Can I use laundry detergent to wash my car?

I really need to wash my car in the next few hours. I don’t have any car wash soap and I don’t have time to go out and get some. I don’t really have a whole lot of extra cleaning supplies, but I do have laundry detergent. Could I use laundry detergent to wash my car?

Andrew Biro · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
Okay, so this is a bit of a tricky situation—it’s not recommended that you use laundry detergent to wash your car because most detergents contain harsh chemicals and degreasing agents that can seriously damage both your car’s paint and protective coating.
That said, if you absolutely must wash your vehicle and only have laundry detergent to do it with, you can mitigate the potential damage you inflict on your car’s exterior by heavily diluting the detergent with water.
If you have a mild or natural-ingredient laundry detergent, that’s even better, as they already contain milder, less destructive cleaning agents than most full-strength detergents.
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