Why Dish Soap Can Remove Car Wax (And Why You Should Not Use It)

When looking for products to wash your car, you might have considered dish soap to be an option.

You might have even read somewhere on the internet that dish soap can help remove the wax.

Even if this were true, you might be wondering, “Should I use it?”

Quick Answer

Dish soap is an abrasive anti-grease product able to remove wax, but it can cause damages to the paint. Dish soap should never be used on the surface of a car since it can compromise the integrity of the paintwork and reduce its lifespan. It is advisable to use wax removers instead of dish soap. 

Regardless of how effective dish soap could be, there are other things to bear in mind.

Dish soap can cause all sorts of problems, and you should be informed about them.

Stay with me as I walk you through the details and inconveniences of using dish soap. 

Does Dish Soap Remove Car Wax?

The formula of dish soaps is designed to cut grease, attacking protein-based soils and oils.

No wonder they are so effective at cleaning the dishes at home.

On a naked surface, dish soap would have no grease to cut.

Quick Answer

Dish soap is an anti-grease product that can remove car wax. The formula of dish soap can break down car wax and help strip it off. However, it is not recommended to use this product to remove car wax as it could harm the paint. 

However, on a waxed surface, the grease-cutting properties of dish soap would directly attack the protein-based soils and oils found on car wax.

Dish soap can dissolve car wax, making it break down and strip off the surface. 

The effectiveness of dish soap to remove car wax is undeniable. However, the product is not designed to be used on cars, and there is a myriad of reasons why you should not do it. 

When the time has come for you to remove the wax, you should opt for a wax remover or any other specialized product.

These products are designed to remove the wax while protecting the surface of the car and the paintwork. 

Not sure how to know when it is time to remove wax? You can check this full article on car wax durability.

Here, you will discover everything you need to know about the safe lifetime of car wax. 

Although you might be tempted to use dish soap to remove car wax, you should steer clear of it.

Chemical Guys Clean Slate

If you want to remove old grease from your car, get yourself this grease-cutting car shampoo. Avoid dish soap and other products that will harm your paint.

No matter how effective it can be at removing car wax, the downsides will be worse and more damaging in the long run. 

You can also check this article from Torque Detail about car wax removal for further information.

Is Dish Soap Bad For Car Paint? 

Quick Answer

Dish soaps and any other household cleaners are harmful to car paint. Since these products are not designed to be used on cars, they can compromise the integrity of the paintwork. Washing a car with dish soap will result in scratches and other damages. It is better to use car shampoos instead.

Dish soap does not offer the needed lubrication for car washing.

This means that the handwashing process is more likely to cause swirls and scratches on the paint.

Although the dish soap on its own will not destroy the paintwork, it will contribute to its degradation. 

Due to the pressure needed when hand washing a car, any product that does not offer enough lubrication will cause harm.

This is the case for dish soap.

Dish soap is designed to remove grease and dirt through abrasion and scratching.

Using this product with a washing mitt is a recipe for disaster.

The abrasiveness of the product added to the hand force needed would result in lots of scratches and swirls on the paint. 

Moreover, the dish soap would remove any protectant applied on the surface of the car.

Whether it is car wax or any other hydrophobic greasy product, the dish soap would eat through eat. 

Imagine spending some time waxing your car into perfection and then ruining everything with dish soap.

It doesn’t sound so attractive, I must say!

To worsen things, even more, dish soaps are not pH neutral.

This could cause the paint to become weaker and weaker.

The paintwork would ultimately be prone to faster oxidation and a shorter lifespan. 

The pH also contributes to the damages done to any protective film applied on the surface of the car.

After using dish wash, the paintwork will end up looking dull and lifeless.

Apart from the pH, there are also harsh chemicals involved in the formula of dish soaps.

In the dish soap industry, harming the dishes is not really a big concern, so the manufacturers don’t go easy on harsh damaging components.

This is clearly not the case for car detailing, where caring for your beloved ride and its paintwork is one of the main requirements.

The chemicals on the formula of dish soap can be damaging to the car, so this product should never be used on it. 

Apart from causing damages to the paint, using dish soap to wash a car is also a bad environmental practice due to the amount of water needed to remove it.

Furthermore, you would need a ton of dish soap to wash a small car. 

If you want to know more about the problems of using dish soap on cars, you can check my illustrative article on the matter.

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Dish soap vs. Car Shampoo

If you are still uncertain about the remarkable difference between dish soap and a specialized product such as car shampoo, you can check the table below.

In this table, you will find a comparison between dish soap and car shampoo:

CriteriaDish soapCar shampoo
Lubricant propertiesNoYes
Designed for carsNoYes
Shiny surfaceNoYes
Scratch likelihoodHighLow

Lubricant Properties

Dish soap does not offer any lubricant properties, which could lead to scratches and damages of all sorts on the paintwork.

Car shampoo is known for the lubrication it offers to the washing process.

Using a car shampoo will help improve the washing process. Car shampoo has no suitable alternatives.

Designed For Cars

Since dish soap is not designed for cars, it simply cannot offer the benefits a specialized product can.

Dish soaps can cause different problems to cars because they were never intended to be used for that purpose.

Car shampoo, in contrast, has everything in its favor.

The product was born with the sole purpose of helping you clean your car with the highest degree of quality attainable. 

Shiny Surface

Dish soaps can make the surface look dull, lifeless, and boring.

Car shampoo, on the other hand, can help improve the looks and give a shinier finish to your paint.

The chemicals on its formula and its neutral pH can embellish the paintwork. 

In most cases, quality car shampoos can help brighten up the paint and improve the color of your ride.

Don’t doubt the effectiveness and benefits a good car shampoo can offer!

Scratch Likelihood

Dish soap is an abrasive product, making it likely to cause scratches and swirls on the surface.

The lack of lubrication also contributes to this problem. The chances of scratching your paintwork while using dish soap are high.

With car shampoo, the story is different.

Car shampoo can help wash the car and reduce the chances of causing scratches and swirls.

Of course, you will need to wash the car correctly to avoid any unwanted damages.

Consider pre-wash, using the correct utensils and products, and your best washing practices to reduce the chances even more.

Does Car Wash Soap Strip Wax? 

Quick Answer

Car shampoos do not strip wax. A waxed car can be washed with car shampoo without any negative effects on the wax layer products as car shampoos do not cut through grease. It is also possible to wax the car while washing it with special car shampoos that contain car wax.

Car wash soap has the correct formula and balance between chemicals and strength to clean the car without posing any risks to the surface.

Since the product has been created for this purpose, it is unlikely to remove wax.

Car washes work together with the wax to offer cleaning and protection to your vehicle.

Try to aim for a quality product to ensure the protection of your paint and wax.

You can safely wash your car with car wash soap without worrying about affecting the layer of wax you applied. 

It is essential to note that constant washing can gradually decrease the effectiveness of wax.

Although the car wash soap does not directly affect car wax, regular scrubbing could slowly wear down the wax. 

Car wax and car wash soap are products designed to work for you and your car.

In contrast with dish soap, they can team up to offer cleaning, protection, great looks, and many more benefits. 

If you have the option to wax your car at a car wash, this might seem like a great idea.

To find out if it really is a good idea, check out my article on it.

Key takeaways

  • Dish soap could remove car wax
  • Dish soap should never be used on cars
  • Car shampoos are the go-to product to wash cars
  • Car wash soaps and shampoos do not strip wax
  • Using dish soap can scratch the car
  • You should use wax removers instead of dish soap
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge