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So...how many owners reading this article have washed their vehicle with dish soap believing that if it is mild enough to use on their hands it must be ok to use on auto paint? Well, sorry to break the news to you, but you are actually doing more damage than good. Liquid dish detergents like Dawn are harsh on auto paint - they strip wax and sealants out of the paint, leaving a transparent soapy residue if not thoroughly rinsed off (which people seldom do). Using dish detergent can actually remove the shininess of your paint. A premium automotive car wash soap actually does the complete opposite. Automotive car soaps are formulated to clean deeply without stripping waxes and sealants, actually conditioning the paint and leaving it shiny and protected. And the good news is car wash soaps are concentrated - it doesn't take much to produce a nice foamy solution that is easy to rinse off. Less product and less water use. We tested 20 car wash soaps and the following are our top 5. We chose our top choices based on cleaning ability, foaminess, and value.
Best Overall ★
✓ pH neutral
✓ Quick wash
✓ Great shine
X Pricier than other brands
Adam's Polishes was started in California in 2000 by Adam Pitale and they now operate from their Colorado facilities. They sell premium interior and exterior car care products to professional detail shops worldwide. Adam's Car Shampoo is a PH neutral cleaner that is excellent at removing dirt and debris without stripping your paints protective sealants. It is safe enough to use on a regular basis, and actually leaves a slick lubricated finish that sheds contaminates. We are big fans of Adam's Polishes here at the Repair Guide and feel their Car Shampoo is one of the best performing products on the market. The only negative is it does tend to be pricier than other brands at $.75 per ounce.
✓ Boosts water beading
✓ Highly durable ceramic wax
✓ Glossy look
X No gallon containers available
X Must use weekly
Turtle Wax has been around since the 1940's and continues to be one of the leading car care brands around the globe. Based in Chicago, they're hybrid car wash solutions are used by professionals and everyday auto enthusiasts alike. Turtle Wax's Hybrid Ceramic Wash and Wax combines a powerful wash that effortlessly lifts dirt off your car with a highly durable ceramic wax that seals the paint protecting it from contaminates. Its innovative formula creates a durable barrier that boosts water beading and sheeting, saving you time while drying. It's one downside is it only comes in 48 Oz. containers, which is less than most brands that typically sell it by the gallon. At $0.26 / Fl Oz this Hybrid Ceramic Wash is around the average price of most car shampoos.
✓ High foam suds
✓ pH balanced
✓ Works great with foam cannon
X A bit pricey
Located in Santa Clarita, California, 3D Car Care is the manufacturer of premium car wash products. With its pH balanced formula, 3D Car Wash Soap ensures a deep and thorough clean without removing any wax or sealant. It produces nice thick suds that safely remove dirt, allowing for regular weekly usage without having to worry about damaging your paint. 3D is an acronym that stands for Detailing Driven Developers, a company originating over 30 years ago producing high quality, cutting edge car detailing products. Amateur car enthusiasts love this Pink Car Wash Soap for it's simple, all-around applications and mild solution that won't dull your paint's finish. And at $.23 per ounce, it is affordably priced.
Best Performance ✈
✓ Super foamy
✓ smells great
X There may be packaging issues
Chemical Guys continues to be the number one choice among professional detailers, and their Extreme Bodywash and Wax consistently gets the best ratings among the industry. Extreme Bodywash and Wax is known for the enormous amount of suds it produces, and applies equally well with either a mitt and bucket or foam cannon. Its PH balanced formula is guaranteed not to strip prior sealants, and it leaves a brilliant clean shine after application. At $.53 per ounce, it is priced in the mid-range of the products tested...but its concentrated formula goes a long way. The only negative feedback among users has to do with packaging...there have numerous complaints about cracked bottles and leaking caps during shipment. Chemical Guys may want to investigate.
Best Value $
✓ Easy to remove
✓ deep cleans
✓ Great price
X May leave a residue on some paints
Meguiar's car car products are know for their superior performance at a great value. There is no secret that they are a favorite here at the Repair Guide, and Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash is no exception. Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash deep cleans even the dirtiest paint leaving a beautiful sheen when removed. It produces excellent bubbles that are easy to remove with just a garden hose in the front driveway. And at $.23 per ounce, it is excellently priced. The only negative is that many users complain that it does leave an unfavorable residue on many paints.... although we were unable to produce this negative effect in our testing.