A car is just like a house. When your house is clean you will enjoy living in it and you will always enjoy going home. Similarly, if your car is clean, you will always enjoy the rides. However, if you do not clean it, you will never even like the idea of having to drive it. So how do you clean a car, and what products do you use?

Can you use laundry detergent for your car wash? Simply put, no, you should not wash your car with laundry detergents. The reason is that these laundry detergents have strong abrasives degreasers, and other chemicals meant to break up and remove grease and oil- based dirt on the clothing. These agents will be harsh on your car’s paint coat, and if used regularly, the paint will erode and damage it.  

In this post, we dive deeper into this question, how to wash your car properly, the products to avoid, the products to use, and other related question. Keep reading to learn more.

So, Why Is Laundry Detergent Not Suitable For Washing Cars?

Yes, you want to keep your car clean, but you must do it the right way. As such, you must know what kind of products to avoid. Laundry detergent is one of the products to avoid. As already said, it may contain strong chemicals that are meant to clean grease from fabrics.

These chemicals are not so friendly when it comes to the porous coat on your car, and it will tend to remove its luster. With time, you will notice your car starting to fade off and not look as attractive as it would have remained if you were using the right cleaners.

Yes, you may opt to go for the all-natural laundry detergent with non-abrasive ingredients only, but that could cost you more.

Other Detergent Alternatives and Their Effects on Your Car

In the absence of a laundry detergent, many car owners may opt for other alternatives such as dish soap, hair shampoo, hand soap, or any other soap they can easily access. Below, we look at the effects of some of these products on your car.

  • Dish Soap

Dish soap just like laundry detergent is specially designed to cut through grease, and this makes it efficient when doing the dishes. This means that it can also remove some car dirt such as oil and grease. Does this mean that it is safe to use it on your car? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Dish soap, even the gentle one is too abrasive and not safe on your car’s clear coat. In fact, most dish soap manufacturers incorporate toxic or corrosive chemicals in their formula, which can eat into the protective wax of your car.

Additionally, it may also leave behind a residue, which may need thorough polishing to come out. Unless you are willing to go through all this trouble, do not use dish soap to wash your car.

  • Hand Soap
hand soap

If you are out of your regular car wash products, you may use hand soap. However, you will still have to use a gentler one as opposed to the full strength hand soap.

However, hand soap will not be very effective, and you need plenty of it to get enough foam for the entire car. Moreover, if the car is very dirty with so much debris, hand soap will not do a good job.

Overall, moisturized hand soap will leave a residue.

Other products that people will tend to use include hair shampoo/conditioner, baby shampoo, wheel cleaner, and other general household cleaners. These products are not suitable for a car wash because if they are mild, they will not get the job done and if they are too abrasive, they will ruin the protective wax coat.

Thus, it is recommended to use a dedicated car wash detergent like this.

So, Which Soap Is Ideal For Washing the Car?

Once you decide to wash your car at home, you must first find good car soap. Car-specific soap is not aggressive like regular household cleaners. It contains a good cleansing product with easy foaming and lubricity and the ability to suspend any contaminants on the surface of the car.

Car wash soap can be categorized into 3:

  • Basic-Basic car soap simply cleans the car without removing off the wax and polish from your car. You can find it at any auto-parts shop.
  • Basic with additives– this one works just as the basic one, only that it goes further to add a thick coat of wax on the paint. However, this does not mean that you substitute a proper coat of wax for this one but it sure make a good supplement.
  • Rinseless/waterless wash solution– if you have no access to sufficient water, or you wish to limit water usage, this is your ideal car wash solution.

The above products are good as they are diluted properly not to mention their versatility and excellent lubricity.

How to Clean a Car the proper way

washing a car

Once you pick out a suitable car soap, you can now get down to business. Listed below are too/items needed.

  • Hose pipe
  • Wheel brush
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Drying towel
  • Sponge
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Wheel cleaner
  • Glass cleaner for the windows
  • Buckets

Most people have the misconception that a warm and sunny day is the ideal time for washing the car. On the contrary, this is not the ideal time, as the car will dry faster, leaving spots on the paintwork and windows. The best time is an overcast day when the car is not likely to dry too quickly. Park it under a shade with ample space for opening the doors fully.

Always start with the wheels because of the collect all sorts of abrasive dirt that you won’t like coming near your paint. Normally, you could just scrub with soapy water but occasionally you should use a tire/wheel cleaner. Wash thoroughly around the nuts as well as the outside tires.

Once the wheels are clean, it is time to do the exterior. First, pour water all over the car using the hose to get rid of loose dirt or debris that might cause scratches when scrubbing.

Now start cleaning it in a systematic order starting from the roof going downwards using your microfiber cloths. Here you are using water mixed with car soap in a bucket.

Once through, rinse of the entire body using a hose and dry it with the large micro-fiber towel.

The next part is the windows and glass. For normal glass, you can simply use glass cleaner and paper towels. For tinted glass, use a microfiber cloth and soapy water so that you don’t spoil its film.

Now move on the interior. Start by vacuuming each accessible area. Then you can wipe the pedals and any other hard surfaces. Ensure all is clean including underneath the seats.

At this point, your car is clean and all dry. You can now proceed to apply wax or polish to keep your car shiny. However, note that if you use the wrong soap, car wax will not do the car any good. 5thus, the stress is on the right car soap. Polishing can be done after any wash but waxing will only be done occasionally.

The Dos and Don’ts of Washing a Car

  • Don’t use household cleaners like dish or hand soap. Instead, use a car wash soap specifically designed for this purpose.
  • For the wheels and tires, use a separate cloth to scrub.
  • Do not wash the car when the body is hot or if it has been in the sun for a while. This will quicken drying of the soap and water as you wash, and even leaving residue on the body surface.
  • Do not let it air dry, as this will leave watermarks. Instead, use towels to blot out the rinse water.

Related Questions

When is the right time to polish or wax the car?

Polish makes the car shine and wax acts as a paint protectant. The best time to apply these two is after the car has been washed and dried up completely.

See Also: 6 Best Microfiber Towels For Waxing Cars

Is it okay to air dry the car?

No, it is not recommendable to air dry the car after washing. The water will dry up leaving behind spots. The best thing to do is using a towel to dry it.

See Also:
9 Ways To Get Dog Hair Out Of Car Seats
5 Best Longest Lasting Car Air Freshener

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