Car shampoo is a specially formulated cleaning liquid that is used in combination with a washmitt to clean a car in a safe way. It is recommended to wash a car with a proper car shampoo and the 2 (or 3) bucket method.
Difference between car shampoo and household cleaning liquids
Household cleaning liquids (like all purpose cleaning or dishwashing soap) doesn’t rinse off easily, has a negative effect on wax and similar products, can actually dry out the paint and doesn’t remove all the dirt a car comes into contact with.
Car shampoo has a very different formulation. Combined with water, it creates a slightly slippery liquid that allows for the washmitt to glide over the paint, decreasing the risk that dirt is rubbed over the paintwork. It also allows for much easier rinsing, which decreases the risk of dried up soapy substance.
The word ‘shampoo’ actually means a product that is designed for washing hair. Since a car doesn’t have any hair, the term ‘shampoo’ isn’t really correct terminology. However, the word is so common among detailers and valeters, that perhaps the meaning of the word should be adjusted.
A more correct term for this product would be ‘car washing liquid’. Some people have even tried to make the term CWL a popular term, with no luck.
To compromise, most manufacturers call it ‘car shampoo’.
Shampoo can contain certain additives to achieve a certain result. There are shampoos that contain gloss enhancers, oils or extra cleaning abilities such as fallout removers. Other shampoos can also contain rinsing agents, anti-watermarks agent or have a certain quick detailer effect. A difference between shampoos can be that one is a bit more slippery, others are thicker, some can be diluted a lot more. Most shampoos are very similar in cleaning abilities, the biggest difference is in how they feel, smell, rinse off, dilute etc.
Shampoo and snowfoam are not the same products, although some shampoos can be used as snowfoam, they don’t offer the same cleaning properties. Snowfoam is designed to be sprayed on, left to soak and then rinsed off. Shampoo is made to to applied via a washmitt or sponge and then rinsed off.