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Best Car Wash Soap 2018

Clean Away Dirt and Grime with the Top 10 Car Wash Soaps

Published September 14, 2018

If you are like most car owners, you have considered the benefits of taking your car to the car wash over washing it yourself.  A car wash has access to professional grade cleaning agents that are designed to dissolve and remove even the most stubborn road grime, but they can also remove most of the cash from your wallet.

Washing your car yourself is more cost-effective, but without car wash soap, the level of clean you can achieve will be far from professional.

spotless clean porsche

Homemade Car Wash with Dish Soap

Car owners have been concocting homemade cleaning agents for years. Some are at least mildly effective at removing automotive dirt and dust, but few have the cleaning power of car wash soap explicitly designed to dissolve road grime and dirt deposits.

However, if you are as thrifty as you are determined to save a buck, it is entirely possible to assemble a homemade car wash soap with dish soap and a few other products that are probably already sitting under your sink.

How to Make Homemade Car Wash Soap

Before you get started with your automotive alchemy, you need to gather your materials. To make homemade car wash soap, you need:

  • liquid dish detergent
  • bucket of warm water
  • 12 tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent to prevent streaking

Mix all of these components in the bucket and give it a good stir. The resulting mixture of dish soap, water, and powdered laundry detergent will work well on most cars.

Can You Use Dish Soap to Wash a Car?

Yes, but you shouldn’t. Dish soap contains bleaches and ammonia which can break down the waxes and sealants used to protect your car’s finish. Repeated use can break down the protective layers of your finish and expose the water-based paint job to the elements, including damaging ultraviolet rays.

While home-remedies can work in a pinch, you should always turn to the most trusted and best car wash soap on the market that is specially designed to clean your car the way it’s meant to be cleaned. 

How-to Guide to Pressure Washing Your Car

Can you use car wash soap in a pressure washer? Yes, you certainly can.

pressure washer car wash

For the bigger automotive car wash jobs, a pressure washer may be the only way to remove those stubborn grime deposits. But water alone, even water at high pressure, isn’t enough to remove the worst automotive stains.

Though you can get away with using car wash soap in a pressure washer, car wash soap designed explicitly for use in a pressure washer runs zero risks of damaging the pressure washer. Pressure washer car wash soap is available at most automotive supply stores.

Before you head out in search of a pressure washer, you should determine 1) whether a pressure washer is needed, and 2) if using a pressure washer on your car will damage the finish.

It’s a common belief that a pressure washer will damage the finish of your car. It is indeed possible to damage your finish if you allow the nozzle to come in contact with the paint or hover on one area for an extended period. By avoiding these simple mistakes, a pressure washer can be a highly useful tool to wash your car at home.

Select Your Pressure Washer- Not all pressure washers are created equal; some are designed for industrial work while others are intended for household use. Unless you are cleaning a Sherman Tank, a household pressure washer will work splendidly on your car.

Select Your Pressure Washer Car Wash Soap- The same rule applies to your pressure washer car wash soap. Purchasing a car wash soap designed for use in a pressure washer is the best option; however, a regular car wash soap will suffice.

Attach Garden Hose to Pressure Washer- This is the easiest step but also very important. You’ll know if you get it wrong when no water comes out of your pressure washer.

Fill the Detergent Tank With Your Car Wash Soap- This step may seem simple too, but if you pour the car was soap detergent in the gas tank your pressure washer isn’t going to work. Be sure to read the instructions and pour the car wash pressure washer detergent in the correct tank.  

Ensure You are Using a Nozzle Designed For Automotive Use- This step cannot be stressed enough. Even when using the lowest setting a pressure washer can damage your finish if you are not using a nozzle designed for automotive use.

Hold Wand 3 Feet Away From Car Surface- Once you have started your pressure washer and the pressure has built to a sustainable level, it’s time to get started. Aim the pressure washer wand at the surface of the car and carefully pull the trigger, being sure the always keep the end of the nozzle at least 3 feet from your car’s finish.

Use the wand to remove bugs, dirt, dust, and grime- Some pressure washers come with a brush attachment. Your tires are the perfect place for that tool. Your wheels are the only part of the car where you can get close to the surface without damaging the vehicle. For the more stubborn wheel grime and dirt, a tire cleaner – post pressure washing – may the solution.

Move from the Bottom Up- The pressure washer will be more effective than moving from top to bottom as the debris will not be allowed a chance to streak over the already clean finish.

Avoid Decals, Delicate Areas and Stickers-  When pressure washing your vehicle be sure to avoid areas with decals and stickers. That is – unless you would like them removed. We advise that you proceed with extra caution when washing antique and collectors vehicles.

Leave the Car Wash Soap on for 5 Minutes- Let the soap sink into your car’s finish, occasionally spraying your car with water to keep it from drying. We recommend washing your car in the shade of a tree or awning to prevent the sun from drying your car rapidly and evaporating all of the water, leaving soap residue behind.

Rinse-Off Car Wash Soap- Remove the car wash soap by using the hose to rinse down your car, being sure to remove all traces of the car wash soap.

10 Best Car Wash Soaps

Now that you know how to properly clean your car, with or without a pressure washer, it’s time to determine which car wash soaps are the top car wash soaps you can purchase.

To be considered one of our 10 best car wash soap products, the car soap needs to work effectively on all car surfaces, fight grease and grime, dissolve dirt deposits, and be affordable on any budget.

10. Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash

Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash is a foaming car wash soap designed with high viscosity to dig deep into your car’s finish and remove even the most stubborn dirt, grime, and automotive contaminants.

Griots Brilliant Car Wash

Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash touch-activated foam creates a thick coating of suds that prevents swirl marks and lubricates the car’s finish for a more comfortable wash. It also ensures that you don’t scratch the car’s surface while trying to wash it.

Griot’s cut out all of the stops with their car wash soap. Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash is concentrated and 100% biodegradable, which means it’s not only powerful but entirely safe for the environment.

Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash is designed to enhance the brilliance of your car’s finish. It’s powerful enough to destroy dirt and grime deposits yet gentle enough to use on clear coats and not leave swirl marks.

What’s more, you only need one-ounce of Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash per every gallon of water in your wash bucket. With a concentrated formula like that, you can be sure your investment in this product will last through plenty of wash cycles.

9. Adam’s Polishes Car Shampoo

If you are the type of car owner that likes to pamper their car, then Adam’s Polishes Car Shampoo is the top car wash soap for you.

Adam's Polishes Car Wash Shampoo

Adams Polishes Car Wash Shampoo creates vast amounts of luxurious suds with far less product than the competition, but those luxurious suds are secret to the success of Adam’s Polishes Car shampoo.

The large amount of lather produced by Adam’s Polishes Car Shampoo digs into the small cracks and deposits in your car’s finish to remove worn in dirt and grime. Only a few ounces is needed to create the powerful lather and tackle even the stickiest of road grime.

The thick foaming action of Adam’s Polishes Car Wash Shampoo is also designed to last longer than other car wash soaps, enabling you to wash more with less.

Adding to the special foaming power of Adam’s Car Shampoo is a specially-designed lubricant developed from a combination of powerful cleaning solutions and polymers to create a lubricated, easy wash that lifts dirt from the surface of the paint. As a bonus, it even smells like candy!

8. Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss

Is there anything better than a squeaky clean car? Yes, a squeaky clean car that smells like citrus. Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss is engineered to enhance your car’s gloss like the professionals without the professional cost.

Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss

The highly-concentrated, citrus-based formula in Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss is specially designed to be the best surface-prepping car wash soap you ever buy. The citrus works to lift stuck-in containments from your car’s finish and break down grime and dirt deposits without leaving unsightly streaks.

The citrus-based formula is also 100% biodegradable and naturally derived from antibacterial citrus extracts. Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss contains no chemical additives and is safe to use on any car.

Like all of the best car wash soaps you only need a small application of Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss to cover your entire vehicle in a powerful cleaning solution that will also leave the surface of your car smelling like citrus and your finish looking glossier than ever before.

7. Mothers California Gold Car Wash Soap

It seems as though Mothers knows best when it comes to high-quality car wash soap. Mothers claims the standard with the California Gold Car Wash Soap and has been the car wash soap of choice for professional car details for years – and they can’t stop raving about it.

Mothers California Gold Car Wash Soap

Mothers California Gold Car Wash Soap is engineered to deliver the most powerful cleaning agents and provide the highest quality clean possible. Mothers California Gold Car Wash Soap is no chump car wash soap. One application dispenses more than a bucket full of suds that quickly destroy road grime and remove dirt deposits from deep within your car’s finish. Even hard-stuck bugs are no match for this powerful cleaner.

Unlike many of the more concentrated cleaners on the market, Mother California Gold Car Wash Soap delivers concentrated cleaning power without attacking your car’s sensitive glossy finish.

What’s more, Mothers California Gold Car Wash Soap won’t pit your car’s clear coat if left on the car’s surface for too long. If you are looking for a showroom shine without the showroom cost of professional-grade car wash soaps, then Mothers California Gold Car Wash Soap is the car soap for you and your car.

6. Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash    

One of the most annoying aspects about cleaning your car is spending your valuable time expertly washing your vehicle with expensive car wash soap only to rinse it away and leave watermarks all over an otherwise spotless finish.

Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash

Designed to produce large amounts of luxurious suds Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash enhances gloss and nourishes paint to create a silky, shiny surface that is the envy of car detailers everywhere.

Infused with rich conditioners, Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash effortlessly glides over your car’s finish while soaking into the paint to lift stubborn grime and restore your finish to its showroom state.

Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash comes in a giant 64 oz. bottle, four times larger than the next leading brand. The amazing part is that you get all 64 oz. for the same price as the competitors.

You don’t have to worry about accidentally scratching your car with Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash. The rich lubricants and exorbitant amount of soapy foam prevent any resistance that could damage your finish.

5. Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine

When looking for the Optimum clean for your vehicle, there is no substitute for Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine. For the environmentally conscious car owner, Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine is the optimal choice.

Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine

Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine is designed to use less water than any of its competitors, which makes it the ideal car wash soap for car owners under water restrictions such as those who live in the American Southwest.

We love Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine because it is one of the few car wash soaps that lives up to its “multipurpose” claim.

Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine includes a clay lubricant which not only lifts dirt and grime from the car surface but acts as a car detailer and rinseless wash that combines the best features of a car wash soap and clay detailing bar.

The best feature of Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine is that it requires zero rinsing, which is not only good for the environment but friendly to your water bill. While ONR works excellent as a stand-in, it excels in maintaining a slightly-dirty vehicle’s appearance. You can wash a whole car with just a spray bottle and a few microfibers given the right circumstances!

4. Turtle Wax ICE Car Wash

When car owners think clean, they think turtle wax. That’s because Turtle Wax has a reputation for excellence and leaving nothing but a spotless shine in its wake.

Turtle Wax ICE Car Wash

Turtle Wax ICE Car Wash works exactly as advertised and combines value with a streak-free shine that is worthy of auto show prizes. Turtle Wax ICE Car Wash is formulated with special lubricants to prevent scratches from forming during the wash.

Denying this simple cleaner’s effectiveness is hard. It dissolves stubborn dirt deposits and eats away at sticky automotive tar and grime.

Turtle Wax ICE Car Wash is designed to sud-up and dig deep into your car’s finish and lift stubborn dirt and grime. We like Turtle Wax ICE Car Wash because it provides a spectacular clean with none of the false advertising or lofty claims. It simply works, and it works well.

3. Griot’s Garage Speed Shine

If a brand makes our list twice, then the results they produce are bound to be good. Griot’s Garage Speed Shine is the car wash soap for the perfectionist car owner.

Griot's Garage Speed Shine

The only thing you need with Griot’s Garage Speed Shine is a microfiber cloth. Griot’s Garage Speed Shine is delicate enough to remove dust and fingerprints yet powerful enough to remove dirt and grime with a little application of elbow grease.

Though we wouldn’t recommend it for a heavy duty work-truck car wash, it is perfect for the car enthusiast looking to remove a troublesome handprint without having to undergo an entire car wash.

We love the quick-acting speed shine for its convenience. It works well on small blemishes and quick stains and is easy to apply in mere seconds. With Griot’s Garage Speed Shine, you never have to worry about a tedious car wash creating more work than a fingerprint on your finish is worth. Apply Griot’s Garage Speed Shine and wipe it away. It’s that simple.

2. Zymol Natural Concentrate Auto Bath Soap

Zymol Natural Concentrate Auto Bath Soap is one of our favorite all-natural car washes because it accomplishes what competing car wash soaps can without a drop of environmentally harmful chemical cleaning agents.

Zymol Natural Concentrate Auto Bath Soap

Zymol Natural Concentrate Auto Bath Soap is made from 100% natural coconut bark and natural oils which provide a deep scrubbing clean with none of the environmental repercussions.

1. Mothers Carnauba Wash & Wax

Mothers is the second car wash soap brand to make our list twice, yet it has proven to be second to none of the competition.

Mothers Carnauba Wash & Wax

Combining the best features of a quality car wash soap and a car wax, Mothers Carnauba Wash & Wax is the professional detailing car wash soap that comes at an affordable price.

Mothers Carnauba Wash & Wax scrubs and cleanses all contaminants from your car’s finish in one easy step. Carnauba wax works as a cleansing shampoo that bonds to the dirt buried deep in the paint so it can simply be wiped away.

The ultra-powerful foaming suds are biodegradable and pH-balanced which means Mothers Carnauba Wash & Wax is as effective at removing automotive dirt and grime as it is environmentally friendly.

Final Thougts

When it comes to choosing the best car wash soap for your vehicle, the choice comes usually comes down to environmentally friendly or concentrated and effective. The 10 car wash soaps presented here blow that notion out of the water by combining the best of both worlds.

By purchasing one of the 10 best car wash soap products featured on our list, you are choosing the responsible option as well as the most effective one. Especially for car owners who live in the southwest and particularly dry areas where water conservation is a community concern.

Whether you choose to pressure wash, wax, and shine, brew your own cleaning agent or purchase one of the 10 best car wash soaps featured here, what’s most important is that you get out there and clean your car!

Dirt and road grime can erode your finish and fade your paint faster than sunlight kills leather upholstery, so get after it and when it comes time to sell or trade your car remember that regular washes increase the value of your car!

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Jacob Doyle
About Jacob Doyle

I am a Chicago-born writer with a thirst for everything automotive. I live by a simple rule; travel far, work hard and never stop writing. If I am not writing away, you can find me wrenching on my 1989 Ram Charger or wrecking something with wheels.

At Autowise, we envision ourselves as not just a automobile blog or an automobile news website, instead we see our website as a platform to connect all automobile enthusiast and provide them with all the information they need.

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