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Can I Use Shampoo to Wash My Car?

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Can I Use Shampoo to Wash My Car?

Have you run out of car soap? Don’t worry! There is an easy alternative. 

You can use hair shampoo to wash your car too. This is a cheap and convenient way to clean your car without having to drive to the shop. However, it’s important to follow the correct steps when you wash your car. Hair shampoo can cause damage if you leave it on for too long. 

Follow our guide below to use this product safely.

Why Choose Shampoo?

Hair shampoo is a popular car soap alternative because it contains fewer chemicals than other household items. The likes of dish soap and bleach are much more corrosive. It’s more likely that they will cause damage to your vehicle over time. 

Meanwhile, shampoo is much gentler. It’s less likely to affect the wax coating, and it mixes easily with water. You probably have multiple bottles sitting in your bathroom, so it’s very convenient too. Shampoo can be used on both the wheels and bodywork. This makes it a handy product to use if you don’t have car soap. Hair products contain lanolin and silicon. These give your hair a healthy sheen and will do the same for your car. 

Some hair shampoos also offer UV protection which will transfer to your car’s exterior. 


What Do I Need? 

All you will need is a bucket of lukewarm water, shampoo, and a microfiber towel. Add three to four tablespoons of shampoo to the water. If you want to take your wash to the next level, you can mix in a bit of baking soda. This is non-abrasive and safe to use. 

Baking soda is great for cutting through greasy surfaces and will give your car an extra shine. 

Pick the Right Weather

First, you need to pick the right day. Many people think that sunny days are perfect for washing their cars. However, this is a common misconception. Avoid sunshine because this will cause the shampoo to dry quickly. It’s best to wash your car in overcast weather or under shade. 

Remember that shampoo is designed to dry fast. The problem is that it can cause your paintwork to fade if you leave the dry product on for too long. It’s also more difficult to see the soap when the sun reflects off the bodywork. There’s a strong chance that you will wipe the same sections multiple times and damage the paint. 

Use the Right Cloth

When you wash your car, you usually pick up any rag or sponge. However, even if you don’t have specialized car soap, it’s advisable to use a microfiber cloth. This type of cloth is much stronger and more durable. They’re less likely to cause scratches than regular dish sponges and are very absorbent. 

Choosing the right cloth is arguably more important than the soap in your bucket. 

How to Wash Your Car 

Learn how to wash your car by following these steps –

1. Create a Lather

Pour your shampoo into the bucket and add baking soda if possible. Then fill the bucket with warm water to create a lather. This will make it easier to clean and reduce the likelihood of streaks. 

Simply dip your cloth and brush into the soapy water. Now you’re ready to go. 

2. Clean the Dirtiest Parts 

Cleaning your vehicle isn’t like washing your dishes because you start with the dirtiest sections first. You don’t want to finish with the grimiest parts because it can spread the dirt to other clean sections of the car. This is extremely frustrating

Can I Use Shampoo to Wash My Car?

Spray the mud off the wheels with a hose to remove most of the surface dirt. Then, take a brush and dip it into the soapy water. Clean the rims and tires before rinsing with water. 

3. Wash the Bodywork 

Next, it’s time to clean the bodywork. First, you may need to change the water in the bucket if it’s too dirty. Then, it’s time to roll up your sleeves. 

It’s best to work from top to bottom as water will run down the car’s surfaces. Start with the roof before cleaning the sides of the vehicle’s exterior. Take extra time on the windows so that they’re fully clear. 

4. Rinse-Off

As soon as the car is cleaned to your requirements, take a hose, and rinse the car. Direct a steady jet of water at the vehicle and wash all the soap away. 

As we said, pay attention to the windows, so there are no messy streaks. 

5. Dry The Vehicle

Many people will skip this step and leave their car to air dry. We don’t recommend this because it can mess up all your good work. Water spots may appear if you don’t dry the car. These spots and streaks look very messy.

If you make a habit of air drying your car, there is even a chance the minerals in the water will harm the paint job. Take a microcellular towel and manually dry the car yourself. This extra step may add hundreds of dollars to your vehicle’s resale value over time. 

Disadvantages of Using Shampoo

Hair shampoo is a much better alternative than other household products. However, it’s still not as good as car soap and has some disadvantages. 

Faded Paint

You must rinse off the soapy sections of your car within five minutes of applying shampoo. Over time, the shampoo will cause your paint to fade because of the chemical properties inside it.

Scratched Windows

When you wash your car, don’t put too much pressure on the windows. Shampoo can cause scratches to the glass if you use too much force. This is a common mistake. Using the correct sponge or cloth will reduce this risk. 

Final Thoughts

Hair shampoo is safe for washing your vehicle. Just don’t scrub too hard, and make sure you remove it quickly. However, like everything, you need to use it the right way. Car soap exists for a reason. That’s because it’s the perfect formula to clean your car without causing damage.

Despite this, hair shampoo is an excellent alternate option.  

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