Best Chemicals for Car Wash Use: The Expert View


Chemicals used by car washes vary, and different detergents are used for the same type of cleaning. Naturally, chemical compounds leave a toxic residue, which is why the Fortador steam car wash is so popular. However, not all artificial agents are harmful. Here are a few insights from experts. 

Standard Chemicals

Unlike a steam cleaner wash, typical tunnel washes use presoaks, shampoos, and detergents. All of them contain chemicals. Here is a closer look at each component.


Longer tunnels include a presoak arch. The product is used to start the process. It removes any dirt, grime, and film from the surface. This prepares the vehicle for subsequent waxing.

Low-pH chemicals are acid-based. They remove dust and dirt, add shine and neutralize soaps as they go down the drain. Meanwhile, high-pH alternatives are alkaline in nature. They are effective for washing off grease and oil. 


At the moment, the steam cleaner for cars is the only chemical-free way. Conventional washers use detergents, also known as lubricating foam soap or wrap foams. They have a neutral or low pH. 

Thanks to lubricity, soils are lifted and held until rinsing. Cracks on the surface are cleaned and sealed. If you use the wrong type of lubricating soap, it makes rinsing complicated. 

Tire and Wheel Cleaners

While a car wash steamer cleans all surfaces equally well, automatic washes need special products for wheels. They can be based on acids or alkali. The chemicals remove soils of organic and inorganic nature. These products are used on surfaces like brake pads and abraded rubber. Do not confuse them with dressings or protectants. The best products are safe for standard and custom wheels. 

Triple Foam

Triple foam is included in advanced wash packages and may be classified as a conditioner or polisher. The former facilitates washing while the latter adds a wax layer prior to cleaning. Some washes apply the conditioner and the polisher. Both are acidic or neutral. Their purpose is to speed up drying and prepare the vehicle for the sealant and protector. 

Drying Agents 

Different rinse aids are used before waxes and protectants. They are based on minerals or synthetic oils. Water is beaded and removed from the surface. 

Sealants and Protectants

The synthetic compounds of clear-coat or paint sealants the pores of your car. They are based on minerals or synthetic oils. This guarantees protection against harsh environments and UV rays. It is further enhanced with total body protectants, which also add shine and a glossy feel. 

Chemical Add-ons

These are bug wash, glass cleaners, vision guards, tire shine, and rust inhibitors. Bug wash removes the acidic residue of insects. Glass cleaners wash and treat the windshield, so rain and show slide off easily. 

A vehicle may be subject to a dozen chemical substances. This is a major disadvantage compared to a steam car wash machine. If you want a safer and more sustainable solution, check the steam car wash price.

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