Can I Use Shampoo to Wash My Car? Find Out The Answer

Washing your car doesn’t just make it look presentable. It also extends the life of the paint. Have you decided to give your car a good wash but realized that you don’t have any car wash soap? Are you considering using shampoo instead?

Even though shampoos aren’t formulated for this purpose, they can be used to wash cars. But before you get started, there are a couple of things you need to know about using shampoo to wash a car.

can i use shampoo to wash my car

Is It advisable to Use Shampoo to Wash My Car?

Not unless it’s the last option you have got. Shampoos are a hair care product. Even though it does contain properties similar to car wash soap, the ingredients found in shampoo can have some effects on your car paint.

It is understandable that when your car gets dirty, you will feel obliged to clean it. In cases where you don’t have any car wash soap, you may look at alternatives such as shampoo.

The shampoo will clean your car and depending on the type you are using, it can even do a better job than regular car wash soap.

However, shampoo shouldn’t be allowed to sit on the car paint for long. Some shampoos contain properties that can make the car paint fade. Yes, your car will be clean but your paint will lose its gloss.

As a smart car owner, you do realize how important and expensive your car’s paint job is. Though it’s not advisable to use shampoo to wash your car, it is a budget-friendly and effective way of removing dirt and grime on your vehicle.

But, be very careful when using it. Ensure that you apply and rinse it off as soon as possible. Don’t let the soap dry on your paint.

Does the Shampoo I Use Matter?

Yes, it does. Chemical ingredients and salt are key contributors to the fading of vehicles. So, as you choose which shampoo to use, ensure that it’s free from harsh chemicals and salt. This will ensure that the shampoo doesn’t make your paint fade sooner than it should.

Why You Can Use Shampoo to Wash a Car?

Before we go any further, let me make something clear. I do not fully recommend the use of shampoo to wash cars because of its effect on the paint.

However, there is some green light on using it, provided you don’t let it dry up on the paint. So, the technique to be used here is to dilute the shampoo in water, apply it to your car and rinse it off right away.

The reason why you can use shampoo to wash a car is that it shares similar ingredients with car wash soap.

The shampoo is designed to clean dirt in your hair while remaining gentle to the scalp. This can be applied to your vehicle’s paint.

Provided you dilute and rinse it off faster, the shampoo will break down grime and dirt from your car while being gentle to the paint.

It is important to note that shampoo should be used in the same way as other car cleaning agents. That is, you must form lather with water and rub the soapy mixture on your car to ensure thorough removal of dust and dirt.

As long as you wash off that soap mixture right away, your car won’t only be clean but your paint will be safe.

For some reason, however, should the soapy mixture dry up on your paint, it will eat through the clear coat and your car paint will fade.

Take your time when rinsing and don’t stop till all the soap is washed away.

Which Shampoo Should I Use?

Not all shampoos are created equally. Some are definitely stronger than others. These are the types you should avoid. The market is packed with plenty of shampoos, it can be a bit tricky for you to know which you should choose.

Out of all shampoos that exist out there, baby shampoo is the best to use when washing a car. Baby shampoo is formulated to be extremely gentle on the baby’s scalp.

Therefore, it will be gentle on your car paint as well. So, if you have run out of car wash soap and you have some baby shampoo at your disposal.

Don’t hesitate to use it to clean your car. But the rule remains, you have to rinse it off right away.

Should I Add Anything to Shampoo When Using It to Wash My Car?

Add lots of water, the same way you would have with regular soap. Because shampoo forms lather faster, I recommend using it sparingly. Add adequate amounts of shampoo in a bucket full of water till it foams lather.

Other things that you may add to shampoo when using it to wash a car include baking soda and vinegar. For centuries, vinegar and baking soda have been well known for their cleaning properties.

These two come in quite handy especially if you have been driving on muddy roads. Please keep off bleach and other chemicals that may affect your car paint.

Shampoo by itself is enough to get rid of dirt. And if you must add something stronger, don’t go past vinegar or baking soda.

How Much Shampoo Should I Use in a Bucket of Water?

This will depend on the concentration of the shampoo you are using. Half a cup of shampoo is usually enough when washing a medium-sized car.

Diluting half a cup of shampoo in a bucket of water will be enough to clean your car body as well as the rims and tires.

There is no exact ratio you should use regarding shampoo and water. The objective should be achieving enough lather that will dig through dirt and grime.

Can I Use Other Soaps?

Having categorized shampoo as a safe cleaning agent for cars, provided it is rinsed off faster. You are probably wondering what is the effect of other soap types.

The likes of dish soap, laundry detergent, and hand soap have their own unique properties. And even though some of these household soaps will be up for the task, only a certified car shampoo should be used.

These others should be used rarely and in cases where there is no other option.

How Other Soaps Can Affect Your Car?

We have already seen that shampoo if left to dry on a car, can cause fading. It would only be fair that I touched on the effects of other soaps.

As we compare these alternatives, I would like to inform you that shampoo is the gentlest when compared to other soap types.

This doesn’t mean that you should switch from vehicle soap to shampoo. Use it only when necessary.

Here are other soap alternatives and their effects;

  • Dish soap – Most of these feature abrasives to ensure they easily cut through grease on dishes. These abrasives may scratch your car paint and can penetrate the clear coat of the car.

 

  • Hand soap – The effects of hand soap depend on its chemical composition. Gentle hand soaps can be used to wash cars. However, their counterparts which have aggressive chemicals should be avoided comp0letely.

 

  • Laundry detergent – This is not very different from shampoo. And it can be used to wash a car. Only that it shouldn’t be left to dry on it. The results will be similar to those of shampoo.

The bottom line is, stick to car shampoo if you want your car paint to retains its beautiful appeal.

No matter how gentle all these soaps are, they aren’t manufactured to be used on car paint. All these soaps penetrate car paint and remove the protective wax.

Even though these soaps may seem easily available or cheaper than car soap, the effects are long-term and expensive. So, you will be safer using car shampoo instead of ordinary hair shampoo.

What about Hair Conditioners?

While we are still on shampoos, let us explore all alternatives possible even hair conditioners. The good thing about these is that they contain lanolin which is a moisturizing agent.

Lanolin is what makes your hair shiny. When used instead of car soap, a hair conditioner will give your car a stunning and shiny look.

However, you also have to be very keen when choosing which moisturizer to use. To be on the safe side, always look at the ingredients of any soap before splashing it on your car paint.

Always Use Appropriate Car Wash Soaps

Despite it being okay for us to use shampoo to wash our cars, it isn’t recommended. There is a reason why car wash soaps were specifically created.

Appropriate car wash soaps are designed to be extremely gentle on the soap, other than that they also offer UV protection and add an extra shine that will leave heads turning wherever you drive to.

Shampoos may appear as cheaper alternatives but they aren’t. Regular use of shampoos on your car will cause fading. You will have to dig deeper into your pockets and pay for another paint job.

This will significantly lower the resale value of your car. So to avoid all that, use car shampoo. And only use ordinary shampoo when there is no other option.