Best Car Wash Soap to Wash Car (Rated 2020)

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What is the best car wash soap in 2020? Washing your car regularly is an important part of car ownership. Not only does washing your car make it look nice, but it helps to maintain the quality of the paint, tires, lights, and glass. Washing your car yourself is a great way to bond with your car and make sure that it is getting the safe and clean wash that it deserves. But what supplies do you need? What soap should you use?

Use our guide below to help you choose the best car wash soap for you. Certain types of car wash soap include wax, which helps to maintain the wax or sealant on your car between applications. Others have formulas that leave your vehicle extra glossy after application. There are even some soaps made specifically for black or dark colored vehicles. No matter what, the soap that you decide to choose depends on what you need out of your soap. Think about what you’d like your car to look like when you’re done, and read below to choose the best soap for you.

Looking for other cleaning and detailing? Check out our guide on what is the best automotive paint gun on the market

Product

Pros

OUR #1 RATED

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Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash and Gloss Concentrated Car Wash

  • Super concentrated formula
  • Biodegradable and Eco-friendly
  • Affordable
  • Wash and gloss combo

OUR #2 RATED

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Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo

  • Safe for all surfaces
  • High-foaming
  • pH neutral

OUR #3 RATED

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Mothers 05674 California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax

  • Wash and wax combination
  • Boosts pre-existing wax
  • Biodegradable and pH neutral

OUR #4 RATED

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Optimum (NRWW2012G) No Rinse Wash & Wax

  • No rinse formula
  • Wash and wax combination
  • Can be used on a multitude of vehicles and surfaces
  • Great for weekly maintenance

OUR #5 RATED

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Rain-X 5077557 Carnauba Wax Protection

  • Carnauba wax
  • Deep-cleaning
  • Forms protective layer over paint

Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash and Gloss Concentrated Car Wash

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The first on our list is the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss Concentrated Car Wash. This soap has a citrus base, so it has some natural cleaning properties and smells fresh and clean instead of chemical. This Chemical Guys product is a wash and gloss combo, so it leaves your car both clean and shiny when you are done. Not only does this soap produce great results, but it is also environmentally friendly. It has a biodegradable formula that is still just as strong as cleansers and glosses with harsh chemicals.

This car wash soap comes in 16 ounces, half gallon, or full gallon sizes. It is extremely concentrated, so you only need to use one cap-full of soap per 5-gallons of water. It can be used in a bucket or in a foam cannon or pressure washer. This means that no matter what size soap you purchase, it will last for a long time, giving you your money’s worth.

PROS

  • Super concentrated formula
  • Biodegradable and Eco-friendly
  • Affordable
  • Wash and gloss combo

CONS

  • Users mention that suds can leave yellow residue behind

Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo

Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo is the perfect shampoo for weekly maintenance on your car. Their unique formula is safe for the wax and sealant on your car. It foams and lubricates the surfaces of your car so that the dirt is suspended and lifted away, leaving your car perfectly clean. Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo is strong enough to clear all dirt from your vehicle, but safe for all surfaces of your car. It won’t damage or dry-out any trim or plastic used on your vehicle. It is even safe to use on tires, and will remove heavy grime or grease.

Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo is a pH neutral formula won’t harm waxes or sealants already on the car. It also has a wild berry scent, and can be used in either a bucket or foam cannon. These methods all allow for a thick layer of foam to coat and clean your car. Once rinsed clean, it will leave no spots or grease behind.

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PROS

  • Safe for all surfaces
  • High-foaming
  • pH neutral

CONS

  • Users complain that grease and water spots show up if air drying
  • Intense foaming only achieved using foam cannon

Mothers 05674 California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax

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The next soap on our list is Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash and Wax. Mothers boasts a powerful formula equipped with carnauba wax. Carnauba wax is made from the Brazilian fan palm, which exudes a yellowish wax. It is known to be a great polisher, and leaves your car shiny and resistant to water and snow. Mothers California Carnauba Wash and Wax is ultra-sudsy, so that all the dirt on your vehicle, no matter how caked on, is captured and washed away.

This formula is biodegradable and pH neutral, so it has minimal environmental impact when you use it. Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash and Wax comes in a single 64 ounce container with an option to purchase a 6-pack of these 64 ounce containers for a more economic price. This wash and wax is meant to be used in-between waxes to maintain and boost the existing wax on your car.

PROS

  • Wash and wax combination
  • Boosts pre-existing wax
  • Biodegradable and pH neutral

CONS

  • Many users complain of water spots once dried

Optimum (NRWW2012G) No Rinse Wash & Wax

Optimum No Rinse Wash & Wax is a car wash soap that removes dirt and grime and leaves behind a shiny finish. This soap also has wax included, so in addition to removing dirt, the lubricating polymers bond with your paint to seal and protect, giving your vehicle a brilliant finish. This car wash soap is safe for any type of vehicle: cars, trucks, SUVs, RVs, motorcycles, fiberglass or wood boats, or even airplanes.

Users rave about this soap because of its no rinse formula. While many other car wash soaps boast the ability to achieve super suds, the Optimum No Rinse Wash & Wax has no sudsing properties whatsoever. It rubs on to your car smoothly, and rubs off, taking the dirt with it. This is the perfect car wash soap for those without easy access to water. Also, it comes in a gallon jug and requires only a small amount for each wash, so it is cost effective and lasts for a long time.

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PROS

  • No rinse formula
  • Wash and wax combination
  • Can be used on a multitude of vehicles and surfaces
  • Great for weekly maintenance

CONS

  • Does not work well with extremely dirty cars

Rain-X 5077557 Carnauba Wax Protection

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Rain-X Carnauba Wax Protection is another car wash soap that includes carnauba wax. The wax protection that this car wash provides resists snow, rain, sleet, and dirt so that you don’t have to wash your car as frequently. While this is the case, it still does not replace a regular coat of wax. This Rain-X formula has a deep-cleaning foam that fully encapsulates every particle of dirt on your vehicle. Although it includes wax, it washes off easily, leaving your car shiny and like-new.

Customers like Rain-X Carnauba Wax Protection because of the protective layer it forms on their car. Liquid beads off after using this product, no matter how long it has been since a regular wax. It is the perfect product to perform weekly maintenance on your car, and will leave you impressed with the results. Rain-X Carnauba Wax Protection is available in a 64oz container.

PROS

  • Carnauba wax
  • Deep-cleaning
  • Forms protective layer over paint

CONS

  • Lather fades quickly
  • Leaves waxy film on windows

3D Waterless Car Wash

3D Waterless Car Wash is perfect for those of us in large cities or apartments without easy access to a hose, or personal space to wash your car. It requires absolutely no water, so you also do not need sponges or buckets either. To clean your car, simply spray the 3D Waterless Car Wash onto your car one section at a time. With a clean microfiber cloth, wipe away the spray, revealing a clean and shiny surface. This car wash is safe for all parts of your vehicle: metal, plastic, paint, and chrome.

The 3D brand proudly advertises that they use green, organic or natural ingredients in their products whenever possible. This specific product is both biodegradable and environmentally friendly, so you don’t have to worry about causing harm to your immediate environment. 3D Waterless Car Wash is sold in both 16 ounces and one gallon sizes to fit whatever your needs may be.

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PROS

  • No water required
  • Biodegradable and environmentally friendly
  • Quick, easy, no-mess cleaning process

CONS

  • Does not work well for super dirty cars

Slick Products Wash & Wax Super Concentrated Car Wash Foam Shampoo

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The Slick Products Wash and Wax Super Concentrated Car Wash Foam Shampoo is specially formulated to clean and protect all surfaces of your vehicle. It is safe for all paint, plastic and metal surfaces. Use it on your car, truck, RV, motorhome, or even your boat. This product is a wash and wax combination, so not only will it leave your car clean and free of dirt, but it will have a shiny finish as well. This Slick Products Wash and Wax is super concentrated, so you only need to dilute a small amount in water each time you use it.

Since this car wash is made to be ultra-sudsy, it is perfect for use in a foam cannon or foam gun. The large amounts of foam completely encapsulate all particles of dirt and grime so that they wash off easily with water. When the foam washes away, it leaves behind a layer or wax that gives your vehicle an impressive high-gloss luster.

PROS

  • Wash and wax combo
  • Safe for many types of materials
  • Concentrated formula
  • Can be used in foam gun or foam cannon

CONS

  • Leaves behind waxy film on all surfaces, not just paint

SHINE ARMOR Ultra-Concentrated Car Wash Soap

This SHINE ARMOR Ultra-Concentrated Car Wash Soap claims to make 256 gallons of soap with only one gallon of product. Due to its ultra-concentrated design, only ½ of an ounce needs to be used per gallon of water. This makes the SHINE ARMOR Car Wash Soap last for many car washes. Their formula is safe for existing ceramics and waxes on your car, so it will not affect any coating that has already been applied. This car wash soap can be used with a traditional bucket, foam sprayer, or even a pressure washer for the ultimate clean.

In addition to being ultra-concentrated, this SHINE ARMOR formula includes super gloss enhancers as well. These super gloss enhancers leave the surface of your car glistening once cleaned and dry. Made with biodegradable surfactants, this soap becomes extra foamy, allowing for a deep cleaning and lubrication when washing.

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PROS

  • Super gloss enhancers
  • Extra foaming formula
  • Ultra-concentrated

CONS

  • Users complain that the formula is thin and not as effective as competitors

Chemical Guys CWS61964 Black Light Hybrid Radiant Car Finish

The second car wash soap on this list from Chemical Guys is the Black Light Hybrid Radiant Car Finish. This formula is made specifically to enhance the shine and color of black or dark-colored vehicles. It is pH balanced, so it does not strip any finishes, waxes, or sealants off your car during use. The Black Light Hybrid Radiant Car Finish produces large amounts of foam that clings to dirt to allow it to release from your vehicle easily. Once washed off, this car wash leaves a brilliant shine on dark vehicles while leaving no streaks behind, even when washing in direct sunlight.

The Chemical Guys Black Light Hybrid Radiant Car Finish comes in multiple different sizes to meet your specific cleaning needs. It can be used on any black or dark vehicle, and is safe for many materials like textured plastics, paint, vinyl, rubber, glass, fabric convertible tops, and more. Another useful feature of this car wash soap is that is provides a scratch-free wash. Many owners of dark colored vehicles notice a multitude of tiny scratches on their paint after only a short amount of time. These scratches can be due to poor-quality washing soaps and bad washing habits or supplies.

PROS

  • pH balanced
  • Different sizes offered
  • Safe for many materials and vehicles
  • No streaks

CONS

  • Extreme suds only happen while using a foam cannon
  • Only for black and dark colored vehicles

NuFinish Car Wash Soap

NuFinish Car Wash Soap is the only car wash soap on our list made with pure orange oil. In addition to making this soap smell great, orange oil is a powerful natural cleaner. The natural orange oil also helps this car wash soap dry without leaving streaks behind. NO harmful ingredients are used in this NuFinish Car Wash Soap, so it is safe for the environment and does not have damaging run-off. While it is made with natural ingredients, it is still strong enough to remove dried on dirt, bugs, or sticky sap.

In addition to stellar customer reviews, this NuFinish Car Wash Soap is one of the top three car wash soaps ranked by Consumer Reports. It is rated this high because of its durability and ability to protect the surface of your car for a long period of time. It also leaves a high-gloss shine, sure to turn heads.

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PROS

  • Made with orange oil
  • Safe for the environment
  • High durability rating by consumer reports

CONS

  • Only comes in 64 oz bottle
  • Not as shiny of a finish as described

Buyer’s Guide

When it comes time to make your decision about car wash soap, there are a few things you should keep in mind. When buying, consider concentration, price, eco-friendliness, and foaming properties.

Concentration:

Some car wash soaps come in concentrated formulas while others come in a normal concentration. When formulas claim to be “ultra-concentrated” it means that only a small amount of the soap, smaller than normal, is required to produce the amount of suds and soapy water needed to clean your car properly. Super concentrated formulas tend to last longer than formulas with regular concentrations.

Streak Resistance:

When you wash your car, you want the end result to be shiny and streak-free. Look for a car wash soap that claims to have a streak free finish so that you have the end result you are looking for.

Wax:

Many car wash formulas now contain wax in addition to cleaning ingredients. This wax is not as strong as true car wax, but it helps to maintain the wax coating on the paint of your car between applications. If waxing your car is something you do regularly, you should consider choosing a car wash soap and wax combo product.

Price:

Price is always a factor in choosing any new product. With car wash soap, it is important to compare the price to the amount that you are getting. Many car wash soaps come in multiple different sizes. Typically, the larger size will be the most cost-effective.

Eco-friendliness:

With car wash soap, you typically deal with a great deal of run-off. This run-off has the potential to pollute and harm the environment. It is important to choose a car wash formula that has environmentally friendly ingredients that will not harm the environment after use.

Scent:

Many car wash soaps tend to have harsh chemical smells that end up giving you a headache after prolonged use. If this sounds familiar to you, then you may want to opt for a car wash soap formula that has a more pleasing scent. Some have more artificial smells while others have natural scents that aid in cleaning. Either way, a more pleasing scent is helpful if the chemical smell of some soaps bothers you.

Tools needed to wash your car:

If you plan to wash your car the traditional way, commonly referred to as the “two-bucket method,” then there are certain tools you will need to do so. First, you will need two large buckets. The first bucket will contain a mixture of your chosen car wash soap and water, while the second bucket will contain clean water.

The second tool you will need, and one of the most important, is a large sponge. It is important to choose a sponge with a large capacity to hold water and suds. This quality means that you will not have to bend down to dip your sponge in the bucket as many times. You will also want to choose a sponge that is made of a material that will provide a scratch-free finish. A natural sponge or a microfiber sponge provide the best, non-scratch finish for your car. The last important quality in a car wash sponge is its ability to remove dirt and debris. The sponge you choose needs to be soft enough to not leave marks on your car, but sturdy enough to remove caked-on dirt, sap, and grime.

Another important tool needed to wash your car is a hose. A hose is necessary to fill both buckets with water and to rinse your car off when you are done. If you do not have access to a hose, you may want to consider using a no-wash car wash soap. With a no-wash car wash soap, no water is required for cleaning. The soap is simply sprayed directly onto the surface of your car and wiped off with a clean microfiber towel. This type of soap is ideal for someone who does not have access to a hose. 

Once your car is cleaned and all soap has been washed away, towels are needed to dry your car. Most people use old towels that they no longer use to dry their car, however there are new, microfiber towels that you can use that are made specifically for washing cars.

Other Car Washing Supplies to Consider:

If you plan on washing your car the traditional way, the above supplies will suffice. If you want to go a little bit more in-depth with your car wash, there are some more tools or supplies to consider. While watching scenes on TV where cars are being washed, you may have noticed thick, snow-like suds covering the entire car. That kind of wash is not achieved with a bucket and hose. It is achieved with a foam cannon.

A foam cannon is a piece of equipment that mixes the perfect amount of soap, water, and air to create large, foamy, suds. This foam is then shot out of the cannon with pressure-washer power to coat your car in a nice, thick, even coat of soap. You may think, “Why does it matter to have large, foamy, suds while washing my car? Isn’t it the same soap no matter how foamy it gets?” The answer to this question is yes, it matters! When soap foams, all of the soap particles are able to fully cover the surface of your car. The more foam there is coating your car, the better. When the foam covers your car, it encapsulates dirt and grime particles that are attached to your car. The foam holds on to the dirt until it is washed away, removing the dirt particles from your car. Using a foam cannon to wash your car may seem a little excessive, but it makes a big difference in overall cleanliness of your car and the ease of washing.

Sometimes the hubcaps and wheel area of your car are the dirtiest parts. These areas can get caked with thick mud and grime that is difficult to remove, especially because of all the crevices. Another tool that you may consider purchasing in order to clean your car properly is a wheel brush. A wheel brush has stiff bristles that are perfect for scrubbing stuck-on grime from the metal areas around your wheels. Wheel brushes are great for cleaning the small, hard-to-clean crevices where dirt and grime love to live.

Conclusion:

When all is said and done, a clean car makes a happy owner. Taking care of your car may seem tedious at first, but with the right tools and the right soap, it can easily become one of the most enjoyable parts of your week. Washing your car by hand shows pride and ownership over your vehicle. It shows the dedication required to take care of one of the biggest investments in your life. The average American spends about 18 days out of their year driving in their car. Many of us spend so much time with our cars that we name them and form close bonds with them. 18 days a year is a lot of time to spend with something to not take care of it properly. Respect your car, respect your investment, and use some of the best car wash soap and car wash tools to keep your car like new.

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