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 protects the paint job, makes your car look great, and improves the value of your car.

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

Going back to the store only to buy the car soap might seem a bit inconvenient. As you start contemplating your choices, suddenly a brilliant idea emerges – let’s use dish soap!

While it may seem like a good idea initially as both dish soap and car soap remove dirt, you should not use dish soap to wash your car.

Here is why:

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Dish Soap Damages The Protective Wax

dish soap

On top of the paint job, a layer of wax is applied in order to protect the clear coat of the paint job. The clear coat protects the paint job from the environmental stresses that may damage your car.

Dish soap is made to dissolve grease and oils that are hard to get rid of. Unfortunately, dish soap also removes the wax that protects the clear coat.

Leaving the clear coat “naked” with no wax on will make the paint job more prone to car scratches, which may become an expensive story.

Some dish soaps contain particles that may even increase the risk of scratching the paint when washing the car.

If you already washed your car with dish soap, you do not have to panic. The risk that all wax is gone after one wash, is very slim.

However, a car that has been washed a few times with dish soap will have the clear coat exposed, 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 for regular car paint which will minimize any paint job damage and at the same time remove dirt and debris from the car.

Included in the car shampoo formula are lubrication additives that further prevent scratches from forming when going back and forth with your microfiber mitt.


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You should never use dish soap to wash your car as it removes the wax which protects the clear coat and subsequently the paint job.

Instead of dish soap, a car shampoo will provide a much better result and make sure that your car is protected and clean from dirt and debris.

A single wash with dish soap will not damage the wax fully in most cases but if you do it regularly, the wax will be removed, and your car will be prone to damage from the environment.

Car shampoo will not only prevent the wax to be removed, but it also helps to minimize any paint job damage as it contains special additives to maximize the cleaning results.

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

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Bajro Muric
Bajro Muric

Bajro is a big car enthusiast with a love for writing and teaching. He writes about anything regarding cars - from common problems and fixes to racing.