Sudding the Sedan: Best Car Wash Soaps

Sudding the Sedan: Best Car Wash Soaps

You don’t need to be a car enthusiast to wash your vehicle regularly. By washing it regularly, you’ll preserve the condition of the paint job, which will preserve the value of the car if you ever plan on reselling it. A washed car will also look a lot newer.

The longer that you allow the dirt, dust, tree sap, bird poop, and other contaminants to sit on the surface of your car, the more damage they will cause. Some of these contaminants can actually eat away at the paint. If you’re leasing your car, you might be on the hook for a new paint job if the paint looks scraggly and old.

You don’t need to be a professional to keep your car looking new and clean. You also don’t need to bring your car to a professional detailing service at all if you don’t want to. The cheapest way to clean your car is to do it by yourself with some car wash soap. The process is relatively easy and straightforward, and you’ll see the results immediately.

How to Choose the Best Car Wash Soap

There are so many car wash soaps to choose from, but each bottle and jar will have different features and characteristics from the next. Knowing what you’re getting can really help make your job a lot easier. A good car wash soap will lift away dirt, debris and other contaminants, so you can use less elbow grease to get the job done. The car wash soap may even give your car a temporary seal that’ll protect it from environmental elements.

A car wash soap is so much more than just soap. Let’s take a look at some of the defining features that you should look for when making a purchasing decision.

Product Features

The first thing that you should do when looking at car wash soaps is to figure out the type of features that they have to offer. Car wash soaps do more than just wash your car. The intensity of the wash will differ from one soap to the next. Some of the features that you should look for include:

Foaming Action

Foaming bubbles lift debris and dirt off the paint and away from your car. Car wash soaps that offer a thick and rich lather tend to be gentler on your car and are less likely to cause any scratches.

Waxing Agent

Car wash soaps that contain a waxing agent will save you time and money in the long run. The wax protects the paint and prevents it from oxidizing. It also makes your car look a lot shinier.

pH Level

Car wash soaps that are alkaline are more effective at breaking down dirt and grime; however, you want to avoid any soaps that contain too much alkalinity or acidity as they may end up damaging the exterior of your car. Go for a neutral formula with just a dash of alkalinity for the best results.

Water Spot and Streak Resistance

Quick-drying soaps with water spots and streak resistance will not leave behind any marks that take away from your car’s beautiful paint job.

Eco-Friendly Ingredients

Most car wash soaps end up in the gutter, so look for one that will have the lowest impact on the environment as possible.

These are just some of the product features that you’ll find with car wash soaps. Some car wash soaps may boast the ability to protect and even enhance the color of your car. Others may have a specific scent that you love.

Ease of Application

Those purchasing car wash soap for their personal vehicle likely do not have any special tools or equipment at home, like a pressure washer. Car owners who will be washing by hand should pick a soap that is as easy and straightforward to use as possible. For example, you shouldn’t have to worry about having to learn any special cleaning methods or having to avoid certain paint colors or exterior materials.

Concentration and Volume

A concentrated product will not only last longer but will also be more effective at removing dirt, dust and grime from your car’s exterior. You’ll also notice that you’ll typically get more bang for your buck with a concentrated solution. Just make sure that you read the instructions carefully to better understand the recommended soap to water ratio.

The volume of product that you get will also determine whether you are getting good value for your money. Sixty-four ounces of car wash soap will generally last you up to a year.

Top 10 Best Car Wash Soaps 2024

1. Best Overall Car Wash Soap: Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Shampoo

Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Shampoo

Why we like it: It’s affordable, contains no waxes and will leave behind no residue. Its advanced foaming technology easily lifts away dirt, debris and contaminants.

Editor’s Rating:


The Mr. Pink formula is tough on dirt and contaminants but gentle on wax and sealant. It contains super-slick polymers that lubricate abrasive debris and prevents damage resulting from improper washing.  It’s super concentrated and easily recognized by its bright pink color. You can use this car wash soap on a weekly basis.

Product Features

This car wash soap is pH neutral, so it’s gentle on your car, and it has advanced foaming technologies inside that will lift away debris and dirt without scratching or damaging the exterior of your car at all.

This car wash soap doesn’t contain any waxing agents, which can be both a benefit and a drawback. Without any waxing agents, you may need to wax your car after washing it with this soap. This may be too much extra work and effort for some people. If you’re looking for a car wash soap with waxing agents, the Chemical Guys Extreme Bodywash & Wax is a great alternative.

However, since it doesn’t contain any waxing agents, you can safely remove contaminants from the exterior of your car and bring it alive with a premium wax. This car wash soap won’t leave behind any wax or residue on your car that can take hours to remove.

Ease of Application

This car wash soap is super easy to use. You can use it in bucket washes or with a foam gun. All you have to do is mix the soap with some water and use a washing mitt or even some type of towel to lather the soap onto your car.

If you are using a foam gun, choose one that has a psi over 1,700 for the best results. A high-pressure gun will give you a richer lather.

Concentration and Volume

This car wash soap comes in four different sizes: 4 ounces, 15 ounces, 64 ounces and 1 gallon. The 64-ounce bottle will last you an entire year. Best of all, this car wash soap is incredibly concentrated. One ounce of soap is all you need to add to a 5-gallon bucket.


  • Neutral pH for a gentle wash
  • Leaves behind no residue
  • Compatible with both bucket washes and foam guns
  • Advanced foaming technology
  • Concentrated and effective


  • Does not contain any waxes

2. Best Budget Car Wash Soap: Chemical Guys Strawberry Margarita Maxi Suds II

Chemical Guys Strawberry Margarita Maxi Suds II

Why we like it: This is a super affordable car wash soap with a decent amount of advanced foaming action. It’ll lift dirt, debris, and other contaminants easily from the surface of your car.

Editor’s Rating:


This is one of the more affordable car wash soaps from the Chemical Guys. It’s super concentrated, so you only need a little bit of soap to wash your entire car. This car wash soap has the same type of foaming technologies as other Chemical Guy options and is super affordable. It’s a great choice for those who are on a budget.

Product Features

This car wash soap smells like strawberry margaritas. It’s high-performing and an all-purpose cleaner that will cut through grime, heavy dirt and road film with ease. The pH neutral formula is safe for all waxes and sealants. This car wash soap is also formulated with water softeners that can reduce water from streaking on the surface of your car.

This soap works by suspending dirt, dust and grime within super polymer bubbles, so they can be effortlessly rinsed away.

While this car wash soap has advanced foaming technology, the suds are a bit weak. This car wash soap doesn’t produce as much lather as the Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Auto Wash, and the suds don’t last as long, so you need to work quickly.

Ease of Application

Before you begin, rinse the vehicle with water to remove as much loose grit and contaminants as possible. Then, wash your car from top to bottom with the soapy water. It’s important to rinse the product frequently for best results. Do not allow any of the soapy water to dry on your paint.

If you find that rinsing your car regularly is too much work, you might want to try a product like the Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax, which doesn’t require any water at all.

You can use this soap with the bucket method or with a foam cannon.

Concentration and Volume

This car wash soap is quite concentrated, and 1 ounce of the formula should be added to 5 gallons of water. If you’re using a foam gun, add 1 to 3 ounces of soap into the gun, and it should do the trick!


  • High performance, all-purpose cleaner
  • Cuts through road film, grime and heavy dirt
  • Advanced foaming technology
  • Safe for waxes and sealants
  • Formulated with water softeners to reduce water streaking


  • Weak suds

3. Best Premium Car Wash Soap: Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Auto Wash

Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Auto Wash

Why we like it: You’ll get a crazy amount of lather and suds from this soap. It smells great and doesn’t leave behind any residues at all.

Editor’s Rating:


This product is so versatile that it can be used on more than just cars. You can use it to clean your truck, SUVs, off-road vehicles and more. It’s safe on all vehicle surfaces, like paint, rubber, vinyl, glass and plastics.

The only real downside about this product is that it’s a bit costlier than many other alternatives on the market. If you’re on a budget, our budget pick will do an equally good job at cleaning your car although it doesn’t produce suds that are as rich as this soap.

Product Features

This car wash soap contains advanced foaming technologies that produce some of the richest suds available. The soap foams up beautifully and a little bit of the product will go a long way into creating mountains of foam that easily lift away dirt, dust and other grime from the surface of your car.

The formula rinses clean with no residue and is safe for waxes and sealants. It’s pH neutral, so it is gentle on all types of paint. The foam is so intense and thick that it will encapsulate airborne dust, dirt and grime, so you can rinse it off your car without much effort.

It also smells like honeydew!

Ease of Application

This is probably one of the easiest soaps to work with. Since it produces so much foam, it’s perfect for touchless washes as well. You can also use the two bucket method or a foam cannon wash. Simply lather up your car and rinse off the dirt. It’s that easy!

Concentration and Volume

Like many other Chemical Guy car wash soaps, this car wash soap is very concentrated. Mix 1 ounce of this with every 5 gallons of water that you use. Each jar contains one gallon of product, so one jar can easily last you several years, depending on how often you wash your car.


  • Advanced foaming technology with lots of suds
  • Highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way
  • Nicely scented
  • Rinses clean with no residue
  • Safe for waxes and sealants


  • Costly

4. Best Waterless Car Wash Soap: Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax

Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax

Why we like it: If you’re in a water-restricted area, this waterless car wash soap will get the job done. It’s easy to use and highly effective.

Editor’s Rating:


Not everyone may have the luxury of being able to use as much water as they want when washing their car. Some people live in areas with water restrictions. Others, like those who live in apartment buildings, may not have easy access to a water source. This car wash soap doesn’t require any water at all. It’s super convenient and can be used anywhere!

Product Features

This product is so easy to use and great for those who want to wash and wax their car quickly. You can use this product anywhere, as you don’t need any hoses, buckets or rinsing. It’s really convenient.

The formula contains spot-free agents that will clean road grime and dust without scratching your car. It also contains advanced polymer technologies that will leave behind a beautiful, glossy wax layer that lasts weeks.

Ease of Application

This is a waterless car wash soap, but it’s still really easy to use. You’ll need two microfiber towels and just one bottle of this product.

Start by misting the upper surfaces one section at a time. Spread the product with a clean microfiber towel folded into fourths. This should begin to remove some of the dirt and grime. You’ll want to use a second dry microfiber towel to go over the section again in order to wipe it dry. The first towel should be used to remove dirt every time, and the 2nd towel should be used to dry and buff the surface once you’re removed dirt from it.

You may need more than two towels if your car is extremely dirty. Make sure that you expose a clean side to clean and dry each section of the car.

Concentration and Volume

In comparison to liquid car wash soaps that require water, this type of product is not concentrated at all. There is nothing to dilute it with. Instead, you’ll have to spray the product directly onto the car. The spray nozzle does distribute the soap evenly on your car. With that said, you’re going to be using a good amount of each bottle when washing your car.


  • Waterless for optimal convenience
  • Contains waxing agents that protect your car
  • Safe for all paints and finishes
  • No equipment needed
  • Protects surfaces against swirling and scratching


  • Not concentrated at all so each wash uses a lot of product

5. Best Conditioning Car Wash Soap: Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash

Why we like it: Clean and condition your car all at once. The ultra-rich conditioner can make your car look like new again.

Editor’s Rating:


Another popular car wash soap produced by Meguiar is the Gold Class Car Wash soap. It offers a mild scent that’s not offensive at all and leaves your car with a glow thanks to its powerful conditioning abilities.

Product Features

This car wash soap not only cleans your car, but also conditions it at the same time, so your paint looks more vibrant. It cleans your car without stripping any of the existing waxes or sealants, and offers a rich lather that gently removes even some of the toughest dirt, road grime and contaminants.

Ease of Application

This product is fairly easy to use. All you have to do is add some soap to the bucket, and begin washing your car from top to bottom with a wash mitt or a microfiber towel. Once you’re done washing the car, rinse it thoroughly by spraying water from the top of the car down. This will promote sheeting action. Although this product is very easy to use, it is prone to water spots. For best results, you’ll want to immediately dry your car with a 100% cotton terry towel.

If you’re concerned about water spots, the Rain-X Spot Free Car Wash adds a water repellent layer to your car that prevents this problem entirely.

Concentration and Volume

This is a really affordable product, as you get a lot at a fairly low price; however, you need to know that this product isn’t super concentrated, so you will run through a jar fairly quickly depending on how often you wash your car.

If you’re washing your car using the bucket method, you should use one ounce of soap per one gallon of water. If you’re using a foam cannon, dilute the product 5 to 1. If you’re looking for something that is a lot more concentrated, you can’t go wrong with the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss.


  • Cleans and conditions your car at the same time
  • Produces a rich foaming soap that is gentle on the car
  • Neutral pH that prevents streaks and scratches
  • Does not strip away waxes and polishes
  • Boosts overall polish


  • Not super concentrated
  • Prone to water spotting

6. Best Concentrated Car Wash Soap: Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss

Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss

Why we like it: A little really does go a long way with this product. Add one cap of this to 5 gallons of water!

Editor’s Rating:


This is a super-concentrated car wash soap that will practically last forever if you’re not in the habit of washing your car regularly. It’s another product by the Chemical Guys, so the quality of it is excellent. It smells like citrus, which is another welcome bonus. It’s also great for use in a pressure washer.

Product Features

The citrus-based formula not only smells great, but lathers up really well. It does a great job at lifting dirt, dust and grime away from the car’s surface and will even enhance the overall gloss for a beautiful finish.

It uses natural citrus cleansers that will wash away easily without leaving behind any streaks or residues, and the powerful formula can easily access hard-to-reach areas to give you a very thorough clean. This formula has an ultra-high foaming capability, which is why it is very popular amongst those who use foam guns. The suds are rich and last a long time. They’ll lift even the most stubborn stains and dirt without creating any scratches or swirl marks.

Ease of Application

You can add a bit of this soap into a bucket of water or into a soap gun. A little goes a long way. As it contains citrus-based cleansers, it doesn’t leave behind any streaks. You also don’t have to use any elbow grease to wash your car, as the ultra-thick foam easily penetrates deep into hard-to-reach areas.

This product produces so much foam that you may need to use a lot of water to rinse everything off. If you’re living in an area with water restrictions at the moment, you might have an easier time working with a waterless car wash soap like the Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax.

Concentration and Volume

In terms of concentration, this car wash soap is as concentrated as it comes. You only need to add one cap of this soap into a 5 gallon bucket of water. As each jar contains 1 gallon of soap, you’ll get years of use from this one purchase even if you were to wash your car several times a week.


  • Highly concentrated formula lasts a long time
  • Lovely citrus scent
  • Hyper concentrated gloss enhancer
  • Biodegradable formula that's safe for the environment
  • Rich foam for scratch-free rinsing


  • May require a lot of water to rinse off

7. Best for Colors: Chemical Guys Extreme Bodywash & Wax

Chemical Guys Extreme Bodywash & Wax

Why we like it: This car wash soap enhances the color of your car and adds a beautiful shine to it.

Editor’s Rating:


This car wash soap lathers up very well to remove dirt, grime and debris without getting any swirls or scratches on your car. It gives you that showroom shine that you’ve been looking for, and will offer a slick, scratch-free finish. This soap is able to enhance high gloss shines on practically every paint color out there.

Another plus is that this car wash soap smells like berry, which is great since a lot of other soaps on the market have a pungent, chemical odor to them.

Product Features

This is a very interesting car wash soap from the Chemical Guys. They wanted to recreate that “brand new car sitting in a showroom” look, and this car wash soap is able to do just that. It contains two different types of waxes, carnauba wax and a synthetic wax, that will enhance and brighten the color of the paint.

The carnauba wax is like a sunscreen for your car. It protects the paint from harsh UV rays and also other environmental elements. The synthetic wax, on the other hand, increases the durability of the paint and also enhances the condition of any existing waxes to give your car that beautiful, freshly-waxed look.

The pH-balanced formula will clean your car without leaving behind any spots or stains. The ingredients lather up very well and are gentle on the car and won’t remove any existing waxes or sealants either. Some people have claimed that this soap sometimes leaves behind some residue if they’re not careful. If you find this is a common occurrence for you, consider trying the Rain-X Spot Free Car Wash instead, as the water repellent layer leaves behind no residues at all.

Ease of Application

Once again, the Chemical Guys have hit it out of the park with this car wash soap in terms of simplicity. This product is super easy to use. All you have to do is pour some in a bucket of water and you’re good to go. The formula contains a lot of ingredients that make rinsing it off a breeze. You can also use it in a foam gun if you’d like. In fact, this product works very well in a foam gun.

Concentration and Volume

This car wash soap is super concentrated, so you’ll get a lot of use out of just one bottle. You should mix only 1 to 3 ounces of it per every 5-gallon of water you use. In general, most people will only use one ounce or so every time that they wash their car. As each jar contains 64 fluid ounces, you could easily wash your car once a week and still have a fair amount to spare at the end of the year.


  • Synthetic wax protects the car
  • Enhances color and gloss on every paint color
  • Does not strip away any existing wax or sealant coatings
  • Can be used in a foam gun or in bucket
  • Produces a rich lather and lots of suds


  • May leave behind some minor residues

8. Best Water Repellent Coating: Rain-X Spot Free Car Wash

Rain-X Spot Free Car Wash

Why we like it: It’ll leave a water repellent coating that’ll prevent rain from streaking on your car. It’s highly concentrated and easy to use.

Editor’s Rating:


If you’re looking for a spot-free finish every single time, then this is the product for you. It’s a great choice for beginners who may not necessarily have the expertise on how to dry their car properly and are afraid of introducing micro-scratches to the paint.

Product Features

This car wash soap adds a water repellant layer to your car, so you won’t have to worry about the rain for a while. It also means that you won’t have to towel dry your car at all, which will save you a lot of time.

The product produces a lot of suds that easily lift dirt, grime and dust off your car with ease. It’s specially formulated to give you a spot-free shine every time, and it’s safe for all car finishes. It doesn’t strip away any of the existing waxes or sealants on your car either.

The formula is also biodegradable and pH balanced, so you won’t have to worry about it damaging the environment.

Ease of Application

In terms of application, this product is really easy to use. First, you’ll want to rinse your car to remove loose dirt and then wash your car with a sponge or a wash mitt dipped in a bucket of soapy water. Last but not least, rinse the car thoroughly. The water should literally slide off your car and your car should dry before your eyes. No towel drying is necessary at all.

Concentration and Volume

In terms of concentration, you’re not getting a whole lot with this product. It’s recommended to use one ounce of product per gallon of water, so you’ll be using anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces each time you wash your car. This bottle contains 48 fluid ounces, so you’ll only get anywhere from 9 to 16 washes per bottle. If you’re looking for something that’s a lot more concentrated, check out the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss.


  • Specially formulated for a spot-free shine every single time
  • Safe for all car finishes
  • Does not strip waxes or sealants
  • High foaming action
  • No towel drying necessary


  • Not very concentrated at all

9. Best Biodegradable Car Wash Soap: Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax

Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax

Why we like it: This car wash soap is biodegradable and eco-friendly. You don’t have to worry even if this soap gets washed down the gutter.

Editor’s Rating:


If you’re looking for a beautiful waxy finish, this product is definitely something you should pick up. It contains a high concentration of carnauba wax that will protect and seal your car while you’re washing it. You’ll get a beautiful, glossy finish, and you can skip the step of having to wash your car.

Product Features

Car wash soap gets washed down the drain and gutters a lot. Many people are concerned about the environmental impact that may come with washing their cars. This is not a problem at all with Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash and Wax. The formula is powerful, ultra-sudsy, but more important biodegradable and pH balanced. You can wash the soap down the gutter without worrying one bit about the impact that it may have on the environment.

The carnauba wax does a great job at giving your car that beautiful wax finish that you may be looking for. It also protects your car from environmental elements and UV rays. The formula has a neutral pH, so this car wash soap won’t leave behind any watermarks, streaks or swirls.

Ease of Application

Much like with every other car wash soap, this product is fairly easy to use. You can use it in a foam gun or place it in a bucket. Both methods are equally as easy to work with. Simply spray or wash your car with the soap and then rinse off the soap afterward.

This product is great for both beginners and professionals, as it is easy to use. The formula ensures that you don’t have to do anything special with the soap to get the results that you want.

Concentration and Volume

Here’s where things get a little tricky. This product doesn’t come with any clear instructions on how to dilute it; however, most people go with a 1 ounce to 1 gallon ratio, so they’ll use 1 ounce of soap for every gallon of water that they have in the bucket.

This means that this product is definitely not as concentrated as some other alternatives, like the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss. You may run out of it rather quickly.


  • Biodegradable
  • Ultra-sudsy, powerful formula offers a very clean wash every time
  • Contains carnauba wax, which will protect the car’s exterior
  • Gives your car a beautiful, glossy shine
  • Neutral pH leaves behind no watermarks


  • Doesn’t really have instructions on dilution ratio

10. Best No Rinse Car Wash Soap: Optimum No Rinse Wash & Wax

Optimum No Rinse Wash & Wax

Why we like it: You don’t have to spend any time drying your car with this car wash soap. It’ll dry on its own.

Editor’s Rating:


Optimum really hit it out of the park with this no-rinse car wash soap. It saves a lot of time, money and water while still producing incredible results. The extra wax in the formula will protect your car and give it an unsurpassed gloss.

This car wash soap can be used on not only cars, but also trucks, motorcycles, RVs, ORVs, fiberglass or wood boats and airplanes.

Another interesting fact about this product is that it smells like melons, which is a welcome feature considering that many car wash soaps smell very pungent.

Product Features

This car wash soap has a no-rinse formula for optimal efficiency. It does not require any rinsing at all since there are no soapy surfactants that you need to remove from your car. This is great for those who live in areas with water restrictions or for those who want to save the environment by using less water. You can use just one bucket to wash an entire car.

The formula contains polymer technologies that provide UV protection. It also contains carnauba wax, which will not only protect your car from environmental elements but also give it a beautiful glossy shine. There are also substantive polymers that will attach and bond with the paint to prevent it from getting scratched.

This soap cleans, shines and protects your car all at the same time. It offers an unsurpassed gloss and protection that will make your car look fantastic.

Ease of Application

This car wash soap is incredibly easy to use. Add the soap to some water and wash one section of your car at a time until it’s completely clean. As it has a no-rinse formula, you don’t even need to rinse it off or dry it. With that said, if you would like to expedite the process, you can always dry your car with a clean microfiber towel.

Due to the nature of this car wash soap, you’d only use it if you’re washing your car with the bucket method. This car wash soap is not compatible with foam guns, as it doesn’t sud up. If a foam gun is an integral part of your cleaning process, you’ll want to take a look at alternatives like the Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax.

Concentration and Volume

This product is definitely not as concentrated as some other car wash soaps like the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss. You’ll need to add an entire ounce of this product to just 2-gallons of water. You’ll run through an entire bottle a lot quicker than with other car wash soaps.


  • Cleans, shines and protects all in one
  • No-rinse formula saves money
  • Contains carnauba wax for a fantastic shine every time
  • Offers UV protection
  • Produces a beautiful glossy finish


  • Not as concentrated as some other soaps
  • Not compatible with a foam gun

A Complete Guide to Car Wash Soap

car with lots of soap and suds

Other than a decent amount of foaming action, there are many other things that you need to look for in a good car wash soap. A large jar of car wash soap will usually last you a good year or two, depending on how often you wash your car. Those who live in sunny climates tend to wash their cars more frequently than those who live in rainy environments.

Washing your car more often can really help preserve its overall condition and look. Once you’ve gotten the hang of washing your car yourself, you’ll find that the process is incredibly straightforward and easy. You can basically wash your car in under 30 minutes if you’re in a rush. Or you can take your time and take several hours. It really depends on how detailed you want to be.

Other Factors to Consider

Other than the factors mentioned above, there are some additional things that you should consider when making a purchase. By taking every factor into account, you’ll be able to easily narrow down your choices and find a car wash soap that meets all of your needs and expectations.

Types of Soaps for Cars

That’s right! There are different types of car wash soaps. They differ in the type of ingredients that they contain, the way that they can be used and the type of finish that they can provide. Let’s take a look at some of the more common types of car wash soaps below.

General Use Car Wash Soap

General use car wash soap is designed for weekly and monthly washes. It usually won’t strip away any sealants or waxes and will only have some type of foaming action to get rid of dirt, dust and other contaminants that have collected on the surface of the car. Most of these soaps tend to have a concentrated formula, so a little will go a long way.

Wash and Wax Car Wash Soap

If you want to save some time and recoat your car with some waxing agents, a wash and wax car wash soap like the Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wash & Wax will do the job.

The waxing agents protect your car from environmental elements, like dirt and grime. They’re highly recommended for those who live in hotter climates. With that said, do keep in mind that a wash and wax car wash soap cannot compare to a full-strength car wax application. You should wax your car once a year to keep it shiny and scratch-free.

Strip Shampoo

This type of car wash soap will remove sealants and waxing agents from the exterior of your car. They’re quite strong and ideal for situations where you want to reapply wax on your car or to polish away scratches and imperfections.


With climate change, more and more cities in America are facing droughts. If you live in a place that’s under water restrictions, a waterless car wash soap may be a better choice. Waterless car wash soaps are similar to regular ones and will do the same job. The only difference is that you usually just spray the product onto your car and wipe off the dirt.

No Rinse

If you’re not a fan of waterless car wash soap, but want something similar, you can also try a no rinse car wash soap that will allow you to leave your car as-is after washing it. You won’t need to dry it at all! These car wash soaps are super convenient, and they’re also a great choice for those who are scared of accidentally micro-scratching their cars when drying them.


Car wash soaps can have very strong, pungent fragrances. Those who have allergies or respiratory conditions may want to stay away from fragrant soaps, as they can cause them to feel nauseous or sick. Scentless soaps tend to be better options for those who have sensitivities. Sweet-smelling car wash soaps, like strawberry margarita, are also usually a big hit among consumers.


While the identity of the manufacturer may not necessarily guarantee the car wash soap’s quality, it can tell you a bit about the soap. Choose a manufacturer that has a good reputation amongst the auto community and is known for using high-quality ingredients. Some of the more popular manufacturers include the Chemical Guys, Meguiar and Optimum.

A manufacturer that specializes in producing car wash soap only will usually offer more varieties and specialty soap. The more time that they spend on their products, the better the product usually is.

Common Equipment Needed for Washing Your Car

Washing your car shouldn’t be difficult or hard. It should be as straightforward and simple as possible. Other than the car wash soap, you’ll only need this other equipment:

  • Two buckets. One of the buckets should be filled with soapy water and the other should be filled with clean water, so you can rinse off the soap.
  • A hose. Connect a hose to a water source to quickly rinse off the car wash soap from your car.
  • A microfiber washing mitt or a microfiber towel. Make sure that you choose something that is made from microfiber, as anything coarser than that can result in micro-scratches on your car. These micro-scratches are almost impossible to get out. A microfiber washing mitt will fit your hand like a glove and will expedite the car washing process.
  • A grit guard. This can prevent loose contaminants and debris from collecting on your mitt or towel every time that you rinse.
  • A drying cloth. Unless you’re using a no rinse car wash soap, you’ll want to get as much of the soap off of your car as possible.
  • A foam gun. This is entirely optional. A foam gun can lather up your car quickly and efficiently.

If you already have all of the equipment you’ll need, you can get started right away. Take a look at the video below for a walkthrough on how to wash your car like a pro! Your car will look brand new if you follow the instructions in the video.

Tips and Tricks for How to Effectively Wash Your Car

shiny car after getting washed and waxed

After washing your car, you want it to look like the one above: glossy, shiny and uniform. The one thing that you definitely want to avoid is getting micro-scratches on your car. These scratches are super small and are basically scratched into the paint. They’re almost impossible to remove. To do so, you’ll need to rewax your car. Depending on the amount of micro-scratches that are present, you may even need to re-polish it.

Washing your car shouldn’t be too difficult if you follow the instructions below:

  1. Add dirt traps to the bottom of two buckets, and fill them with clean water. Add soap into one of the buckets. The dirt trap will prevent dirt from getting back onto your mitts and towels. These small particles are responsible for most of the micro-scratches that you see on cars.
  2. Rinse your car from top to bottom with a hose.
  3. Lather up a microfiber mitt or towel and start washing your car from top to bottom. This way, the dirt and dust will fall downwards.
  4. Wash and rinse your car in quarters to prevent water spots and dried streaks. Make sure you go from top to bottom to get rid of all of the soap.
  5. Wash the wheels with a brush and then rinse off the soap. Make sure that you always do this step last because you don’t want to accidentally transfer brake dust or dirt from the wheels to the paint. This will scratch off the enamel and also cause micro-scratches to form. Some people will even go as far as using a different brush or towel.
  6. Rinse the entire car from top to bottom again.
  7. Use a microfiber towel to dry the car and another one to detail dry.

Unfortunately, even if you follow the instructions perfectly, you may still end up with micro-scratches. We’ve come up with some additional tips and tricks that can help prevent them.

#1. Watch What You Wear

Be mindful of what clothes you’re wearing when washing your car. You want to wear old clothes that are made of soft material, so they don’t scratch up your car if you accidentally lean on it. Jeans, for example, are some of the biggest culprits for micro-scratches because they have metal parts.

#2. Always Use a Microfiber Towel or a Mitt

Don’t use a giant brush or go to a gas station car wash. If you don’t use the right type of brush or towel to wash your car, you’ll end up scratching it. Brushes often collect dirt, rocks and other contaminants that can easily scratch the enamel.

#3. Don’t Forget the Wheel Wells or Underneath the Car

If you’re going to wash your car, do it right from the beginning and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches in the future. Don’t forget the wheel wells and underneath the car. These areas are often forgotten or ignored; however, they actually are the parts that require the most cleaning. These areas are often hit the hardest with dirt, grime and other contaminants.

#4. Wash Your Car in the Shade

This might sound funny, but washing your car in the shade can prevent water spots. If the area that you live in has a lot of hard water, which essentially means that the water contains a lot of minerals, the minerals can stay on your car when the water evaporates. This causes ugly water spots to form. If you wash your car under the shade, the water will be less likely to evaporate before you’re done drying it. This reduces the appearance of water streaks.

#5. Wet Your Microfiber Towel for Drying

Trying to dry your car with a completely dry microfiber towel will drive you insane. It takes a lot of time and effort. It’ll also feel like the towel isn’t really soaking in any water. The trick is to spray it with water first and then wring it dry. Microfiber towels are much more absorbent once they’re wet.

#6. Use Compressed Air to Dry Your Car

If you want to be extra careful and avoid micro-scratches altogether when drying your car, use compressed air to dry it. This will make sure that nothing can rub against the paint at all. You’ll get perfect results every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should You Wash Your Car?

There really isn’t a clear-cut answer to how often you should wash your car.

Most experts recommend washing your car at least every two weeks, although many car owners may wait until their car looks dirty or has a layer of dirt on it. Some car enthusiasts, who are very particular about how their car looks, may wash their vehicles every week or even more frequently.

If you see tree sap, bird poop or bug guts on your car, you should wash it as soon as possible, as these contaminants may corrode the paint.

Why Should You Wash Your Car?

You don’t have to wash your car just because there’s a thick enough layer of dirt on it for drawing an image. You can wash your car to get rid of animal droppings, dead bugs, dirt and mud, pollen, rain, tree sap, tar and other road grime and brake dust. Tree sap, in particular, is a common thing you’ll find on cars that are parked underneath trees. When the sap hardens, it’ll irreparably damage the paint

By washing these contaminants and debris off the exterior of your car, you’ll prolong the life of your paint job. Your car will look newer, and the paint is less likely to fade or stain.

Why Can’t I Wash My Car With Regular Dishwasher Soap or Body Soap?

Different types of soaps do very different jobs. Body soap is gentle on the body and does not aggressively get rid of dirt or grime. As a result, it’s not going to be a good choice for tackling the sap that’s hardened on your car.

Dishwasher soap, on the other hand, is meant to remove food particles. It can actually dry out certain exterior car materials. It may also leave behind a residue on your car.

Do Different Colored Cars Need Different Types of Soap?

The answer to this is both yes and no.

Technically, there is no difference between washing a light-colored car and a dark-colored car. You’ll follow the same routines and basic principles. Dark-colored cars, however, are very vulnerable to scratches. Even the smallest grain of sand can scratch the paint.

Due to this reason, there are some car wash soaps that are technically better for dark-colored cars, as they are gentler and less abrasive.

Final Thoughts

A good car wash soap will get rid of all contaminants on the surfaces and will make your car look like new. It should also be straightforward and easy to use. You should have no trouble washing tree sap and even bird poop off your car without having to take it to a professional. If you wash your car by yourself, you could also save yourself some money.

Once you’ve found the perfect car wash soap, you’ll find that washing your car becomes a breeze. In fact, you might even start to enjoy the process. Many of the car wash soaps on our list have unique features that make them stand out from competitors. They’re worth looking into and could possibly be the answer to your prayers if you have a dirty car.

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