Can I wash my car without soap? (Helpful Tips) 1

Can I wash my car without soap? (Helpful Tips)

Car soap or shampoo will help dissolve dirt and road grime.  It will also help reduce the number of swirls and scratches you inflict on your car during washing.  But sometimes, I wash my car without soap.  I use a rinseless wash product.

Quick Answer

Yes, you can wash your car without soap provided you use a rinseless wash or a waterless wash products.  Don’t use just a bucket of water and a sponge because you’ll scratch your paint.

Reasons to wash your car without soap

We’ve been asked this question a few times.  When we asked people why they don’t just go buy some soap the usual reasons given are…

  • My car isn’t that dirty.  If it’s just light dust, you can use a quick detailer.  No need to get the soap and buckets out.  For heavier dirt use a waterless wash or rinseless wash.
  • I’m in a rush.  Again, waterless and rinseless washes are the way to go.
  • I’m all out of soap.  You could scratch your paint if all you are using is water.  
  • I don’t have waterless or rinseless wash products either.  Don’t wash your car without lubrication provided by car shampoo.   It’s fine to use a pressure washer without soap.

Car Shampoo Alternatives.

A number of new products have become available over the last few years.  They use the latest chemical technology to help you quickly and safely wash your car without soap.  They are…

  • Waterless Wash.  You simply spray the product directly onto the dirty car and wipe it away with a microfiber towel.  Then buff the paint with another microfiber towel.  
  • Rinseless Wash.  This is my favorite way to quickly wash my car without soap.  
  • Quick Detailer.  Perfect for light dust and water spots but not good for dirty cars.
  • Dish Soap. It will dissolve dirt and grease and its better than using water alone but doesn’t offer any protection from swirls and scratches.

Use a Power Washer

A power washer will get a lot of mud and heavy dirt off your car.  But it won’t get all the dirt off.  You will still see a lot of dirt once the car has dried.  Buy a foam cannon and some snow foam soap and it will do a much better job.  But to get a car fully clean you will need to do a full contact washing using microfiber wash mitts.

If you are thinking about buying a pressure washer I can safely say a pressure washer is worth the investment.

FURTHER READING: Whats the FASTEST WAY to wash your car without scratching it?

Can you use a wash mitt without soap?

If all you have is a bucket of clean water and a sponge or wash mitt then I don’t think it’s a good idea to wash your car because you could cause scratches and swirls.  

Car shampoo provides lubrication that dissolves dirt and helps the wash mitt slide over the paint without scratching it.

You should use some rinseless wash in the bucket at a minimum.


Using a Pressure Washer

A pressure washer will get some mud and heavy dirt off your car.  But it won’t take all the dirt off.  Use a foam cannon with snow foam shampoo to get more dirt off.

The dirt will come off easier if the car was waxed the last time it was washed.  A simple spray wax is all you need.

READ MORE: Best Car Shampoo.

Can I use Dish Soap?

Car shampoo will give you more protection against scratches than dish soap.  It will also protect any wax or protective coating on your car.

But if all you have is some dish soap it will help remove dirt and you should have fewer scratches than you would if you used water alone.


Don’t use a bucket of water without some kind of car shampoo to wash your car.

Do use a Waterless Wash or Rinseless Wash Product 

READ MORE: Best Waterless Wash Products on the Market

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