If you’re looking to find the best car wash soap around then you’re in good hands. We’ve plucked five of the best, with Meguiar’s G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash being the standout, and put together some information to make sure your car never has to suffer through terrible soap again.
We all love our vehicles, but when’s the last time you really thought about making sure that the soap you’re putting on it was the best you could do? There are a lot of chemicals out there for cleaning our cars. Some people invest tons of time and money into ensuring only the best for their mechanical baby, so shouldn’t we learn from their lessons?
This is our pick for the absolute best car soap on the market, if you pick it up we think you’ll fall in love in a hurry.
Top 5 Car Wash Soaps
|Name||Size of Container||Rating|
|Meguiar’s G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash||1 gallon||5/5||Check Price|
|Optimum (NR2010Q)||1 gallon||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash||1 gallon||4/5||Check Price|
|Meguiar’s G17748||48oz||4/5||Check Price|
|Mothers 05602||1 gallon||4/5||Check Price|
1. Best Overall
Meguiar's G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash
We love this stuff, it’s pretty much the ultimate in car soaps. Even better, it’s actually not as expensive as it appears since this is a concentrate of pretty strong proportions: add 1 capful to a gallon of water and you’re set.
It suds up like no other, and at the end of the day you’ll quickly find that it’s a joy to use. It slices through dirt, grime, and grease without much work and with the proper drying technique you’re almost guaranteed a streak free finish.
On top of that, it doesn’t strip off the wax while you’re working. That’s pretty impressive for any car soap, and a great way to end up with an excellent finish that barely takes any time to touch up.
Pros and Cons
- Cleans without stripping wax
- Excellent finish
- Strongly concentrated formula
- Great price for the amount you get
- Suds can be too thick if not diluted enough
- Not good for power washers
2. Best for New Cars
Optimum (NR2010Q) No Rinse Wash & Shine
Optimum No Rinse is affectionately known as ONR in the car detailing world, and it’s absolutely amazing. It’s a true no rinse wash, and allows you to get your car clean with the minimum amount of effort.
On top of that, it’s great at making sure that you don’t end up with unsightly swirls and scratches. There’s really not enough which can be said in favor of this product, although the parent company really sucks at marketing.
What they are good at is making this unique, polymer blend that will leave your car shining like new. It scoops up the dirt and leaves it on the rag, so have a stack of them around. For whatever magic reason the dirt will adhere to the rag and not scratch your car.
If you want to keep that new car bright and sparkling, then ONR might be exactly what you’re looking for. Just rinse it first if you’ve been in the mud.
Pros and Cons
- Amazing performance, leaving a streak free finish
- Keeps the dirt on your rag, allowing you to not have to rinse
- Super concentrated
- Works well with sprayers and directly on rags
- Requires a lot of rags to use efficiently
3. Best Green Car Soap
Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash
If staying green is part of your concern when you’re washing your vehicle, then this citrus based car soap might be right up your alley.
It cleans quite well in addition to being fully biodegradable. The citrus based compounds “float” the soil in order to allow for it to be easily swiped off without leaving scratches on your paint. It’s also not much more expensive than less environmentally friendly options.
It’s great to use both with a sprayer and with rags, making it an ideal solution for a lot of people.
If you’re willing to spend a little bit of extra cash in order to save the environment then you’ll love this citrus cleaner from Chemical Guys.
Pros and Cons
- Biodegradable and environmentally friendly
- Floats soil for a scratch and swirl free finish
- Enhances the natural gloss of clear coat
- Good for both hand and sprayer washes
- A little bit more expensive than comparable options
- Not “streak-free”, dry carefully when you’re done
4. Best One Stop Solution
Meguiar's G17748 Ultimate Wash and Wax
Meguiar’s makes our list again with their Ultimate Wash and Wax. If you’re not willing to spend some time finding a wax you like, then this synthetic wash might be exactly what you need to ensure that your vehicle is utterly gleaming each time you finish washing it.
Using some polymer behind to act as a wax coating, it also cleans super well when you get down to it.
Now, it won’t replace regular waxing, but it will help to keep things protected in between applications of wax. Save yourself some elbow grease by using this wash and you’ll cut down on tedious waxing sessions by quite a bit.
If you want something to make sure that you don’t have to stop and wax your vehicle each time you’re done washing, then you’ve found it with Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax.
Pros and Cons
- Leaves behind a polymer-wax layer to protect paint
- Clean, fresh smell sticks around for awhile
- Suds quite well, keeping you from using too much concentrate
- Great and simple to use
- Not great for foam guns
5. Best Concentrated Car Wash Soap
Mothers 05602 California Gold Car Wash
At first glance, the price tag of Mothers’ California Gold Car Wash might be a turn off. It shouldn’t be though, because this stuff stretches a long way and you’ll have nearly fresh suds from start to finish if you opt to use it.
It comes out of the bottle with an almost gel-like consistency instead of the “laundry soap” type consistency of many washes. Let it ooze into the water and you’re going to be surprised at the sheer amount of suds that you get from a single bucket.
We’d hesitate to call it a budget option, because a gallon of it will run you quite a bit of money, but it is some of the most concentrated wash we’ve ever seen and that bottle is likely to last you a long time to come.
It’s not quite “budget” but this excellent car detergent is amazingly concentrated and if you rarely wash a gallon of it is going to last for a long time to come.
Pros and Cons
- Super concentrated, you hardly need to use any at all
- Provides a clean, streak-free finish
- Doesn’t remove wax during normal washing
- pH balanced at a neutral 7
- Initial purchase is a bit hefty
- Doesn’t respond well to storage at high temperatures
What Makes a Soap Better?
Not all soaps are created equal, unfortunately.
If this was a simple case of going down, grabbing a generic white bottle labeled “car soap” and going home to lather up that mean machine then there wouldn’t be an industry dedicated to making different varieties of these crucial chemicals.
But what makes a good soap stand out? We’re glad you asked, because the following qualities are what you want to look for.
There’s one main physical quality you need to keep an eye out for: the suds.
You want a car soap that foams up like crazy, since this foaming action seperates the dirt from the surface of the paint without scrubbing.
Less scrubbing means less possible damage to your vehicle’s surface and no one wants scratches.
You’ll have to put in the elbow grease no matter what, but as a general rule the more suds you’ve got the better your entire experience will be.
There’s a tendency to look for soaps with a pH higher than seven amongst those who are chemically inclined.
That might work for your skin, but you don’t want to do this for your vehicle.
Despite the layers of clear coat and general durability of auto-paint, it can be quite sensitive chemically. Unless you’re actually a chemist don’t get too smart for your own good.
A neutral pH stands the lowest chance of causing any corrosion to your paint or clear coat. Chemically damaged clear coat can become “milky” like a car left in the sun too long, and if it gets eaten through… well, you’re going to be in trouble.
Green products used to have a reputation as being generally inferior counterparts.
That’s not really true anymore, and indeed the only reason that many of the old soaps which are ecologically disastrous are still produced is a reluctance to be associated with the green movement.
It might not matter much to your car, but it can make a big difference in the long run since most of the soap is going to end up in the gutter anyways once you’ve gotten into things with the hose.
What kind of finish you’re left with is going to be a factor of the exact makeup of the soap.
You want something that leaves a streak-free finish, in order to avoid having to going back through the whole affair repeatedly.
A good, reliable soap will never leave you with a mess when you’re done, provided that you know what you’re doing when you wash the car.
Getting the Most Out of Your New Car Soap
Of course, technique is nearly as important as the chemicals you’re using when it comes to washing your car. This means that you’re going to want to ensure that you do the following:
- Examine your car before washing. Sometimes you might not need detergent yet and might just want to rinse and touch up the wax.
- Rinse your car before applying chemicals if it’s already quite dirty. Large chunks of dried mud and other debris can scratch things if you accidentally move a clod when you’re using your glove or cloth.
- Never use household cleaners on your car. That’s a great way to damage things on top of not being an effective cost-cutting measure. Put the dish soap down, it’s not the way to go if you want to ensure the longevity of your exterior.
- After cleaning with water and car detergent, you’ll want to run your hands over the exterior surface. Some contaminants aren’t easily seen, such as tree sap, and you want to make sure they’re gone before you apply wax.
- Invest in a good wax as well as a detergent, this will keep your car protected from the elements a lot more than just cleaning it.
- Never let things air dry. That’s how you get streaks. Instead use a very soft terry towel or microfiber rag in a long, circular motion to get the water off of your car. This has the added bonus of letting you feel any large, hard-to-see stuff stuck to your car.
As long as you follow the above guidelines you’re sure to be okay at the end of the process.
Remember to keep some dedicated cloths or gloves for washing your car and doing nothing else. Dust and other stuff accumulates in rags and sooner or later you’re really going to wish that you had thought that one through.
That’s particularly true in garages where work takes place. Imagine a metal burr from a grinder getting on a cloth and it not coming out in the wash… it’s not going to be pretty.
You don’t need to break it down like it’s rocket science, but the above common sense guidelines are often forgotten by the absent minded.
If you want your car’s gleaming exterior to last, then investing in the best car wash soap around is one sure way to help out. Between that and a good waxing you can do a fantastic job at home, and also know what chemicals you’re exposing your car to. Give one of our picks a shot, and you’re sure to end up with a gleaming ride with a long future.