I was just wondering, can I use something like Fairy washing up liquid or dish soap (which is added to hot water in a sink or basin to wash plates, dishes and cutlery etc) in warm water to wash my car?

I'd use two buckets and two sponges and then apply this wax afterwards.

Will this ruin my paintwork if I wax it afterwards?

  • 2
    Is "washing up liquid" for dishes or for your hands? Sorry... American here.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 21:56
  • @JPhi1618 - Check this image. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 21:58
  • @JPhi1618, Dishes
    – George
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 22:03

5 Answers 5


Using dish washing liquid on your auto paint will strip off any of the good "stuff" which is on there, such as waxes and or oils. This leaves it unprotected. If you use stuff specifically for washing your car, you'll leave the wax in place and it will last much longer between applications.

This site says it pretty well:

While the detergents in dish soap do a great job cleaning the car ... 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.

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.

EDIT: To answer your real question, though, it won't ruin your paint work, but will leave it dull and lifeless. You will have to rewax every time if you expect it to look good and stay protected. I'm not sure why you'd want to do this when you can just use car wash instead and not have to worry about the wax every time you wash your vehicle?

  • Who waxes their clear coat?
    – Moab
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 17:06

The problem with using dish soap on your car is that it tends to wash away any wax that might be on the surface. Wax not only makes the car shine - it also protects the paint to a degree.

So, will it hurt anything? Not that I'm aware of, but if you wax your car or use any other protectants, it would be best to stick to an actual "car wash" liquid.

  • How can the dish washing liquid hurt the wax if it is applied after washing? Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 9:46
  • @DmitryGrigoryev: depends whether or not the wax usefully accumulates over multiple applications. I don't know whether it does or not, but if it normally does then stripping all the wax every time will prevent that happening. Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 11:18
  • Build up or not, I certainly don't wax my car every time I wash it. I expect the wax to last longer than that.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 13:21

I would never do this for a regular wash.

However, there is one time when you might want to use dish soap to wash the car: when you're getting ready to do a really good waxing. While the dish soap will remove all of the wax that you used to have on the car, it will also strip road grime, oils, bird crap and a lot of other nastiness. The surface that remains will simply beg for wax and more wax.

Full disclosure: I don't do this.

When I really want to get everything off, I use a clay bar and wash with car soap a couple of times. However, I have seen this done with a really good waxing afterwards and the car looked very pretty.

  • Sounds like exactly what I want since I'm planning to polish to take out scratches and take off some oxidized clear coat. Commented May 17, 2016 at 18:41
  • @RobertS.Barnes I've done the same thing maybe once or twice. It's a technique you use when you really need a do-over on the finish.
    – Bob Cross
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 19:34

Fairy could not manage to wash out wax from my micro fibre towels , even when I used boiling water with it.

Even breaks cleaner spray did not manage to strip of wax from my car easily , it took realy hard rubbing and respraying of same spot.


Washing up liquid typically has added salt to increase the viscosity and so it would be inadvisable to use on your car. I’m not sure about liquid soap, but multi-surface cleaner should be ok, it mainly depends on what kind of dirt you want to clean off; in general oily substances need more aggressive solvents than earthy substances.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .