Top Car Wash Soaps for Your Vehicle

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Man rinsing foam-covered car

Contrary to what your teenage sibling might have taught you growing up, keeping a car clean isn’t as simple as taking it out for a drive while it’s raining. A combination of contaminant consistency and extreme temperatures can cause dirt, dead bugs, and bird droppings to stick fast to your car’s outer surfaces, and no amount of storm driving is going to fix that. To keep your car’s finish shiny and sparkly, you need to give it a comprehensive cleaning on a regular basis.

The usual solution for this is to visit your local car wash, but if you’re concerned about rough treatment from industrial washers, you can always clean your car from the comfort of your driveway. All you need is a bucket, a car sponge, a garden hose, and the right cleaning solution.

We’ve gathered five car wash soaps for your consideration, each backed up by recommendations from individual product users and professional cleaners and detailers. More information on our selection methodology will be available at the bottom of the page.

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine bottle

Washing your car can be a very time-consuming process, taking up an entire afternoon at the bare minimum. If you enjoy washing your car, great, but if you’ve got places to be, you need a cleaning solution that gets you the sparkle you want without the half-day commitment.

Optimum’s No Rinse Wash and Shine utilizes a special blend of polymers to clean your car without necessitating a rinse. The cleaner’s unique composition captures and emulsifies dirt and other contaminants, allowing you to wipe it right off, creating a lasting barrier between your car’s finish and the outside world in the process. The cleaner only requires 1 oz per 2 gallons of water to wash your entire car and leaves no soapy foam afterward. Not only does this mean it’s good for saving some water, but you can also clean your car inside your garage since it doesn’t need to be rinsed.

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine is available on Amazon for $18.56, with a user rating of 4.7 out of five. The car detailing YouTube channel The Rag Company tested this cleaner on a pickup truck that had been driving through slushy, dirty conditions. After a pre-wash and scrub, where there were previously dirt specs and water stains, there was nothing but a sparkly finish with no marring.

Armor All Snow Foam Car Wash

Armor All Snow Foam Wash bottles

Foaming car wash soaps are handy for completely coating your car in preparation for detailed cleaning, especially if you’ve got a foam blower to load them into. However, not all foaming soaps last as long as you might like, with the suds gradually sliding off the car if you don’t move quickly enough.

If you’re looking to take your time with your detailing, try using Armor All’s Snow Foam Car Wash. This foaming soap contains special hydrating agents that keep the foam moist for longer, keeping it fluffy and firmly stuck to your car. It works to loosen the dirt from your finish without sliding off, so you can take your time to clean it all. Don’t worry about leaving it there for a while — the formula’s pH-balanced so that it won’t hurt things like wax and sealants.

The Armor All Snow Foam Car Wash is available on Amazon in a four-pack for $38.95, where it has a user rating of 4.6 out of five. Muscle car enthusiast YouTube channel Bring It Muscle Cars rated the soap a nine out of 10, as it removed nasty contaminants like bird droppings from the tested car. The only real downside was that it necessitated a bit more of the cleaner than similar brands, but since the cleaner itself is fairly cheap, it balances out.

Koch-Chemie Green Star Universal Cleaner

Koch-Chemie Green Star bottle

One of the annoying things about comprehensive car detailing is that you can’t usually use the same cleaning solutions for every part of your car. You need a solution for the exterior, the interior, the mechanical components, and so on. It makes sense, as different surfaces have different needs, but it’s still obnoxious to need a stack of four different cleaners on standby. Instead of that, why not boil things down to a single universal solution?

Koch-Chemie’s Green Star Universal Cleaner is exactly what it says on the bottle, “a highly concentrated alkaline cleaning solution that you can use just about anywhere in and on your car.” It’s completely free of phosphates and solvents, so it’s safe to use on your car’s exterior surfaces, interior components, and even on the surface of the engine. Thanks to special corrosion inhibitors, you don’t need to worry about accidentally damaging sensitive metal components.

The Green Star Universal Cleaner from Koch-Chemie is available on Amazon for $24.99, with a user rating of 4.8 out of five. Car detailing YouTube channel Sparklean Autos tested this product as both a tire and body cleaner. While it didn’t quite meet expectations as a pre-wash, it did a great job as a main cleaner on all tested surfaces, making it a great all-around option for those who want to save some time and money.

Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Foaming Car Wash Soap

Chemical Guys Mr. Pink bottle

It’s always a little strange to be handed a container full of bright pink liquid unless you’re taking a spoonful of Pepto-Bismol. It’s a very unnatural color for just about any kind of product, implying something with a heavy chemical base. Granted, the Mr. Pink Foaming Car Wash Soap from Chemical Guys is obviously chemical-centric, but don’t let that throw you off. This stuff is the real deal.

Whether you use it with a hand wash or in a foam sprayer, Mr. Pink is packed with carefully formulated lubricants that capture loose dirt and drag it right off of your car — leaving it shiny and scratch-free. It won’t hurt any existing wax or sealants on your finish, and in fact, it contains special gloss enhancers that can give your car’s exterior a freshly waxed shine. Don’t worry about the candy pink hue, either — Mr. Pink works just fine on cars of any color.

The Mr. Pink Foaming Car Wash Soap from Chemical Guys is available on Amazon for $29.99, where it has a user rating of 4.6 out of five. The car care YouTube Channel Picky Garage tested this cleaner on a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and it cleaned with confidence, leaving the car’s bright white shine intact. As an added bonus, it has a pleasant bubblegum aroma.

Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash

Meguiar's Gold Class bottle

High-class detailing car washes use the highest-grade cleaners and equipment, which certainly cleans your car with aplomb, but at the cost of, well, cost. Getting your car fully detailed at an upscale spot can be very expensive, which is one of the reasons why just doing it yourself is appealing. But if you’d like an approximation of the celebrity treatment without spending celebrity treatment money, try using Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash.

The Gold Class Car Wash utilizes premium-grade compounds to wipe dirt, grime, and other external contaminants from the face of your car, leaving it spotless and shiny. What’s nice is that this cleaner contains special conditioners that bring out the color and shine of dulled paint, making it great for restoring a faded car to its former glory. It’s also safe to use on clear coats and works with the bucket method and a foam blower.

Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash is available on Amazon for $10.99, with a 4.7 out of five user rating. Diesel vehicle enthusiast YouTube channel Dieselworld tested this cleaner on a car with various patches of dirt and grime all over it, utilizing it in both a bucket and a foam blower. After both cleans, the car was absolutely pristine, leaving no residue and letting its natural paint shine through.

Selection Methodology

Soapy sponge on car

The preceding products were chosen amongst top-rated products available immediately on Amazon, with preference given to products with at least a four out of five-star rating based on at least 100 user reviews and positive impressions from YouTube channels with at least 1,000 subscribers.

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