Is It OK to Wash Car With Dish Soap?

Published by Jeff Torres

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Is It Ok to Wash Car With Dish-Soap

Is It OK to Wash Car With Dish Soap?

To keep your car neat and clean, you must wash it frequently. Although many do not pay attention to the right soap and way of washing the car, it is very important to learn what you should use and what you should not. We know what most of you are thinking. What if I get dish soap to wash the exterior of my car? It’s cheap, and I have it at home all the time. But, is it ok to wash car with dish soap? Would the car’s clear coat remain undamaged? 

Stay tuned to discover the most efficient way of washing your car and understand the effects of dish soap on your car’s paint.

Is It Ok to Wash Car with Dish Soap?

One common misconception among car owners is the idea that washing their car with dish soap is a suitable and cheap alternative to using specialized car soaps. This myth comes from the assumption that dish soap is sufficient for removing dirt from the car’s surface, as it is by far one of the most versatile cleaners for the home. Many consider dish soap as timesaving and readily available and use it without considering the consequences. However, it’s not recommended for cleaning the car’s exterior.

Is It Ok to Wash Car with Dish Soap
Source: / Photo Contributor: sutteerug

Is dish soap really suitable for washing a car?

While it may seem easy to grab a bottle of dish soap from your kitchen to wash your car exterior, it’s not something we recommend doing. While washing the car once or twice won’t show any signs of damage, you have to think of the purpose of the dish soap. Dish/ soap is made for cutting through grease and removing stuck-on food particles from dishes. Therefore, it’s formulated to contain strong cleaning agents and chemicals that can be harsh on automotive paint. Imagine what that strong soap would do to your car’s clear coat and wax. 

Understanding the Effects of Dish Soap on Your Car’s Paint

To understand why dish soap is not suitable for washing your car, it is essential to learn more about its chemical composition

Dish soap contains water, fragrance, surfactants, and anti-grease ingredients. The surfactants in the dish soap are very effective at dissolving and removing grease and grime. Yet, these substances may also peel away the protective wax layers on your car’s paint. Just as the dish soap removes the grease of plates, it removes the car wax in the exact same way. Your car may become prone to UV ray damage and environmental pollutants. 

Plus, dish soaps may contain additives, like lemon or citrus extracts, that may also have a negative impact on your car’s paint. When exposed to sunlight, these additives may cause oxidation, hence, a faded look.

Why Should You Use Specialized Car Shampoos?

Using specialized car shampoos, on the other hand, has many benefits. These shampoos are specifically made to clean the car without damaging the car’s paint. They contain gentle cleaning agents that clean dirt and grime from the surface without damaging the protective wax layer. Specialized car shampoos often contain extra ingredients like silicones that provide lubrication for smooth washing processes.

Every car shampoo consists of three important features– balanced surfactants, lubricating additives, and an easy-to-rinse chemical formula. All these combined allow for breaking tough stains, don’t damage the car’s wax and clear layer, and take up to 20 minutes to have a sparkling, clean car.

Plus, specialized car shampoos are pH-balanced, which means they are gentle on your car’s paint and will not cause any damage or discoloration. They usually are free from harmful additives that can lead to fading.

Why Should You Use Specialized Car Shampoos
Source: / Photo Contributor: romanzaiets

What Is the Most Effective Method for Car Washing?

Besides using proper car shampoo, following proper car washing techniques is important to ensure optimal results. Follow our advice:

  1. Rinse – start by rinsing your car thoroughly to remove dirt. This also helps pre-soak the surface, making it easier to remove stubborn filth.
  2. Two-bucket method – fill one bucket with clean water and another with a mixture of water and car shampoo. Use the soapy water to wash the car, and then rinse it with your sponge in the clean water.
  3. Gentle scrubbing – use a soft sponge to scrub the car gently. Start from the top and work your way down. Be mindful not to use brushes that might scratch the car.
  4. Rinse again – after scrubbing, rinse the car thoroughly to remove any remaining soap.
  5. Drying – Dry your car with a soft microfiber towel to prevent water spots. Do not use towels or old T-shirts that may cause scratches.


So, is it ok to wash car with dish soap? Although washing your car with dish or hand soap may seem quick and cost-effective, remember that these detergents are not appropriate for cars and might damage the car’s paint.

Dish soap is unsafe for your car because, among other ingredients, it contains anti-grease substances that may damage the protective wax layer of your car. Also, the additives included in the formulation of the dish soap may lead to oxidation, which makes your car color fade.

On the other hand, specialized car soaps and shampoos are specifically formulated to keep your car’s surface clean and protect the car’s paint.

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