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How To Choose the Right Car Wash Chemicals

If you’re planning to open or operate a car wash business, you will need to invest in a variety of chemical cleaning and car detailing products. Successful car wash businesses usually offer different cleaning options for their customers, complete with additional detailing, protection, and polishing options to make their cars look brand new. Your customers will certainly appreciate these extra services. 

So you’ll need to be familiar with the different car wash chemicals used in the industry today and how they can help you provide your clients with the best car wash experience. 

NCS partner brands offer car wash businesses industry-leading chemicals to maximize your business’s car wash capabilities. Read on to learn about the different types of commercial car wash chemicals, what they do, and what you need to look for when shopping for the best chemicals for your business with NCS. 

Types of Car Wash Chemicals

Successful car wash businesses excel because they provide their customers with multiple services and detailing options for different types of vehicles. Each of these will require specific types of chemicals, and you’ll also need to consider the kind of car wash you offer. 

For example, if you offer customers a “touchless,” or automatic, car wash, you need touchless car wash chemicals that can effectively clean cars without any physical contact between the surface and scrubbers. Detailing and waxing services will require industry-standard chemicals that add additional layers of protection to vehicles. 

Below are a few commercial car wash chemicals most commonly used in car washes today. 

Presoak Wash Chemicals

Presoak chemicals are applied to a car’s exterior before a wash to help remove films of dirt and grime from the car’s exterior. Presoak chemicals can have either a high pH or low pH. High-pH presoak chemicals are useful for removing grease and oil from a car’s surface, while low-pH presoak chemicals help neutralize the soaping agent and result in a better shine on the car.


Car wash detergents are either low-pH or pH-neutral chemicals that help lift dirt and grime from a car’s exterior. Most car washes use both soap and detergent to provide the most effective cleaning experience. However, while soap is usually a single surfactant substance, detergents are generally sold as compounds of multiple synthetic cleaning substances. 

Detergents also help car wash soaps remove water from the car’s surface. This helps the car dry faster and prevents water spots. 


Protectants create a protective surface on a car’s exterior during the washing process. Most protectants you will find on the market today are based on polymers or waxy chemicals that protect a car’s exterior from dirt, stains, and environmental hazards like UV light. Protectants will also help lubricate the car’s surface during the cleaning process. 


Like protectants, sealants are another car detailing chemical that adds a layer of protection to the car’s exterior. Sealants are particularly useful for getting into small cracks and gaps on a vehicle’s surface to better protect the car from future environmental damage.

Tire and Wheel Cleaners

Tire and wheel cleaners are chemicals that target dirt and grime on the rubber surfaces of car tires. 

Triple Foam

Triple foam products are foaming agents that incorporate chemicals like conditioners or waxes. These are good for providing additional detailing at the same time you are removing dirt from a car. The foaming action also helps these chemicals adhere to dirt and grime on the vehicle and remove it more effectively.

Drying Agents

Drying agents help remove water from the car’s surface, usually by increasing the water’s surface tension. Drying agents help cars dry more quickly and prevent the development of water spots. 

5 Factors To Consider When Choosing Car Wash Chemicals

With NCS, you can find leading commercial car wash chemicals of all types. The following five factors will help you determine which car wash chemicals work best for your particular car wash business. 

Cleaning Power and pH Balance

Detergents and presoak chemicals come with higher or lower pH levels. In general, higher pH levels are better for neutralizing greasy surfaces, while lower pH levels can result in a shinier exterior. You also want to ensure a chemical has adequate cleaning power without risking damage to the car’s paint job. 

Environmental Impact

Eco-conscious car washes will invest in environmentally-friendly, or “green,” washing chemicals. These chemicals are usually biodegradable and nontoxic for plants and wildlife. You also want to check with any federal and local regulations in your area to see if environmental policies restrict the use of any cleaning agents.

Safety Considerations

Some commercial car wash chemicals can present safety hazards if humans are exposed to them. This could include chemical burns, eye damage, or poisoning if ingested. Pay attention to any health advisories that come with a particular cleaning agent, and ensure your staff is well-trained in the best safety precautions for them and your customers when working with certain chemicals. 

Cost and Efficiency

As with any business purchase for your car wash, you should balance cost and efficiency when shopping for chemicals. More effective chemicals tend to be more expensive, but the superior cleaning and detailing services you can provide mean higher profits in the long term through a larger customer base. 

Compatibility With Equipment

Any chemical you purchase must be compatible with your car wash’s equipment. If you run a touchless car wash, make sure all of your chemicals work with your high-powered nozzles. If you run a soft touch wash, you’ll need to verify that any chemicals you purchase are compatible with your brushes and scrubbers. 

Quality Car Wash Chemicals for Your Business

Once you have considered all these factors, the next step to getting the best chemicals for your business is finding the best provider. At NCS, you can find all these chemicals and more from North America’s leading commercial car wash product brands, plus additional equipment, services, and solutions. So, if you need to invest in the industry’s best chemicals for your car wash business, get in touch with NCS today.

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