Car Wash Soap Alternative – Eco-Friendly and Innovative Methods for Cleaning Your Car

Car wash soap is a powerful tool that can tackle even the toughest stains and smears on your beloved vehicle. But, let’s face it, sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we are out of car wash soap, and the pressure is on us to make a quick substitution. In these moments, knowing and finding a car wash soap alternative is essential.

The best news is, you don’t have to look far. Many household items can serve as excellent alternatives to car wash soap, and there are some other cleaning products you can employ, as well. So, let’s have a closer look at all the options, so you’re never caught off guard when it’s time to give your car a good scrub.

Car Wash Soap Alternative – Our 17 Best Recommendations

car wash soap alternatives
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Discover eco-friendly and innovative car wash soap alternatives. We have discussed water and vinegar, baking soda, microfiber wash mitt, clay bar, snow foam, and more. Keep your car clean without damaging the paint.

1. Water and Vinegar:

Mixing equal parts water and vinegar creates a natural degreaser that can effectively remove dirt and grime from your car’s surface. The acidity in vinegar helps to separate dirt and grime, making it easier to wash off. To use this solution, simply mix equivalent portions of water and vinegar in a shower bottle and apply them to the car’s surface. Subsequently, use a microfiber cloth or sponge to wash the car as you usually do.

2. Baking soda and water:

Mix baking soda and water to create a paste, and gently scrub your car’s surface to remove dirt and stains. Baking soda is a soft abrasive that can aid in eradicating tough stains and grime without damaging the paint. To use this solution, combine baking soda and water to create a paste, and then apply it to the car’s surface. Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to scrub the vehicle gently, and then rinse it with water.

2. Microfiber Wash mitt and water:

Use a microfiber wash mitt with just water to clean your car’s surface effectively. Microfiber is gentle on paint and good at capturing dirt and grime. When using this method, make sure to use a wash mitt specifically designed for cars, and ensure it is clean before use.

3. Car shampoo:

Manufacturers design specialized car shampoo to be gentle on paint and effective at cleaning a car’s surface. They formulate these shampoos to work with the pH of the car’s paint and are less likely to strip off the wax or sealant that protects the paint.

4. Clay bar:

It is a putty-like substance used to remove contaminants from a car’s surface that regular washing can’t remove. These contaminants include industrial fallouts, tree sap, and other pollutants that stick to the paint and make it feel rough. Employ a clay bar along with a clay lubricant and gently rub it on the surface to remove these contaminants.

5. Snow foam:

Snow foam is a pre-wash product that you can apply to your vehicle’s surface before washing. This thick foam clings to the car’s surface and helps to separate dirt and grime, making it easier to remove during the wash. You can apply snow foam with a foam cannon or a pressure washer and leave it to dwell for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off.

6. Dish soap:

Car owners ask us: can you use dish soap to wash your car? Yes, you can. Add a small quantity of gentle dish soap to a bucket of water to create a cleaning solution for your car. It’s essential only to use mild dish soap, as harsher varieties can damage the car’s paint. Apply it on the vehicle’s surface and then use a microfiber cloth or sponge to wash the car as usual. Be sure to cleanse the vehicle comprehensively to eliminate any soap remains.

7. Lemon juice:

Lemon juice is a natural degreaser that you can employ to clean your car’s surface. Mix equivalent portions of water and lemon juice in a spray bottle and apply it all over the car. Use a microfiber cloth or sponge for washing as usual. The acidity in lemon juice assists in breaking down filth and grime, making it easier to wash off.

8. Dry-washing:

It is a method of cleaning a car’s surface without water. It involves special cleaning products and microfiber towels for removing dirt and grime. Apply a dry washing product to a microfiber towel and gently wipe down the car’s surface. This method is perfect if you don’t have access to water or are in a place where water is scarce. However, it is vital to note that it may not be as effective as traditional car washing methods at removing heavy dirt and grime and may not be suitable for filthy cars.

9. Steam cleaning:

It involves cleaning your car’s surface with high-pressure steam. This method is not only effective at removing filth and stains but is also suitable for disinfecting and sanitizing the car’s interior. You will need a specialized steam cleaner that throws pressurized steam for cleaning. The heat and pressure of the steam can help to loosen and remove tough stains and grime that traditional washing methods may not be able to eliminate.

10. Two-bucket method:

The two-bucket car washing method is a technique for washing a car that involves using two buckets, one for soapy water and one for rinse water. This method prevents dirt and grit from being transferred back onto the car’s surface during the washing process, which can cause scratches and other damage. Experts also recommend this as the best method for cleaning a classic car.

11. Waterless washing:

Waterless car washing is a method of cleaning a car’s exterior without using water. Instead, you spray a specially formulated cleaning solution onto the car’s surface and then wipe it off with a microfiber towel. The idea behind waterless washing is to reduce the amount of water needed to clean a car, which can be beneficial in areas where water is scarce or where traditional car washing methods are not allowed.

12. Club soda:

Use club soda to clean your car’s body and wheels. The carbonation in the soda can assist in eradicating filth and grime. To use this method, pour club soda directly onto the surface of the car or wheel that needs cleaning. Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to scrub the area and then rinse it with water.

13. Corn starch and water:

Mix corn starch and water to create a paste to gently scrub your vehicle’s surface and remove dirt and stains. To use this method, mix equal parts corn starch and water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the areas needing cleaning and employ a microfiber cloth or sponge to gently scrub the surface. Rinse the surface with water to remove the paste.

14. Cola drinks:

You can also employ cola drinks as a degreaser and rust remover when it comes to cleaning cars. Apply it to the surface and leave it to stay for a few minutes before scrubbing and rinsing off. To start off, pour cola drink directly onto the car’s surface or wheel requiring cleansing. Please leave it to do its magic for a few minutes, and then apply a microfiber cloth to rub the area and rinse it off with water.

15. Dryer sheets:

One of the best car cleaning hacks, dryer sheets can get rid of pet hair and dust from the car’s interior. Start by running a dryer sheet over the interior surfaces of the car where pet hair and dust accumulate. The static electricity in the dryer sheet will cause the hair and dust to cling to the sheet, making it easy to remove.

16. Rubbing Alcohol:

Use rubbing alcohol to wash the car’s windows, mirrors, and number plates. You can also employ it to get rid of bugs and tar from the car’s body. Pour a little amount of rubbing alcohol onto a microfiber cloth or sponge and wipe down the windows and mirrors. To remove bugs and tar, pour some rubbing alcohol onto a cloth, rub it onto the affected area, and then rinse it with water.


Regular washing is a must-do when it comes to keeping your automobile in tip-top shape. Not only does it improve the visual appeal of your car, but it also protects it from different elements. But what if you find yourself in a pinch and don’t have any car wash soap on hand? Have no fear, for there are a plethora of homemade car wash soaps to turn to. The DIY cleaning solutions mentioned above provide excellent lubrication and efficient cleaning power to lift and dissolve even the most stubborn contaminants. And the best part? They won’t break the bank, as they cost no more than a fancy latte. So, put on your DIY hat, try each car wash soap alternative, and watch your car shine like never before!

However, before proceeding, it’s crucial to note that while these alternatives may be effective at cleaning a car’s surface, they may not be as effective at protecting the paint as traditional car wash soap. We suggest you test these alternatives on a small, inconspicuous area of the car before using them on the entire surface to ensure they do not cause any damage.

Car Wash Soap Alternative – FAQs

Can I wash my car with dish soap?

The trusty bottle of dish soap sitting in your kitchen cabinet may just hold the solution to cleaning your car’s grease-covered exterior. Its powerful formula, designed to tackle even the toughest of grime on your dishes, can also be a handy alternative to traditional car soap.

But before you lather up and start scrubbing, remember to dilute the dish soap with ample amounts of water to prevent any damage to your car’s paint or protective coatings. While a wax or ceramic coating may offer some protection, it’s not a guarantee. As a final caution, the regular dish soap may leave a stubborn residue requiring extra elbow grease or polish to remove

Can I use wheel cleaner to wash my car?

Yes, why not? Whether made of metal or rubber, your car’s wheels can benefit from the cleaning power of wheel cleaning products. Manufacturers often formulate them to work similarly to regular car wash soap but with added ingredients to tackle tough grime and dirt on your wheels. But, you still need caution, as you want to avoid any damage to your car’s paint.

To ensure safety, dilute the wheel cleaner with water. Look for a low-power cleaner or check the ingredients of your old car soap to compare it with the wheel cleaner you want to use. That way, you can ensure you’re not using something too harsh. Remember, steering wheel cleaner and wheel cleaner are two different products, and we do not recommend the former as a car wash soap alternative.

What is the best household soap to wash a car?

There are a few different homemade car wash soap recipes that you can try, but the most effective and safe DIY car wash soap is the one that you make by mixing water, dish soap, and baking soda. This mixture is gentle enough not to damage the vehicle’s paint while still being effective at removing dirt and grime.
Here’s a simple recipe:
1. Mix 1/4 cup of dish soap, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 gallon of water in a bucket.
2. Use a microfiber cloth or a car-specific wash mitt to apply the mixture to your car, starting with the wheels and working your way up.
3. Rinse off your car with a hose or pressure washer.

Remember this solution is not as effective as commercial car wash soaps and may not have the same protection for the paint. So it’s best used for spot cleaning or as a maintenance wash.

What soap to wash a car with?

When it comes to giving your car a proper wash, using just any old soap simply won’t do. Your vehicle’s delicate finish requires a special touch, and that’s where car-specific soaps come in. These specially formulated detergents are designed to be gentle on your car’s paint, ensuring that the wax and protective coatings do not strip away.

They also contain lubricants that help to reduce friction between the wash mitt and the car’s surface, preventing any unwanted scratches. Some popular choices among car enthusiasts are Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner, Mothers California Gold Car Wash, Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap, and Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo.

So, give your car the royal treatment it deserves and reach for one of these specially formulated soaps. And don’t forget to use a microfiber cloth or a car-specific wash mitt and rinse the car thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining soap residue.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.