Washing your car yourself allows you to take extra care and use a quality car wash shampoo. It’s also far cheaper than paying a professional valeting company and you also get the satisfaction when the paintwork is left gleaming.
If you require a quick answer, the best car shampoo is the Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo, which is a pH neutral formula that lifts traffic film without harming any waxed surfaces. However, if you want a shampoo to use with your pressure washer or snow foam lance, the brand’s Polar Blast is the best alternative.
To rate the car shampoos within this article, we based our recommendations upon testing, research and multiple factors. The factors that we considered included their type, formulation, finish, effectiveness, scent and value for money.
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Car Shampoo Comparison
|Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo||Bucket||500ml to 2.5 Litres|
|Meguiar’s Gold Class||Bucket||1.89 Litres|
|Gtechniq G Wash||Bucket||250ml to 5 Litres|
|Turtle Wax Zip Wax||Bucket||500ml to 5 Litres|
|Autoglym Polar Blast||Pressure Washer||2.5 Litres|
|Pro-Kleen Thick Snow Foam||Pressure Washer||5 Litres|
Investing into the best car shampoo you can get your hands on is highly recommended for a safe yet effective wash. Using less superior shampoos can leave streaks on the paintwork, strip wax and generally leave a poor finish.
Car shampoos are available in several forms and can be used with the traditional bucket method or with a pressure washer. To avoid disappointment, you want to ensure you have the correct type depending upon your washing method.
Below is a list of the best car shampoos that effectively remove dirt and grime without effecting waxed surfaces.
The Best Car Shampoo
1. Autoglym Car Bodywork Shampoo
Autoglym are one of the biggest detailing brands in the UK and their car wash shampoo is by far the most popular. The popularity is mainly due to the value for money and its ability to effortlessly remove dirt and grime.
According to the brand, the formula is designed to safely lift dirt without harming or stripping the waxed surface. This is an important feature as it avoids removing all of your hard work from when you’ve previously waxed the car.
Other features of the Autoglym Bodywork Car Shampoo include:
- pH neutral formula
- Deep cleaning and streak-free
- Special ingredients to boost water resistance
- Lifts traffic film without harming the waxed surface
- 500 ml, 1 or 2.5 litre bottles
- Concentrated solution
- Made in the UK
- Pear fragrance
Overall, the Autoglym shampoo is a high performing formula that’s affordable and available in a large bottle. Simply fill the lid with the shampoo, pour into a bucket filled with hot water and you are ready to begin cleaning your car.
2. Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo
Meguiar’s are another reputable brand and their Gold Class Car Wash is designed to gently wash and condition in a single step. The formula produces rich suds that safely foams away tough dirt and other contaminants on the surface.
The standout feature of this car shampoo is the fact that it contains ultra-rich paint conditioners. The benefit of this is that it gives the car a brilliant shine and leaves the paintwork looking more radiant.
Other features of the Meguiar’s Gold Class include:
- 1.89 litre bottle
- Safe on all paint types
- Biodegradable detergents
- Ultra-rich paint conditioners
- Advanced formula doesn’t strip wax
- Produces a vast amount of suds
The Meguiar’s Gold Class is an excellent all-round car shampoo that’s much loved by many enthusiasts and professionals. It’s more expensive than the Autoglym alternative but it produces more suds for safely removing all dirt.
3. Gtechniq G Wash Car Shampoo
Gtechniq are a detailing brand that produce many high performing products and the G Wash is no different as it follows that great reputation. It has a high foam content that provides safe yet powerful dirt and grime removal.
The brand offer this car wash shampoo in four sizes that range from 250 ml to as large as a 5 litre capacity. For the best bang for your buck, we strongly recommend the 5 litre bottle because once opened it can last up to 12 months.
Other features of the Gtechniq G Wash include:
- Maximum gloss retention
- High quality foam content
- 100% biodegradable
- pH neutral
- Can be diluted
- Bubblegum scented
Although the G Wash shampoo by Gtechniq is the most expensive within this article, it’s a professional grade formula that won’t disappoint. It’s designed to break the bond between the dirt film and the paintwork whilst ensuring maximum gloss retention for an unbeatable shine to your car.
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4. Turtle Wax Zip Wax Car Wash Shampoo
An affordable option for washing cars on a budget is the Turtle Wax Zip Wax formula. It’s available in sizes ranging from as little as 500 ml to a large 5 litre bottle for maximum value for money.
The brand have been developing car shampoos for years but this is their new and improved carnauba enriched formula.
Other features of the Turtle Wax Zip Wax include:
- Gently washes away dirt and grime
- Dries spot-free
- Wash and wax carnauba formula
- Concentrated solution
- Cleans all exterior surfaces
- Multiple bottle sizes
Overall, the Turtle Wax Zip Wax is a deep cleaning car shampoo that offers excellent value for money. The inclusion of carnauba in the formula also adds a layer of protection to the paintwork, which helps to maintain the shine and protection.
5. Autoglym Polar Blast Pressure Washer Car Shampoo
If you use a pressure washer to wash your car, you can use a dedicated shampoo that dispenses directly from it. The best option for producing ultra-rich thick foam is another formula by Autoglym, which is known as the Polar Blast.
It’s available in an affordable 2.5 litre bottle that you can pour straight into your pressure washer or snow foam lance.
Other features of the Autoglym Polar Blast include:
- pH neutral pre-wash formula
- Clings onto the paintwork much longer than alternatives
- Effectively removes dirt and contamination
- Doesn’t remove any wax from the paintwork
- Easily diluted to suit your requirements on thickness
The Polar Blast formula by Autoglym is easy to use and only requires 10 minutes to get to work. It’s the best car shampoo for a pressure washer that’s safe yet effective. It’s important to note that it’s best used as a pre-wash and cars that are covered in dirt may need to be washed using a regular shampoo afterwards.
6. Pro-Kleen Snow Foam Car Shampoo
Pro-Kleen are a brand that are well-known for the snow foam lance that they produce. However, they also produce their own car shampoo that you can use and it rivals the Polar Blast alternative by Autoglym above. According to the brand, the formula includes rich ingredients and a generous amount of wax for unbeatable results.
Other features of the Pro-Kleen Snow Foam Car Shampoo include:
- Super thick suds
- 5 litres of shampoo
- Non-caustic formula
- Suitable for all snow foam lances
- Multiple fragrances to choose from
- Remove tough dirt from all exterior surfaces
Overall, it’s an affordable car shampoo for snow foam lances that’s able to produce the desirable thick suds. The brand also claim that it’s used by some of the best valeting companies in the UK and it won’t disappoint.
How We Tested & Picked
Whether we are using car shampoo in a bucket or from a pressure washer, we’ve tried and tested a range of formulas from all of the big brands in the UK. We’ve also tested the shampoos upon pristine sports cars to daily drivers. As well as our experience, we also based our recommendations upon hours of research and multiple factors. Some of the factors that we considered included the type, formulation, finish, effectiveness, scent and value for money
Car Shampoo Buying Guide
Car shampoo is an essential product for washing your car and it’s available in several forms. It’s highly advised that you avoid using household solutions for washing your car as they can be tough on the paintwork. They can also strip any car waxes that have been previously applied to the car too.
Depending upon whether you use a pre-wash technique, you may also require two different shampoos for use with a pressure washer and then with a car wash bucket.
To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding car shampoos.
pH Balanced Formula
The car shampoo that you use will need to maintain a pH balance that’s similar to water. This is required because it prevents the shampoo stripping any wax that you’ve applied previously. Higher alkalinity to the formula does assist with breaking up dirt and can be useful in certain situations but it shouldn’t be used on a regular basis.
Amount of Suds
Car shampoos that produce plenty of thick suds will be more effective at removing dirt particles without scratching the paintwork. However, some people may prefer the lack of suds because it provides a sheeting effect that lets water run off the paintwork. Therefore, depending upon how dirty your car is will determine the amount of suds that’s best to clean it.
Inclusion of Wax
Some formulas may include carnauba wax and other special ingredients to make them standout from the hundreds of shampoos available. Although it’s not strictly necessary, it’s very beneficial for those that occasionally wash their car. However, if you intend on polishing or waxing the car straight after washing it, it isn’t really worth paying the extra for a shampoo that includes wax.
Water Spot and Streak Resistant
After washing your car, there is nothing worse than seeing water spots or steaks upon the paintwork. They are made noticeable under direct sunlight or lighting and can make the car look worse than it did before it was cleaned. Using a quick drying formula will prevent both of these issues and make washing your car slightly easier.
Other Desirable Features
Many brands will state that their car wash shampoo formula is 100% biodegradable. Although this may not benefit your car, it’s environmentally friendly because once the soap is removed from the car, it goes down the drain.
A benefit for the person washing the car is the scent from the shampoo. There is an array of fragrances available and it makes using the shampoo slightly more enjoyable and you can often smell it from the car hours after washing it.
Conditioning is often included in the formula of some shampoos. They are designed to enhance the colour of your paintwork as well as making it more slippery, which improves water beading.
Most brands also offer their shampoos in a range of different bottles sizes. If you want the best value for money, you will want to purchase the larger capacity bottles. It’s worth noting that some formulas are concentrated, which means you may be getting more shampoo but just in a smaller bottle.
Best Tips For Washing Cars
The simple task of washing your car is something many people get wrong on a regular basis. Using an improper technique can increase the chances of swirl marks, scratches and other defects in the paintwork.
We highly recommend that you adopt the “Two Bucket Method” for washing your car. Although you’ll need to purchase an extra bucket, it will ensure that the wash mitt that you are using remains clean and free of any dirt.
You should also chuck away any sponges and invest into a proper wash mitt that captures dirt. If you use a sponge, the dirt becomes trapped between the paintwork and the sponge, which may transfer onto the paintwork and cause scratches.
In terms of your technique, we recommend that you start with the wheels. Begin by using a wheel cleaner and allowing the formula to get to work. You can then spray away the residue and clean any leftover dirt with a wash mitt dedicated for your wheels.
Once the wheels are completed, you can fill up two wash buckets with warm water and the car shampoo. Starting from the top, begin to wipe down each panel and regularly dunk the wash mitt into the bucket using the Two Bucket Method.
Once every panel is cleaned, begin to dry the car using a microfiber drying towel. It’s always recommended that you wash your car in the shade and not in direct sunlight. This will give your more time to properly dry the car and also reduce the chances of water spots appearing.
In order to safely wash your car and avoid stripping any wax from the paintwork, you will need a quality car shampoo. There are hundreds to choose from but the above recommendations are suited to a range of budgets and car washing methods. It may be tempting to use household cleaning products but you can cause damage to your paintwork. Considering most car wash shampoos are fairly cheap, it’s strongly advised to buy the best you can afford.