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Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

Car Wash Myths

If you don't like going to a car wash and prefer to wash your car yourself, there are a few important pointers to keep in mind. In this article, we'll discuss what types of soap or detergent you should and shouldn't use when washing your vehicle ━ plus, we'll offer some other helpful car washing tips.

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Can You Use Dish Soap to Wash Your Car?

Never use dish soap to wash your car. According to Consumer Reports, dish soap isn't formulated for use on a car's paint. Even a detergent like Dawn is an abrasive cleaner and can strip away a vehicle's protective top coat.

What Soaps Should Be Used for Washing Cars?

The best soaps for washing cars are ones that are specifically formulated for this purpose. They're milder than dish soap or laundry detergent ━ plus, they're designed to be used on car exteriors. For the best results, it's always advisable to use the recommended amount of water to dilute them according to the product's instructions.

Can You Use Laundry Detergent Instead?

No, you shouldn't use laundry detergent to wash your vehicle. Like dish soap, it may contain degreasers and other chemicals that can be harmful to the car's protective top coat over time.

Other Car Washing Tips

While washing your vehicle might sound straightforward enough, it's important to do it right. Here are some expert car washing tips to keep in mind:

  • Always rinse the car carefully with clean water before applying car soap. This will wash away any grime or dirt particles that could otherwise scratch the paint. Start at the top and let the water flow over the entire vehicle.
  • Use separate sponges for the wheels, tires and the rest of the car's body. You'll find that the tires and wheels have more dirt on them, and you don't want to spread the dirt across the vehicle's body.
  • Never move the sponge around in circles. It can result in swirl marks that are actually light scratches on the surface. The correct way to wash your vehicle is to move the sponge along the length of the body panels and hood.
  • Work the car soap into a lather so the suds provide sufficient lubrication on the vehicle's surface. Use a separate bucket of water to rinse the sponge.
  • Use soft terry cloths or microfiber towels to shine your car ━ not diapers, T-shirts, kitchen towels or paper towels.

With these pointers in mind, you're ready to tackle even the most daunting off-road dirt on your car!

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