What To Use Instead Of Car Wash Soap? {6 Great Options}

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As a car owner, you apparently have your favorite car wash soap, which you prefer to every other one out there. There could personal reasons why you chose a specific car washing compound for your vehicle, but it is yet important that you know what to use instead of car wash soaps.

Excitingly, there are many other things to use instead of car wash soap, such as vinegar, shampoo, baking soda, etc. We’ll discuss them in detail later in the article.

This is important because sometimes you may run out of your favorite car wash soap, and then you’ll be left with regular cleaning agents.

This makes you wonder, which of them is possible to clean your car perfectly as you want? Well, there are a bunch of cleaning agents that will make your car sparkle aside from your regular car wash soap.

What To Use Instead Of Car Wash Soap?

Best Car Wash Soap Alternatives

Some drivers use shampoos when they cannot reach for their favorite car wash soap. Others tend to use regular house cleaning agents (detergents, baking soda, etc.) – all these cleaning agents are good for washing your car.

However, if you’re using some of them, it’s advisable to rinse earlier to prevent possible damage to your car paint. Yes, this is because all substances used for cleaning do not actually have the same chemical formulation; some have more concentration and they’re over-reactive.

That said, below are some of the cleaning substances (agents) you can use to substitute your car wash soap (if not reachable or finished).

Best Car Wash Soap Alternatives

1. Vinegar

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There’s no doubt that most drivers have accepted vinegar as their regular car wash. This is because vinegar is a proven substance that can clean even grimes and water spots from your car’s paint.

It is also not harsh to car paints, and won’t take off the wax layer regardless of how long it sits on the paint before rinsing.

Vinegar also helps to remove molds from car’s exterior and interior. It is simply a multipurpose, antibacterial cleaning agent; hence, it is the favorite and regular option for most drivers. But, we’d recommend you use car wash soap alternatives sparingly and always apply them carefully.

2. Laundry Detergents

Chemical Guys CWS_402 Mr. Pink Foaming Car Wash Soap (Works with Foam Cannons, Foam Guns or Bucket Washes) Safe for Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, RVs & More, 128 fl oz, Candy Scent
  • 10+ YEARS OF HAPPY CUSTOMERS – Mr. Pink has been available on Amazon since 2012 and consistently gets the best ratings and reviews (30,000+ and growing). It’s one of the best-selling products in the history of Chemical Guys. Don’t believe us? Check out the reviews and ratings on this page
  • FOAMY FUN – The key to a clean car or a complete detail starts with a great wash. The best way to wash your car, truck, SUV, RV or Jeep is to use a product that creates a lot of foam. Mr. Pink produces thick, dirt fighting bubbles that help clean any vehicle.
  • BUCKET, FOAM GUN OR CANNON – Whether you are washing with a wash mitt and bucket, a foam gun connected to your garden hose or a foam cannon connected to your pressure washer, Mr. Pink is the right car wash soap to deliver loads of foam and suds to get a great wash
  • BEGINNER AND PROFESSIONAL DETAILER FRIENDLY – Chemical Guys makes products for beginners and experts alike. Chemical Guys products are professional grade to get the best results and are also simple enough for even a beginner to achieve immediate results. This soap was made in the USA
  • CONCENTRATED – A little bit goes a long way. Just add 1-3 oz. of Mr. Pink to a 5 gallon wash bucket or to a 32 oz. solution tank for your foam cannon or foam gun and you are ready to experience a foam frenzy

This is likely the commonest cleaning agent you’ll find in virtually every home. Well, laundry detergents can serve as car wash when your regular one is finished. Regardless of the type of paint used for your vehicle, laundry detergents are a good alternative to standard car wash soaps.

But, some people allege that these detergents can rip off wax and affect your paint; that’s not true. In fact, most detergents tend to deliver cleaner washes than some car wash soaps. However, you should rinse off earlier when using detergents just to be on the safer side.

3. Shampoos

Adam's Car Wash Shampoo (Gallon) - pH Car Wash Soap for Snow Foam Cannon, Foam Gun, Pressure Washer | Powerful Spot Free Liquid Auto Detergent | Safe On Car Wax & Ceramic Coating
  • ✅ ADAM’S CAR WASH SHAMPOO: SAFE, EFFECTIVE, & SLICK - Our pH neutral wash soap safely lifts dirt away from your car's paint, without damaging your clear coat. Plus, it creates a slick feel, lubricating all of your paint surfaces for a scratch-free wash experience.
  • ✅ SAFE FOR ALL VEHICLE SURFACES - Our advanced cleaners and polymers make Adam’s Car Shampoo gentle enough to not dry out your trim or plastic components. It's effective, yet safe for all surfaces including paint, rubber, vinyl, windows & plastics.
  • ✅ ENHANCE YOUR AUTO DETAILING ARSENAL - Adam’s Car Shampoo gives you a thick layer of suds that lubricates your vehicle paint to eliminate dirt, grime, & other environmental contaminants. It works great in a wash bucket, foam gun or foam cannon, and has a pleasant wild berry fragrance.
  • ✅ THE PERFECT ADDITION TO YOUR CAR WASH KIT - Adam’s Car Shampoo is spot free, rinses clean & won’t strip existing waxes, sealants, or ceramic coatings. Use it in sunlight, before cleansing your paint with a clay bar, waxing protection, or paint polishing.
  • ✅ 110% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - At Adam’s, we bring the BEST car cleaning supplies, auto detailing kits, washing accessories, and more to the car care industry. If you're not satisfied, we'll do everything we can to make it right.

There are different types of shampoos found in different houses. But mostly, what you’d find are baby shampoos and hair shampoos.

Regardless of the shampoo, you have at home, they are generally good for removing thick grimes and dirt from cars. Shampoos allegedly have the same formulation as car washes.

When you use shampoos to wash your car, it is advisable to practice the two-bucket washing system; whereby you keep a bucket of clean water nearby so you’d rinse off the shampoo almost immediately after washing a spot.

This is because shampoos are liable to eat off wax or clear coat if left to sit on the paint for a long time.

4. Hand Washing (Liquid) Soaps

Everyone Liquid Hand Soap, 12.75 Ounce (Pack of 3), Lavender and Coconut, Plant-Based Cleanser with Pure Essential Oils
  • Lavender and Coconut Scent: The perfect blend of relaxing lavender pure essential oil and tropical sweet coconut essence.
  • Recyclable Packaging: Made from 100% recyclable plastic bottles.
  • Cruelty-Free: Not tested on animals and vegan friendly.
  • Non-Toxic Ingredients: Free of harsh chemicals like triclosan and synthetic fragrances.
  • Zero Waste: Diverted 90% of waste from landfills in 2019.

While we’d not recommend this, it is still a handy alternative to car wash soaps. When you look around and there’s no other cleaning agent you could find left for a hand wash liquid soap, you can use it to wash your car; however, you may need to pour in large quantity to make the water foam very well.

Whether you leave this compound to sit on your paint for a long time or not, it does not pose any harm or damage to your car’s paint. Don’t make this your regular car wash soap, it may not be able to clean out thick grimes and dirt on your car paint.

5. Baking Soda

ARM & HAMMER Pure Baking Soda 8 oz (Pack of 6)
  • America's no 1 trusted baking soda brand
  • The standard of purity
  • Hundreds of uses

You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that baking sodas can come in handy to replace your car wash soap as a cleaning agent for washing your car. Yes, baking sodas, just like vinegar, is used for lots of purposes, and car wash is one of those purposes.

Interestingly, baking soda can also help to kill/remove molds from car’s interior and paint (exterior). It also works to remove stubborn dirt and spots from your car’s paint.

It is a versatile substance you could use as a substitute to standard car wash soaps. More so, baking soda won’t eat off your wax if rinsed faster.

6. Household Cleaner

Weiman Hardwood Floor Cleaner and Polish - 128 Ounce Cleaner and 32 Ounce Polish - High-Traffic Hardwood Floor, Natural Shine, Removes Scratches, Leaves Protective Layer
  • Restore - Micro-filling technology removes scratches while forming a protective scratch resistant layer
  • Versatile - Can be used on any finished hardwood surface, rejuvenating a shine with no sticky residue
  • Safer - This "ready to use" formula can be used around kids and pets without causing harm
  • Simple - Clean surface while also extending the life of your wood floors in just one easy step
  • Use On - Only FINISHED hardwood, engineered hardwood, vinyl, and laminate floors, may be used with refillable squirt mops

Okay, now, we may not be able to mention all the cleaning agents you use in your home, but most household cleaners are equally safe for washing cars.

Yes, you can use that cleaning agent you use for dishwashing, hand washing, hair washing, and other washings to wash your car. But, when you do that, ensure to rinse earlier and always wax your car in intervals.

Things To Note When Washing Your Car With Car Wash Alternatives

  • Don’t wash under the sun, it’d make the dirty water dry quickly into your paint, which may cause etched water spots to appear.
  • Always keep a bucket of clean water close by, so that you can rinse quickly as you wash
  • Do not use sponges to wash your car, they can hide dirt/debris, which can scratch your paint when you rub the sponge against your car paint. Instead, use microfiber towels/rags.
  • If you’re using a pressure washer, make sure that you connected the right pressure washer nozzle for car wash

Read Also: Can I Pressure Wash My Car Engine?


What to use instead of car wash soaps? Vinegar, baking soda, shampoos, and most other household cleaning agents are good alternatives to car wash soaps.

However, car wash soaps are still the recommended compounds you should use to wash your car because they are specially formulated for that purpose.

Also, waxing your car is important, it protects the paint from several damages that may result from bad car wash practices. After washing your car, you can either allow it to dry naturally (air dry) or use a clean dry microfiber towel to wipe it down.

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