The Best Car Shampoos For Car Washing & Detailing

The Best Car Shampoos For Car Washing & Detailing

If you are like us, washing and cleaning your car is not just a task. For us it is a way of life and way to take our minds off of everything else happening in our minds. We don't always do complete details, paint corrections, or ceramic coatings; most of the time we are simply doing a maintenance wash. Every car, truck, or SUV should be washed regularly to keep it looking great and because of this the most popular and most used product is car shampoo or car soap as some call it. 

Car shampoos are not a one size fits all product by any means. There are different types just like there are several types of hair shampoo. There are pH neutral shampoos, high pH shampoos, shampoos with wax or ceramic additives, there hundreds of smells, and then there are some shampoos that work great in a bucket or in a foam cannon.

How to Choose a Car Shampoo

For most people who want to wash their cars, trucks, or SUV all you need is a good pH neutral car shampoo. This means it is balanced and won't harm any protection like wax or a paint sealant you may have on your vehicle. Usually, the shampoo is meant to add lots of suds and lubrication so when you use your wash mitt, sponge, or other wash media you won't harm the paint and create swirls or scratches. 95% of your washes should be used with a pH neutral car shampoo. Most pH neutral car shampoos have a pH in between 7 and 8. We will discuss further down when you need something stronger for the other 5% of washes you may need to do.

If you have gritty and rough feeling paint you may need something with more cleaning power and then you would want a higher pH shampoo. High pH car shampoos are designed have lots of lubrication but stronger cleaning agents to help clean stubborn grime, road film, dirt, and other contaminants and are a great way to start a decontamination of your paint, glass, trim, and more. High pH shampoos can impact your vehicle's protection like waxes, sealants, and even ceramic coatings if you use them too often. Higher pH shampoos usually have a pH of 9 or higher.

Other things to consider are if you want a product that adds a little protection to it to help your vehicle's paint stay a little slicker and protected. Some car shampoos include a wax or additive like ceramic to add some extra lubricity while washing but also some can add a week or so of protection to your car's paint, glass, and wheels. We don't use these often as there are better ways to protect your vehicles surfaces but for some people it is an easy way to add short term protection.

If you have a vehicle with a ceramic coating or graphene coating you may want a car shampoo that is designed to maintain your coating. These ceramic maintenance shampoos help unclog coatings to keep the benefits of your coating being the best it can be. 

Price can be a huge factor in car shampoos and buying in bulk like gallon or 32 ounce bottles can really help lower the cost per ounce of shampoo. So shop around and buy what is in your price range or budget.

Finally, sometimes a car shampoo comes down to what is smells like and what color it is. Car shampoos come in hundreds or colors and scents and there are some that smell absolutely amazing and it can get addicting. Whether you like fruity smells, more cologne type smells, or bubblegum you can find what you want in car shampoos.

Our Top Car Shampoos We Love 

So while there are so many choices for washing your car, here are the ones we enjoy and keep in our detailing cabinet and in our wash buckets.

The Best pH Neutral Shampoos We Use Often

We have tested and used a lot of pH neutral shampoos over the years and have put over 40 in our GloveBoxes over the last 6 years but some of our favorites are here. This list is in no order as we like so many of these shampoos that we can't rank them and you cannot go wrong with any of them.

Double Tap - Car Soap

Lithium Double Tap

Price: $27.99 - $69.00

Size: 32 ounces or Gallon sizes

Pros: This shampoo smells like a day at the spa and is extremely slick and cleans very well. The Eucalyptus not only smells amazing but it kicks up the cleaning power without the risk of being too strong!

Cons: It is a slightly expensive and you need a few ounces to get good foam in a cannon but the experience makes up for that immediately. For better cost efficiency we suggest buying it by the gallon.

Code: GLOVEBOX for 20% off

Gentle Snow Foam

KochChemie Gsf

Price: $27.99 - $92.99

Size: 1 L or 5 L

Pros: A highly concentrated shampoo that is fantastic in a foam cannon or in a bucket for your contact wash. 

Cons: A higher cost car shampoo that only comes in larger sizes.

 

Owners Pride Ultra Wash

Price: $14.99 - $49.99

Size: 16 Ounces - 1 Gallon

Pros: This insanely concentrated shampoo foams like crazy with as little as half an ounce and will provide rich rather out of your foam cannon.  

Cons: Smells so good but you can't drink it.

Code: GLOVEBOX for 10% off 

CARPRO Reset Car Wash 500ml

CarPro Reset

Price: $15.99 to $89.99

Size: 17 Ounces, 34 Ounces, and 1 Gallon

Pros: Reset is widely thought of as the best car shampoo on the market for cleaning a ceramic coated car. Its stout cleaning abilities and rich lather make it ideal for your contact wash. It is slick and 1 ounce can do the job in 4 gallons of water. 

Cons: We have foamed it with a foam cannon and it does work pretty well but you need roughly 2-3 ounces of shampoo to get the job done which is gets pricey per wash.

The Detail Firm Exterior Lather 12 ounces

The Detail Firm Exterior Lather

Price: $15.00 - $65.00

Size: 12 Ounces, 25 Ounces, 3L

Pros: This shampoo smells like Bergamot (like a lime scent) and is ridiculously concentrated. Half an ounce in 16 ounces in your foam cannon and you are foaming the block. It is slick and works great in a bucket. The packaging of the 12 ounce and 25 ounce bottles is super luxurious and really sets it apart from the industry.

Cons: This soap is expensive but because you can dilute it so well it really doesn't matt. The 3L comes in a "wine box" which some people are not a fan of.

Code: GLOVEBOX for 15% off

Vvash Hyper Foam 16 Ounces

Vvash Hyper Foam

Price: $15.99 - $64.99

Size: 16 Ounces - 1 Gallon 

Pros: This shampoo is pH neutral and smells like watermelon which will work on all your vehicle's surfaces without damaging your wax or sealant. 

Cons: This is not as concentrated as some of the others on our list so you will use more in your cannon.

Code: GloveBox for 20% off

Turtle Wax Pure Wash Car Shampoo 64 Ounces

Turtle Wax Pure Wash

Price: $20.00

Size: 64 Ounces

Pros: This is a fantastic shampoo that can work in your bucket and in your foam cannon and is probably the slickest soap on this list. It is so slick that you can clay and decontaminate with it. It kills two birds with one stone and is safe for all paint sealants and waxes. For $20 you can get half a gallon vs. 16 ounces of other shampoos on the market.

Cons: One con is that it only comes in half gallon form and a full gallon would be ideal. The second issue is we don't have a code to save on this amazing shampoo.

Armour Detail Supply Shampoo+ 16 Ounces

Armour Detail Supply Shampoo+

Price: $17.99 - $64.99

Size: 16 Ounces - 1 Gallon

Pros: This is the newest kid on the block and it has really come to play. With amazing performance and a great experience you cannot go wrong. A little goes a long way and it works extremely well in a bucket wash and in your foam cannon. Shampoo+ is definitely shaking up the industry so don't sleep on this one!

Cons: This is a little more pricey for 16 ounces but the biggest issue is they sell out so often (because it is a beast) so order yours right away to secure this in your arsenal!

Code: GLOVEBOX for 15% off

DIY Detail Incredible Suds Shampoo 16 Ounces

DIY Detail Incredible Suds

Price: $17.99 - $74.99

Size: 16 Ounces - 1 Gallon

Pros: This is an amazing all around shampoo that is slightly more alkaline than your standard pH neutral soaps. It cleans really well and foams insanely. It smells like grape soda and works great for a contact wash and in your cannon. It is highly concentrated and a little goes a long way.

Cons: The only thing we did not like about this shampoo is it is really thick and clingy and does not pour as well as a thinner shampoo. 

Code: GLOVEBOX for 10% off 

 

Apex Auto Wash 1 Gallon

Phoenix EOD Apex Auto Wash

Price: $9.99 - $39.99

Size: 16 Ounces - 1 Gallon

Pros: This is an amazing all around shampoo that cleans great, foams well, and has no dyes so it will not stain any surfaces or products. It is also extremely well priced and should be considered for any detail shop!

Cons: The only thing some folks may not enjoy is there is no scent. 

All these shampoos clean extremely well, are extremely slick, and work great in a bucket or foam cannon. 

Our Favorite Decontamination or Higher pH Car Shampoos

We do decontamination washes to help clean filthy cars or vehicles that have underperforming protection like clogged ceramic coatings. Sometimes your paint or wheels need an extra bit of bite when you are doing a wash and a stronger pH shampoo can really help boost the cleaning effectiveness of your wash. That is why wanted to mention some our favorite decontamination shampoos! 

Armour Detail Supply Decon Soap 16 Ounces

Armour Detail Supply Decon Shampoo

Price: $16.99 - $54.99

Size: 16 Ounces - 1 Gallon

Pros: Great higher alkaline shampoo that cleans really well and is great in a bucket and a foam cannon. 

Cons: You use more product than their Shampoo+ so if you have a shop or detail studio go for the gallon size jug!

Code: GLOVEBOX for 15% off

 

Koch Chemie Active Foam 1L Decon Soap

Koch Chemie Active Foam

Price: $19.99 - $167.99

Size: 1 L, 5 L, 20 L

Pros: The smell of sandalwood makes this shampoo a killer decon soap in the bucket and foam cannon. It goes a long way and is quite cost effective even in the 1 Liter bottle.

Cons: It is a pH of 9.5 and may not have the strength you need for a full decon and strip wash.

Super Foam 5L High pH Car Shampoo

Koch Chemie Super Foam

Price: $78.99 - $256.99

Size: 5 L - 20 L

Pros: An extremely potent decon and high pH soap that foams really well and is dynamite as a presoak.

Cons: Only available in 5 Liter & 20 Liter jugs but just like Af (Active Foam) they recently launched 1 Liter bottles and hopefully in the future they can do that with Sf.

 

Adam's Polishes Strip Wash 16 Ounces

Adam's Strip Wash

Price: $14.99 - $239.99

Size: 16 Ounces, 1 Gallon, 5 Gallons

Pros: An affordable presoak for salt, dirt, and wax removal and available in large quantities.

Cons: Not as effective as some of the competitors on this list but for the price and all of the promotions Adam's runs it is not something to pass on.

PRIMUS 2.0 - Alkaline foam prewash 1L

Labocosmetica Primus

Price: $19.95 - $67.95

Size: 1 L - 4.5 L

Pros: An amazing high pH Shampoo that is starting to gain traction in the U.S. and Canada markets and will surely start being more popular as people realize these Italians came to play!

Cons: A little more luxurious and supply seems to sell out often so don't waste time and order today!

Code: GLOVEBOX20

What is the Best Car Shampoo?

This is a tricky question because a lot has to do with budget, foam, slickness, or something that just cleans aggressively. We have a lot of these shampoos in our arsenal and sometimes I choose a shampoo because I like the smell of it. Overall, this is a personal choice we recommend trying lots of car shampoos and see what works for you.