A Guide To The Best Car Wash Sponge

Are you thinking a sponge is a sponge, there is no “best” sponge, right? There are just synthetic or natural sponges, and that’s it.

Am I right?

Well, if I am right, then you, dear reader, may be mistaken.

Let me explain why.

Have you used an old kitchen sponge, an old washrag or towel, or even a worn-out T-shirt to wash your ride?

The material in that rag can cause fine scratches in the paint. Or it sometimes harbors an extremely small rock or old hardened paint. That will really wreak havoc on your car’s clear coat.

You can avoid all these things by investing in a special sponge or car mitt. It’s designed to not scratch the paint.

Keep your sponge separate from other cleaning tools and use it only on your car. It’s best to avoid having it pick up things that might scratch the finish.

Let’s examine the options.

Best Overall Car Wash Sponge

Detail King Optimum Big Red Sponge

Oh, how I love the big red sponge!

This sponge is so well known that’s what every detail shop calls it. The big red sponge!

This sponge is super special since it is softer than foam and denser than other types of sponges. The special channels pull the dirt away from the car rather than you are pushing the dirt into the sponge.

The big red sponge works super well when you use the Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine Car Wash. If you haven’t tried this product, you should!

As the name implies, using this product requires very little water, makes almost no suds, and doesn’t seem like it should work but it does.

Mix about 2 capfuls into 2 gallons of water. No, you don’t need to rinse the car first. No, I am not kidding.

Simply soak your big red sponge in the bucket of the Optimum car wash formula. Do one panel at a time. Rub the panel, but not too hard. Flip the sponge and do it again. Drop the sponge back in the bucket and wipe the panel dry.

These two items combined are nothing short of amazing. The car wash uses polymers that surround the dirt or bird poop or whatever grime. The big red sponge then picks up the encapsulated dirt. Since this contains no detergent, there is no need to rinse.

I don’t know which product I like more; the Optimum Big Red Sponge or the Optimum No Rinse and Shine Car Wash, but I love them best when I use them together.

Of course, you can always use just one or the other if you prefer.

If you are wondering what would be a good non-scratching towel, you can use a chamois, or my favorite: Meguiar’s X2000 Water Magnet Microfiber Drying Towel.

You knew I would work a Meguiar’s product in here somewhere, didn’t you?

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Best Microfiber Car Wash Sponge

VIKING Microfiber Cleaning Wash Sponge

For those of you who prefer a smaller microfiber sponge, this one from Viking should suit you.

I like this sponge because of the microfiber mesh net that surrounds the sponge. It gives you that little extra scrubbing power you might need for those squished bugs, road tar, and other uglies.

The price is certainly right, and this is a bit larger than your average kitchen sponge. Think two kitchen sponges stacked on one another end to end. That should give you an idea of the actual size.

That means that Viking’s sponge will hold plenty of car wash solution and you won’t be dipping the sponge in the bucket as often.

The microfiber net will not cause scratches on the clear coat. You will love the way the mesh holds on to dirt and other sticky stuff, such as tar, and keeps it there until you rinse.

Some users complain that this sponge was too big for their liking. Other users claim that it didn’t really do the job the way they expected. Of course, who knows what they expected!

If you like microfiber mesh net sponges, I suggest you use this with the Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine Car Wash that I mentioned above. You won’t need to scrub as hard and you don’t need to rinse the car before or after.

Washing your car isn’t much fun to begin with (at least, not in my book). So the faster (not to mention easiest) way to get it done is what I’m looking for.

By using the Optimum No Rinse Wash and the Viking Microfiber Mesh sponge, you can get the job done quickly, with less work and less water to boot!

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Best Car Wash Mitt

Mothers Genuine Lambswool Wash Mitt

I can see that some of you are drooling over this car wash glove already!

Lambswool has been used for ages to wash cars. Before microfibers, it was about the softest thing around.

Just looking at this car wash glove, sometimes called a car wash mitt, makes me feel soft and want to touch it right through the screen! Wool is great for trapping dirt and debris when wet and they rinse much easier than a sponge will.

I have no doubt that this car wash glove will work like a charm.

Most users love the quality lambswool outside of the car wash glove. But there are multiple complaints about the inside liner. More than a few people state that it completely fell apart after just a few washings.

Even if this were to happen to you, the car wash glove could still be used by putting on a basic rubber or plastic glove and inserting your hand into the wash mitt. It is disappointing to have something come apart the way some users say it has.

You must wonder if they put this car wash glove in the dryer. You should never put a natural product, such as leather or lambswool in a clothes dryer. Wash it in the machine if you like, but let it hang and air dry out of direct sunlight.

Mothers Lambswool car wash glove is divine, super soft, and will not scratch anything on your vehicle. Just be sure that you take care of it properly.

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Best Car Wash Sponge With Handle

AutoSpa Microfiber Wash Mop with Pole

If you’ve got a large SUV, motorhome, RV, trailer, or oversized truck, this product will make washing your vehicle much, much easier!

Unless I want to hang on to the mirrors or drape myself across the hood, I really need a car wash mitt with a handle.

The telescoping handle on this car wash mitt is a full 48 inches long. That’s four feet, which will reach nearly anything.

The head lifts and moves a bit. It’s flexible enough that you can get to hard to reach areas, but not so floppy that it can’t get the job done.

I love the soft chenille head on this car wash mitt! It won’t scratch and best of all, you can remove the head and toss it in the washing machine. I’ve found some replacement heads if you need them in the future.

The only issue with the replacement head is that it isn’t chenille and doesn’t come from AutoSpa, but it does fit. I don’t know why AutoSpa doesn’t make replacement heads, but I did find one at least.

Some users mentioned that they purchased two of these; one for washing and one for drying. I haven’t tried that, but it sounds like it would work.

A few users complained that the plastic head on the car wash mitt broke. I can’t imagine how that happened unless it was cracked during shipping. The plastic head is quite sturdy and thick.

If you are looking for a car wash sponge with a long handle, this is the one you want. It will make washing your vehicle so much easier, you will wonder why you didn’t get one before.

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What kind of sponge should I use to wash my car?

I mentioned earlier in this article about the sponges and other rags that you shouldn’t use, as well as the reasons why.

As for what kind of sponge you should use, that is a personal preference. I can tell you this: make sure it’s made or designed for your car’s finish.

Don’t buy a large “cleaning” type sponge and assume that if you keep it strictly for washing your car that it’s OK.

I’m betting it will put fine scratches on the clear coat.

If the products above sound good but you wish you could put them all together in one product, I did find the Viking Long Pile Microfiber Car Wash Sponge to be the best both worlds.

This is made for your car’s finish and it combines the soapy solution holding power of a sponge. It also has the soft outside of a microfiber towel while having longer fibers than your typical microfiber towel.

The inside is high-density foam and not a sponge, but you won’t notice the difference. If you aren’t sure which product above would work best, try this microfiber sponge. I bet you will love it the first time you use it.

Do microfiber towels scratch cars?

No, microfiber towels don’t scratch cars. But a dirty one will.

If you’ve heard others say that their microfiber towel scratched their paint, I’ll bet the towel is contaminated with something. Contaminants can be so small that you can’t see them.

It could also be the car still had some type of grit or dirt on it and it got rubbed into the paint when they were drying the car.

Microfiber towels can’t scratch the paint by themselves. Get some dirt on the towel or try to use it on a car that isn’t 100 percent free from dust and dirt, and you will get scratches.

Always use clean cloths. Even if they don’t look dirty, wash them after every use and store them where dust cannot reach them.

What is the best way to wash a car without scratching it?

If you aren’t going to use the Optimum No Rinse Car Wash, then you need to use the two-bucket system and use clean rags or sponges.

Rinse the car to remove as much dirt as possible. You don’t need a pressure washer, but a strong stream from the hose should work. Spray problem areas, such as the rocker panels and the hood or grill with a product likeGriot’s Garage Bug and Smudge to loosen and remove squished bugs and tar.

One bucket should have your soapy water, the other only plain water. Dip the sponge into the soap and wash one panel at a time. Rinse the sponge in the clear water, then dip it back into the soapy water. Rinse thoroughly when you are finished.

This is the best method of washing to prevent the sponge from picking up dirt and rubbing it into every panel. It also prevents swirls and fine scratches.

Do hand car washes damage paint?

My recommendation is to wash yourself to reduce paint damage.

But if you take it to a hand car wash company, ask if they use the two bucket method.

If they are using one bucket or they run it through the automatic car wash then hand wash the difficult areas, I can guarantee that they are scratching the clear coat.

How do you clean car sponges?

There are a variety of ways to clean a sponge after a wash.

Personally, I like to soak the sponge in a bucket of water with a bit of dish soap (usually Dawn because it’s best at dissolving grease and oil). I let the sponge soak overnight or longer, then I rinse it using a strong stream of water until no more suds come out of it.

You can rinse the sponge in water until the water runs clear. You can also put it in the washing machine. That’s hard on a sponge but it does a fairly good job if you don’t add too much soap.

Or you can rinse it using a power washer. Again, that is hard on a sponge, but it will rinse it clean.

Conclusion

After going through the options, I’ve now shown you the best car wash sponges on the market. You’ve got a synthetic, a microfiber, and a lambswool option. Take your pick depending on the features and benefits of each.

Keeping a car clean can be as difficult or as easy as you want to make it.

Given the right information, you’ve got what you need to make a decision now!

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Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell

Car Fanatic. Performance Geek. Flathead lover.

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