Can You Use Washing Up Liquid to Wash Your Car?

When it comes to washing our cars, we often seek convenient solutions using products readily available in our homes. One common question that arises is whether washing up liquid, commonly used for cleaning dishes, can be used to wash a car. This curiosity stems from the belief that if it can clean plates and cutlery, it should be able to clean a car as well. However, using these liquids for car washing isn’t recommended and in this article, we’ll explore the reasons why, the potential issues it can cause, suitable alternatives, proper car washing techniques and additional care and maintenance tips.

The Problem with Washing Up Liquids

While washing up liquid is effective for removing grease and grime from dishes, it is not designed for washing your car. The composition of washing up liquid differs significantly from products formulated specifically for automotive use. Washing up liquids contain strong detergents, fragrances and other additives that can be harsh on car paint, wax and protective coatings. These chemicals can strip away the car’s protective layers, leaving it vulnerable to damage and deterioration.

Potential Issue and Damage

Using washing up liquids on a car’s exterior can lead to several issues. The harsh chemicals present in the liquids can cause the car’s paintwork to fade, streak and lose its shine over time. Moreover, continuous use of washing up liquid can contribute to oxidation, which can further deteriorate the appearance of the car. Additionally, the strong detergents in washing up liquid can degrade the car’s protective sealants, reducing their longevity and effectiveness. This can result in decreased protection against environmental factors such as UV rays, acid rain and other pollutants.

Suitable Alternatives for Car Washing

So, what should you use to wash your car? It’s advisable to used products specifically formulated for automotive use. pH neutral car shampoos are and excellent choice as they are gentle on the paintwork and protective coatings. These shampoos effectively remove dirt and grim without causing damage or stripping away the protective layers. Furthermore, using microfiber wash mitts or soft sponges instead of abrasive materials will minimise the chances of scratching the car’s surface, resulting in a scratch-free washing experience.

Proper Car Washing Techniques

Proper techniques play a crucial role in maintaining a clean and shiny finish for your car. Start by rinsing the car thoroughly with water to remove loose dirt and debris. Start from the top and work your way down, ensuring that every section receives sufficient rinsing. This step is essential to prevent dragging dirt particles across the paintwork, which can cause scratches. When washing, employ the two-bucket method-one bucket for the soapy water and another for rinsing the wash mitt or sponge. This method helps prevent contamination and reduces the risk of introducing swirl marks and scratches.

Additional Care and Maintenance

While regular washing is important, it’s equally crucial to perform additional care and maintenance tasks to keep your car’s finish in optimal condition. Waxing, polishing and protecting the car’s exterior are vital steps to enhance its appearance and provide long-term protection. Using dedicated automotive products for these tasks ensures that the products are specifically designed to meet the needs of your car’s surfaces, resulting in better outcomes and increased durability.


Although it may be tempting to use washing up liquid for car washing due to it availability, it’s not recommended. The composition of washing up liquid can harm the car’s paintwork, wax and protective coatings, leading to long-term damage. Instead, opt for suitable car wash products formulated for automotive use, follow proper washing techniques and perform regular care and maintenance. By doing so, you will ensure the longevity and appearance of your vehicle, maintaining its shine and protecting its surface from potential harm.

Used Car Sales Direct has been one of the most trusted used car dealers in this area for years and we have a vast wealth of experience offering quality vehicles. If you need to replace your car, we have a huge inventory of low mileage cars to choose from. Each of our used vehicles has gone through a multi-point analysis performed by one of our highly trained technicians. They meticulously check the vehicle inside and out, under the bonnet and on the road to make sure that the vehicle you purchase here is in tip top shape. Whether you’re in the market for one of our vehicles, need service or repairs to your vehicle, or need to get an MOT inspection, we are the place to go.

If you’d like to learn more about our services, visit our website or give us a call at either of our locations. In Exeter, call 01392 717888 and in Wellington call 01823 795 437 . Better yet, stop by and see us! We look forward to serving you!