An essential product for washing a car yourself is car shampoo. It makes the job so much easier and protects the paint once you’ve finished. But what is the best car shampoo?

Here, we’ve tested some of the UK’s top-selling car shampoos. We used the recommended amount of shampoo in a nine-litre bucket of water to assess them, and cleaned a test car in the same way each time. Here’s what we found – with the results listed in price-per-wash order.

Turtle Wax Zip Wax (three stars)

£4 for 1 litre

Price per wash: 11p

Cheap and slick, this bubbly shampoo is a great product. The wax protection it leaves afterwards is a bonus. Others are better but just look at that price!

Bilt Hamber Auto Wash (four stars)

£10.95 for 300ml

Price per wash: 18p

A highly concentrated product, you just need a tiny amount but it foams up brilliantly. It lubricates the paint well and dries quickly. It also protects the paint. It’s superb.

Halfords car wash and wax (two stars)

£1.99 for 500ml

Price per wash: 20p

It’s cheap, but the bubbles are left behind in the bucket and it’s not as easy to clean with as the other shampoos here.

Valet Pro concentrated car wash (three stars)


Price per wash: 20p

This affordable product smells nice and is very bubbly. It cleans well and is a good product if you only want shampoo and not a shampoo-wax.

Valet Pro Advanced Poseidon car wash (four stars)


Price per wash: 37p

A high-quality shampoo, this Valet Pro product leaves a good layer of protection which helps improve a car’s shine. Good value too.

Simoniz Shampoo & Wax (two stars)

£2 for 125ml

Price per wash: 40p

It bubbles up well, but doesn’t smell very nice and doesn’t add much paint protection. The tiny bottle means you’ll run out quickly as well.

Autoglym shampoo conditioner (four stars)


Price per wash: 42p

A low-foam product, it doesn’t bubble that much, but still works well. It’s not a wash and wax but a water repellent film still helps produce excellent results.

Muc Off (three stars)

£7.99 for 500ml

Price per wash: 44p

This bright pink product is certainly distinctive and smells great. It bubbles well and clings to the car to help the cleaning process. It’s not cheap, though.

Meguiar’s Wash & Wax (three stars)

£8.99 for 473ml

Price per wash: £1.12

This tropical-smelling product is bubbly, smooth to use and leaves a nice shine. But you have to use a lot of it, meaning it works out rather expensive per wash.

Meguiar’s NXT Generation car wash (three stars)

£9.95 for 532ml

Price per wash: £1.24

If you want a car shampoo that smells nice, this is the best of the lot. It’s not a wash and wax but the water still beads off the car easily. Expensive per wash though.

Top three best buys

Bilt Hamber Auto-Wash is the standout product. Its staggering value places it ahead of the similarly impressive Autoglym car shampoo conditioner and Valet Pro Advanced Poseidon car wash.

Top tips: how to clean a car

Professional car valeter Dean Childs advises you jet-wash the car first to remove the worst of the grime, and use a quality wash pad or mitt rather than a sponge to avoid swirl marks. He advocates two buckets – one with car shampoo and one with clean water to rinse off the mitt.

Hand-dry the car afterwards, using detailing spray to prevent swirling. How can you tell if the paint has enough wax protection? Look for water beading, which indicates a good level of protection.