How to Make Your Own Car Wash Soap

February 16, 2012

You might never have considered making your own car wash soap. After all, commercial products are cheap and usually do a good job. Making your own is even cheaper and you will know exactly what is going into it. Car washing is something that has to be carried out regularly and nothing beats a traditional hand car wash. You will need different cleaning materials for different areas of the car so a car wash soap should only be used in car washing the body of the car.

What You Need: 

  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Powdered laundry detergent
  • Borax

Step One - Dish Detergent

You can make a very basic car wash soap by simply squeezing a little liquid dish detergent into a bucket of warm water. This will remove the dirt when car washing without affecting the paint or the finish and couldn't be easier to put together. Remember to rinse the vehicle thoroughly to help avoid streaking.

Step Two - Car Soap

There is nothing complex about car wash soap. You will want something that will remove the dirt and grime from your vehicle and leave it looking as good as the day it rolled off the dealer's forecourt.

In a bucket, mix 1 cup of liquid dishwashing detergent with 12 tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent. Fill the bucket with warm water and mix until the powdered detergent has dissolved. Depending on how dirty you car is, you might need to mix up another batch to achieve a full cleaning. When you've finished soaping up the car, rinse it with cold water using a garden hose.

If the mix is too soapy, you can always add more water. If your car is especially dirty, cut down on the amount of water so the mixture is more concentrated as this will be better for removing the dirt.

Adding borax to the mixture can prove beneficial in not leaving residue and streaks on the car before you have a chance to rinse it. If possible, park your car on a grassy area to wash it so the water soaks into the soil and doesn't run down the storm drain.

Step Three - The Green Option

Although detergent is fairly eco-friendly, those with an even greater concern for the environment can go further. Soaps that have no phosphate or chlorine, such as vegetable-based oil soaps, are great as are multipurpose green cleaners. Simply mix them with water.

An alternative to this is to use 1 cup of liquid dishwashing detergent and mix it with non petroleum-based, phosphate-free and chlorine-free powdered laundry detergent. Combine these with 3 gallons of water and you have a very eco-friendly car wash soap.

Step Four - How To Wash

Before washing, rinse the car then wash and rinse the vehicle one section at a time starting at the top and working your way down to the lower areas of the vehicle to stop it from drying out before you finish. If possible, wash the car in the shade or away from direct sunlight.

Please note that some soaps can actually do damage to the wax on a car's paint, or even the paint itself. It is important to do some research into the PH of a soap before using one on your car otherwise you risk doing permanent damage.  The best way to be sure is to just use soaps designed for automotive use, because they have been designed for that purpose.

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