Question #1: Can I wash my car with dish soap?

Dish soap contains ingredients that, while great for dishes, can be quite nasty for your car. Or, more specifically, your car’s wax. You could be forgiven for thinking or even trying dish soap as an alternative to proper car soap, but think about it this way: Dish soap is designed to strip the oils and whatnot from dishes and pans. Wax, which protects your paint from the elements (and which most cars have a coat of), isn’t something you want to “strip away.” You get the picture.

Sometimes, however, using dish soap can be okay. As long as you know what you are doing, using dish soap can be effective for removing tough tree sap or bird poo, and obviously it also works if your primary goal is to strip your car down to a pre-wax state.

Question #2: Will drying the car with an old shirt scratch the paint?

Ah, the old shirt question. The safest thing to do here is avoid drying your vehicle with any cloth or material that isn’t made for this purpose. The thing is, you could use that old shirt, or diaper, or rag or whatever but you have at your disposal, but there are so many better options available for a low cost that it really doesn’t make sense. You’re better off using a clean chamois, a 100% cotton terry cloth towel or – best of all – a microfiber towel. None of these items will scratch your paint, whereas an old shirt (or old towel) could scratch your paint.

Here’s another point: commercial car washes all use chamois or micro-fiber towels. Why wouldn’t you?

Question #3: Is the early evening or night time a good time to wash my car?

I heard once “night time is the right time”, cheesy saying? Yes, but in the case of washing your car it’s true, and there are several good reasons for this.

  • Washing your car in the day – especially if it’s hot out – can be plain dangerous when it comes to your windshield’s health because cold water and hot glass do not mix.
  • Crowds at your local car wash are always a bother. Night washing keeps the crowds at bay, simple enough, right?
  • You need light when you wash your car, that’s a given, but the sun is hot, that too is understood, so having artificial light is perfect for car washing not only because you will be spared the likelihood of water spots, but also because swirl marks on your glass are much easier to see using artificial light.

Dispelling myths about caring for your car is smart. With a little know how, taking great care of your car is easy and your car will thank you!

About the Author: Chris Bjurlin owns a professional auto detailing shop in Phoenix as well as a Phoenix-area car wash.

About The Author