Can Car Wash Soap Damage Paint?

If it’s time to wash your car, you might be thinking of car soap or other car washing products to wash your car. Car paint is an expensive part of the car; any damage or scratch on a car paint becomes very costly to fix.

Typically car wash soap does not damage the paint if the pH level is neutral, it has the foaming ability, and the concentration are normal. However, using any other soap rather than car soap might damage the car paint. Car soap combines all the elements that protect the car paint and removes dirt from the car.

In this article, I will explain if the car wash soap will really damage your car paint, what else can damage the car paint, and how you should wash your car safely without scratching it.

Does Soap Affect Car Paint?

Car soap does not affect your car paint because it has a neutral pH. However, check the manufacturer’s guidelines before using a particular soap for a car. Manufacturers usually tell you to use a 5 to 1 mix ratio for washing.

Depending on your soap, different soap has different types of use cases. Use the one that has pH-balanced, which won’t harm your car paint, and it will gently remove all the dirt, road grime,e and contaminants from your car.

You can use a snow cannon or bucket to wash your car. Whatever method you use, clean your vehicle properly and reach each corner of the car to remove all the dirt properly.

Can a Car Wash Ruin Paint?

If you wonder if a car wash might ruin your paint, that is partly true because you need to safely wash your car to protect the paint and remove the dirt. 

However, you should follow the proper method to wash your car; using this wrong method can ruin your paint and leave inflicting swirl marks on the car paint.

Let’s learn more about car paint; car paint has three different layers: clearcoat, the basecoat, and primer. Most of the swirl marks we leave while washing the car are on the clear coat.

You can quickly get rid of the swirl marks by polishing your car. In my experience, no matter how safe you clean your car, eventually, you will leave swirl marks on the paint.

I wash my car regularly, both at the car wash and by myself, but I still see a lot of swirl marks on the car paint. So, try to be careful while washing the car and use two buckets; one is for soapy water, and another one is just for water. 

What Soap is Safe for Car Paint?

Most of the soaps you will find on the market are safe for car paint as they all maintain a certain standard to protect the car paint and remove all the dirt from the car.

However, using a soap that is not up to the mark might damage your car paint. You can use Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner if you want a safe soap to start car washing.

Meguiar’s is a very reputed company; they make all sorts of car detailing products, including this car wash shampoo. This shampoo is safe on all paint types, so that you can use this for your car.

They also show the proper method of washing a car; if you use it properly, I think you can safely clean your car without damaging the paint.

How Can I Wash my Car Without Damaging the Paint?

Car washing is an essential part of car maintenance, but each wash leaves a little swirl mark on the paint, the more dirty the car is harder to clean, and it leaves more spots on the car paint.

There are a few proper methods to wash a car without damaging the paint. If you have a pressure washer, you can easily wash your car first with water, then use the foam cannon; you can leave the foam for a while, then just wash the car with a pressure washer again.

All the dirt and road grimes will go away, then you can dry out the car with a microfiber towel. Try to use a good microfiber towel that can absorb more water, and gently rub the towel to the car body, so there is no paint damage.

If your car is dirtier, you might need to use a microfiber cloth with soapy water to clean the car properly.

If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can wash your car properly using the two-bucket method.

You need one bucket for the wash solution and another with plain water. You will use a second bucket to rinse the wash mitt, so there is no dirt on your wash solution bucket.

Here is the step-by-step process to wash your car without damaging the paint.

1. Wash the Whole Car: 

The first step is to wash the whole car with plain water. When I start washing my car, I usually clean the car with water, which removes most of the dirt from the car.

And when you are applying wash solution, there will be less dirt on your wash mitt. Try to clean your whole car with water first, then apply the wash solution.

2. Apply Wash Solution:

As you already have the soapy water bucket with wash solution, all you have to do is wash a section of the car with a wash mitt.

Then dunk the wash mitt into your second bucket, which will lose all the dirt and grease from your wash mitt.

These two bucket solution helps you a lot to avoid scratching your car. When you use one bucket to wash your car, your wash mitt catches all the dirt from your car. When you dunk the wash mitt into the bucket and apply the wash solution to the car, it usually scratches your car with the previous dirt.

That’s why having two buckets is important. You need to apply the same method quite a few times to clean your whole car with a wash solution.

In my case, I actually start applying the wash solution to the upper part of the car; I start with the car front glass, the windows, and the back glass. I dunk the wash mitt into the water bucket and rinse; then, I apply the wash solution to the car’s upper body.

As the lower part of the car consists of more dirt, I usually start washing the upper part and then go straight to the lower part. In my opinion, it catches less dirt and keeps the car scratch-free.

3. Wash the Car with Water:

After applying the wash solution to your car, you need to clean the whole car again with the water, it will remove all the wash solution from your car, and you will start to see the shine of your car.

4. Clean your Car With Microfiber Cloth:

After properly washing your whole car with soapy water, just leave it for like five minutes, so the water dries away. Then you can start wiping your car with a microfiber cloth.

Start by cleaning your car glasses, then clean the whole body. Don’t put too much pressure while you are wiping the car body. People tend to put pressure on the body, sometimes leaving scratches. 

Try to use two microfiber cloths to wipe out the body; it helps you dry out the water faster. I usually use two 1000 gsm microfiber cloths which work great while wiping out the water.

Should You Wash Car with Your Hand?

Yes, of course, you should wash your car with your hand. People think an automatic or touchless car wash might be the best for your car. 

But it’s not always the case; I wash my car by myself. It’s enjoyable, and you can safely wash your car without damaging the paint. 

All you need to do is buy some good car cleaning products and do some research; after that, you can clean your car pretty quickly.

Final Thoughts

Car wash soap won’t damage your car if you properly clean your car. You can wash the car using a pressure washer or the two-bucket method.

Just use the right car cleaning products and microfiber cloths while washing the car. Take adequate time and gently wipe the car with a microfiber towel. 

Sifatul Shohan

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