.
- Cleans and waxes in one application.
- Quick application.
- Environmentally friendly.
- Concentrated formula.
- Leaves a protective film on paintwork.
- It may leave streaking on the windows.
7 Armor All Foam Action Car Wash – Most Gentle Car Wash Soap
Armor All Foam Action Car Wash is great value for a multi-pack car wash. It comes from a company that’s well-established in the car care business. They make a range of quality car shampoos and waxes.
The importance of using gentle car soap…
Washing your car is very different from washing the dishes in your sink. Dishwashing detergents contain surfactants that are great for washing dishes but let’s not forget that they contain relatively harsh chemicals. Your car, when waxed, has a delicate surface that can easily be spoiled. Cleaning your car without damaging the coating and without using harsh detergents is, therefore, essential.
Armor car shampoo uses mild chemicals that don’t strip your car of its protective wax. This means that your vehicle will retain its deep shine. Even better, it means you can wash your car quickly, in one easy step, between waxing.
But if it’s so gentle, does it actually clean?
Although the shampoo will not strip your wax and is safe to use on all of your rubber and plastic trimmings, it still has a powerful enough formula to dissolve, lubricate and lift dirt and debris. Once the cleaning process is complete, all that’s left is to rinse and wipe down with a chamois cloth.
A complete wash can be accomplished with minimal effort in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. Plus, when you’re done, your car will be streak and water spot-free. Happily, this will also be the case on your car’s windows.
- Good value.
- Does not strip existing wax coatings.
- Powerful cleaning but gentle formula.
- Does not leave streaks or watermarks.
- Requires a lot of rinsing.
8 Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash and Gloss Concentrated Car Wash, 1 Gal – Best Thick Foam Formula for Washing Cars
The Chemical Guys are back again with a high suds environmentally friendly, biodegradable car wash. It comes in a gallon can, so it will last forever, plus it smells of citrus. This is definitely the best car wash soap if you want it to smell like a lemon!
It’s a highly concentrated formula, which is great for the pocket. Just a cap full in a bucket of water is enough to clean your car. If you are using a soap cannon, expect to use a ratio of around 5:1. This will be less if you use a soap gun.
The formula has no artificial additives, colorings, or product thickeners. However, despite this, it’s still a powerful and effective car wash that lifts and holds dirt before being rinsed off. This means no potentially damaging swirls and marks.
What else does it do well?
The thick sudsy car wash penetrates deeply in even those difficult to reach places. It will pull the most stubborn dirt off your car safely as well as quickly. What’s more, the citrus-based formula will not lift the existing wax coating off your car.
Happily, it’s also a formula that is safe to use on all rubber trimming and accessories. This biodegradable car wash contains nothing that can damage any part of your car.
Makes your car pop!
When your car is finally rinsed and dried, it will be left shining with no streaking or watermarks. Even better, the formula also has unique shine-enhancing properties to make the gloss finish on your car pop.
- Smells like citrus.
- Thick foam formula.
- Environmentally friendly and biodegradable.
- Streak and water spot-free.
- Concentrated formula.
- Cannot strip wax coating if needed.
9 Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit 144 Ounces – Best Waterless Car Wash Soap
This is a high-performance wash and wax formula that doesn’t require the use of water.
It plays heavily on its long-time association with the aero industry. This includes the fact that it meets a vast list of requirements for both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily a good thing either.
But is this a product that should be left on the shelves of an aircraft hanger rather than a garage?
Let’s find out…
Planes require a highly protective film that this product can offer. The wax coating it leaves does a great job of protecting cars too. In terms of the coating it leaves on your car, it’s first-class all the way.
Not only does it leave an excellent wax coating, but it also enhances the shine. Properly applied, there’s no doubt that this is a great product. Which kind of leads us to the most significant drawback, which is the application.
It’s not as simple as others…
However, if you want to take a more detailed look at the cleaning process, then watch their excellent online instructional video. It’s very detailed and thorough. However, the problem is that you need to follow these instructions very carefully.
If you don’t regularly change your clothes and follow the correct procedure, you risk catching dirt on them and then damaging your paintwork. If you don’t apply the product and wipe it off within a set period, it can cause streaking and will need to be reapplied. The process, in our opinion, requires too many steps that you can easily get wrong.
Possibly not the best solution?
For a quick refresh of a relatively clean car, it’s something we’d happily use. Under any other circumstances, we’d feel more comfortable with a trusty bucket filled with lots of soapy water.
- Creates a thick wax protective coating.
- Enhances the car’s shine.
- Does not require water.
- 100% money-back guarantee.
- Difficult to use on very dirty cars.
- Complicated application process.
10 Nanoskin CHERRY SUDS Wash & Shine Shampoo [NA-CSS640], 5 Gallons – Best Bulk Car Wash Soap
Nanoskin makes a wide range of cleaning products. They make general-purpose cleaners as well as just about every kind of product you can think of for cleaning your car.
How about their car shampoo?
CHERRY SUDS Wash & Shine Shampoo is a concentrated formula that can be used when hand washing or machine washing. When handwashing, you will need an ounce for every gallon, which translates to a ratio of 127:1. If you choose to machine wash, the ratio is just 10:1.
The car wash shampoo produces a rich, thick lather to penetrate and lift dirt from your car’s bodywork. After it’s applied and gently worked into the surface, it can be rinsed off. This should take away all the dirt and grime in just one application.
Safe to use on clear coats…
More good news is that the process doesn’t damage the paintwork and is also safe to use on clear coats. Plus, you can use it on all accessories and even wheels and tires. However, Nanoskin does make a tire specific product if you prefer a tire specific finish.
Though strong, the Nanoskin Shampoo will not strip off your existing wax. This means your car will maintain its protective layer, and it won’t lose its bright shine. Its gentle formula allows you to wash your car multiple times, and you’ll still maintain the wax coat.
Finally, it’s biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
- Concentrated formula.
- Neutral PH.
- Can be used on every car surface and accessories.
- Doesn’t strip the wax coat.
- Product does not have a dispenser or spout.
Best Car Wash Soap Buying Guide
A car wash soap with a high concentration will generally offer better value. A car wash soap that requires around one ounce of wash to one gallon of water, when washing by hand, is a good ratio. For soap canons, this ratio should be around 5:1.
Another advantage of having a more concentrated formula is that the bottles are easier to store.
A lot of car wash soaps don’t contain wax. This is because they don’t strip off the existing coat and so adding more is unnecessary. However, sometimes wax is added to increase the protective layer on your car.
A small amount of added wax can be positive, but there needs to be a level of moderation. This is because wax can cause streaking on your windows, and too much wax can even cause streaking on your paintwork.
Foaming and Lubrication
Foam in car wash soaps has an important purpose. It’s there to help lift, suspend, and lubricate dirt and grime. This is one reason why foam guns and cannons, which both produce more foam, do a better job of cleaning than when you use the water and bucket cleaning method.
The act of lifting, suspending, and lubricating dirt is also vital in preventing it from being worked into the surface of your car when you wipe it away. This can cause micro-scratches and dull the finish of your paintwork. This is why high levels of foam are a good thing.
Streaks and Water Spotting
We’re sure you all agree that there’s nothing worse than spending time washing your car, only for it to be left with streaks and water spots on the paintwork or glass. If this happens, it can be time-consuming and physically exerting to put it right.
Most modern formulas are made to prevent both of these imperfections. You should therefore seek out car wash soaps that advertise a streak and water spot free result.
Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit is the only non-water cleaner on our list. If used correctly, it can do every bit as good a job as the traditional car wash soaps. However, on very dirty cars, a lot of care has to be taken to ensure dirt is adequately captured and taken away from the surface without damaging the paintwork.
For this reason, we’d recommend using a non-water cleaner for cleaning less dirty cars.
These days it’s more critical than ever to keep pollution to a minimum and do our bit to have as little environmental impact as we can. Happily, most of the products are biodegradable and eco-friendly. The manufacturers are not shy in pointing out their green credentials, so it’s not hard to find something appropriate if you are a bit of an eco-warrior.
It may seem unimportant to include the scent of a car wash soap in the Buying Guide. However, there’s something about washing your car in a nice smelling shampoo that can turn the task into something a little more pleasant. When you’re finished, it won’t linger on your car for long, but it might bring a smile to your face at some point.
And that’s got to make it worth it, right?
Speaking of great smelling cars…
There are loads of brilliant car care products to keep your car smelling fresh. So, check out our reviews of the Best Car Air Fresheners, the Best Car Upholstery Cleaners, and the Best Dog Car Seat Covers!
You may also be interested in the Best Dashboard Cleaners for Cars, the Best Car Waxes, the Best Auto Glass Cleaners, and the Best Wheel and Tire Cleaners? We’ve even got motorcyclists covered! Just head to the Best Motorcycle Cleaners you can buy in 2021!
Back to the best soaps for car washing…
So, what is the Best Car Wash Soap?
So, there you have it. We think there are some excellent products on the list. There’s no doubt that they all do a great job and, even better, they don’t cost much in the process. We would be happy to use any one of these ten products on our cars.
But if we had to choose just one to add to our shopping cart, we think the best car soap of the bunch is the…
It’s our top pick because it’s a quality concentrated car wash shampoo that produces a super thick foam, has a streak and spot free formula, is eco-friendly, and smells like lemons.
Happy car washing!