About car shampoo

Updated February 21, 2017

There are several different car wash products that are labelled "car shampoo." Some of these products are for washing the outside of your vehicle, and some of them are for washing the upholstery inside the car. For best results, make sure you use the appropriate product for the task.


Car shampoo for the exterior of your car is designed to clean dirt and grease from your paint job while protecting the surface from scratches. The filmy feel of the shampoo helps to keep small dirt particles and even abrasive sponges or rags from scratching the paint's surface.

Car upholstery shampoo is designed to create foam with which to scrub upholstery or carpet. One common problem with cleaning car upholstery is that too much water is absorbed by the fabric and padding. Washing the upholstery with foam avoids this problem while still getting good results.

Over time, car shampoos have been improved to better protect today's custom paint finishes and to keep harmful particles and pollutants from causing damage to cars.


The most common type of car shampoo is the pink variety that creates lots of suds. This is a good first step for a car wash, especially if you plan on waxing afterwards. One of the most widely used shampoos is Lane's Pink Car Shampoo. Many professionals swear by it.

Gel car shampoos are thick and rich and work very well on glass. Gel shampoos are also great if you're washing on top of wax because it will not strip your wax finish. Meguiar's makes a great gel shampoo.

Homemade car shampoos will save you a lot of money. There are many ways to make your own homemade car shampoo. See the next section for a great car shampoo recipe.


This homemade car shampoo works well for car exteriors, and the foam can be used to clean your upholstery and carpet. Fill a 5-gallon bucket about half full with hot water. Pour one cup of dishwashing soap into the bucket along with 1/2 cup of washing powder. Mix the soap and detergent in with your hand until it dissolves. There should be lots of suds. Scoop off the suds and brush them into your upholstery until the upholstery looks clean. Then wipe any extra suds away with a clean, dry cloth. Then use the remaining liquid in the bucket to wash your car's exterior. Make sure and rinse well after you're done scrubbing.


When you buy a commercially prepared car wash shampoo, be sure and read the directions on the bottle. Most types of car shampoo need to be diluted with water. The ratio of dilution is important for getting the best results.


A good car shampoo will preserve your car only if you use it on a regular basis. Some auto experts recommend washing your car twice a week in order to keep your paint job in tip top condition. Regardless of how often you wash your car, make sure that you dry it quickly after the wash. This is best done by blotting the water with a couple of large towels to get the majority of the water off before you rub the towels around too much.

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About the Author

Rachel Terry has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Brigham Young University. She has been a freelance writer since 1998, authoring literary study guides, as well as articles and essays.