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Commercial Car Wash Chemicals Explained

The right cleaning chemicals and solutions are crucial for a successful car wash. Check out this list of commercial car wash chemicals that your business needs.

The Commercial Chemicals You Need for Your Car Wash

There are several commercial chemistry categories you should when purchasing a successful car wash business. Each chemical category has its own function that can elevate your customers’ experience.


Presoak chemicals are essential for providing a complete and effective car wash. They contain a blend of high-foaming, alkaline, and detergent properties to help loosen dirt and grime from the surface of vehicles, making them easier to clean. They also contain conditioning agents to help prevent water spots while protecting the surface finish of the vehicle.

You should apply the presoak just before any other cleaning solutions to soften and dissolve stubborn dirt. Depending on the type of presoak product you use, you can apply it manually or through an automated system. 

When it comes to manual application, your workers can apply the presoak product directly to a brush or mitt before applying it to the vehicle.

Automated systems use spray nozzles to evenly coat the car. They allow for spot-on coverage and an even distribution of chemicals over the entire vehicle, so they are ideal if you want the highest level of efficiency and consistent results.

Wash Soap

Car wash owners often use car wash soap as a primary cleaning agent. It is capable of quickly removing dirt and other debris from a car’s exterior surface, leaving it sparkling.

It’s important that you carefully research and select the best soap for the job, considering factors such as:

  • Water type and quality
  • Environmental conditions
  • Type of dirt being removed

For example, certain soaps are better at removing mud and dirt, whereas others are more effective against bird droppings. Other soaps may include degreasing agents to remove stubborn grime and grease from cars.

The average wash includes several different types of wash soap solutions that work in conjunction with each other to balance the pH levels resulting in a clean, dry and shiny finish. . Don’t forget to consider the contact time the soap needs in order to be effective.


Car wash detergents are specially formulated compounds that have been designed to remove dirt, grease, and other contaminants from a vehicle. They are typically either alkaline or acidic and formulated with complex surfactants that break down dirt and debris while preparing the vehicle surface for drying and total-body protectants.

Wheel and Tire Cleaners

Wheel and tire cleaners are an essential component of any commercial car wash. These specially formulated solutions are designed to remove organic and inorganic dirt, dust, and road grime from the hard to reach areas on wheels and tires. 

High-quality wheel and tire cleaners ensure durability, robustness, and long-term protection by providing a deep cleaning. The active ingredients also help eliminate tires’ brownish discoloration due to brake dust and other contaminants giving your wheels and tires that shine and sparkle making them look as good as new.

A wide variety of wheel and tire cleaning products are designed to work with specific cleaning systems. Generally, though, standard wheel and tire cleaner products that are safe for both aftermarket and factory original equipment manufacturer (OEM) wheels will be suitable for just about any vehicle. 

Focusing on product performance as well as cost-effectiveness will ensure your customers receive professional results.

Triple Foam

Triple-foam car wash chemicals are neutral or acidic commercial products that condition and prepare a vehicle for protectants and sealants. They also help expedite the drying process, making them an excellent upgrade option for customers.

There are various types of triple-foam products:

  • Conditioner/cleaner: a surfactant-based foam that helps clean the car and provides shine
  • Clear-coat polish: a polymer based foam that both cleans and applies a layer of protection to the vehicle surface. 
  • Conditioner/cleaner plus additives: a surfactant-based foam with additions such as glass cleaner or bug remover
  • Winter formula: a triple foam with a non-freeze benefit offering the same end result in freezing temperatures

Drying Agents

Drying agents — also known as rinse aids — help repel and remove leftover moisture from vehicle surfaces after the cleansing and rinsing cycle is completed. These agents are formulated with special components that force the water to bead up on the surface, and then roll off of the vehicle. This helps to ensure a clean, shiny and dry finish.

Many drying agents also contain a protective additive that helps shield the vehicle from elements such as:

  • Ultraviolet rays
  • Rain
  • Dirt
  • Road grime

Some premium drying agents even include additional shine enhancers to make the car appear shinier and brighter.


Sealants are typically applied at the end of the car wash cycle. They are synthetic or mineral-based products that provide vehicle surfaces with short-term protection against weather elements and UV sunlight.


Protectants are also applied at the end of automatic wash cycles. They are polymer based products that provide extended protection against weather elements and UV light. They also provide exceptional shine, giving vehicles that just waxed look.

You can add total-body protectants as well as wheel protectants to your upgrade packages.

Drive More Revenue at Your Wash With Advanced Chemical Solutions

Running a successful car wash business or expanding your franchise requires a wide variety of commercial car wash chemicals. They must be formulated to clean various types of materials without damaging them, and many can be added to upgrade packages to provide customers with an exceptional experience and boost your revenue.

Deciding which chemistry solutions to choose for your car wash can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. National Carwash Solutions (NCS) is here for you! 

We are a full-service systems and fluids provider serving the vehicle care and wash industry. Through strategic partnerships with top car wash chemical distributors and a large family of brands, we serve car wash operators throughout North America. Contact us today to see how our wide variety of advanced chemical solutions can help you expand your car wash business.

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