Not everyone has the time (or money) to get their car detailed every week, and those cheap drive-through car wash spots can take a noticeable toll on your car’s paint job over time. But before you fill up an old bucket with dish soap, make sure you only use the best car wash shampoo specifically formulated to keep your high-end luxury ride looking high-class.
Why Dish Soap Doesn’t Work for Car Washes
Before we look at the best car wash soaps, you might be wondering why you shouldn’t use dish soap to wash your car. For starters, it’s important to understand that dish soap is formulated to be as abrasive as possible in order to remove grease and caked-on food from dishes. This can have the unintended (and unfortunate) consequence of breaking down your car’s protective wax finish and giving the paint job a dull look. Dish soap can also damage rubber components and accelerate oxidation of metal body trim and wheels.
What to Look for When Buying Car Wash Soap
The next question you might ask is what makes a good car soap and what should you look for when buying soap to wash your car? Here are some of the important things to keep in mind as you navigate the wide world of car wash soap:
- Concentration – Although concentration isn’t necessarily a measure of a soap’s quality, it’s important to keep in mind if you want to get the best deal. The higher the concentration, the more you get from the bottle when you dilute it with clean water.
- pH Level – This is a measure of the soap’s acidity or alkalinity. A high pH content means the formula is very alkaline, and too low means the soap is very acidic. Both can damage your car’s wax, coat, and paint over time, so look for a soap that is pH balanced (don’t worry, most high-quality car wash soaps are engineered to have the ideal pH level).
- Water Spot/Streak Resistance – High-quality car wash soaps are also formulated to resist unsightly water spots and streaks after rinsing. Quick-drying solutions usually help you avoid both of these problems, although you may look into getting a water softener system installed on your outside hose if your home has hard water (the mineral and sediment deposits that make “hard” water can leave spots and streaks on your car no matter how resistant to water spots the car wash soap you use is).
- Scent – This is another minor consideration when buying car wash soap, but it’s an important one nevertheless. Overly pungent smells can linger on your car and may cause a problem if you or someone in your family has certain allergies.
The Best Car Wash Shampoo of 2017 (So Far)
- Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner – Look on any “top car wash soap” list and Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner is almost unanimously considered to be the best-of-the-best. The premium formula is designed to wash and condition your car in one easy step. What does conditioner do? It clears away debris for ultra-radiant paint color and clarity. Meguiar’s Gold Class is safe on all paint types and is safe to use on wax finishes.
- Mother’s California Gold Car Wash – Another perennial “best of” favorite is Mother’s California Gold Car Wash. The formula is carefully pH balanced for powerful cleaning and care to remove dirt and grime without dulling your paint. The super-sudsy, quick-drying formula also resists water spotting for a first-rate finish.
- Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Shampoo – Chemical Guys is one of the top picks among professional auto detailers when it comes to polishes, degreasers, interior cleaners, and of course car wash soaps. Mr. Pink is a gentle, pH-balanced formula that removes dirt, rime, and debris without dulling your car’s paint or leaving behind unsightly soap residue.
- Green Clean Automotive Car Shampoo – Get your car clean and do something good for the environment with waterless car shampoo from Green Clean. Simply spray on and wipe off, no water required! Made with natural bio-based ingredients, Green Clean car shampoo is free of any harsh solvents or chemicals that can fade your vehicle’s paint and wax finish. The makers also claim to have the highest exterior body protection among detailing car shampoos and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee with every bottle.
If you care enough about your ride to hand-wash it yourself using the very best cleaning products, take the next step and apply a protective film coating. Paint protection film (PPF) surrounds your vehicle with an invisible barrier that protects the paint underneath from chips, scratches, swirls, fading, and oxidation. Contact Auto Super Shield to get a quote on the very best PPF in South Florida.