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Dishwashing liquid is a cleaning agent designed to help remove grease, dirt, and food residues from dishes and cooking utensils. It is usually made up of a surfactant, which helps to break down and remove dirt, as well as other ingredients such as fragrances and colorants. Washing your car is an important part of its maintenance, as it helps to remove dirt, dust, and other debris that can accumulate on the car’s exterior. It also helps to protect the paintwork and keep the car looking newer for longer. But the question remains: Can you use dishwashing liquid to wash your car?

Differences Between Dishwashing Liquid And Car Wash Soap

Dishwashing liquid and car wash soap are both designed to clean surfaces, but they are not interchangeable.


Dishwashing liquid is designed to be gentle on hands while it removes grease and food residue from dishes. It usually contains surfactants, which are molecules that break down the surface tension of water, allowing it to mix with fats and oils and wash them away. Car wash soap, on the other hand, generally contains more abrasive ingredients that are designed to strip away dirt, road grime, and other debris from car surfaces without damaging the paint.

pH Level

Dishwashing liquid is typically formulated to have a neutral or slightly alkaline pH level, which is safe for hands and dishes. Car wash soaps, however, are typically formulated with a more acidic pH level to help break down tougher dirt, and are not safe for hands.

Effect on Car Paint

Dishwashing liquid is not designed for use on cars and can be too harsh for the paint. Car wash soaps are designed to be gentle enough to clean the car’s surfaces without damaging the paint.

Foam Production

Dishwashing liquid is designed to create a lot of foam, which helps lift dirt and oils away from dishes. Car wash soaps, on the other hand, usually produce less foam, as too much foam can make it harder to rinse away dirt and debris from the car’s surfaces.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using Dishwashing Liquid To Wash A Car

Using dishwashing liquid to wash a car is a popular method for many car owners. The main advantage of this method is that it is cost-effective and easily available. Dishwashing liquid is designed to effectively remove dirt and grime from dishes, and it works just as well on cars. However, there are some disadvantages to consider when using dishwashing liquid to wash a car.

One disadvantage is that it can be harsh on car paint. Dishwashing liquid is designed to remove tough grease and food particles from dishes, and it can do the same to car paint. If dishwashing liquid is used too frequently or left on the paint too long, it can strip away the wax and sealant that is protecting the car’s paint job.

Another disadvantage of using dishwashing liquid to wash a car is that it can cause swirl marks and scratches. Dishwashing liquid is abrasive, and if it is not properly rinsed off the car, it can leave behind fine scratches that can diminish the car’s shine.

Overall, while dishwashing liquid is a cost-effective and easily available option for washing a car, it can be harsh on car paint and can cause swirl marks and scratches if not properly rinsed off. As such, car owners should take care when using this method, and should consider other options if possible.

When Is It Okay To Use Dishwashing Liquid To Wash A Car?

When it comes to washing a car, there are a few times when it is okay to use dishwashing liquid. Emergencies, non-finished cars, special occasions, and if diluted, are all scenarios where dishwashing liquid can be used with caution.

In an emergency, when a car needs to be cleaned quickly, dishwashing liquid is a great option. It is an effective cleaner, and it is readily available. This option is not ideal for regular use, as it can strip the wax from the car’s paint, and leave it looking dull and unprotected.

For those who have a non-finished car, such as a project car, dishwashing liquid is the best choice. Since the car is not finished, there is no need to worry about wax or a special paint finish. Dishwashing liquid is a good cleaner, and will not damage the metal or paint of the car.

Special occasions, such as a car show, may require a quick clean up. Dishwashing liquid is a great option for a quick clean, as it will remove dirt and grime quickly, and make the car look great. Just be sure to wax the car after using dishwashing liquid, to protect the car’s paint.

Finally, if diluted, dishwashing liquid can be used to wash a car. Diluting the dishwashing liquid with water will help to reduce the risk of damage to the paint, while still providing a good clean.

Overall, dishwashing liquid is not the best choice for regular car washes, but there are times when it can be used. Emergencies, non-finished cars, special occasions, and if diluted are all situations where dishwashing liquid can be used effectively, and with caution.

How To Properly Use Dishwashing Liquid To Wash A Car?

Washing a car with dishwashing liquid may seem counterintuitive, but when done correctly, it can be a safe and effective way to clean your vehicle. Here are a few tips on how to properly use dishwashing liquid to wash a car:

Dilute the dishwashing liquid: Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with a few gallons of water. This will create a sudsy solution that won’t strip the car’s paint.

Use a soft sponge or wash mitt: Using a soft sponge or wash mitt will help prevent scratching the car’s paint.

Rinse the car frequently: Rinse the car frequently during the washing process to remove any dirt or debris. This will also help prevent soap residue from drying on the car and causing damage.

By following these tips, you can safely and effectively wash your car with dishwashing liquid. Be sure to rinse the car thoroughly after washing and dry it with a chamois or microfiber cloth to prevent water spots from forming.

Alternative Cleaning Solutions

Cleaning a car is an important part of vehicle maintenance, but it can also be a hassle. Fortunately, there are several alternative cleaning solutions available to keep your vehicle looking its best. Here are just a few of these options and how they can help you get your car clean in a convenient and effective way.

Car Wash Soap: Car wash soap is a great way to give your car a thorough clean. It’s designed to get rid of dirt and grime, while also protecting the finish of your car. Just make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow the directions for the best results.

Waterless Car Wash: Waterless car washes are a great way to give your car a quick clean without having to use any water. These solutions usually come in a spray bottle and you simply spray it on and wipe it off with a clean cloth. The solution helps to break down dirt and grime, leaving your car looking freshly washed and shiny.

Quick Detailer: A quick detailer is a great option for getting a quick and easy clean. These products are designed to give your car a thorough clean, while also leaving behind a protective layer that helps to keep your car’s finish looking great. Just make sure to follow the directions carefully to get the best results.

No matter which of these alternative cleaning solutions you choose, you can be sure that your car will be looking its best in no time. Just make sure to follow the instructions and take your time to ensure that you get the best results.


In conclusion, while it is possible to use dishwashing liquid to wash a car, it is not the best choice due to the potential damage that it can cause to the car’s paint. Dishwashing liquid can be too harsh and can strip the wax and protective coatings off the car’s paint, leading to fading and discoloration. Additionally, it may be too effective and remove any dirt and residue that can actually help protect the car’s paint. Therefore, a milder soap or specifically designed car wash soap should be used to clean a car.

By Ali Hossain

Ali Hossain is an experienced automotive expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He specializes in diagnostics and repair of cars and light trucks, as well as providing advice and technical support for customers. He is a highly knowledgeable and trusted source of expertise when it comes to all aspects of automotive care.