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Whether you’re a beginner or well-versed detailer, car shampoo is the essential cleaning product.
You might have heard the rage about pH neutral car shampoos but will be left wondering which ones are the best.
Well, I’ve done the hard work for you and put together this guide with my recommended products.
Why Use a pH Neutral Car Shampoo?
A well formulated car shampoo will still allow for an effective wash whilst providing the benefits of a pH balanced formula.
Any solution with a neutral pH number (7 on the pH scale) is considered to be very safe. Water and human skin are both around this level.
The main reason for using a pH neutral shampoo is to prevent any layers of wax that have previously been applied from being stripped away with the dirt.
It means you don’t need to wax your vehicle after every wash. This also applies if you’ve used a ceramic coating as opposed to wax.
Best pH Neutral Car Shampoos
Here are the best pH neutral car shampoos:
- Best Overall: Autoglym Bodywork
- Runner Up: Meguiars Gold Class
- Best for Pressure Washer: Chemical Guys Mr Pink
- Best for Professionals: Auto Finesse Lather Shampoo
- Best for Hard Water: Meguiars NXT Generation
Below I have given some more information about each product recommended here.
Best Overall: Autoglym Bodywork
Dilution: 2 caps per wash // Price (per Litre): £
Autoglym’s Bodywork shampoo is my top pick, and I’m not alone in spotting its excellent cleaning properties.
The formula has extra ingredients which form a water repellent barrier and help with rinsing.
As well as being my favourite pH neutral shampoo for cars, it’s also one of the most affordable and comes out cheaper per litre than all of the others here.
Available as 500ml, 1L or the biggest 2L which will keep you going for a while.
Runner Up: Meguiars Gold Class
Dilution: 5 to 1 mix ratio // Price (per Litre): ££
Gold Class is Meguiars premium car shampoo formula that has been designed to both clean and condition your vehicle in one go.
The shampoo creates lots of rich suds that allow the wash mitt to glide over the surface and make for an easy clean.
It uses biodegradable detergents, and its pH neutral formula won’t affect any wax on the vehicle.
The conditioner in the formula is designed to leave the paintwork looking radiant after use whilst the odour is very similar to aftershave. It’s available as 473ml or 1800ml.
Best for Pressure Washer: Chemical Guys – Mr Pink
Dilution: 1-3oz per 5 gallon bucket // Price (per Litre): ££
Chemical Guys has a huge range of car shampoos for different uses including Mr Pink which is a pH neutral formula for a gentle wash that doesn’t wash off wax.
It’s a slick formula that minimises any risk of scratches during washing and leaves a shiny streak free finish.
This product foams up really well and is also suitable for use with pressure washers or foam gun.
Unfortunately, it only comes in a 500ml bottle at the moment, but this should still cover you for up to 20 washes.
Best for Professionals: Auto Finesse Lather Car Shampoo
Dilution: 2-4 caps per bucket // Price (per Litre): £££
It is high foaming which tackles the dirt and ensures minimal resistance with the wash mitt for a quick clean.
It comes in a 500ml bottle, despite manufacturers claims of being highly concentrated, it requires about 2-4 capfuls per wash which is more than others shared here. It’s also the most expensive per litre.
But is it worth the extra cost? Well that would seem to be a big yes as it’s the preferred choice by many professional detailers.
It is pH balanced with no wax or gloss enhancers so will leave a pure finish with your wax intact.
Best for Hard Water: Meguiars NXT Generation
Dilution: 1oz per gallon of water // Price (per Litre): ££
Another Meguiars product, this time is the NXT Generation which is a car shampoo designed for hard water areas due to the added softeners.
Hard water is known for leaving more water spots than softer water areas so a shampoo that can reduce this is a must-have for many.
The formula is still pH neutral so won’t strip off your wax. This is also a key factor in hard water areas as the wax makes water spots easier to remove.
The shampoo has a tropical scent but keep in mind that it does take a fair amount of water to rinse off.
Can I Use Washing Up Liquid to Wash My Car?
No, washing up liquid has been designed to remove dirt and grease from the ceramic and stainless steel found in your kitchen.
For this reason, it tends to be more alkaline in order to tackle this tougher dirt so you should not use washing up liquid on cars.
By contrast, your cars surface usually has a clear coat which is a thin plastic over the paint. A good car shampoo has been designed specifically for use on this.
I wrote a dedicated article about using household products on your vehicle.
Is Meguiars Car Shampoo pH Neutral?
Yes, all of Meguiars car shampoos are pH neutral. This includes the two above, Meguiars Gold Class and NXT Generation, as well as their Ultimate Wash and Wax.
However, their broader range isn’t always pH neutral, so watch out if you are buying any all-purpose cleaners or sprays.