Last Updated on December 3, 2023 by Stewart

When it comes to cleaning your car, it is important that you use a high quality shampoo or soap to carry out this task. There are two goals whenever you wash the car. The first is to clean it properly. The second task is to clean it in such a way that you do not scratch the car, or install swirls in it. More in depth information about preventing scratching the car can be found at this page. Also, if you’re interested in high quality car shampoos, you can read about my favourite ones here.

Car shampoo is a specially designed product that has been made specifically for car paintwork. The composition of car paint work is quite complex. The initial layer is the primer. This is applied directly to the body panel of the car. On top of this is the base coat. This will bind to the primer.  After this is the colour coat which will give the final colour of the car. The final layer of paint is the clear coat. This is what gives the car its shine. The clear coat is the most fragile part of the paint due to it constantly being exposed.

Due to the clear coat being so fragile, it is important to use a cleaner that will not diminish the structural integrity of it. This is exactly why car shampoo has been developed.

The majority of car shampoos are pH neutral and also offer a high level of suds and also lubricity. By being pH neutral, it will prevent any degradation of the clear coat with prolonged exposure of the clear coat to the shampoo.

Likewise, by having a high sudsing formula, it will help to encapsulate the dirt. It should be noted that even if a shampoo doesn’t produce a large volume of suds, it isn’t necessarily bad. If it offers a high level of lubrication, it will still give a safe wash.

Lubrication from the shampoo is very important. By using a high lubrication shampoo, it helps the wash mitt glide over the paint. The importance of this is that the lubrication means that there is a greatly reduced chance of installing scratches and swirls on the paint work since there is significantly less friction.

Some Car Shampoos Come With Wax Included

You’ve probably seen whilst searching online that some car shampoos contain a wax in them. This can be a really good option for those that don’t have time to add a wax to their car. The immediate effect of this is that it adds a nice, deep shine to the paintwork.

It should be noted though that whilst they do add gloss to the paintwork, the wax effect isn’t long lived. It will help water to bead and sheet off the car, but this is normally only for a few weeks at most. Of course, if you’re washing your car every week then you will be topping up the wax every time you wash it.

The price of the shampoos with wax in them can be a bit more expensive. With that in mind, you need to decide if you want to spend this extra money, or if you want to instead apply a wax or a sealant instead that will last a lot longer. This will let you choose a less expensive car shampoo.

The Dilution Ratio Of Car Shampoo Matters

On the back of the bottle for your car shampoo of choice, there will be a dilution ration there. I.e. 40mls of shampoo per 10 litres of water.

If it is the case that your car is incredibly dirty, don’t feel that you need to instead add even more than the recommended volume of shampoo.

The reason for this is that the dilution ratio on the bottle is that which will offer maximum cleaning power of the shampoo. By adding more than is necessary, you’re effectively wasting the shampoo, and therefore wasting money. You will not get any added benefit from this, so it should not be done.

At the same time, it can also mean that it will cause premature degradation of any waxes that you have on the car. The reason for this is that this stronger concentration of shampoo can diminish the components in the wax. This can also result in you wasting your money since you will need to apply your wax at more regular intervals.

Never Substitute Dish Soap/Washing Up Liquid For Car Shampoo

A common myth online is that you can use washing up liquid/dish soap to clean your car. Please never do this. As mentioned above, car shampoo is specially formulated for cars. Likewise, washing up liquid is specially formulated for cleaning dishes. As such, they should only ever be used for this purpose.

When it comes to washing up liquid, it has a high salt content in it, as well as having harsh chemicals as well. The reason for this is that it needs to break through fat and other organic matter that is still left on the dishes after your meal.

Due to the high salt content on it, it can be extremely harsh on the clear coat on the car. Also, if you have any chips in the paint work, the high salt content in the washing up liquid can cause the premature corrosion of the body work on the car.

Whilst it may seem like a cheaper option to use this in the short term, in the long term it is simply a better option to use a dedicated car shampoo.