Best shampoos to wash a car (2024)

By Arif

Car Exterior With Shampoo

When it comes to giving your car a sparkling clean finish, using the right shampoo can make all the difference. Just like you wouldn’t use any random soap on your skin, it’s important to choose the best shampoos to wash a car.

Washing could become a bothering concept for those who travel frequently. Dust, dirt, and grime become a routine on car surfaces which can impact the exterior appearance of your car badly.

This is the reason you must choose a washing soap or shampoo that suits your vehicle needs, your time, and your price.

In the upcoming sections of this post, we’ll explore the best shampoos to wash a car, their benefits, buying factors, and their usage.

You will also find answers to some common questions related to car shampoos so, continue reading till the end!

The importance of car shampoos

So, why should you bother buying car shampoo instead of using regular household products like bathing soap?

The reason is car shampoos are specifically formulated and designed to clean grime, dirt, and road debris without damaging your car’s paint.

Regular household shampoos or cleaning products may offer competitive cleaning but lack the protection and preserving aspects.

Compared to any other cleaning product car shampoos have the ability to produce rich and foamy lather which encapsulates dirt particles and lifts them away from the surface. This is important from preventing any potential scratching or swirling during the washing process.

Additionally, many car shampoos contain lubricants that reduce friction, further minimizing the chances of damaging the paint.

Some of the specialized ingredients found in car shampoos are also helpful in protecting the car’s exterior from UV rays and harsh environmental factors which increases the durability of a car’s paint and preserves wax coating.

All in all, investing in dedicated car shampoos is important to keep your car well-maintained, preserve its shine and appearance, and more importantly achieve excellent cleaning results in less time and money.

3 Best shampoos to wash a car

Here are the 3 best shampoos that are reputed and trusted by a wide range of users across the globe.

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Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash Soap

You can’t go wrong with Chemical Guys. The company has been around for more than a decade with established and trusted products.

One of their products in the auto-detailing segment you can rely on is Chemical Guys Honeydew Cleaner.

The fact that they invented the snow foam speaks volumes about their expertise in car care. The formula in Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam creates thick, dirt-fighting bubbles that make the car washing process a breeze. It is easy to lay, scrub and rinse.

You don’t have to spend too much liquid to generate a bucket full of suds. An ounce or two will be enough to fill a 1-gallon bucket.

From a usability perspective, this product can cater to both beginners and professionals. Aside from its performance, the Honeydew Snow Foam excels in the scent department as well. The smell is pleasant and soothing to even sensitive noses.

The other most important aspect is that this soap is pH balanced. Unlike other harsh detailing shampoos, it won’t strip away wax, plastic, or rubber parts unless not cleaned properly.


  • Suitable for various washing methods with the availability of bucket, foam gun, or cannon
  • The product is beginner-friendly yet effective in delivering professional cleaning results
  • Comes with a pleasant candy scent
  • PH balanced and safe for all exterior automobile parts
  • Highly compatible with waxes, sealants, and coatings


  • Slightly expensive
  • The foam may not be suitable on cars with ceramic coatings

Armor All Ceramic Foaming Car Wash Soap

Armor All is another pioneer in the car detailing segment. The company has some really cool products and this Ceramic Foaming car wash soap is a game-changer in the car cleaning routine.

The formula of this Armor All product contains hydrating agents that generates fulfilling sudsy foam. The extraordinary foam stays wetter which makes it long-lasting and helpful in cleaning the car thoroughly.

The foam is not just visibly exciting but also stands out in safely removing tough contaminants.

There is an Extreme Shield and ceramic technology that creates an invisible protective barrier on the car’s surface. This technology is effective in enhancing water beading and repels dirt and contaminants.

In addition to the car wash solution itself, Armor All offers high-quality accessories that complement the cleaning process really well.

From car wash mitts, and car drying towels to foam cannon, these accessories make the task of cleaning your car much easier and more efficient.


  • Formulated with extreme shield technology suitable to protect the ceramic coating
  • Comes with effective foam cannon for ease of use and extra cleaning power
  • The formula is capable of working on tough contaminants like bugs, tars, and bird droppings.
  • Offers shine without any water spots


  • The product may leave streaks and residue on some car surfaces
  • The quantity (1 gallon) may not suffice the requirement for longer usage

Adams Ultra Foam Shampoo

Adam’s Ultra Foam Shampoo is not an ordinary car wash product. This car washing shampoo is made of advanced cleaners and polymers that give it remarkable slickness.

Because of slickness, the foam creates a lubricating effect that gently lifts dirt away from the paint’s surface, greatly reducing the risk of damaging the delicate clear coat.

The formula is not unbalanced. In fact, the shampoo’s pH-neutral formula will impress you with its gentleness and effectiveness in cleaning the car’s surface without impacting the wax or trim.

The 16oz bottle may look smaller in quantity but using 3 ounces of Adam’s Ultra Foam Shampoo provides optimal foam and cleaning performance.

Whether it is a foam cannon, gun, or wash bucket the formula suspends the mineral content of water remarkably well. This means achieving a thorough cleaning without worrying about water spots or residue.

The concentration of this car wash soap is exceptional. The foam produced is unbelievably thick and can be adjusted to a fine consistency if desired. The adjustable nozzle on the foam cannon allows for easy control of the spray pattern, from a focused jet stream to a wide fan pattern.

The foam clings to the vehicle’s surface, providing ample lubrication and encapsulating dirt particles for a safe and effective wash even on surfaces having ceramic coating or freshly applied sealant or wax.

When using the foam cannon it is important to clean it evenly after every wash which can otherwise get clogged as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

The concentrated formula is mixed with wild berry fragrance which is very subtle and soothing for the senses.

Overall, if you’re looking for a shampoo that delivers outstanding results while protecting your car’s delicate finish, give Adam’s Ultra Foam Shampoo a try.


  • Produces lots of suds on the small amount of mixture
  • Very effective in generating superb shine and appearance
  • Compatible with ceramic coating and sealant-applied surfaces
  • Can be used with multiple options such as a cannon, gun, and even buckets


  • The formula lacks toughness compared to its competitors but is okay for normal cleaning
  • The price is on the higher side compared to the size of the bottle

The benefits of using car wash shampoos

There are innumerable benefits of washing your car using car shampoos. Here are some of the common ones:

Easy cleaning – Car shampoos make cleaning a car easier. Unlike scrubbing vigorously and wasting lots of water car shampoos are designed with chemicals that loosen dirt, and grime from the car’s surface without much effort.

A simple combination of water and car shampoo is enough to perform cleaning.

Prevents damage – Many high-quality car shampoos are enriched with foamy lather and lubricants that remain gentle on a car’s paint.

These ingredients are helpful in reducing the risk of scratches, swirl marks, and other damages while washing.

Car shampoo formula acts as a buffer that lessens friction levels preventing damage and protecting the car’s surface.

Washing A Car Bonnet

Enhances shine and appearance – Car shampoos also have built-in wax or sealant properties that leave behind a thin protective layer after washing. This layer adds a brilliant shine and gloss to your car.

With car shampoo, your car’s appearance keeps improving. This is helpful in maintaining the longevity of your car’s paint.

Weather protection – Apart from cleaning and adding shine, car shampoos often provide some level of protection against environmental elements.

Some shampoos feature advanced polymer technology that creates a hydrophobic barrier on the paint surface, repelling water, dirt, and other contaminants.

Additionally, the protective layer can act as a shield against UV rays, preventing premature fading and oxidation.

Increases resale value – Car shampoos are part of a comprehensive car care routine. The value of a used car is determined by many factors and the car’s appearance is one of them.

Regular use of car shampoo protects a car’s paintwork, preserves its shine, and maintains the car’s appearance which indirectly has a positive impact on its resale value.

Buyer’s guide: Factors to look for while choosing car washing shampoo

When choosing a car washing shampoo, there are several factors to consider. Here are some of the important considerations:

Types of shampoo – Car shampoos contain different types of chemicals and liquids for different types of car surfaces.

The pH-balanced shampoos are good to protect the wax or sealant. Similarly, wax-infused shampoos contain wax that helps to protect the car’s paint and enhance its shine.

It is important to check the instructions to make the right choice. Look for a shampoo that will match the type of surface your car has and additionally, protect the properties a car surface holds.

Brands – There are some reputed brands that have gained authority in producing high-quality car care products. These brands manufacture products based on the specific requirements of a car owner, and different types of car surfaces.

Their experience and insights can help you make informed decisions so research and choose a car wash shampoo that is produced by a trustworthy and reputed brand.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore non-branded items but you must take extra care by reading reviews and recommendations from the customers who are using such products.

Foaming action – Car wash shampoos that work on foaming action helps to remove dirt particles and grime more effectively than other type of shampoos.

Rich and thick foam successfully picks up the water from the car’s surface without leaving any scratches or swirls in the process.

Car Mirror With Foam

Another consideration should be the lubrication factor. A shampoo that contains lubricants or surfactants helps the mitt or sponge glide smoothly over the car’s surfaces minimizing the chances of scratches.

Concentration and dilution – A lot of water is expected when it comes to washing your car. Highly concentrated shampoos can be more cost-effective, as you’ll only need to use a small amount per wash.

Similarly, diluting the shampoo according to the manufacturer’s instructions ensures optimal performance and avoids wastage.

To get the best results at minimum usage and money, check the concentration of the shampoo and the recommended dilution ratio.

Additional features – Some car shampoos offer extra benefits, such as added wax or sealant properties. These shampoos leave behind a protective layer that enhances shine and provides some level of protection against environmental elements.

Also consider if the shampoo is accompanied by buckets, towels, mitts, etc. These things will come in handy to make cleaning easy and get the best results.

How to use car shampoo to wash your car effectively

First of all, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the car shampoo packaging for any specific guidelines or precautions for the product you are using.

Additionally, it is recommended to perform the washing under the shade or parking space for proper cleaning. Direct sunlight or hot conditions can cause the shampoo to dry quickly resulting in residues on the surface.

Rinsing A Car Wash Shampoo

Once you are set follow these steps to wash your car effectively using a car shampoo:

  • Start by gathering all the necessary supplies required to perform a car wash.
  • Next, begin by rinsing your car with water to remove loose dirt and debris. This is part of preparing your car surface before using car shampoo. If needed, use a hose or a pressure washer for quick results.
  • Now, fill a bucket with water according to the dilution ratio specified by the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can use a cannon or a gun depending on the availability.
  • Add the recommended amount of shampoo to the water and mix it well to create a soapy solution and foam.
  • Use the wash mitt or sponge (in the absence of a cannon or gun) to gently wash your car section by section. Apply light pressure while cleaning and go back and forth or in a circular motion. Do not put excessive force as it can be damaging to the car paint.
  • Once all the sections are washed start rinsing the shampoo with clean water. Again, you can use a hose or pressure washer for proper rinsing.
  • Now, wipe the surface until it is completely dry. Use a microfiber towel or a soft lint-free cloth for drying and preventing water spots.
  • Once the car surface is totally dried off, apply wax or sealant if necessary. This will further protect and enhance the shine of the paint.

How much does a car wash shampoo cost?

Car wash shampoos can range from $5 to $20 or more. Basic, budget-friendly options may be available at a lower price point, while premium or specialized shampoos may be priced higher.

The cost of car wash shampoo can vary depending on various factors such as the brand, the size of the bottle, and the specific formulation.

It’s important to note that concentrated formulations can offer better value for money, as they require smaller amounts per wash.

Can I use any shampoo to wash my car?

Yes, it is possible to use any shampoo to wash your car however it is not recommended from safety and professional cleaning purposes.

Regular household shampoos, such as those used for personal hygiene, are not designed for automotive surfaces. Such shampoos contain ingredients that can be harsh on your car’s paint, trim, and other exterior components.

Automotive-specific car wash shampoos are formulated with gentle detergents and pH-balanced ingredients to effectively clean your car’s surfaces without causing damage to the car paint and protective coatings.

It’s worth investing in a product specifically formulated for automotive use to maintain the appearance and condition of your car.


Car shampoos serve as the foundation for a thorough and effective car wash, offering a host of benefits that elevate your car cleaning experience.

The benefits of using car wash shampoos are multi-fold. They are specifically formulated with pH-balanced ingredients, gentle detergents, and lubricating materials to maintain the delicate balance between powerful cleaning and surface protection.

When considering the best car washing shampoo refer the factors covered in the buyer’s guide from this post.

Our list of car shampoos are based on our buyer’s guide and include products from the reputed brands which are trusted from usability and performance perspectives.

With the right shampoo in hand, your car will radiate a brilliance that befits its true splendor.

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I am the founder of TheCarPlus. As a passionate car owner and enthusiast, I offer practical solutions and insights from my own personal experiences combined with extensive online research.

The purpose of creating this website is to empower fellow car owners and motorcyclists like 'YOU' with knowledge and practical solutions to enhance your vehicle's performance and aesthetics.

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