Is Liquid Dish Soap Really Harmful to the Body?

There are a lot of myths when it comes to cleaning your car. I know of two people who ruined their paint jobs after falling for some of these myths. I would not want any of my readers to be a victim of online myth dispensers and so today, I will put one to bed. Is it advisable to clean your car with dishwashing soap?


Dish washing soap is meant to remove grease, organic residue (like cake-on food) and germs on plates. AS much as it does exemplary in that, it doesn’t do well when used to rinse off grime, dirt, oil spillage (identify the cause of oil leaks in your car) from your car.

1. Setting the Facts Straight

I have being keen on this car wash debate for long. Frankly, I think there are a lot of marketing gimmicks and myths being dispensed as facts. Half of the people behind these “facts” don’t even have a chemistry background!

Dishing washing soaps and car wash products share the same DNA in that there are made using the same surfactant packages. The most commonly used are Sodium (SLES) and Dodecylbenzene sulphonic acid, which is either neutralised with Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxide, or Isopropanolamine).

The University of York has a nice feature called “Science of the Shelves”. They have explained about this topic more clearly.

The densities may vary, but not significantly. Other ingredients used in the process will make the significant difference. All the same, the difference may be rendered insignificant when the detergents are properly diluted.

Does this Mean Car Wash Soaps and Dish Washing Soaps are the Same?

Absolutely not! The thing is, there will employ different fragrances and dyes. For instance, car wash soaps will use waxes and silicone emulsion to give your car body an extra shine.

Dish washing liquid on the other hand might use some antiseptic agents to get rid of germs. And there is the salt in dishing washing soaps!

While adding salt in dish washing soap is a common cost cutting measure, it is also a functional measure to reduce the viscosity making it easier to work with them.

Now, using a product with the high salt concentration like the one in dish washing soap is catastrophic! This is so since it increases the rate at which your car corrodes.

Foul Play

Sadly though, some car wash soap manufacturers still add salt to their products. I proved this by using a nitrate titration on four different products (well, I will not mention any brand names here) from my local auto shop.

Despite some of the products claiming to have corrosion inhibitors, adding salt to the products will still undermine the work of the inhibitors.

Harsh vs Soft Surfactant

This is a big myth, perhaps I would say misconception. There is nothing in an industrial detergent world as soft or harsh surfactant unless we are talking about skin care, soaps (this is entirely another topic, although they are slightly similar to what we are talking about today).

So with all of this new information you may be asking, “Wait, so which is the best car wash soap to use? Harsh or soft surfactant?” Here is your answer…

Harsh detergents are simply marketing gimmicks. There is no detergent (car wash or dish wash detergent) that will dissolve the acrylic clear coat on your car.

You know what causes the clear coat to dissolve? UV degradation and not the “harsh surfactant”. You can read about UV degradation as written by William Rice on Vivilon.

Bottom Line

The reason you should not use dishwashing soap to wash your car is because it will destroy the wax coating on your car leading to drying up. Your clear coat will degrade due to UV exposure regardless of the detergent you choose to use.

The rule of the thumb is, when you choose a car wash product, you should go for the quality product that more often than not cost top dollar but comes in a simple package. Some products come in fancy packaging cost considerably higher.

2. What Makes a Good Car Soap?

Now that we are on the same page regarding the use of dishwashing soap on your car, what are you left with? Well, body soap and household detergents are not an option either.

They are not pH balanced and most likely, they contain salt too. You will need a car wash soap! A good car wash soap contains waxes and is well lubricated. Here are my top picks:

Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish Car Wash

Griots Garage might not be the cheapest on this list, but you can trust their products to do a brilliant job. I have been their long-time customer and I can confidently say they make some good stuff. All their products are made in the USA, and this should give you enough confidence.


The Brilliant Finish car wash is best for industrial application. It can be used both for the bikes (plastic and metallic surfaces) and car.

I like the shampoo because it gives an after wash shine and second, the 64 oz bottle will on average give you 10-12 washes. I am currently using this product which I got from Amazon Prime

Green Clean Automotive Car Shampoo Superior

Well, this one is a bit different. It is a modern day solution that takes into consideration the impact of global warming on the environment. The company doesn’t have a big catalogue of products, but the few they have are doing well in the market.


Automotive shampoo is available in a small 16 oz bottle ideal for personal use. The 16 oz will give you around 16 gallons of car wash water. Having in mind it is designed to be environmental friendly, all 'green movement' supporters should Shop for it on Amazon

Mothers California Gold Car Wash

Mothers California have a huge selection of products which are available in almost all automotive outlets. In fact, you will get any type of detergent with this brand; shampoo, headlight restoration agent, waxes, quick detail spray etc.


Mothers California Gold Car Wash is ideal for light commercial use or for personal use. The bottle will still give you 10-12 washes (two bucket car wash) which is a fair amount. I use mother's shampoo from time to time and I can confirm that it is quite effective.

3. Conclusion!

Can you wash a car with dish soap? Of course you can but you are NOT supposed to! Dish washing soap will shorten your wax life and depending on the brand that you choose to use, it will also contribute to corrosion.

A good car wash soap contains not only detergents, but lubricants that will protect your paint from tiny dust particles that may scratch it.

If you liked this piece, share it with your circles and you might save someone’s paint job… and the environment for that matter.

About the Author Alice Brown

I am just a car girl. Simply interested in the automotive and vehicular world. I started out as an apprentice mechanic working at my father’s garage. I'm hoping my two cents will help you fix a blinking light on the dashboard or that cranking noise that you don’t seem to know where it is coming from.