Can You Wash Your Car With Shampoo?

car wash with shampoo

The car can be washed with shampoo. Make sure to rinse it off thoroughly. Leaving shampoo on the car may damage the paint. The shampoo isn’t made for washing the car. However, it’s a great alternative to car washing soap.

I’ve been washing my car with shampoo recently, and it’s been a great alternative. Thousands of people have been washing their cars with shampoo, and it will probably continue to grow. 

The reason is that everyone has shampoo in-house, it’s accessible, and you don’t have to drive all the way to a shop.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into how to properly wash your car with shampoo.

Table of Contents

Pros and Cons of Washing The Car With Shampoo

Although hair shampoo works fine, it also has its own fair share of pros and cons. After all, washing your car with hair products is just an alternative to a car washing shampoo. Most car owners will still recommend using official car wash shampoos for regular cleaning. 


  • Accessible – chances are, you already have spare shampoo and baking soda at home.
  • Ease of usage – mix it with water, and use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface. 
  • Does the job perfectly – it is effective in removing dirt in both the car exterior and the wheels.


  • You need to wash fast – the longer it sits on the exterior, the higher the chance of getting faded paint. 
  • Bad idea on a sunny day – hair products dry quickly, so wash your car under a shade or during a cloudy day.
  • It doesn’t stick for a long time – hair products are designed to get rinsed immediately. It will not stick in your car for a long period of time. 

Is Washing The Car With Shampoo Good?

Washing your car with shampoo isn’t the first thing you thought about when cleaning the car. To wash your car properly with shampoo, the shampoo should be mixed with a bucket of lukewarm water and 3 to 4 tablespoons of hair shampoo.

Why Use Shampoo For The Car?

Other cleaning agents like laundry soap, dish soap, and even hand soap are not great car shampoo alternatives. 

Although these soaps can clean your car’s exterior well, these chemicals are too abrasive. Most cleaning soaps can clean the exterior so well that it also peels the car paint and wax. 

One of the main reasons why a hair shampoo to wash cars is due to its two ingredients: lanolin and silicone. These materials give users shiny hair when using certain hair products. 

Although not the same material, official car shampoo products use the same method to make the exterior shiny and clean. 

Another reason to use shampoo as a car soap alternative is its gentle cleaning. Hair shampoos can clean your hair with just lathering, and it doesn’t make the user irritated or uncomfortable.

It can remove the dirt, oil, and other things in your hair and has the same effects on your car’s exterior. But it won’t remove protective wax or the car’s paint, which other cleaning agents do. 

Can You Wash Your Car With Other Hair Products?

No, other hair products shouldn’t be used to wash your car. Most hair products will damage the paint and eventually cause scratches. To avoid this, only use regular car wash and shampoo.

There have been many times where people washed their car with different hair products mixed together. Their car got many scratches, and the paint even got scratched. 

An example of this is using dish soap for the car. Dish soap isn’t good for the car since it will definitely damage the paint. Dish soap isn’t made for the car, so don’t use it to wash your car.

Professionals have been recommending many people avoid using shampoo or any other hair product. The car paint is made to hold a regular car wash and not hair products.

If you don’t have another option other than to use shampoo, you can go for it. However, studies have shown that it’s not good for the car.

How To Wash Your Car Using Hair Shampoo

The first thing you should consider before you wash the car is the weather. Washing a car under the sun will make it dry quicker, which will result in unwanted white streaks. 

You might also want to spray your exterior using a hose to loosen up any dirt and dust. Avoid using sponges in this method. Get some shampoo, water, bucket, and baking soda.

Do your regular car cleaning routine as usual. But instead of using car wash shampoo, use half a cup of shampoo in a bucket of water. Once you’re done with your cleaning routine, it’s time to make your car shiny. Mix the shampoo with a bit of baking soda to shine-up your chrome.

Don’t let it sit in your car for a long period of time. Rinse as soon as possible, and rinse thoroughly.  

Keep in mind that using shampoo isn’t made for the car. If you have the option to use a regular car wash, go for it.

A regular car wash will always be better than shampoo, even though it might be more expensive.

Car Paint Problems Caused By Shampoo

Faded Paint

Faded paint isn’t something you might be looking for when washing the car with shampoo. You might not know this, but using shampoo can fade the paint when used wrong. 

If you’re going to wash your car with shampoo, make sure to rinse it off within 5 minutes. Leaving the shampoo will cause your paint to fade. It’s not something that happens often, but still, you want to avoid the risk of it happening.

Scratched Windows

Getting scratched windows is very common when washing the car. When you’re washing, try to put as little pressure as possible. Putting too much pressure with shampoo with cause scratched on the car.

I have washed my cars in the past, and the easiest way is to use a good sponge. Not all sponges are the same. You have special car sponges that you can buy almost everywhere.


Nothing can beat car wash soaps in cleaning a vehicle in the long-run. The protection and cleaning can last for weeks, so you don’t have to wash frequently. 

What makes using hair shampoo worthwhile is if you need a quick car wash but don’t have the extra fund to avail car washing services. 

Running out of car wash soap for home washing is another solid reason you might want to use shampoo to wash a car. 

Written by Christina Bowler

We're a team of hair care enthusiast that have been in this industry for a very long time. Since 2019 we've been writing helpful articles to help you find the right tips, tricks, and products that you might want. Feel free to ask us questions on the contact page.

Wash Box Braids

How Often Should You Wash Box Braids?

mid back hair length

How Long Does It Take To Grow Shoulder Length Hair To Mid Back?