The 9 Best Car Wash Soaps
This wiki has been updated 14 times since it was first published in March of 2018. For auto enthusiasts, giving their prized vehicle a thorough cleansing can be a weekly ritual. Not only will the car wash soaps on this list maintain your ride’s immaculate appearance, they’ll help protect its value, too. We’ve selected high-performance solutions that eliminate stubborn dirt deposits while safeguarding your finish and providing a lasting shine, sometimes using actual carnauba wax. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 05, 2021:
The only change we made this round was removing a Turtle Wax selection that's now extremely hard to find. We looked into a few other Turtle Wax formulas to replace it, but even their most advanced leave spots or streaks just a bit too frequently for us to reliably recommend them.
Meanwhile, the rest of our rankings here have stayed the same, and for good reason. Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax comes from a company not unheard-of at car shows, and this one-step body treatment should have most cars looking shiny and great after just one use. The time-tested Mothers 05664 California Gold is another beloved product, again for good reason - its pH-balanced formula promises to be safe for just about any finish. If you're not terribly concerned about a built-in wax layer, Optimum No Rinse is a good choice for both speeding up the washing process, and saving a bit of water.
Finally, as long as you choose a wash that doesn't include wax, we would strongly recommend a good ceramic coating. They're made using a variety of chemicals, but the most common one, silicone dioxide, will leave your car looking freshly waxed for up to months straight.
November 06, 2019:
Many people don't realize that washing you car isn't solely about making it look clean for the next couple of weeks. Regularly doing so, especially when combined with a good wax job every few months, can help maintain your vehicle's paint job and clear coat, thereby allowing it to keep its value longer. It is important though, to use a gentle soap, like those found on this list, otherwise you risk doing more harm than good.
During this update, we removed No7 Professional Strength, as it is too harsh on the finishes, as well as the skin of the person applying it. Also, many people are disappointed that the buckets come half empty due to the product settling over time, which makes some feel as through they have been cheated. Additionally, 3M Clean-Up was replaced due to come complaints of it stripping away wax jobs.
Taking the place of the removed items we have Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax, which comes from a brand often used by professional details and makes your job a little less time consuming, since it performs both actions in the name in just one step. We also have Adam's Ultra Foam, which is a heavily sudsing soap that is best used with foam guns. Its thick lather sticks to vehicles well, helping to pull off dirt and grime when washed off.
For those who periodically need to wash their vehicle without access to a hose, we have included Optimum No Rinse and Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All, which don't require any rinsing after use. Because of this though, they are best for cars that are washed regularly and don't have a big build up of dirt.