Best Car Shampoo for Pressure Washer

Giving your vehicle the appropriate care is an important criterion for many vehicle owners. And this applies not only to the car, but also to the motorbike, scooter, bicycle and co. After washing with a car shampoo, your vehicle not only shines and sparkles, but is also free of unsightly dirt, some of which can damage the paintwork. Of course, you can also drive through the car wash. However, there are places on the car that the car wash brushes cannot reach. That’s why it’s a good idea to wash the car yourself every now and then with car shampoo.

You can find out which car shampoo is suitable for this purpose and what a good shampoo for your car will do for you in our big guide. In our FAQs, we answer the most frequently asked questions about car shampoo. Before that, however, we have taken a closer look at 5 best car shampoo for pressure washer and present them to you in our big comparison.

5 Best Car Shampoo for Pressure Washer

Best Car Shampoo for Pressure Washer

Autoglym Polar Wash, 2.5L - Snow Foam Car Shampoo

15 new from £15.42
Free shipping
as of May 21, 2024 5:37 pm

Autoglym’s Polar Wash is a premium snow foam car shampoo, thoughtfully crafted to be gentle yet effective on your vehicle. With a generous 2.5-litre capacity, it creates thick foam that clings to surfaces, effortlessly lifting dirt and grime. Safe to use on wheels, paint, and trim, it leaves your car looking pristine and spotless.

Simoniz SAPP0060A Multi-Use Pressure Washer Fluid 5lt

6 new from £12.99
as of May 21, 2024 5:37 pm

Simoniz presents a versatile pressure washer fluid in a 5-litre container, perfect for various cleaning tasks. Its multi-use formula adapts to different surfaces and colors, making it a practical choice for your cleaning needs. Get your outdoor areas and vehicles looking refreshed with this efficient pressure washer fluid.

Dirtbusters Snow Foam Car Shampoo And Wax

as of May 21, 2024 5:37 pm

Dirtbusters Snow Foam Car Shampoo and Wax offer a powerful and thick foam pre-wash solution to clean your vehicle effectively. This high-quality product is non-caustic and safe for all vehicle exteriors. Its cherry-scented formula adds a pleasant touch to the cleaning process while leaving your car sparkling and protected.

Turtle Wax Cherry Snow Foam 53111

4 new from £13.12
Free shipping
as of May 21, 2024 5:37 pm

Turtle Wax Cherry Snow Foam 53111 is a thick and rich car shampoo designed to tackle tough road film, grease, oil, and dirt. Its streak-free formula ensures a flawless finish, while its safe application extends to all paint, tires, wheels, and trim. Keep your car looking fresh and free from contaminants with this reliable product.

SIMONIZ SAPP0173A 2 in 1 Shampoo and Snow Foam

10 new from £12.40
Free shipping
as of May 21, 2024 5:37 pm

SIMONIZ offers a convenient 2-in-1 Shampoo and Snow Foam in a striking blue hue, making car cleaning a breeze. This 5-litre product efficiently removes dirt and grime, leaving your vehicle with a pristine shine. Enjoy the benefits of both shampoo and snow foam in one easy-to-use solution.

What exactly is car shampoo?

The car shampoo is – as the name already says – designed for washing the vehicle. In addition to removing dirt and impurities, car shampoo has a caring effect and makes the vehicle shine after washing. You can get these cleaning shampoos with different ingredients, so that the effect varies accordingly. In addition, car shampoo manufacturers offer their products as concentrates or as normal car shampoo. Therefore, you should always pay attention to the mixing ratio and the manufacturer’s instructions.

The range of car shampoos is large and the properties are quite different. For example, you can get car shampoos that are specially formulated for:

  • Coloured paint
  • Matt paint
  • High-gloss paint
  • Metallic paint
  • Nano paint

The application of the car shampoo is relatively simple: A certain amount is mixed with warm water in a bucket. Spread this mixture over the vehicle with a sponge and rub it in thoroughly. After a short time, rinse off the car shampoo with clean water.

When buying a car shampoo, you should generally pay attention to the types of paint and materials for which the product is suitable. Some of the car shampoos may not be used on foiled vehicles, nor on matt paints.

Some manufacturers offer their car shampoos with a wax or sealing effect. This means that the car wash gives the car paint a wax layer, which causes water and dirt to bead up for a certain time. Some car shampoos are only designed for the paintwork and plastics; manufacturers advise against using them on the windows. This is because some car shampoos leave streaks on the windows.

Note that car washing is often not allowed on private property. Although there is no explicit ban, car washing on private property is nevertheless part of the catalogue of fines. We will explain why this is so and what you should be aware of when washing your car at home in one of the next sections.

How does car shampoo work?

You use car shampoo to clean and care for vehicles. In addition to cars, you can also use these products to wash and care for mopeds, scooters, motorbikes or caravans or motorhomes. Depending on the product, the car shampoo is applied to the vehicles with a washing sponge or foam sprayer. For application, the shampoo is usually mixed with warm water at a ratio of 1:10 or 1:20.

You can get special car shampoos for use in a pressure washer, which work better with this device than a conventional car shampoo.

If you are dealing with stubborn dirt, you should reduce the mixing ratio to 1:5. This is especially recommended for dried-on dirt on the car’s paintwork. Even though we often only talk about car shampoo, the cleaning agent is of course also suitable for washing motorbikes, scooters, mopeds, bicycles, mobile homes and caravans.

What should I consider when using car shampoos?

As already mentioned, the range of car shampoos and other car care products is very wide. The majority of car shampoos on offer are PH neutral. While some shampoos are very economical, others support the wax layer applied to the paintwork in advance. These shampoos can often be recognised by the name “Wax”.

Other car shampoos have the property that they prevent the formation of water beads on the car’s paintwork. This prevents the formation of a water film, which gives the paintwork a particularly beautiful shine. These car shampoos are often called gloss shampoos.

When using shine shampoos, manufacturers recommend using the other required car care products of the same brand. The ingredients and their active substances are matched to each other so that you cannot cause any chemical reactions due to different mixtures.

The different types of car shampoos

Not all car shampoos are the same, even if they seem to be. The paints and their properties are too different, so manufacturers have responded to the different needs with different types of car shampoos. You can obtain car shampoos with the following properties:

  • Car shampoo for all paints: these products clean and care for the paintwork and also other materials of your vehicle. The ingredients of the car shampoo are gentle with a powerful effect, but without attacking the paintwork.
  • Gloss shampoos: These also clean and give your car a brilliant shine after washing. The manufacturers achieve this shine effect by reducing the formation of water beads on the paintwork.
  • PH-neutral car shampoos: Protect the environment and are therefore recommended. In addition, PH-neutral shampoos are gentler on the surfaces of your vehicle. In addition, you can use this type of car shampoo for washing with a pressure washer and by hand.
  • The 2-in-1 car shampoos: combine two products in one: the car shampoo and the car wax. This means that after the wash, your car is not only clean, but also has a layer of wax. However, this layer is minimal compared to waxing the car separately. For the best effect, after washing the car with a normal car shampoo, you should treat the car separately with a wax product.

The advantages and disadvantages of the car shampoo

Washing your car by hand is usually more effective than washing it in a car wash. The brushes in the car wash don’t get to all the spots, so your vehicle may still have some dirt on it. With two-wheelers such as motorbikes or scooters, you cannot drive through a car wash at all, which means that you will have to wash these vehicles by hand. As an alternative, you can of course choose the so-called car wash stations, where you can use high pressure to remove dirt from the vehicle.

Car and car shampoo manufacturers even recommend washing the car by hand from time to time to remove dirt from those hidden or hard-to-reach places.

As a rule, car washing is not allowed on private property. However, you may wash your vehicle on your property if the wash water does not flow into the sewer or onto a neighbouring property. This means that a prerequisite for washing your car at home is that the wash water drains away within the property. In addition, you must not use chemical car wash products.

Of course, washing your car by hand is a little more time-consuming and strenuous than washing it in a car wash. But is hand car cleaning with a car shampoo worth it? What advantages does it offer you? We would now like to answer these questions.

The advantages and disadvantages of hand washing compared to car wash washing:

  • Effective cleaning effect
  • Saves money
  • More thorough cleaning than in the car wash
  • Can be combined with a complete car wash
  • Car wash can be done independently of the car wash’s opening hours
  • Very laborious and time-consuming
  • Water connection should be available
  • Vehicle must be dried

How to find the right car shampoo for your vehicle?

Depending on how your vehicle is painted, you should take this into account when looking for the right car shampoo. As a rule, car shampoos are suitable for all types of paintwork, but there are exceptions. For example, not every car shampoo is suitable for vehicles with a foil or matt finish. The car shampoos are precisely adapted by the manufacturers to the needs of the different types of paintwork. Therefore, you should keep an eye on the properties of the cleaning shampoo when buying.

What should I look for when buying car shampoo?

Match the car shampoo to the paintwork of your vehicle – this is the first important point to consider. It is especially important to choose the right car shampoo for special paintwork or foiling.

And these are the other criteria you should look for when buying a car shampoo:

  1. The cleaning effect of the car shampoo is an important criterion when buying. As a rule, all products manage to wash the dirt off the vehicle. Some shampoos only clean, others provide the paintwork with a protective layer that, for example, makes the water roll off.
  2. In addition, you should keep an eye on the paint compatibility when buying – especially if you own a vehicle with special paintwork or foiling. Vintage cars should also be given a special car shampoo, as these old paints often cannot cope with the chemical composition of today’s products. Also make sure that the car shampoo is suitable for cleaning rubber, Plexiglas, glass or convertible tops. Manufacturers point out these special properties in their product descriptions.
  3. Many car shampoos combine car washing with sealing properties. These products seal the paint layer by being highly water-repellent.
  4. The package contents of car shampoos vary by manufacturer. While some car shampoos are available in practical litre bottles, other manufacturers offer their products in larger package sizes. As a rule, these larger packaging units are relatively cheaper. However, if you only wash your car once in a while, a canister with a capacity of 5 litres, for example, does not really pay off.
  5. Car shampoo for hand washing, high-pressure cleaner or foam gun? Choose your car shampoo according to how you plan to wash your vehicle.

The main ingredients of car shampoo

Car shampoos belong to the category of cleaning products. And these have been around for many years. The first cleaning product was soap, which is still around today. Soap is a surfactant that was used for body care as well as for cleaning laundry.

The majority of surfactants are based on palm kernel oil or sugar. About 50 percent of the detergents used in UK have these so-called sugar surfactants.

Phosphates are used as water softeners in the detergents, but according to the WCAA, the use of phosphates is to be reduced. The abbreviation WCAA stands for the UK “Washing and Cleaning Agents Act”, which regulates the environmentally compatible composition of cleaning and washing agents within the UK market. Phosphates are found in car shampoos for hand washing as well as in those of car washes.

How to clean your vehicle with car shampoo?

When cleaning your vehicle, you as the owner are often faced with the question of which tool you should use to clean your vehicle. Car sponge, a soft cleaning brush or better a cloth? Rags and sponges are gentler on the paintwork, whereas nylon brushes have a better cleaning effect. In general, it is important to clean the cleaning utensils regularly to avoid scratching the paintwork.

You will need these things for your car wash:

  • Two buckets – one bucket for clear water, one bucket for soapy water.
  • Car shampoo
  • Warm water
  • Three sponges or washing gloves
  • Microfibre towels for drying
  • Rim cleaner
  • Rim brush
Before washing your car, you should take off jewellery such as rings or watches so as not to scratch the paintwork during the car wash.

In the summer months, you should also make sure that you wash your car in a shady place. The sun’s rays heat up the car’s paintwork so that the water and the car shampoo dry too quickly and stains can form. In this case, time-consuming re-polishing would be necessary. And this is how you wash your car properly:

  • Rinse the coarse dirt off the vehicle with plenty of water.
  • Mix the car shampoo with the appropriate amount of warm water according to the recommended dosage. First fill the bucket only halfway with water and add the shampoo. Now fill up the bucket with the remaining amount of water until you have reached the specified mixing ratio. The advantage of this procedure is that you get a nice lather.
  • Apply the soapy water generously to the vehicle with a wash glove or sponge. Do not apply too much pressure. Clean the sponge or wash mitt in between or replace it with a new one if necessary.
  • For stubborn dirt, leave the car shampoo to soak in for a while.
  • Rinse off the soapy water thoroughly.
  • Dry your vehicle well with a cloth after the car wash.

You can either wash your car at home under the previously mentioned criteria or at the self-service car wash sites that you can now find in many towns and cities. These sites ensure that the wash water is filtered and disposed of properly.

When should you wash your car?

One of the important car washes you should definitely do is in winter to remove road salt. During the winter months, salt and moisture can attack your vehicle and possibly even cause damage. To avoid this, you should give your vehicle a wash. Even in the summer months, a regular car wash can protect your car’s paintwork and other materials. For example, if you have been to the seaside with your car, caravan, motorhome or motorbike, sand and dust can damage and scratch the paintwork. You can wash off this dirt with an appropriate vehicle wash.

Otherwise, you should wash your vehicle at regular intervals to remove dirt, bird droppings and other impurities. This is because some of the dirt can attack your vehicle’s paintwork.

The right accessories for washing your car

Washing your car with car shampoo alone will not work, so you will have to resort to various accessories. As important materials besides shampoo, you will need a bucket or two, at least one car sponge or wash mitt and a microfibre cloth for rubbing dry. A pressure washer can also be a useful accessory for washing the car. You can use the pressure washer to remove the coarse dirt before washing the car. A foam gun can also make washing the car and applying the foam easier.

When using the pressure washer, always make sure there is sufficient distance between the vehicle and the nozzle. This will help you avoid damage to your vehicle.

Are there alternatives to car shampoo?

As an alternative to car shampoo, you might think first and foremost of washing-up liquid, which you could take as a substitute. While the cleaning performance should be fairly similar, the dishwashing liquid could attack the paintwork due to other ingredients. Car shampoo is specially made for the needs of paintwork and is therefore gentler.

The alternative hair shampoo is also not suitable for washing your car. Hair shampoo has the property of being highly grease-dissolving. Car shampoos are also grease-dissolving, but not with this degree of effectiveness. In some cases, hair shampoos can have a glittering effect on the paintwork, which is not necessarily desirable.


Wash the car yourself or go to a car wash or self-service car wash?

All three options are possible. With a manual car wash, you can save a few pounds compared to a car wash or self-service car wash, but you have to allow more time. However, your vehicle will be much cleaner in some places with a hand wash. You can combine vehicle washing: For general cleaning, use the car wash or the self-service car wash, and on the hard-to-reach areas, wash by hand.

Do I need special knowledge for the car wash?

Car washing is quite simple and can be done without any special knowledge. However, you should always make sure that you have the right car wash product for your vehicle’s paintwork. Work with plenty of water, wash out the sponge or washing glove frequently to avoid scratching the paintwork by pushing sand, dust or dirt over it.

Can children help with the car wash?

Children often get excited about washing cars. Make sure you give your child the tasks that are age-appropriate and possible. Washing the car with a sponge can certainly be mastered by children. And children of a certain age can also help with interior cleaning.

Is washing-up liquid suitable as a substitute for car shampoo?

Dishwashing liquid has a different composition than car shampoo, which is specially made for vehicles and their needs. When using dishwashing liquid, existing wax layers may be attacked. It is better to use a car shampoo for your car wash that does not remove the existing wax layers and is gentle on your car’s paintwork.

Do I have to wash my car regularly?

It is not only the visual aspect why you should wash your car regularly. The unobstructed view through the vehicle’s windows ensures safety for you and other road users. Dirty headlights or indicators can also affect your safety on the road. Other road users may see you less clearly or too late. In addition, your number plate must be free of dirt so that it is always easy to read. And in the winter months, you should wash your vehicle to remove salt and dirt.

Can I wash my vehicle at home?

Whether you are allowed to wash your car, motorbike, motorhome or caravan at home depends on a few factors. The most crucial aspect of washing your vehicle at home is water disposal. In doing so, you must ensure that no environmentally harmful or generally harmful substances get into the soil and groundwater. In general, you must not clean vehicles on the street or on forest soils. On private property and paved ground, vehicle washing is permitted if you take into account the connection to the sewage system.

You can check with the local authorities in advance whether you are allowed to wash your vehicle at home. This way you can be on the safe side and avoid a possible fine.

How much does a car wash at home cost?

The amount of water is the main factor in the cost of washing your car at home. Depending on the region, you will pay between £2.50 to 5.50 for a cubic metre of water. However, you will not need 1,000 litres of water for the car wash. This means you can expect to pay about £1 for water, car shampoo and the like.

What does car shampoo cost?

In our large product comparison, you could already see the price range of car shampoos. You can get products for less than £10, but also shampoos that cost almost £100. Among other things, the amount of content of the car shampoo is decisive.

What are the advantages of a car shampoo concentrate?

The car shampoo concentrate offers you the advantage that you need a smaller amount of car shampoo but achieve the same result as with a conventional car shampoo. This means that car shampoo concentrates can be cheaper in the long run than conventional car shampoo.

What are the advantages of a gloss car shampoo?

After washing your car with a shine shampoo, your car will shine like new. This shine is achieved through the so-called lotus effect, also known as the beading effect. Water that comes onto the vehicle after washing it beads off directly and thus does not cause any water stains on the car.

Do I use warm or cold water for the car wash?

You should only wash your car with lukewarm or warm water. The reason for this is the foaming effect of the car shampoo. With cold water, the foam formation is only slight, which is why you should use warmer water.

How do I mix the car shampoo?

The mixing ratio of shampoo and water is specified by the shampoo manufacturer. You should also keep to this mixing ratio in order to achieve the desired effect of the car wash.

How long do you have to leave the car shampoo to work?

Or does it not have to work at all? When washing your car, you should leave the foam to work for about 1 to 2 minutes and then rinse it off thoroughly with clear water.

In what order should I wash my car?

You may think that this question is irrelevant. It is not. There is an order you should follow when washing your car. First, start by cleaning the car’s rims. Then clean the paintwork, starting at the roof of the vehicle and working your way down accordingly.

Can you also wash bicycles or motorhomes with the car shampoo?

Bicycles and also motor homes and caravans as well as motorbikes have a layer of paint, so you can also wash these vehicles with car shampoo.

Alfred Harper
Alfred Harper

Alfred Harper is a former consultant and product expert at a company producing cleaning equipment. He was working at this position for more than 10 years and has gained incredible experience and knowledge as he has tested almost all pressure washers brands and models and became an expert in this field. Now, he is writing reviews and how-to articles about pressure washers and makes a great contribution to the Pressure Washers company to help people to choose the best cleaning equipment for home use.

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