Best Car Shampoo in 2021 [UPDATED]

Written By: Martyn
Published On:
Car Shampoos

Imagine starting the week with a car that looks brand new. Taking a little time to properly wash your car yourself can be a-lot of fun, satisfying and also cheaper than going to a car wash.

The secret is using the best car shampoo..

Now you can get it through an automatic car wash or even valeted for less than £10, but is it really as good as you could do yourself?

Editor's Choice
Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner
Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner
  • A low foam deep cleaning shampoo
  • Provides a water repellant finish
  • Up to 125 washes
  • pH neutral
2nd Choice
Bilt Hamber Auto Wash Car Shampoo
Bilt Hamber Auto Wash Car Shampoo
  • Highly concentrated
  • Contains no colourants, waxes & perfumes
  • Gently lifts dirt away
  • Only 5ml needed per bucket
3rd Choice
Meguiar's Ultimate Car Wash & Wax
Meguiar's Ultimate Car Wash & Wax
  • Provides thorough clean
  • Its completely safe to use with sealed or ceramic-coated surfaces
  • pH neutral - won't strip wax
  • Larger 1.4 Litre size bottle

I remember every other Sunday, id be out helping my dad wash his car ready for work on Monday. It would only take half an hour to an hour. Its much more cost effective doing it yourself, as it can cost as little as 20-50p.

Imagine if you was to wash your car weekly or every other week, you’d be saving yourself hundreds of pounds and probably end up with a better wash.

At the end of the day if you do it yourself, you know it’s been done properly and that you’re using suitable products. (Who knows whats in these car washes?…)

Buying a decent car shampoo, which is built to cut through layers of road grime and leave your paintwork sparkling, is the first step.

It’s important that you use a quality car shampoo. Using normal soap or washing up liquid can cause streaks and even cause rusting.

Even using cheap car shampoo from the supermarket can make things harder. Using a shampoo will make it easier and give you a more effective car wash.

Best Car Shampoo in 2021 At A Glance

Below are the best car shampoos, that have been tried and tested to give the best results. I’ve also written a guide to help you use your shampoo to get the best out of it.

1. Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner

Editor's Choice
1. Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner
9.8/10Our Score

Autoglym are a well-known and trusted car care company, they've been in the market for years and know exactly what to do to ensure your car is in the best condition possible.

Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner has been used and recommended by car enthusiasts for many years. With well over 10,000 reviews on Amazon. 

As this is also a conditioner, it's slightly different to their plain shampoo. Its been formulated to help enhance the look of previous polishes or waxes used.

This is further aided by built-in rust inhibitors, making it an excellent choice for keeping all of the gaps that you can't reach safe.

Traditional "wax-based" shampoos are very outdated. Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner contains premium polymers. 

This basically means that it gives your car a water-repellent finish. The result of this is quicker drying times as well as helping to protect it from dirt until the next car wash. 

The pH level is neutral and has a really pleasant smell. It doesn't cause as much foam as some shampoos, which I and many others do think is a good thing.

2. Bilt Hamber Auto Wash Car Shampoo

2nd Choice
2. Bilt Hamber Auto Wash Car Shampoo
9.4/10Our Score

If you're looking for cleaning power then Bilt Hamber Auto Wash Car Shampoo is one of the best.

Bilt Hamber Auto Wash is very cost effective. It uses a highly-concentrated formula, so you only need around 5ml per wash. This will be enough to fill a medium sized bucket. 

Now in terms of foam, it doesn't actually create alot. Even when you play around with the concentration. Even with a small amount of foam, its amazing how well it works. The dirt and grime had no chance...

What I like about this car shampoo is you get exactly what your after...A decent car wash. It doesn't have any colourants, perfumes, thickeners or even waxes. It simply does what it is supposed to do and thats wash my car. (And it does an amazing job at that!)

3. Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax

3rd Choice
3. Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax
9.1/10Our Score

One of my go to car shampoos is Maguiar's Ultimate Wash and Wax. If your looking for a thorough clean then this will do just that, as well as giving the surface of your car a nice layer of wax.

Its completely safe to use with sealed or ceramic-coated surfaces.

Meguiars formulation uses synthetic polymers, as well as carnauba wax. This blend helps to produce a thick foam that gives your car an amazing wash and shine.

Like other car shampoos, its also cost effective. You only need to use roughly 2 capfuls of Meguiar's Ultimate Was and Wax with about 3.5 litres of water.

It produces a foam that is actually very lubricant as well, so you can feel it was you wipe the surface of your car. I love the finish Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax provides. Its smooth and prevents water spots. 

4. Auto Finesse Lather

4th Choice
4. Auto Finesse Lather
8.8/10Our Score

If you're looking for a everyday shampoo thats going to help make your car spotless, you cannot go wrong with Auto Finesse Lather.

It's one of those shampoos that can be used as often as you want, as it's safe to use on all coatings.

One of the great things about this lather is that it creates a decent amount of lubrication. Which means it shouldn't create marks in the paint, unlike cheap alternatives.

If you have wax already applied to your car, don't worry it wont cause any harm. It rinses off very easy and gives your car a great finish.

What I like about the Auto Finesse Lather is the versatility. It can even be used to help clean your wheels. You might need to decrease the concentration but the results are fantastic.

Simply fill a couple of small caps and add to a bucket of water and you will have the right concentration...Simple!

You cannot go wrong with this one if you're looking for the best car shampoo.

5. CarPro Reset – Intensive Car Shampoo

5th Choice
5. CarPro Reset - Intensive Car Shampoo
8.5/10Our Score

Next up with have CarPro Reset, which is great for those really tough cleaning jobs. If you just want a car shampoo that has no wax, this one is perfect. It doesn't even contain polymers or gloss enhancers.

Don't worry about this shampoo being too powerful. Its still pH-neutral. Which means it's fine to use on rubber, vinyl and glass.

I also like the fact that it will help to clean your car, without stripping off the wax or ceramic.

It foams up well to help get rid of dirt easily but also requires very little so your bottle will go a long way. - This also makes it more cost effective.

6. Dodo Juice Born To Be Mild

6th Choice
6. Dodo Juice Born To Be Mild
8.1/10Our Score

This car shampoo doesn't just look good, its a very good and cost effective way to clean your car. It's a shampoo that you would use when you are trying to maintain a clean looking car.

There are no gloss enhancers, additives or anything else like that.

It's a very safe shampoo for your car, as it is pH neutral. So you know that any wax your car has will stay on.

One thing I really like about this shampoo is that it reduces the risk of water spotting, because of the limescale inhibitors it contains. Making your car look so much better when it dries.

Price wise its also very reasonable and will actually wash more cars than many other products.

7. Gyeon Q2M Bathe Shampoo

7th Choice
7. Gyeon Q2M Bathe Shampoo
7.8/10Our Score

I've not used Gyeon Q2M much but I've got to say I am really impressed with it. You mix the shampoo with warm water instead of cold, so it is almost like giving your car a bath.

I couldn't believe how easy it was to wash away the dirt.

It's highly concentrated, so you wont need a lot per bucket. If your car is waxed or sealed, don't worry its neutral pH value so wont strip this away.

8. ValetPRO Advanced Poseidon Car Wash

8th Choice
8. ValetPRO Advanced Poseidon Car Wash
7.3/10Our Score

Last but certainly not least is the ValetPro Advanced Poseidon Car Wash. Its low cost but like others it still keeps your wax cover in tact. It's also very powerful, which makes very little work of cleaning your car.

It's strong enough to get dirt, grime and even stubborn bird poo off with little effort.

I really like that it also has a water-repelling coating, this makes it so much quicker and easier to dry. Yet you still get that great shine. It makes a great shampoo to be used for a maintenance wash.

How To Use Car Shampoo

Many people make the mistake of only washing their car in the summer months. Understandably it is warmer. The thought of washing your car in the wet winter days is not appealing, although this is the best time to do it.

In the winter months you will find more dirt and salt on the roads, which are going to damage your paintwork.

By using the best car shampoo, its not going to take you very long to get your car clean and protected.

Before washing your car, make sure you get a good quality sponge or wash mitt.

The amount of car shampoo you use does depend on the make, so make sure you check the instructions. Fill the bucket up with water and add the shampoo, giving it all a good mix.

One thing that many people do is work up from the wheels, DON’T DO THIS. The wheels have a lot of grit in them, and this could lead to scratches.

Instead word from the roof, down onto the sides and then finally the wheels.

Ideally you want to have done a pre wash, this would help to reduce some of the dirt from the car.

If the water gets dirty, pour it out and fill up another bucket and continue. Make sure you also give your cloths a clean to prevent any dirt spreading.

Next you would go onto drying the car, but as you can see using a car shampoo is incredibly easy.

How Often Should You Wash Your Car

You should wash your car at least every two weeks. Theres nothing wrong with washing it weekly and many people do. You might want to do it sooner if your car is exposed to certain elements such as road salt, rain, bugs, and of course dirt and mud.

Why is it important to wash your car regularly?

Washing Car With Shampoo

If you want to keep your car looking good, then it’s important that you wash it regularly. You should ideally try to wash or rinse off any dirt build up immediately or at least after a heavy rainfall when the roads are clean again.

It is important to wash your car regularly because the most parts of the car are exposed to road grime, bird droppings and insects nests.

The car is also exposed to UV rays and bad weather. These will also damage your paintwork and can cause long term rusting problems.

All these elements combined will make the paint look dull and faded.

The dirt will cause corrosion on metal, cracks in the paint and reduce the lifespan of expensive items such as tyres.

The Different Types Of Car Shampoo

Did you know there are different types of car shampoo? I sure didn’t when I first got my car.

Each type has its uses. So its worth knowing the result you want first, and then get the shampoo that fits. Below are the most common types of car shampoos

Soft Wash Car Shampoos

Soft wash car shampoos are the pH neutral variety of car shampoo. This type of car shampoo can be used on all types of vehicles, whether it is freshly-detailed or just washed to maintain the protection that has been applied.

Soft wash car shampoos are perfect for use in order to remove any dirt, dust, or debris that has accumulated on the vehicle.

Wax-based Shampoo

Wash and wax shampoo has the purpose of washing the vehicle while also adding a protective layer. This type of car shampoo is great for those who want a car that is shiny and lustrous. It will give a deep-cleaning to your car, leaving it with a shiny, glossy layer that makes it look showroom-ready.

Wax-based car shampoos are formulated so as to create a barrier between dirt and the paintwork. They offer protection from the sun’s UV rays, rain, dust and road grime, so your clean vehicle stays clean.

Preparation Car Shampoos

A preparation car shampoo is formulated for heavily soiled vehicles. Though it should also be used for “normal” contact with dirt, bugs or even tough grease stains, these are the types of shampoos that are known to take off heavy, sometimes quickly-set substances. They’re pH neutral and can work on all finishes without drying out paints or stripping waxes – making them ideal for quick clean-ups before you detail your ride!

Car Snow Foams

This type of product is made up of soap, water and foam agents. The soap acts as the cleaner while the water is what makes up most of the product. The foam agents give it its density so that when you spray it on your car, it bubbles up.

This created a frothy lather that will break away anything that’s sticking on your vehicle – whether it be ice or a dirty film. It will typically rinse off with some water within a few minutes

These are often used in your pre-wash phase and there is a full guide on them here

Car washing Shampoo


What ingredients should I look out for in a car shampoo?

If i’m looking for a shampoo and wax, ill look out for Carnauba Wax. This is a key ingredient in the best car shampoos.

You should still make sure that you wax your car after washing. Doing so will give it even better protection. It is also essential if you want that showroom finish.

Is it worth paying more for a shampoo?

Price is important, however you should not just look at the total cost. You’ll find that you want to look at how much you will actually be using.

Many of the more premium ones only require you to use 5ml per bucket of water. This makes them very cost effective.

Those that require you to use more shampoo, could end up costing you more as you’ll be using it quicker.

Can I use washing up liquid or fairy liquid?

No, please do not use washing up liquid to clean your car. Its just not concentrated enough to act as a shampoo.

Washing up liquid is an abrasive cleaning agent. Car paint is fragile and washing up liquid can end up causing more damage by stripping back the paint.

Can I use Wash and Wax Shampoo?

You can use a wash and wax shampoo, however its only really going to be effective if you’ve had your car waxed recently.

If you haven’t then you will still want to wax your car after you’ve cleaned it.

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