Can You Use Dish Soap To Wash Your Car?

Is dish soap effective for washing your car or does it damage your car's paint or wax? Here's everything you need to know about dish soap and cars.

Washing your car keeps it looking at its best, protects its paint, and can even improve its value for potential buyers.

Perhaps you went shopping for all the tools necessary to wash your car but forgot the most important thing: the car soap.

Returning to the store just to buy the car soap might seem like a hassle. As you consider your options, a brilliant idea forms in your mind: you could use dish soap!

This might initially seem like a good idea, as both dish soap and car soap remove dirt. However, you should not use dish soap to wash your car.

Here’s exactly why. Let’s jump right into it.

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Dish Soap Damages The Protective Wax

dish soap

A layer of wax is applied on top of the car’s paint in order to protect the clear coat of the paint job. The clear coat protects the paint from any environmental stresses that would otherwise damage your car.

Dish soap is intended to dissolve grease and oils that are hard to get rid of. Unfortunately, this means it will also remove the wax that protects the clear coat.

Leaving the clear coat exposed with no wax will make the paint job more prone to scratches, which can be expensive to repair.

Some dish soaps contain particles that could even increase the risk of scratching the paint when you wash the car.

You don’t need to panic if you have already washed your car with dish soap. The likelihood that all the wax is gone after one wash is very slim.

However, a car that has been washed multiple times with dish soap will likely have its clear coat exposed, potentially risking damage to the paint job.

What Should You Use Instead Of Dish Soap?

hand holding soapy sponge washing car

Instead of using dish soap, you should opt for a good car shampoo (no, hand soap is not a viable option).

Car shampoo is formulated specifically for car paint, which will minimize any risk of paint damage while still removing dirt and debris from the car.

The car shampoo formula includes lubrication additives that further prevent scratches from forming as you go back and forth across the paint with your microfiber mitt.


car wash
Summer Car Washing. Cleaning Car Using High-Pressure Water.

You should never use dish soap to wash your car as it will remove the wax protecting the clear coat and subsequently expose the paint job.

Rather than dish soap, car shampoo will provide much better results and ensure your car is protected and free from dirt and debris.

A single wash with dish soap is unlikely to fully remove the wax in most cases. However, if you do it repeatedly, the wax will be removed, and your car’s paint will become vulnerable to damage from the environment.

Car shampoo will not only prevent the wax from being removed. It also helps to reduce the risk of any paint job damage as it contains special additives to maximize the benefits of cleaning your car.

If you are unsure of your car washing skills, you can always leave the job to the professionals. The cost of detailing might not be as expensive as you expect.

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Bajro Muric

Bajro is an ASE-certified master technician and car enthusiast with a love for writing and teaching. He writes about anything regarding cars, from common problems and fixes to racing.