So you’ve chosen some of the best protection for your vehicle, now what’s the best soap for ceramic coated cars? Choosing the right soap is important because you don’t want to damage/strip the coating or cover it up with waxes and polymers.
The best soap for your ceramic coated vehicle is going to be the one recommended by the maker of your ceramic coating. No one knows how to maintain your coating better than the people who created it. If you’d rather use a more common soap, make sure it’s ph-neutral and doesn’t contain any wax.
For example, if your car is coated with one of Gyeon’s coatings, Gyeon Bathe is going to be the best choice of soap. Does that mean that you absolutely have to stick to the same product line to maintain your coating? Not necessarily. As a matter of fact, I personally don’t.
What soap can you use on ceramic coatings safely?
Remember, the most important things are that your soap is ph-neutral and won’t leave any wax behind. That opens up a pretty wide array of available options. Here are a few popular ones:
Lithium Double Tap Car Wash
Lithium Double Tap Car Wash (Amazon) is my personal favorite if I’m going to use a normal soap with a 2 bucket wash. I’ve been testing it lately on both coated and uncoated vehicles and it’s been easy to manage even in less than ideal conditions.
Lithium developed it so that it doesn’t leave any residue behind and it hydrates your paint rather than dries it out. It’s gentle enough to avoid stripping any wax from your car so it’s certainly safe to use on your ceramic coating.
Adam’s Car Shampoo
Adam’s Car Shampoo (Amazon) is a very common car soap in the detailing world. It works great in foam cannons but it’s also a bit on the expensive side. This one has been made even more popular by Matt from Obsessed Garage who has shown time and time again that it’s perfectly safe to use for maintaining a ceramic coated car. This video is a prime example:
Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash
Meguiar’s Gold Class (Amazon) is often recommended by professional detailers after they’ve applied a ceramic coating for you. They know that the chances of a regular car owner going to a detailing supply store to buy an expensive soap are pretty slim. This one fits the criteria and can be found at nearly any big box store.
Optimum No Rinse
Optimum No Rinse (Amazon) is my personal favorite for washing coated vehicles. I often have no choice but to wash a car in the sun and using ONR makes it much more manageable. Make sure to stick with the blue version as the green one has wax in it.
How often should you wash a ceramic coated car?
The short answer is rather often. Giving your daily driven car a maintenance wash once a week is a good goal to set if possible. Now, if your car is a garage kept weekend warrior, it more than likely won’t get dirty enough to need to be washed that often.
The important thing is to keep your coated car as clean as you can. Ceramic coatings don’t like being dirty. Contamination will cause their water beading/sheeting properties to diminish temporarily. This will usually return after a few thorough washes so it isn’t necessarily the end of the world.
The dirt and grime can also build up over time requiring a heavy duty cleaner to remove it. Once you step up to a stronger soap or degreaser, you run the risk of harming the coating or even stripping the top coat (I’ve done this). That can be costly if you’ve paid to have your coating applied.
Using a drying aid or detail spray that’s meant to work on coatings is a great way to prolong its life. You don’t have to do this every time if you don’t want to, but every couple of washes is a nice habit to get into. The extra lubrication also helps to avoid creating scratches when drying which is always a good thing.
Check out this article for more tips on washing your ceramic coated car:
The best plan of attack when it comes to maintaining your ceramic coated car is to stay on top of cleaning it with a gentle ph-neutral soap. If you don’t allow it to get overly dirty in the first place, you won’t have to worry about any of these issues arising. Don’t neglect it.
Can you go through a car wash with a ceramic coating?
Your coating should offer fairly good protection against chemicals. That’s intended more for occasional spills (like at the gas station), bird droppings, and bug guts. It’s not a good idea to test your coating’s limits by taking it through a touch-free car wash.
Have you ever wondered how those car washes can clean your vehicle without scrubbing or agitating the soap at all? It’s because it’s acidic. It’s really strong stuff. While your coating might put up a good fight, it’s really not worth the risk. There’s too much at stake.
I shouldn’t have to tell you that car washes with brushes are a horrible idea. You’ve either spent a ton of time or a ton of money having your paint corrected to as close to perfection as possible before having the ceramic coating applied. Those brushes will certainly cause a ton of bad scratches as soon as they touch your car.
While your coating might offer some scratch resistance, that doesn’t mean it’s scratch proof. The amount of protection it might give you is nowhere near enough to save you from those evil brushes. There’s no question: Taking your car through a traditional car wash will scratch your paint.
All of this means that a hand wash is the safest way to clean your ceramic coated car. For some, that’s too much work. I’m sorry but that’s not much of an excuse. If you care enough about your car to have it coated, you can spare 45 mins to an hour every week or two to give it a quick wash. Who knows, you might even find it relaxing.
If you’re just not open to doing the work yourself, you can always hire a detailer to do it for you. Many of them will have maintenance programs that you can join where they take care of your car at the necessary intervals – it’s like a monthly subscription. Just make sure they’re aware that it’s coated and treat it as such.
Can you use a rinseless wash on a ceramic coated car?
Believe it or not, yes! This isn’t something that’s talked about very often but it’s something I’ve personally tested for years. My rinseless wash of choice is Optimum No Rinse and I’ve never had an issue with it changing the behavior of the coating or leaving behind any streaks.
It’s really easy to get that freshly polished finish without any water spots or streaks sticking around. I use it in the direct sun too.
Choosing a rinseless wash is basically the same thing as choosing a traditional soap. You don’t need to overthink it. Just find one that doesn’t contain any wax (that will change water behavior or cause streaks). I don’t know of any rinseless washes that contain heavy duty cleaners or degreasers so that shouldn’t be a concern here.
Make sure to follow safe rinseless wash procedures, especially if your car is really dirty. There is nothing wrong with giving the car a quick pre-rinse with either a pressure washer or the garden hose.
This is even more helpful on a coated vehicle because the self-cleaning characteristics allow you to remove a lot of the dirt and grime before you ever touch it. That lessens the chances of wash induced scratches being created.
This post is part of our series on the truth behind ceramic coatings.
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: