Can You Wash Your Car With Laundry Detergent?

Are you wondering If you can wash your car with laundry detergent? Yes, having the ability to wash your car with something other than car wash soap can be very convenient.

But, Can you wash your car with laundry detergent? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Laundry detergents typically contain strong degreasers and other abrasive chemicals to break up the oily substances on clothing. So, If you regularly wash your car with laundry detergent, It will damage the outer surface.

In this article, We will discuss why you shouldn’t wash your car with laundry detergent and the risks associated with doing so.

Can you wash your car with laundry detergent

What Is Laundry Detergent?

Laundry detergent Is a type of cleaning agent used to remove dirt and stains from clothing and fabrics. It’s typically made from a combination of surfactants, enzymes, and other Ingredients.

The most common surfactants used in laundry detergent are alkyl sulfates, which are derived from fatty acids. These surfactants work by binding to dirt and oils, and then suspending them in water so that they can be rinsed away.

Enzymes are added to laundry detergent to help break down protein-based stains, like blood or sweat. Other Ingredients include builders, which help to remove mineral deposits from water, and optical brighteners, which make clothes look brighter.

Laundry Detergent Chemicals

Your laundry detergent Is not a simple product. Rather, It Is made out of many chemicals, some of which can be harmful to your health.

Some of these chemicals are:


This Is a known carcinogen that Is often found in laundry detergents. It is a by-product of the ethoxylation process, which is used to make detergents more effective.

2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid

This Is a herbicide that Is used in many lawn and garden products. It can also be found In some laundry detergents.


Phosphates are often used In laundry detergents to make them more effective. However, they can also be harmful to your health.


This Is a known carcinogen that is often used as a preservative In laundry detergents.

Ammonium Sulfate

This Is a corrosive chemical that Is often used in laundry detergents. It can cause skin Irritation and respiratory problems.

Car Wash Chemicals

There are different chemicals that are used in car washes, each with their own specific purpose. Car wash chemicals can be broadly divided into two main categories: those used for cleaning and those used for protecting the vehicle’s finish.

Here’s a list of those chemicals:


Presoaks typically contain surfactants, which are molecules that lower the surface tension of water. So it can more easily penetrate and remove dirt and grime.


Detergents are made out of surfactants and builders, which are molecules that help to remove dirt and grime and prevent it from redepositing on the vehicle’s surface.

Triple Foam

Triple foam is a thick foam that’s applied to the vehicle during the main wash stage. It helps to remove light dirt and grime and gives the vehicle a clean look.

Drying Agents

Drying agents are applied to the vehicle after it’s been washed to help remove water and prevent water spots.


Sealants are applied to the vehicle after it’s been washed and dried. They contain polymers, which are long chained molecules that form a protective coating on the vehicle’s surface.

Now, have a look at side-by-side comparison between car wash chemical and laundry detergent chemicals.

Can You Wash Your Car With Just Water?

While you can technically wash your car with just water, it’s definitely not recommended. That’s because water is not really effective at cleaning dirt debris from your car’s surface.

Can you wash your car with laundry detergent

It can also cause water spots. And if you use a sponge with water to clean your car, it will leave scratches on its surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Laundry Detergent Ruin Car Paint?

Laundry detergent does cause staining or fading of car paint If It Is left on the paint surface for an extended period of time.

Is It Safe To Use Laundry Detergent To Wash A Car?

No, laundry detergent Is not safe to use to wash a car. Laundry detergent can be harsh on car paint and may cause staining or fading.

What Will Happen If You Wash The Car Using A Laundry Detergent?

If you only use a laundry detergent to wash your car a few times, then It Is not likely to cause any significant damage to the paint. However, If you use laundry detergent regularly to wash your car, It will eventually  damage the car’s protective layer.

Can You Wash Your Car With Liquid Laundry Detergent?

No, you should not wash your car with liquid laundry detergent as It also contains degreasers and other harsh chemicals.

What Can I Use To Wash My Car At Home?

There are a number of products that you can use to wash your car at home, such as car shampoo, car wash soap, or even just plain water.

Final Thoughts 

Today we’ve embarked upon a quest to answer an age old question among car owners all over the world. And that Is, “Can you wash your car with laundry detergent?”
As it turns out, you can do that, but we don’t recommend It. Laundry detergent will be way too harsh on your car. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy alternative to car shampoo, we recommend using dish soap Instead. It’s gentle on your car’s paint job, and It will get the job done just as well.

Also read – How Much Laundry Detergent To Use In Carpet Cleaner?

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You certainly can’t believe everything the Internet tells you. Kelvin David knows this better than anyone. A few years ago, Kelvin decided to try online shopping for the first time. He was looking for a new electric drill he could use on his daily work as a contractor.