A good quality car shampoo is key for starting off your car cleaning experience just right. The best car shampoo will clean off all the dirt without leaving a mark or stain in sight. We’ve looked at some of the best options out there for you.
In all cases, we’ve focused on gentle formulations that are pH neutral and guaranteed to not damage your car’s clearcoat or underlying paint. We’ve also looked at some options that work great without water, or that don’t require you to wax separately afterwards. After all, not everyone wants to spend hours detailing their car, right?
Here’s our favorite car shampoos for every situation.
Best Overall: Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo ($45)
Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo is a perfect one-stop destination for washing your car. It’s pH neutral, guarantees to never scratch, cause swirls, or leave water spots, and it’s easy to use. Its formulation is safe on all vehicle surfaces including paint, rubber, vinyl, glass, and plastics.
You can use it with a bucket of water to create a rich, thick head of foam or you can opt to pair it with a foam gun or cannon for a snow like consistency. It smells nice too which is always a welcome bonus. Simply add a few ounces of the gel to your water and you’re set up to wash your car without any hassle. It’s sure to become a favorite of yours.
Adam's Car Wash Shampoo (Gallon) - pH Car Wash Soap For Snow Foam Cannon, Foam Gun, Pressure Washer | Powerful Spot Free Liquid Auto Detergent | Safe On Car Wax & Ceramic Coating
Best Wash And Conditioner: Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash ($30)
Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash is a dependable all in one solution if you want something that both cleans and conditions your car. Because not everyone wants to do that in separate steps. Meguiar’s formulation does a good job of foaming away tough dirt and road grime, while also adding ultra-rich conditioners to your paintwork. Somehow, it does all that without stripping away wax protection.
Like the Adam’s solution, you can slip it into a bucket or foam gun so it’s pretty easy to apply, although generally, you’ll get better results from this via the bucket and scrub method than foam gunning it. Bear that in mind if you want minimal effort when washing. Still, it’ll last you a while thanks to its high concentration levels of about 1 ounce to 1 gallon of water.
Best Concentrate: Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss ($45)
Chemical Guys is always a great brand for car washing products so we couldn’t skip mentioning its Citrus Wash and Gloss. It smells as nice as it sounds with a biodegradable formula that out performs any shampoo that uses more aggressive chemicals. Its fast penetrating lubricating foam lifts and holds soil, so you won’t have to put much effort into your wash.
It also goes a long way with 1 cap of the shampoo combining with 5 gallons of water. It works equally as well via the bucket method or using a foam gun or cannon. Just make sure to shake it up before use as otherwise the agents can separate in transit.
Chemical Guys CWS_301 Citrus Wash & Gloss Foaming Car Wash Soap (Works with Foam Cannons/ Guns or Bucket Washes) Safe for Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, RVs & More, 128 fl oz (1 Gallon) Citrus Scent
Best For Waterless Wash: Adam’s Waterless Car Wash ($54)
Whether for ecological or practical reasons, it’s not always convenient to use water while washing your car. That’s where Adam’s Waterless Car Wash comes into its own. The ‘wash’ is formulated with extra surfactants and lubricants so that it lifts the dirt up onto your microfiber cloth without the need for water. It’s not exactly the tool you should turn to after a rough and tumble day of off-roading, but for regular city driving dirt it’s an interesting solution.
This package comes with some specially engineered Waterless Car Wash towels, but you can also use your own. Its extra slick lubricating formula sounds weird but it does a great job of cleaning up your car without you needing to apply water first. It’s great if you want to clean the car quickly and not bother getting the foam gun or buckets out, plus it’s good for the environment too.
Adam's Waterless Car Wash Kit - Car Cleaning Supplies for Car Detailing | Safe Ultra Slick Lubricating Formula for Car, Boat, Motorcycle, RV | No Garden Hose, Wash Soap, or Foam Cannon Needed
Best For Extra Shine: Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner ($18)
Want a shampoo that leaves you with a nice wax-like finish? Buy Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner. It’s a concentrated shampoo with a number of useful bonuses. It creates a water repellant finish as well as protectant finish that’s a lot like applying wax to your car. The best part is that you’ve saved time because you’ve just used this one shampoo rather than multiple products.
It’s not particularly foamy so you need to apply it with a microfiber cloth or sponge rather than foam gun, but it’s worth taking the time and effort to do it. It creates quite the finish, as well as protects your car’s paintwork well.