One of the main responsibilities of a car owner is to wash your car regularly. Unfortunately, there is no defined method of washing a car. We all do what we think is right. And that brings us to today’s topic, can I wash my car with just water?
Though it may seem odd, I have seen lots of my neighbors do this. On a hot sunny Saturday, everyone is on their driveway with a garden hose or pressure washer and is just blasting water at their cars. There is no soap or shampoo, just plain water.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with washing your car with just water. But there are some things that you need to know.
There is a reason why car shampoo exists. Cars drive through a lot of different environments. As a result, they are exposed to dirt, dust, chemicals, and a bunch of other things.
Water by itself isn’t strong enough to remove all these elements from your car. That’s why even though washing your car with just water is okay, you have to use soap to remove dirt, dust, and grease.
Wash your car with only water when it’s a little bit dusty. But, if it’s covered in grease or mud, this strategy isn’t going to bear any fruits.
Table of Contents
- When Should I Wash My car with Just Water?
- When Do I Have to Wash My car with Just Water?
- What are the Drawbacks of Washing Your Car with Just Water?
- What Should I Wash My Car With?
- Alternatives to Car Shampoo
- Car Wash Soap Alternatives I should Avoid
- How Often Should I Wash My Car with Water?
- Tips to Follow When Washing Your Car with Just Water
When Should I Wash My car with Just Water?
If you are in a hurry or don’t have car shampoo, then you can wash your car with just water. This should be done only when it’s extremely necessary.
The reason is, water only car washing won’t thoroughly clean your vehicle. As a matter of fact, it will take up a lot of your time and effort, because you will have to rub grime harder. This also increases the risk of scratching your car’s paint.
When Do I Have to Wash My car with Just Water?
According to the Mail Tribune, in some municipalities, washing your car may be a crime. Some laws don’t allow car washing soaps to run into sewers.
So if you live in such a place, you may only be left with the option of washing your car with just water.
But because this won’t thoroughly clean your car, in such cases you should rely on a commercial car wash or wash your car on a surface that will absorb the water.
What are the Drawbacks of Washing Your Car with Just Water?
Washing a dirty car with just water is the equivalent of doing almost nothing at all. Grease and mud will still be left hanging on your car surfaces. And I don’t know if you understand how disadvantageous this is.
Dirt and other substances usually eat away the clear coat of your car paint. This coat is responsible for prolonging the life of your paint and ensuring it looks shiny.
Dirt and other elements are abrasive. The longer they are left on car surfaces the sooner they start to eat into your clear coat.
Using water to wash your car will only remove some of the salt, dirt, and dust. However, other elements will remain attached to your car.
With time, your paint will start fading. And you will have to part with hundreds of dollars to get another paint job. Failure to thoroughly wash your car also lowers its resale value.
This can all be avoided by using car wash shampoo and not just water alone. Regularly and thoroughly washing your car will prolong its paint life and ensure it looks brand new.
What Should I Wash My Car With?
Every car owner ought to have a specialized shampoo for washing their cars. Not just regular soap, but one that has been formulated to be gentle on car paint while removing dirt, dust, and grease.
Car wash shampoo used with water can guarantee your car will always be sparkling clean. These shampoos are made with ingredients that won’t eat away your clear coat. But can penetrate through dirt and remove it off your car surfaces.
Alternatives to Car Shampoo
And, if you don’t have some car shampoo with you, there are other alternatives easily available at home. Instead of washing your car with just water, you can use these detergents that will effectively remove dirt and dust from your car. They include;
- Dish soap – This is one of the few soaps that have plenty of DIY uses. Dish soap is tough enough to penetrate through grease and mud. It can do all that while still being gentle on your car finish and clear coat. The only downside of dish soap is that it may leave some residue behind if used in excess.
- Hand soap – Another excellent cleaning agent, hand soap can cut through grease and dust leaving behind a sparkling finish. The only downside of using dish soap, unlike car shampoo is that it requires large amounts for you to get enough lather.
- Laundry detergent – Despite not being the most conventional type of soap that you can use on cars, it is very effective at rooting out stains and mud. Be careful on which laundry detergent you use because some contain tiny bits of powder that can scratch your car.
- Baby shampoo – It’s the best alternative for car shampoo. Instead of washing your car with just water, baby shampoo is very effective at removing dirt and mud while remaining gentle to your car’s paint and clear coat. With baby shampoo, you should rinse it off right away. Because, if it’s left to dry, it may leave behind a dull finish.
- Hair conditioner – The last cleaning agent that you can use when you don’t have car shampoo is a hair conditioner. It is way more effective at digging through dust than using just water. One of the advantages of using a hair conditioner to wash your car is that it leaves behind a shiny finish.
Car Wash Soap Alternatives I should Avoid
The above 5 cleaning agents have been tested and tried. And are thus true alternatives to car shampoo. However, should you find yourself in a scenario where you don’t have either of the above detergents, you should never use the following products. Your car will be better off being washed with just water.
- Wheel cleaner – It is normal for your car shampoo to run out sooner than your wheel cleaner. You may therefore be tempted to use it as an alternative. But, wheel cleaners are too harsh on car paint. They are designed for wheels and rims only.
- Household cleaners – Most household cleaners are part disinfectants. And have harsh chemicals that will eat through your clear coat. It is advisable to always avoid household cleaners even when the manufacturers claim that it is safe for all surfaces.
How Often Should I Wash My Car with Water?
Generally, you should wash your car at least every two weeks. For those who prefer their cars to be sparkling clean always, then washing your car weekly will ensure it looks its best.
There are plenty of factors that determine how often you should wash your car with water. If you often drive your car in mud or snow, then you will need to wash it more frequently than those who never drive off-road.
Wash your car with water immediately you notice bug guts or bird droppings and any other type of irregular dirt that may leave stains behind. If you also park your car in the open, you should wash your car with water almost daily to remove dust.
Tips to Follow When Washing Your Car with Just Water
I understand that there are times when you may have no other option than to use only water to wash your car. To ensure that your car is thoroughly cleaned, follow the tips below;
- Invest in a pressure washer – what I love most about pressure washers is that you can use them to clean your car with just water. You don’t need car shampoo or dish soap. A good pressure washer will blast water with enough strength to remove stubborn dirt and stains.
- Don’t wash your car on a hot day – even though a sunny afternoon seems like the best time to wash your car, you should avoid washing your car on a hot day. When it’s hot, water evaporates faster and leaves behind streaks and water spots. If you are washing your car with only water, do so on a cool day, preferably somewhere that is away from direct sunlight.
- Always use enough water – using very little water won’t loosen the dirt on its surface. And when you use a lot of water, you will be wasting it. You should find a balance between the two. Investing in a pressure washer will ensure you use very little water in cleaning your car.
- Avoid using a sponge – sponges often seem to be the best thing to use to scrub dirt and dust from a car. But, if you are washing your car with just water, sponges will leave washing marks on your paint. Instead, you can use a microfiber cloth or washing gloves.
- Be very careful when washing the engine – the engine is the most complicated part of your car. And if dust accumulates on it, you may be tempted to spray it with a pressure washer. Kindly refrain from doing so. This could result in getting water into sensitive parts such as wires.