can I wash my car using washing up liquid?

Posted by smol on


How often do you clean your car? 

Perhaps it’s a weekend ritual, or maybe the answer is never! 

According to a survey* most of us (26%) wash our car every 2-3 months whilst 6% of us admit to NEVER cleaning the car.

And interestingly, where you live could have an impact! This same study found people in the West Midlands washed their cars the least (with 14% admitting to a no wash zone for over a year) while Londoners were cleaning the most (56% cleaned their car at least once a month).

But wherever you fall on the scale - chances are at some point you’ve prepared to wash your car only to discover you’ve run out of car shampoo.

Apparently 41%** of us will turn to washing up liquid.

is that wise?

Washing up liquid does a great job at cleaning our greasy pots and pans, removing dirt from our plates and making our glassware gleam… so for decades we’ve been using it on our motors!


That same grease-removing power that gives such great results on our washing up will start to work on the wax coating of our car’s bodywork. And this could start to make a mess of the car’s exterior paintwork, stripping away the wax and leaving the surface dull and unprotected.

It’s why the AA advises against using washing up liquid for washing your car:

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.

good car soap feels slippery!

A good car shampoo doesn’t actually contain any detergents. It will also be rich in lubricants  because it is these lubricants which surround the dirt and allow it to slide off from the body of the car. 

and why should we clean our car?

If you’ve run out of the proper shampoo and are disappointed that you shouldn’t be using your washing up liquid… don’t throw in the chamois just yet. Remember, it’s important that we keep our cars clean. The benefits include:

  • Prolonging the life of your car’s paintwork.

  • Preventing rust from road grit.

  • Unobstructed visibility and a clearer view of the road.

  • Greater fuel-efficiency with improved miles per gallon (this is due to air passing more freely over its surface).

still great for your dishes though.

Whilst you might not be using it for your car, smol washing up liquid will still do a great job on your dishes. And there are so many reasons why you’ll love it:

  • Fabulous grapefruit fragrance

  • Your dishes will be spotless

  • Plant-based, biodegradable and vegan

  • 100% recycled plastic bottles

  • Return your bottles for refill! 

Overall, it’s great for the planet… and great for you! Your sink will thank you.



*Intelligent Car Leasing 2022

** Simoniz 2016

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