Can I Use Dish Soap to Wash My Car?

Dishwash soap should be an integral part of your kitchen-cleaning arsenal, but, no. It should never be the first choice for washing your car. We know what you are thinking. In real life, things can get difficult sometimes.

Maybe it is the end of the month, and you have run out of funds and can not afford a new liquid. Or maybe you simply do not have access to a bottle of car washing detergent. In such scenarios, you may ask yourself, can I use dish soap to wash my car? Let’s start talking about whether this is a good idea. So, let's continue reading to find out.

Table of Contents

The issue with dish soap

These detergent liquids are designed to strip the stubborn food oil out of your kitchen utensils. They tackle dirt and grime in a matter of seconds to get them sparkling clean. They produce a lot of foam, and at first glance, they seem like the perfect solution. We mean, why not? Read on to understand why there might be better things for your car.

  • Harsh chemicals: Sadly, these detergents work a bit too well. As they are composed of harsh chemicals and designed to break down the oil, they eat away the wax coating in your car paint. This wax consists of oily plant-based substances that are chemically similar to cooking oil or butter. Therefore, they remove the wax as they would the oil. So there we have it, folks! Our primary answer to your question: can I use dish soap to wash my car?
  • Fading away the car’s finish: The worst part is you won't see this happening right away. Washing your car with this liquid detergent once or twice is not enough to remove the wax coating. This is especially applicable if you're using ceramic or graphene solutions. However, if you use it every time after a romp in the mud or the times when a bird decides to drop its assets on your hood, you can see the aftermath.

It will fade away slowly and will no longer have its water-beading finish. Soon, the elements will start wreaking havoc on your paint, and you will be left with some expensive problems to solve.

Can I use dish soap to wash my car?

The word “Can" is a loaded term. Of course, you can do anything you want, but using utensil soap is really not recommended. Here are a few other products that you really should not use for cleaning a well-maintained car:

  • Laundry detergent

Although they are not as abrasive as dish soap, they can still eat away your car coat. They contain chemicals and degrease to remove tough stains like coffee marks on your clothes. The bases can eat away your car wax and leave your vehicle looking dull and lackluster. In simple words, they are not really meant for your car.

  • Vinegar

It can be a versatile and natural cleaner. However, it is a big no-brainer to scrub the surface of your car. Do not let it dry in the paint, and avoid applying especially in direct sunlight or when it is hotter than 90°F.

  • Baby shampoo

Some may argue that they are gentle enough, but they are not made for car surfaces. Additionally, they might not clean well like a specially formulated car cleaner.

  • Dish soap

If you're still not convinced and wondering, can I use dish soap to wash my car? Well, we are here to tell you that plain water is not a lubricant. Water by itself is inherently abrasive and a poor cleaner. However, it does not mean we are demanding that you give up on car cleaning. What we mean is that you should stop rubbing your car with plain water. The combination of dish soap and water indeed allows the wash process to be more gentle.

The main ingredient used in these detergents is water, followed by stabilizing and thickening agents. They contain salts and surfactants, too. Additionally, things like dyes and fragrances are also present. The combinations of such ingredients create a higher pH level around the range of 8.5-9.5. Hence, they are not suitable for cars.

It contains aggressive surfactants and salts that aid in the breaking down of protein and grease in food-stained utensils. It soaks the particles and dissolves them on exposure. This same mechanism removes the wax coating from the paint on your car. On top of it, if it dries and you are unable to remove it all, then the detergent will continue to eat your wax away.

The pesky surfactants cling to the surface of your utensils and force you to wash them with a lot of water. These amphiphilic compounds contain hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups. The stronger the formulation, the more resistant it will be to water.

Hence, these strong solutions are hard to remove if you use them to clean your car. Recall the time you rinse your vehicle with this detergent; most of the time, a streak is left behind. This is the dried-up soap. It is an instant indicator that your car will get damaged.

Some coatings, like Armor Shield IX, are exceptionally durable and strong. They can withstand this treatment, but continued use of strong pH soaps can make your car look bad.

Okay, so tell me, what can I "use"

We hope we have answered your question: can I use dish soap to wash my car? Now, let's proceed to what you can actually use to clean your vehicle.

  • Automotive shampoos

These products are great for your car. They have a perfectly neutral pH that will not damage the surface of your vehicle. They are specifically formulated to remove grime and dirt. They work great, even for sticky substances like tree sap or bird poop. They are gentler than the acid-based products used to clean the wheels or tug bars. This ensures that your paint or the protection product you use remains unharmed.

However, it is important to keep in mind that not all shampoos are created equal. Certain paint protection materials require specific treatments. Here's a guide for you to refer to.

  • Ceramic coatings

If you have applied this coating, you are attracted to its hydrophobic properties. It is easier to clean and does not require a lot of maintenance. Apart from this, it also does not collect a lot of water spots. "Hydrophobic"; get it? To keep it in its optimal state, choose a car shampoo. And stop asking yourself, "Can I use dish soap to wash my car?" The answer is still no.

Before investing in these products, here is a list of things you must check

  1. pH neutral
  2. 100% wax and silicon free
  3. Super sudsy formulation
  • Fancy Vinyl or PPF

Did you get nice vinyl paint protection done on your vehicle? That's really great! So now stop asking yourself, " can I use dish soap to wash my car?" To keep your paint in an optimal state, we would strongly recommend talking to the manufacturer or the installation center.

Most of these products come with a warranty, and by leveraging these, you can keep your car paint in optimal condition. You can use a foam cannon approach and apply it with a hand-washing technique.

  • Our classic car wax

We all know there is a new car washing approach that has gone viral on social media. Washing your car with the dawn dish soap. However, we have already told you that it is not a good idea. Rather, it would help if you considered an automotive shampoo. If you are applying a wax coating or a synthetic paint sealant, consider a product that has the following elements:

  • pH Neutral

The shampoo must have a score of 7 on the pH test. This means that it is a neutral one and will not be abrasive on your car.

  • Look for added wax

Most automotive shampoos have a level of wax or silicon in them. They are not used as a lubricant. However, rather than preventing scratching, they leave a thin layer of wax on the existing coating. This can extend the life of the paint on your vehicle.

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Closing Note - Can I Use Dish Soap to Wash My Car?

Dish soap can be a great product to clean and keep your utensils sparkling. It will really take care of the dried-up spaghetti sauce from your plate, but trust us, it is not good for your car. If you are investing in some good car coating, you must not compromise and think can I use dish soap to wash my car? Rather, one must take good care of the paint on one's vehicle to get the best out of it.

However, if you are on a budget, consider a basic automotive soap. Otherwise, choose a product that is specifically formulated for your paint protection.

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