Car Repair and Maintenance

Can You Use Laundry Detergent to Wash a Car?

Can you use laundry detergent to wash a car? You can’t necessarily use laundry detergent to wash a car. However, some exceptions may apply.

A typical laundry detergent uses strong degreasers and some other powerful properties designed to remove oil easily.

If you a car with laundry detergent once, it does not cause visible or instance damage. However, extended use of detergent can dull the clear coat on the vehicle.

Can You Use Laundry Detergent to Wash a Car?

Using a laundry detergent to wash a car generally depends on the detergent type. Many detergents use properties that accelerate dirt removal, which also increase rust on car paint. It also discolors the surface of the paint.

Phosphate detergent is preferable because of its anti-rust properties. Nonetheless, its water pollution problem discourages its reliability. The rubber seals and plastic reservoir will be vulnerable to faster decay.

If you are tempted to wash your car with laundry detergent, use it sparingly, such that it reduces frothing bubbles. Windscreen washer additives are typically for colder climates since straight water can freeze. Most water additives contain ammonia, and they remove the bug smears, but tougher on the rubber seals. Meanwhile, experts suggest using just rainwater, which prevents salt streaks. Use cleaner in a hand-operated spray bottle and wipe gadget to remove bugs.

Typically, after detailers apply a harsh detergent, they follow up with polymer wax to coat a clean bare surface.

Using a laundry detergent to wash an older vehicle might be okay, especially if you do not make it a habit. However, make sure not to use a dishwasher for washing your car; it damages the paint. A laundry detergent is an expensive soap, so you’d ensure to dissolve it in warm water before using it on the car. In cold water, the detergent will dissolve partially but will scratch over your car paintwork.

In essence, using a laundry detergent will make a car clean, especially when removing hard stains, bird droppings, and grease. Just make sure not to wash a car with laundry detergent frequently.

Is laundry detergent really bad for a car wash?

Somehow, laundry detergent is bad for a hand car wash. Detergents ate typically harsh and you would find powdery residue after the wash, resulting in finish scratches. The detergent residues can also jam the sockets and switches, which would require additional washing to remove. Moreover, a car shine will fade faster if you continue washing the car with laundry detergent.

Is it bad to clean a car seat with laundry detergent?

Yes, it is bad to clean a car seat with laundry detergent. Instead, purchase surface cleaning products like spray-on fabric cleaners. When the spray dries off, you can clean the car seat.

How to remove detergent from your car seat

Use water and wet vacuum cleaner on the car seat with a detergent until the water collected from the vacuum has no lather in it.

In the absence of a wet-dry vacuum, use a dry towel to collect a small amount of water. Now, soak it lightly on the car seat to remove the laundry detergent. You may also sit on a towel to pressurize and collect the detergent on the seat. Make sure to move the towel lightly across the seat to collect more detergent from the sits. The fabric should no longer be discolored when done. Next, to get rid of the detergent smell, wound the upholstery window.

If the car seat is made of cloth, a vacuum should work perfectly. You can also absorb the detergent using a wet towel. You may also pour water on the laundry detergent-stained spot to dilute it.

Will using detergent damage my car windscreen?

Detergents are not designed for automotive paints. You can use detergent to wash your windscreen without damaging it, but it must not contact the vehicle body paint. Moreover, a typical windshield washer fluid contains properties not suitable for car paint but prevents the fluid from freezing. If you do not live in cold regions, simply add water, but straight water will freeze on the windshield or windscreen.

If using a detergent is your last resort, apply it in warm water and not cold water before washing the car. Also, endeavor not to add too much detergent or make excessive lather to keep the paintwork from losing its protective properties. Be careful not to use a laundry detergent with corrosive content to avoid faster rust.

In essence, a few drops of detergent is OK if you have no car washer liquid. It just gets bad when you apply excessive detergent.

Reasons Not to Wash a Car with Detergent

Below are the reasons, not tow ash a car with detergent:

  • Harsh Chemical

The properties of laundry detergent are too harsh for car paint. So, when you apply a detergent on a car, you are inviting surface damages and subsequent exposure to UV rays.

  • Difficult to Rinse

Compared to a conventional car washer, laundry detergent is harder to wash off the vehicle using a normal hose. A detergent will stick to the various parts of the car, leaving residues that eventually damage your finish.

  • Detergents Strip Wax and Oil

Washing a car with detergent strips off the oil and wax that protects the paint from fading faster. You’d have to get a new paintjob sooner after washing with laundry detergent.

Final Thoughts

Experts and detailers do not recommend using detergents for a car wash. Besides, the finish of your car adds to its beauty, and should not be tampered with.

Moreover, car wash liquids are less expensive and available in most stores. Make sure to use a specialized car wash for your car instead of detergent, except you intend to fade the paint. Do not forget that when your vehicle loses its protective properties, rust sets in, and the vehicle’s resale value drops.

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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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