Car wash: Can you wash your car with washing up liquid?

Car wash: Can you wash your car with washing up liquid?


Washing up liquid does a great job of cleaning our pots, pans and other items around the kitchen. But for years, people around the world have also been using it to remove dirt from their cars.

Can you wash your car with washing up liquid?

While washing up liquid is well known for its cleaning properties, using it on your car is not advised.

In 2016, research by car cleaning company Simoniz found that 43 per cent of UK drivers prefer to wash their own vehicles rather than going to a car wash.

Their survey also found that 41 per cent of those who wash their own are doing so with washing up liquid.

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It’s claimed the chemicals in washing up liquid break down the wax that is applied to the paintwork on our cars.

Ben Johnson, marketing director of Simoniz, told the Telegraph: “We decided to undertake this research to better understand customer needs but it has really highlighted the fact that those using washing-up liquid are unaware that they could be doing more harm than good.

“It’s great to see that nearly half of car owners still take the time to wash their cars themselves.

“However, we need to continue to educate that using a proper shampoo and wax is important.

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“Those using washing up liquid to clean their car’s exterior should understand that it will contain a grease-removing agent which removes the wax and could make a real mess of the bodywork.”

The AA advises car owners invest in a car shampoo.

Their website says: “It’s important to use specialist car shampoo, rather than fairy liquid or other household products, which can break down the protective wax applied to your car.

“You won’t have to take a side job washing cars to afford the shampoo either; you can pick up reasonably priced brands at most supermarkets or specialist stores.”

Popular car care website In My Garage says a good car washing product should be “slippery” due to the lack of detergents.

A post read: “While the detergents in dish soap do a great job cleaning the car (and the leftover casserole left in your baking dish), they also remove much more than just the dirt from the surface.

“The detergents break down the wax, stripping it away and leaving your paint dull and unprotected.


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“Good car wash soap will not contain any detergents and will be rich in lubricants (which safely lubricate the dirt, allowing it to glide from the vehicles paint).

“A ‘feel test’ you can use to test your car wash is to put a small amount of it between your finger and thumb and rub it back and forth.

“You will notice that better car washes will be much more slippery.

“Lesser ones may contain detergents to ‘help’ clean the car (since the lubricants aren’t there), so make sure you check that before buying.”

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