Can You Wash A Car With Dish Soap?

Can You Wash A Car With Dish Soap?

Can You Wash A Car With Dish Soap?

Car Shampoo vs. Dish Soap

It’s a Sunday afternoon, the weather is nice, so you’ve decided to wash your car.

You’ve got your two-wash buckets and bucket grates. A garden hose or a pressure washer, a microfiber wash mitt, and a large microfiber towel for drying. As well as a wheel brush for tackling brake dust and grime.

But you’re unsure if you are using the right cleaning solution to wash your car.

We hope this post clears up any doubt about the right product to remove dirt and grime from your vehicle.

We’ll talk about the disadvantages of using dish soap, or laundry detergent, over selecting the right product for your car or a specially formulated car wash soap or shampoo.

It all comes down to the pH level.

The pH level indicates how aggressive (acidic or alkali) any product is.

A pH level of 7 is a neutral zone. Therefore, most car wash shampoos and soaps have a pH of 7. They do not cause damage to your paint. This means they are neither acidic nor basic. Anything with a very low pH level of less than 7 is acidic, while substances with a high pH of more than 7 are alkali.

Still, Confused?

Pure water has a pH of 7 and is considered “neutral” because it has neither acidic nor basic qualities. But rainwater, on the other hand, is always slightly acidic because it mixes with naturally occurring oxides in the air. Unpolluted rain would have a pH value of between 5 and 6. When the air becomes more polluted with nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, the acidity can increase to a pH value of 4. Some rain has even been recorded as being pH2. That’s scary!

If we’re healthy and don’t have kidney problems, our normal blood pH level is 7.

The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the more basic.

Many substances or chemicals used in our daily life are alkali such as drain cleaner, detergent, lubricating grease, baking soda or baking powder, soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, hair dye, pesticides, etc.

Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you.

Excess alkaline pH levels may cause sticking on painted surfaces, which makes it difficult to rinse. This will result in poor drying agent performance and may leave a chalky, streaky film. On the other hand, excess acidity could also potentially damage your vehicle’s paint by being corrosive.

I hear you saying, “don’t people drink alkaline water?

According to

Unless you have kidney disease, alkaline water doesn’t pose any serious health risks. The high pH could make your skin dry and itchy or cause an upset stomach, but that’s about all.

Just because it’s safe, though, doesn’t mean it does anything for you. For all the benefits of a tall glass of water, fill up at the tap.

I certainly don’t want itchy skin or an upset stomach after drinking a glass of water, do you?

What is an alkali? It’s a soluble salt obtained from the ashes of plants and consists mainly of potassium or sodium carbonate.

So, why shouldn’t I use dish soap?

Most dish soaps have an aggressive pH. For example, laundry detergents and the popular Palmolive dishwashing soaps have between pH 10. to 10.6.

This level of alkalinity is not only bad for your car’s paint but also bad for your skin.

Of course, there are alkali shampoos, but they are usually formulated to minimize the risk of causing damage to the paint coating.

Unlike dish soap, its sole purpose is to be aggressive and effective. The dish soap’s job is to remove dried or burnt food from pans and plates.

Have you ever had a favorite non-stick pan? You loved cooking with it, and your food would slide right onto your plate. Then after washing it several times with dish soap, that food that used to slide right off now sticks to the bottom of the pan!

If dish soap can do that much damage to your once favorite non-stick pan, imagine how much damage it can do to your vehicle’s clear coat.

Now that’s a scary thought!

As a result of using dish soap to wash your car, it can leave streaks and white spots on your paint.


Effective car washing means cleaning your car as thoroughly as possible without damaging the finish of your exterior paint.

That is why automotive shampoo offers a lot of lubrication for contact washes with a wash mitt.

This way, the risk of scratching the car paint is minimized, and car owners can wash their cars without worry.



Never use dish soap to wash your car. According to Consumer Reports. Dish soap isn’t formulated for use on car paint. Even a detergent like Dawn is an abrasive cleaner and can strip away a vehicle’s protective topcoat.

What Other Substances Can Ruin Your Vehicle’s Paint.

Shaving Cream - Dried-on shaving cream causes discoloration, so rinse it away before it dries.

Vehicle Fluid - Fluids like brake fluid and coolant can soften the paint on your vehicle, which causes the paint to become damaged more easily. If you accidentally spill vehicle fluid on your vehicle exterior, remove it as quickly as possible.

Bird Droppings - Bird droppings have a pH level of up to 4.5 because they have a high amount of uric acid. This acid is corrosive and will eat through wax coatings and paint on your vehicle.

Eggs - An egg yolk is another acidic substance that can ruin your vehicle’s paint. The yolk is not the only part of the egg that can damage your vehicle’s paint. The egg’s cracked shell can scratch the paint clean down to the base coat. If your car has been hit with eggs, you must remove them immediately. Like bird poop and shaving cream, the longer these substances sit on your vehicle, the more damage they cause.

Salt - If you travel to the northeastern part of the country or the Midwest, you should be aware they might use salt on the road in the winter. Since salt is corrosive, it will eat through your paint. If you travel where salt is used, you should wash your vehicle as soon as possible.

One Last Thought

According to the EPA, damage to your car’s paint can occur just by leaving it in the rain. Acid rain leaves behind its acidic material after the water has evaporated. When this acidic material is combined with sunlight, the resulting effect can be strong enough to eat away at your paint, leaving your car vulnerable to problems like rust.

So, the best way to prevent damage to your vehicle’s exterior paint is to protect your clear coat by using a specially formulated car wash soap and applying a carnauba-infused car wax after your vehicle is dried. Just spray the wax directly onto your vehicle, and wipe and polish it with a clean microfiber towel.

Or, if you want to protect your car’s paint from all the contamination in our environment, add a layer of ceramic coating, which protects your paint and makes washing your vehicle much more effortless. 

To learn more about ceramic coating click here.

If you have questions about car wash soaps and shampoos, then give us a call at: 1-800-511-4004. Or drop us an email at:

Check out our website at to view a variety of car detailing products.

Use our promotion code PreLaunch22 to receive 10% off your first order.

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