Wash & Dry

Car Wash Soap Alternatives – 5 Solutions You Can Try

Written by Howell Crist / Fact checked by Sam Howard

car wash soap alternatives

To pick reliable car wash soap alternatives, there are many important things to consider. First of all, the agent should be gentle on your car’s paint job, so all the abrasive cleaners and bleach are out of the question.

Also, car wash soap is formulated to avoid scratching or leaving any residue on your car. So, you would want an alternative that ensures a shiny car without streaks.

Read on to know some great substitutes for car wash soap that will get your ride clean and shiny!

What to Use Instead of Car Wash Soap?


1. Dish soap

Dish soap contains surfactants and salts that aid in the breakdown of proteins and grease, thus being used to remove dirt and oil built-up on your car.



  • Easy to use due to its foamy texture
  • Readily available in your kitchen
  • Has the ability to take off heavy greases in your car


  • Can also strip off the paint and wax since it is made for removing food greases
  • Requires scrubbing and polishing more than with a car wash

Therefore, make sure you create lots of foam for washing your car and use lots of water to remove them when finished.

2. Baby shampoo


These formulas are gentler than other options but aren’t as effective at removing dirt from your car’s paintwork. I use shampoo to wash my car. It’s not the same as using an actual car wash, but it’s better than nothing.


  • More gentle on your car’s finish since it contains light chemicals
  • Has no alcohol and will not dry your hands
  • Don’t leave a residue on the surface of your car, so it won’t attract dirt and make it look dirty.
  • Suitable for cleaning bird droppings and organic dirts


  • Not suitable for removing heavy-grease stains

You can mix one cup of baby shampoo with liquid soap and warm water to create household soap to wash cars more effectively.

3. Hand soap


Hand soap can also be a substitute for car wash soap. Many Reddit users will tell you the same. So, I did try to use hand soap to wash my car; surprisingly, it works just fine with a moderate amount of water.

Hand soaps can get rid of unwanted dirt and grime on the surface of your vehicle, but they can not often get rid of stubborn stains or dirty accumulations beneath the surface.


  • Scented soap for a nice smell
  • Can kill bacteria and germs


  • Cannot remove stubborn stains
  • Be careful when scrubbing too hard with hand soap

4. Baking soda


You will need to mix the baking soda with water to work, but you also need to ensure that the water for baking soda is correct for your specific vehicle.


  • Powerful cleaning agent
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Odor-eliminating agent


  • Can scratch the outer layer since it is textured

5. Laundry detergent


It is a versatile alternative car soap cleaning product that can be used for many things. It is an inexpensive, readily available option for cleaning your car’s interior, but it’s not so suitable for washing cars.

Laundry detergent to wash cars leaves behind a residue that can cause your vehicle to become dirtier faster than expected.


  • Can remove stains in your car’s interior
  • Doesn’t have harsh chemicals like ammonia
  • Perfect for removing grease, oil, and dirt from your car


  • Leaves white residue when not rinsed off properly.

Can I Wash My Car Without Soap?


Are you thinking of washing your car using only water and a sponge? Before trying this, you should know some significant drawbacks and potential issues.

While not having soap while washing your car is not recommended, there are some guides on cleaning your car without soap.

  • Check the water pressure – choose a suitable hose with high pressure.
  • Don’t use a sponge – it may scratch the thin surfaces of your car. Instead, try a microfiber.
  • Consider the temperature – you may not want to wash your cash directly in the sunlight, or the water may evaporate quickly, leaving water marks on the car.
  • Dry manually – don’t just leave it wet. Wipe the water with a microfiber cloth.

Don’t wash your car with only water if it is super dirty! Oily and greasy vehicles can’t be removed by just water itself.

Why Use a Car Wash Soap Alternative?


If you’re a thrifty spender, you can wash your car in your driveway using our car wash soap alternative! It helps save time and money. Yes, there are many situations where using instead of car wash is fine, but not for a long time.

There may be situations where you have no choice and need a sudden and immediate cleaning. If you are out of some car wash soap, there are a few other ordinary household soaps and cleaners for alternatives.

Many use homemade car wash soap to wash their cars. Make sure you use right ingredients and formula.

For the best alternative to soap to wash car at home, you should use mild soap. The problem with using a harsh soap is that it can leave streaks on your car, which can be challenging. The type of soap to wash car is gentle on the paint but still removes dirt.


There are many car wash soap alternatives, and choose one that offers a gentle cleaning experience. It should work well on your vehicle without causing adverse reactions that could harm your paint job or automotive surface.

Although there are car wash soap substitutes, it is strongly advised to use it instead of any other option because it is specifically made to be used on your car’s delicate paint.

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Our chief editor is Sam Howard. The vast market of car care necessitates extensive research. He entered the market, experienced the service, and reported customer feedback in order to provide the best advice and content to car owners. We have faith in him to turn our website into a reliable resource for all car owners.

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