Best Car Wash Soap 2018 – Buyer’s Guide (UPDATED)
Best Car Wash Soap – MaintainYourRide Recommends :
Duragloss 901 Car Wash Concentrate
Introduction – Top 5 Best Car Wash Soap 2018
A good quality car wash soap is the key to the perfect car wash. Many DIY hose and bucket car washers resort to dish soaps or cheap car wash soap and wonder why their paint is showing swirl marks and fading. There is actually a large difference between dish soaps, cheap wash, and the top-of-the-line car wash soaps that tested below.
Dish soap is a good bit more harsh than car-specific soaps. It can quickly remove a protective coating of wax exposing your paint to contaminants, ultraviolet light, and can accelerate the oxidation process of the paint. Dish soaps are not guaranteed to be pH-balanced or non-abrasive. These are important in preserving the life of your paint and the waxes that you apply for protection.
Lower priced car wash soaps are also not always guaranteed to be pH-balanced or non-abrasive. While they typically aren’t as harsh as dish soaps, the can still cause issues with the wax coatings you apply to protect your paint. They may contain extra ingredients such as wax or polish that can be problematic with current wax coatings and future washes/waxes.
Splurging a bit on car wash soap is a wise move. Typically, even a small bottle will last for over a year of washes. Additionally, these soaps are guaranteed to be pH-balanced, non-abrasive, and contain little to no unnecessary extra ingredients.
The higher end soaps also generate significantly better suds which is one of the most important factors of a wash soap. The suds build up around contaminants in the paint, suspend them, and lubricate to allow them to be easily rinsed away. The goal is to remove as much of the dirt, particles, and contaminants as possible with just a suds and rinse so they aren’t scratching the paint when being scrubbed with a wash mitt.
Many high end soaps recommend using a foam cannon to provide the best suds possible. There are attachments that fit on standard hoses like the Gilmour Foamaster which can simulate the foam cannon effect that a pressure washer can provide. Our pressure washer/foam cannon setup is the Sun Joe SPX3000 Pressure Washer and the MATCC Adjustable Foam Gun which, when combined with our top recommended soap, provides the best wash you can get. Period.
Our Top 5 rated Car Wash Soaps are all readily available and affordable enough that there is no excuse not to upgrade.
How to Wash Your Car – Ultimate Car Wash Guide
The Basic car wash is one of the most important skills a car owner can gain. While it seems like a very simple process, we’ve seen countless cars ruined by improper washing technique and frequency. While there are tons of YouTube videos demonstrating each step, sometimes it is good to have a quick reference textual guide that explains the process in simple terms. We’ll also cover some tips, tricks and advice.
Gather High-Quality Materials
Quality materials are going to make all the difference for this process.
First of all, a high-quality Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitt is an inexpensive improvement to the standard car wash sponge. It helps prevent scratching by providing significantly more surface area for particles to be captured and pulled away from the finish.
The Two-Bucket Method is acceptable to us, but we generally recommend taking advantage of 3 buckets to ensure that you’re getting rid of the contaminants and then rinsing before dipping back into your soapy water. A Grit-Guard is recommended for your first rinse bucket so that you have something to scrub your wash mitt on to remove contaminants without picking up gunk that has sunk to the bottom of the bucket. So that is two buckets of just plain water, and one bucket of water with your favorite automotive soap.
The Pre-Wash Rinse & Suds
We recommend using your regular old garden hose and giving the car a good spray down to wash off the loose dirt and grime. Next, using one of the soap cannon attachments from above, the entire car will be suds’d up. These suds help separate some of the more stubborn particles and help them roll right off. Rinse off this layer of suds once it’s had a few minutes to soak in.
Scrubbing the Suds
While the suds are soaking in, fill your soap bucket with the recommended mixture of soap and water from the product instructions. This is where it is helpful to have buckets with handles. You’ll want to carry the buckets around the car with you to prevent having to walk around constantly. Make your way around the car, panel by panel, scrubbing with soap, dipping into the first rinse bucket and scrubbing the grit guard, and then dip into the second rinse bucket before starting the process over again.
Now that the entire car has been scrubbed with soap, it’s time for the rinse. Grab that old garden hose and this time make sure you have no attachments or nozzles on it. We want the stream of water to be as uniform as possible so that the majority of the water will run right off.
Grab that chamois or drying towel and get ready for the most vital step that lots of people miss. Drying the car is the finishing step that is commonly skipped for some reason. But skipping this step will leave you with all sorts of water spots and can also pick up any extra dirt or grime that you may have missed when scrubbing the car. If using a chamois, be sure to wet it prior to starting to dry your car. This will loosen it up and allow it to easily glide along your finish soaking up all the water droplets. Ring out the towel/chamois periodically as it stops absorbing and starts smearing.
Next Steps (Optional)
Clay Bar – Once a year, we recommend giving your ride a clay bar treatment. This entails using a clay bar kit with a lubricant spray along with a bar of high-quality clay. Rubbing this lubricated clay along your paint will help extract some of the much more difficult contaminants. After clay barring the whole car, rewashing is a must to make sure you remove all of the lubricant and contaminants that are loosened.
Scratch-out/Rubbing Compound – This step will help remove very minor scratches or swirl marks in your paint to give it a smoother look and feel.
Polish/Sealant – Polish gives the paint a much deeper shine and fills in the very finest micro-abrasions that the rubbing compound might leave. A sealant provides an extra level of protection from harmful UV radiation and also seals the paint from contaminants. This is usually good for about 12 months between applications.
Wax – The finishing step to a quality car wash – Take a look at our Best Car Wax Buyer’s Guide for more information about waxing your car.
Top 5 Best Car Wash Soap Comparison
Zymol Z530 Auto Wash uses all natural ingredients that are more eco-friendly than the average wash soap. It is actually Zymol’s more heavy-duty wash soap designed to extract heavy dirt, oils, and insect tar while protecting the finish.
Ingredients include pure Coconut Bark Soap and natural oils that help to lift dirt allowing it to easily wash away. The bottle comes in a 48oz size and, due to its concentrated nature, can provide months of car washes.
It is the most expensive soap on our list per ounce, however, it has great reviews and provides one of the more balanced offerings of cleaning power and protection for your finish.
Chemical Guys is one of the biggest names in high-end automotive detailing. Their Citrus Wash&Gloss Soap is easily the strongest soap on our list. It has one of the highest concentration ratings of any soap on the market. It uses the power of natural citrus to enhance cleaning power and also makes your car smell amazing!
1 oz to 4 gallons of water for a gentle but thorough was that will preserve your existing wax layer. 1 oz to 1 gallon is strong enough to strip your existing wax layer which can be very useful at times when you want to strip and reapply your wax. This soap is especially useful if you tend to go extended periods of time between car washes.
Again very highly rated and recommended by experts in the industry and very affordable when considering the level of concentration provided.
Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Soap is by far the most popular soap on our list. Popularity, however, doesn’t mean it is the best option for all applications. Meguiar’s brand automotive detailing products can be found at most major retailers which is a large contributing factor of their popularity. It is also the cheapest offering on the list.
The Gold Class Car Wash soap provides many of the same benefits that the other more expensive soaps do (pH-balanced, non-detergent, lubricating). One of the biggest downfalls with it is that it doesn’t produce the same quality of suds as the other offerings.
Clearly proven by its popularity and consistently high reviews, it is hard to ignore the Meguiar’s Gold Class if you’re looking for the best value.
Chemical Guys Maxi-Suds II is a much less harsh soap offering than their Citrus Wash&Wax. It is formulated more towards providing the most gentle clean for washes in between wax applications when the goal is to preserve the wax and finish. It also leaves your car smelling very cherry which is addictive!
Maxi-Suds II is a uniquely formulated foaming technology that works by suspending super polymers within each bubble allowing grim and built-up dirt to be effortlessly rinsed away. The unique lubricity of Maxi-Suds II loosens abrasive residue and allows it to be rinsed away without scratching the surface.
Again, near perfect five star ratings from hundreds of users and a reasonable price tag makes this one of the best car wash soaps.
Duragloss 90x is another highly concentrated soap formulated specifically for heavy-duty cleaning while preserving wax layers. It gets the MaintainYourRide recommendation due its suds’ing and lubricating performance along with the sheer number of recommendations we’ve seen from other sources.
The concentration of this soap can also be adjusted similar to the Chemical Guys Citrus. Stronger concentrations can provide a deeper cleaning that can also cut through the outer wax layers if needed. It leaves a great cherry scent as well.
Due to the sheer number of people that recommend Duragloss as the number 1 best car wash soap on the market, we had to test it out. It’s very affordable for the concentration level and lives up to the hype. No reason not to give it a shot for your next car wash.
There are a few different sizes of bottle for the Duragloss 90x series. 901 refers to the smaller bottle while 902 & 903 refer to larger bottles. As long as you’re getting a 90_ bottle, you will be getting the same soap.
Common Car Wash Soap Questions
Homemade car wash soap?
There are a bunch of articles on the web about creating your own car wash soap for people on a budget. Most recommend using laundry detergent, dish detergent, baking soda, water, etc. While this may work as a good surfactant for cleaning the car, but it may be a bit too strong for the porous clear coat of most modern cars. While it may be alright to use once or twice, we would recommend using a higher end wash soap designed specifically for automotive applications.
Should I get Car Wash Soap with Wax?
This is completely up to you as the consumer. If you’re not the type of person that enjoys waxing your car after washing, then it may be a good addition. However, you can get significantly better quality and results by going with a separate wax layer.
Car Wash Soap vs Dish Soap
Dish soap tends to be a bit too harsh on the porous paint of modern clear coats. It also cuts right through any existing wax layer which means that if you do a single wash with dish soap, you will need to reapply your sealants and waxes immediately after. Many wash soaps are designed to be gentle enough not to strip the wax layer. This is perfect for the washes between waxes.
Best Car Wash Soap to Strip Wax
While dish soap is typically pretty good at stripping wax, it is also a bit harsh like we stated before. A more heavy duty wash soap designed for automobiles like the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash are better equipped to handle stripping the wax without negatively affecting the paint finish.
MYR Recommended Best Car Wash Soap – Overall – Duragloss 901 Car Wash Concentrate
MYR Recommended Best Car Wash Soap – Performance – Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss Concentrated Car Wash
MYR Recommended Best Car Wash Soap – Value – Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo
While washing your car is an important job, waxing is just as important for the protection of your finishes and the look of your ride. Check out the MaintainYourRide Recommended best car wax offerings — MaintainYourRide – Top 7 Best Car Wax Guide