Best car shampoo 2022: Our top picks for a clean vehicle

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When it comes to cleaning your vehicle, finding the best car shampoo is key to making sure your vehicle comes away looking as if it were brand new once again from the outside.

To achieve this, car shampoo essentially removes dirt and debris from the surface of your vehicle, making it easier to wash off before applying your best car wax spray or polish for a shiny, spotless finish.

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That said, finding the right shampoo for your car can be tricky at times given the wide variety of options to choose from.

However, we've managed to narrow things down to a selection of our top picks based on their price, reviews, and any ingredients that we feel make these shampoos stand out from the crowd.

Whether you're simply after one of the best car cleaning products around in this Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo, or you're after something a little cheaper, like Adam's Car Wash Shampoo, we've got you covered right here.

Don't worry, we've also answered some of the most commonly asked questions about car shampoo to help you figure out exactly what you need to clean your vehicle. Let's get into it...

Best car shampoo

Best all-round car shampoo - Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo

Best car shampoo Meguiar's Store product image of a clear bottle containing a golden shampoo solution.
Credit: Meguiar's Store

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo looks to be one of the most well-rounded cleaning formulas on the market as it contains both shampoo and conditioner that should leave your vehicle in pristine condition.

Meguiar's boasts its premium solution offers a rich foaming action to gently and safely remove stubborn dirt and grime, without stripping any of your car's wax protection.

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The ultra-rich conditioner is then designed to leave a radiant shine by bringing out the colour and clarity of your vehicle.

On the whole, we feel this shampoo is a well-rounded option to consider if you're looking for spotless results to match your wheels cleaned using your best alloy wheel cleaner.

Best car shampoo and conditioner - Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner

Best car shampoo Autoglym product image of a white bottle containing green car shampoo.
Credit: Autoglym

This Autoglym Bodywork formula is another which contains both shampoo and conditioner to deliver an excellent, shimmering finish.

The solution is said to deliver a deep clean with a low amount of foam residue which should make it easy to rinse off without leaving any streaks.

Moreover, Autoglym says that its formula cleans your vehicle without removing any polish or wax you have previously applied to maintain its brilliant shine.

It's also worth noting that just one capful can be used per 10L of water, meaning this 2.5L bottle should last a considerable amount of time to fulfill all your car cleaning needs alongside your best window cleaner for a spotless exterior.

Best car shampoo and wax - Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Wash and Wax

Best car shampoo Turtle Wax product image of a grey bottle pouring green car shampoo into a black bucket.
Credit: Turtle Wax

When it comes to two-in-one formulas, this Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions cleaner looks to be an excellent option to consider.

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Its hydrophobic and SiO2 polymers have been formulated to provide a durable barrier that promotes water beading which, in turn, can save you time whilst drying.

However, what we like most about this solution is that it contains wax to leave your car gleaming and protected as well as clean, thus rolling two jobs into one to save you time.

Ultimately, this cleaner looks to be well worth considering as it ties both cleaning and waxing into one easy process.

Best budget car shampoo - Adam's Car Wash Shampoo

Best car shampoo Adam's Polishes product image of a clear bottle with a black and red label.
Credit: Adam's Polishes

Adam's Car Wash Shampoo is a neutral formula that is said to be ideal for your weekly car maintenance.

Adam's boasts its chemical technology suspends all damaging mineral content ready to be rinsed, and can even be applied in sunlight without leaving any residue stains.

Although the thick foam should be effective, the solution is also said to be gentle enough that it can be applied to all surfaces including paint, vinyl, rubber, and plastic.

All in all, this shampoo looks like it can deliver a lot for less, which is why we've included it on our list.

Best neutral car shampoo - Autoglym Ultra High Definition Shampoo

Best car shampoo Autoglym product image of a white bottle pouring a clear liquid into a translucent bucket.
Credit: Autoglym

If it's a neutral formula you're after though, this Autoglym Ultra High Definition Shampoo could be your answer.

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The shampoo has been designed to cut through dirt and heavy brake dust with ease whilst smelling great in the process.

You should also notice a high-gloss finish after using this shampoo that's incredibly silky and smooth to touch.

Other positives with this high-definition shampoo include it is designed to dry quickly and streak-free, along with making sure you come away without any swirling or scratches after you've finished cleaning.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

When it comes to finding the best car shampoo, there are usually a few questions that pop up. Don't worry though because we've answered some of the most common queries right here.

What does car shampoo do?

Unlike some of the best upholstery cleaners and leather cleaners, the primary purpose of car shampoo is to effectively remove dirt and debris from the outside of your vehicle.

These days though, car shampoo has somewhat adjusted to perform specific tasks and, in some cases, even polish your vehicle during the cleaning process.

For instance, you can now buy shampoos designed to target acidic substances like bugs and tree sap, plus formulas containing wax to leave behind an excellent shine.

How does car shampoo work?

According to Autoglym, car shampoo is typically made up of surfactants, also known as surface active agents, which are essentially two-part molecules where one end loves water and the other end dirt.

When you apply shampoo to your vehicle, the surfactants target any dirt, surround it, then suspend it in water so it can be easily rinsed off.

How do you use car shampoo?

The first step to cleaning your car is to mix some shampoo with water in a bucket as per the manufacturer's instructions.

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Mix the two together, then use a sponge to apply the solution all over your vehicle. It's widely recommended you start cleaning at the top of your car and work downwards so the water runs off over areas you haven't already cleaned.

Once you've cleaned your entire car, make sure to rinse off any soap residue then dry with a towel or cloth to avoid leaving streaks and stains from water droplets.

Can car shampoo damage the paint?

The answer to this question will depend on the car shampoo. For instance, shampoo containing acidic ingredients may be slightly abrasive to the paintwork; however, you shouldn't notice any damage unless you over-clean your vehicle.

By contrast, neutral car shampoos should be completely fine to use on your car and shouldn't damage the paint too much.

That said, most car cleaning products will potentially do some damage over time as you run the risk of leaving scratches or swirls across the surface. We wouldn't necessarily worry about this though because leaving your car caked in dirt can also be damaging.

Read More: Best car vacuum cleaners available now