Best car shampoos 2023

We countdown the very best car shampoos you can buy, and reveal how to get outstanding results...

Best car shampoo 2022

Car shampoo’s a simple thing, really, but there are now more options than ever, ranging from pricey and premium to the budget-first options, so which one is best? That's where this test comes in.

We tested all of our shampoos by using the ‘two bucket’ method, keeping one bucket with clean, soapy water, and another separate for rinsing out the dirty washing mitt or sponge. We made sure that the car we tested our products on wasn’t hot when we washed it, to avoid it drying too quickly, and then we dried it off with a clean microfibre cloth so that we could assess the finish on every surface, including the paintwork, chromework and wheels.

Top 10: car shampoos

1. BEST BUY – Turtle Wax Zip Wax

Turtle Wax car shampoo

The Turtle Wax shampoo proved the best all-rounder here. It’s fantastic value at £7.99 for 2.5 litres, and you only need a small amount in a bucket of water to have it foaming nicely, so it promises to last for ages too. It’s not just about price, though; it also did a fine job of removing grime from paintwork, wheels and chrome finishes. Plus, the wax aspect gives a really nice shine and helped to keep the paintwork looking smart for a good time afterwards. It’s great shampoo at a great price.

What Car? rating Five stars out of five

2. RECOMMENDED – Autoglym Ultra High Def car shampoo

Buy from Amazon: £18.48

Autoglym car shampoo

This brew is pricey, but it gives fantastic results and is still better value than other high-end shampoos. It foams really nicely, smells good enough to wash your hair in, and cuts really easily through general dirt and heavy brake dust. It dries quickly and streak free, leaving paintwork feeling glossy and helping water to bead up and run off so the car looks cleaner for longer. 

What Car? rating Five stars out of five

3. McLaren Ceramic Shampoo

McLaren car shampoo

The McLaren ceramic shampoo is as reassuringly expensive as you’d expect of a supercar-branded product. It is also excellent, though. It smells great and was the best here for leaving the paintwork feeling smooth, with a glossy finish that water beaded off. We barely needed to dry the car, it was so effective. You need to have the budget to justify it, but it is really outstanding shampoo.

What Car? rating Four stars out of five

4. BEST BUDGET BUY – Simoniz Car Shampoo and Carnauba Wax

Simoniz car shampoo

This shampoo is our pick of the lot for value, and it did a great job of cleaning our cars, getting the built-up muck off their sills without much sponging on our part, and leaving a clean, shiny finish that a dry microfiber or chamois finishes up nicely. It doesn’t leave quite the water-beading, glossy finish that other pricier options achieve, but at the price, it’s hard to beat. 

What Car? rating Four stars out of five

5. Williams Racing Car Wash and Wax

Williams car shampoo

This product’s prestige name brings high expectations, and we weren’t disappointed. It foams enthusiastically and eats away at the dirt on the car, leaving a smooth feel and a high shine. We’d rate the finish as being generally very good, if not quite up there with the Autoglym and McLaren products. It’s great value, too, but the issue is that the small bottle pictured is hard to get hold of. It’s easiest to buy it from Amazon in pairs of hefty five-litre bottles, and this isn’t always ideal.

What Car? rating Four stars out of five

6. Holts Car Shampoo and Wax

Holts car shampoo

It might look like washing up liquid, but Holts is perfectly effective car shampoo that also leaves a nice finish thanks to the wax. It didn’t make the paintwork as water repellent as others, nor leave quite such a high shine – hence a lower mark here. It still did a fine job of removing the dirt from the car, including stubborn bugs, and at this price it’s a very worthy option for a budget shampoo.

What Car? rating Three stars out of five

7. Meguiars Gold Class Shampoo and Conditioner

Meguiars car shampoo

This shampoo gives a nice, smear-free finish and a glossy look to the paintwork. It also provides a coating that helps water to run off freely, so while it didn’t offer the same level of finish that we got from our more pricey range of shampoos, it’s still a decent result. It’s usefully cheaper when bought in the bigger 1.8-litre bottle, though – it’s much better value than the rather pricey 473ml bottle. 

What Car? rating Three stars out of five

8. CarPlan Ultra shampoo

Carplan car shampoo

Great value, and does the job. We rate the Turtle Wax and Simoniz products above this because they left our cars with a more noticeable sheen and water repellent finish, while the CarPlan really just gets the muck off. For the money though, it’s very fit for purpose and we had no unpleasant smears or residue to complain about.

What Car? rating Three stars out of five

9. ArmorAll SpeedDry car wash

Armorall car shampoo

This does what it says on the bottle. It smells pleasantly orangey and foams up quickly, holding onto its suds even if you take a while to work through the bucket of soapy water. It cuts through the dirt nicely, and (as the name suggests) dries quickly for a shiny finish. As with any car shampoo, you’ll still need to dry it with a chamois or microfibre cloth to avoid watermarks. It’s a perfectly fine shampoo, but it isn’t worth twice the price of the Simoniz and Turtle Wax.

What Car? rating Three stars out of five

10. Mer High Shine shampoo

Mer car shampoo

Very much aiming for a masculine, Germanic marketing angle, the Mer shampoo even has a rather aftershave-like scent to it. It is good shampoo, though, foaming up nicely, cutting through dirt and washing away easily for a nice finish. It leaves paintwork and glass slightly water repellant, but it’s not really any better overall than our similarly effective but cheaper  options.

What Car? rating Three stars out of five

How we test products

The products or services referenced in this story have been reviewed independently by our experts. When you buy using the links on our site, we may earn a commission, but this will never influence our opinion or ratings.

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