What to Use Instead of Car Wash Soap? (11 Alternatives)

You can turn to a simple remedy readily available in your home or at the convenience store when you want to wash your car in the bright morning hours for effective cleaning but suddenly discover that your most preferred soap for washing your car has been used up. Is there something to use instead of car wash soap?

Relax because you can still provide your cherished car with the ideal alternative to washing.

It’s exciting to learn that there are other alternatives to vehicle wash soap, including Baking soda, Vinegar, Shampoo, and others.

This article will teach you about these options, their advantages and disadvantages, and other related questions.

Let’s begin!

Since I was a young child, I have washed automobiles using dish soap. Dish soap is still my go-to auto cleaning product unless I decide to use a pressure washer which, of course, is usually accompanied by a soap dispenser.

Dishwashing soap is fine for automobile paint because it is food-safe. It won’t be difficult to clean the windows, body panels, and surface of the headlights because it is already appropriate for glass and metal utensils.

Dish soap is not the best option for cleaning heavily greasy or extremely grimy areas, but it will be an excellent substitute for a vehicle that is regularly washed.

You won’t need much of it; a few good sprays into a big bowl of water will suffice. However, you are free to add more quantity if you like.

For the best outcome, ensure the bucket is filled with water until it is about one-quarter full, include the dishwashing soap, then pour the remaining water into it in a stream, either from a shower head or garden hose. It will spread the soap out and cause it to froth, increasing its effectiveness.

Also Read: Why Is My Car AC Not Blowing Cold Air?

2. Orange Juice

After cleaning your car with your preferred auto soap, take a clean, old cloth and drench a part of it in fresh orange juice until it forms heavy suds. When you’ve finished wiping the surface, wash off the suds. Some residue might remain, but it will easily come off when it has dried.

Please refrain from using this on convertible roofs, specifically vinyl soft-top, as the orange juice’s acidity may eventually stain them. Also, avoid applying this method to wheels or painted tops, or surfaces.

What to Use Instead of Car Wash Soap

3. WD-40

This is universally useful for cleaning and it works on a variety of surfaces. It works best when used as a degreaser to get rid of polish and wax residue that is difficult to remove with simply a vehicle shampoo. Cleaning your car with your preferred auto soap before drying with a towel is advised.

Next, liberally apply the solution to any section of the car, anywhere there is a lot of accumulation. Allow this to sit for approximately five minutes, then clean away with a soft microfiber sponge or cloth, adding water to help the WD- 40 dissolve.

If necessary, leave it soaked longer for highly caked-on filth. Use a clay bar to further remove any tough stains like insect spatter, bird droppings, and other similar things. By doing this, you may avoid the possibility of any residue accumulating from the use of chemical substances that are likely to leave spots and streaks after drying.

4. Hand Soap

Since hand soap that is liquid is fully safe for paint and efficiently cleans surfaces that are only moderately dirty, it is a great substitute. I’ve tried a few different brands, and the results have surprised me. The less expensive the soap, the better it is, especially for soaps that are hard to get off the hands.

My hypothesis is that the gummier soaps perform impressively in cleansing surfaces and they leave a guarding covering because they do not wash away as easily.

Pick one bucket, then add a bit of soap to utilize it. Administer it on the car using a sponge after thoroughly blending it in. It will be very challenging to take the soap out of the vehicle by hand; therefore, It is preferable to use a garden hose or pressure washer.


Due to its streak-free finish, this is my preferred cleaning option for your car’s external windows. WD-40 and, or any of the other water-displacing sprays, should be used to clean all windows. You can also use this in conjunction with soap, though you must ensure you wipe away any suds immediately.

To achieve the look of crystal clear glass, spritz the glass once more with white vinegar and then wash it clean with a paper towel or a microfiber cloth while using some elbow grease. The condensation will be less on the glass if it is done in chilly weather, so this works best when it’s warm outside.

6. Windex

Windex is a tried-and-true all-time cleaner that has been in existence for a long time. Although it works well for cleaning chrome trim, plastic components, and exterior glass, my preferred application for Windex is to rapidly get rid of bugs from windshields while you’re on the move.

Just spray it on the material, then gently wipe it away in straight lines using a paper towel, microfiber cloth, or a towel.

7. Baby Shampoo

Baby shampoo may be too gentle for a cleaning agent of a vehicle, but when considering other options, the main priority is on items that won’t harm the automobile’s exterior. It is not advisable to replace car washing soap with baby shampoo because it might be an affordable alternative, but it’s not an awry option for the irregular wash.

The shampoo is meant to be added to a pail of water but also thoroughly combined before being sponged onto the car. It is advisable to thoroughly rinse it with a garden hose or a power washer because leaving any of it on is likely to reduce the paint’s brilliance.

8. Laundry Detergent

You should choose your laundry detergent carefully and use it sparingly because it is a highly powerful cleaner. The entire car can be washed more than once, though it still needs to be completely rinsed.

I’ve never washed a car with laundry detergent, but I have routinely washed my hands with granule detergent to remove other grime and motor oil from when I work on mechanical things. This makes me think that cleaning grimy components like exhaust tips and steel wheels would be a terrific use for laundry detergent.

9. Ammonia and Water

This is the greatest alternative for removing tree sap and tar from the paint finish. To achieve this, prepare a solution in a bucket by combining half a cup of ammonia and 3/4 cup water. Use this solution to spray on the affected areas.

Test it first on a hidden area to be sure it won’t stain or harm the surface before applying it. Leave it to soak for about ten minutes before thoroughly cleaning with a sponge or microfiber cloth and your favorite shampoo.

Please refrain from using it on tires, wheel wells, plastic trim, or headlights.

10. Kitchen Degreaser

I’ve covered the basic cleaning supplies that can be used for the entire car, but you can simply add body wash, hair shampoo, and several laundry detergents to the list. Instead of saying it again, let me give you two excellent home items you may use to clean your wheels.

The foremost is a standard degreaser for the kitchen. The kitchen degreaser was recently used to cleanse the rims of the aluminum that were in desperate need of a scrub, and it made a substantial contribution to the removal of the dark tar formed by residue from the brake. A kitchen degreaser is a good substitute for rim or brake cleaning if you don’t want extra money.

11. Hydrochloric Acid

My friend who works in the detailing industry gave me the idea of using hydrochloric acid for or on the wheels. He claimed it was quicker than using a household degreaser to clean the wheels, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out.

Because it is such a hazardous material, hydrochloric acid has to be handled with extreme caution. Gloves and a mask are necessary because you must remove the wheels from the car, place them flat, then spray the acid on them. It’s unquestionably a substitute worthy of mention, but apply it if you’re confident in your ability; otherwise, you’d be better off spending some time using the degreaser for the kitchen.

How to Make DIY Car Wash Soap

These substitutes for vehicle soap may be dangerous or useless when used alone. However, if a couple of them are combined and correctly diluted, you can create a powerful homemade car washing soap. The following things are all that is required:

  • A container of hot water
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar or baking soda
  • 1/4 cup either of baby shampoo or dishwashing soap

Here are three simple methods for creating homemade car washing soap:

  • Put the proper quantity of baby shampoo ( or dish soap) and baking soda (or vinegar) into the bucket using a measuring cup.
  • Add warm water into the bucket.
  • Make your vehicle wash soap by combining the ingredients.

When creating and using the soap, make sure to adhere to the instructions strictly. Doing so will prevent any finish malfunction to the car and produce a spotless rig.

Things to Remember When Using Car Wash Soap Alternatives

The foremost thing you need to understand is that utilizing water alone won’t be enough to wash your automobile without using conventional car wash soap. Use some lubricant between the surface of your car and your mitt, and you’ll need something to help clear the dirt from the paint. Soap will work well in this case. You can wash your car with this soap without fear of having any problems.

Most automobile owners are aware of the importance of using car washing soap when cleaning their vehicles. It is one of the methods used to clean mud and grime off of cars, trucks, and other automobiles. However, because they are a bit expensive, some people prefer to utilize alternatives soaps.

Yes, it is true that these options are occasionally less expensive than the traditional soaps on today’s market, yet, you should be aware of their drawbacks before using them on your car. The following are a few points to keep in mind before making use of soaps that are not car wash soaps.

There isn’t always a guarantee of effectiveness.

Although many options of soaps are available for purchase in stores, these are not as effective as traditional soaps at performing complete cleaning tasks. While some have claimed that these rapid detailers or shampoo substitutes have a cleaning capacity of about 75%, you still need to use mo,.re of them to get rid of stubborn encrusted grime.

Not recommended for dirty automobiles.

The truth is that majority of car owners who choose alternative soaps do so to reduce costs.

However, if you give it some thought, wouldn’t it be preferable to get the right soap for your car when it is filthy? Since these substitute soaps don’t have the same cleaning power as the genuine thing, they occasionally make cars that are already quite dirty look even worse.

Their pungent aroma frequently remains inside the car.

Most individuals would still contemplate utilizing them, especially because it appears as a less expensive option, cleaning power or no cleaning power.

This won’t happen if you pay attention to the potent scents in the majority of alternative soaps available today.

Undoubtedly, some of the said products have pleasant scents, but in contrast to the originals, they linger after cleaning your automobile. The end result is a strange-smelling car that is often difficult to conceal.

Additionally, from our specialist’s perspective, when picking soaps for washing vehicles, these substitutes often leave an unsightly film on the surface of your car. When you use a soap that is natural, nothing like this ever occurs.

Before beginning this operation, you should check to see if the paint-protective wax or sealer has washed off. If you’ve already washed that day and didn’t require additional protection, just begin your normal washing routine with water (ensure you dry the vehicle completely afterwards).

Applying another product over the surface first will help if you notice that the sealant still requires some work. Another option is to wash only selected areas of the car while leaving others unwashed, allowing those areas to soak up more product.

Know that if you washed your car, say today, only water might not be enough to completely remove all the dirt from the car. The easiest way to ensure a sparkling car is to wash it immediately each time it becomes dirty rather than allowing the little things to accumulate over an extended time.

If you plan on using soap, now is a fantastic time to do it because all that’s required is a fast rinse before you get on with your usual washing routine. Many specialty soaps are available that are made exclusively for washing automobiles with minimal effort and necessary tools if you have the money to buy (sponge and water hose).

If you are unable to buy such luxury, hand washing and regular dish soap will suffice. The only thing you should know is that your car must be entirely dry before you apply protection again.

Using car washing soap does not mean you should completely omit the wax.

When used incorrectly, this kind of product is significantly weightier than any car washing soap, so they end up being streaked. It is important to ensure that all painted surfaces are completely dry because by so doing it makes it easier for the wax to adhere properly.

Lastly, always remember to check those challenging locations, including the tires and undercarriages. There is no cause to worry about permanently dirty areas or unsightly drips because this material won’t harm them. To avoid any car soap buildup, just use a lot of water to mix it in. Then you’re ready to go.

Use water and soap to scrub the wheels of the car thoroughly.

Try cleaning your car sometimes with just water if you’re seeking an all-natural method. It works wonderfully well without leaving any streaks behind, and it is quick and easy. The main benefit of using soap is that it makes rinsing off dirt particles easier because they usually tilt towards staying together if the washing procedure isn’t lubricated.

Don’t let the sealant or wax that has previously been applied to your paint come off accidentally. Before continuing with the car washing soap procedure, thoroughly dry the area after each application.

Also Read: Key Turns but Won’t Unlock Car Door (6 Causes & Solutions)

Frequently Asked Questions – What to Use Instead of Car Wash Soap

Can you use dish soap to wash a car?

Dish soap is among the worst cleaning agents you might use for your automobile washing, despite the fact that it may appear like a practical car maintenance option. It is always preferable that you use a special car wash soap to wash your car so that it will get rid of difficult stains and grime without harming your car’s wax or coatings.

Can I use Dawn dish soap to wash my car?

Don’t ever use dish soap to wash your car. Consumer Reports claim that dish soap is not designed to be used on a car’s paint. Even a mild detergent, like Dawn, is quite an abrasive cleaning that can remove the top coat that protects a car.

Can I wash my car without soap?

Although it is not advised, a few other methods for washing your car exist. It’s not advised to wash your car with just a sponge and water because soap will remove paint flecks. You massage these grits into the paint when washing without soap.

What household items can I use to wash my car?

Add these common household items to your cleaning supplies if you’re fresh to auto detailing or want to try something else, or simply don’t have your preferred car care product. These include; shower squeegees, baby soap, white vinegar, toothpaste, melamine sponges, baking soda, isopropyl alcohol, and dish soap.

What kind of soap can I use to wash my car?

You can typically find entry-level alternatives like Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Conditioner & Shampoo at your neighborhood auto particles store. Products like this clean impurities from your paint without removing any form of wax or gloss. Additionally, these are offered with additives.

What kind of soap can be used to wash a car?

Car soap can be substituted with dish soap, an old-fashioned domestic necessity. That’s because the majority of dish soap formulations are made to successfully cut through oil.

Can I use laundry detergent to wash my car?

You definitely shouldn’t wash your car with laundry detergent. Like dish soap, it could include degreasers and other substances that, over time, could be damaging to the car’s top coat.
What alternatives exist to car washing soaps? Shampoos, baking soda, vinegar, and most other household cleaners make excellent car washing soaps.

Conclusion – What to Use Instead of Car Wash Soap

Automobile wash soaps, however, are still the suggested materials you should use when washing your car because that is the specific reason for their existence.

Additionally, the waxing of your car is crucial since it shields the paint from numerous damages that could arise from improper car wash techniques. After washing your automobile, you have two options for drying it: let it air dry naturally or wipe it off with a fresh, dry microfiber towel.

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