How to make homemade DIY car wash liquid soap

How to make DIY car wash liquid soap: Recipe with cheap & simple ingredients [homemade]

Keeping your car clean makes it nicer to drive, you can keep that new car look and feel longer and it can also help reduce costly rust and paint problems. Cleaning your car does not need to be difficult and expensive. There are a few DIY hacks that can make it easier and cheaper. There is no need to buy super expensive car wash liquid soap when you can make your own at home simply, cheaply and still produce gentle but effective cleaning for your beloved car. Keep reading for my favourite DIY car wash tricks.

To make this DIY car wash soap, add the following cheap ingredients to a one-gallon jug to make a concentrated solution:

  1. ¼ cup ordinary dish washing liquid (not the dishwasher variety)
  2. 1 tablespoon of borax (Sodium Tetraborate)
  3. Fill the remainder of the gallon jug with warm water and mix.

However, it is difficult to beat specific car cleaning products that are specifically designed to efficiently clean your car without damaging your paint. There are some car wash soaps available that are about the same price as the ingredients that you can use to make your own but are specifically designed for cars.

washing car with sponge

If you are still interested in making your own DIY car wash liquid soap follow the following recipe:

DIY car wash liquid soap recipe #1

To make this DIY car wash soap (recipe #1), add the following to a one-gallon jug to make a concentrated solution:

  1. ¼ cup ordinary dishwashing liquid (not the dishwasher variety & not powdered laundry detergent)
  2. 1 tablespoon of borax (Sodium Tetraborate)
  3. Fill the remainder of the gallon jug with warm water and mix.

This one-gallon jug of DIY liquid car cleaner can be stored until you are ready to clean your car. Add one cup of this liquid car cleaner to a bucket of water and you are ready to start washing.

Disclaimer: If you have just purchased a new car and/or you are worried that you may damage it by using a DIY car wash soap. Then don’t use it. You should spend the money and buy a specially made car wash soap, see my recommendations below. I take no responsibility for anything, damages or otherwise (including if you crash your car after drinking the liquid car wash soap, which I do not recommend that you do).


car washing with homemade DIY detergent

For best results do not use highly alkaline, chlorine or phosphate-based detergents.

Chlorine-free soaps should be avoided as the chlorine can destroy your paint.

The other non-painted areas of your car (plastic or rubber parts such as door seals, headlight and indicator lights, grill vents etc..) may also be harmed and change color if harsh chemical based detergents that are not suitable for cars are used.

For environmental reasons soaps without phosphate are recommended. Phosphate from the detergent can go down stormwater drains and end up in waterways and is toxic to aquatic organisms like fish and can cause harmful algal blooms.

By washing your car on your lawn or garden it can help prevent harmful chemicals from going down the stormwater drains and causing these environmental problems.


Eco-friendly DIY car wash liquid soap recipe #2

To make this eco-friendly DIY car wash soap (recipe #2), add the following to a one-gallon jug to make a concentrated solution:

  1. 1/3 cup of distilled white vinegar.
  2. Fill the remaining with water.
  3. [Optional] Add eco-friendly liquid soap (such as castle soap), up to ¼ of a cup if your car is very dirty.

This eco-friendly homemade car wash recipe is not only gentle on the environment but also gentle on your car paint, glass and rubber or plastic. As with all soaps, be sure to rinse it off with clean water.

DIY car wash liquid soap recipe #3

View DIY car wash liquid soap recipe #2 by sharing this webpage on social media.

Which homemade car wash recipe do you prefer?

After washing your car

After washing your car it is recommended that you first dry your car. Many people dry their car the wrong way (e.g. air dry the car) and damage it. Learn how to dry your car the right way here, including different drying soft cloths, and other car drying  & cleaning products.   

Related: How to make DIY windscreen washing fluid: clean your windshield for cheaper even in  freezing temperatures

After drying your car you should wax your car to create a water resistant coating over your paint. The wax can help protect your paint by making water bead and run off your paintwork. You can make your own DIY car wax but it is quite a process, not really a cost-saving measure and probably not worth it unless you are into that kind of thing. You can see how to make it here.

water that does not bead on car

Example of when water does NOT bead on your car



beading water on waxed car

Example of beading water on waxed car



Frequently Asked Question – FAQs

Is it safe to use dish soap to wash a car?

Yes… and no. Many dishwashing soaps are gentle and will not harm your car.

washing dishes with dish washing liquid soap

Dish washing liquid is safe to use on your car.

Remember dish detergents is designed so that you can put your hands in there to wash the dishes. However, some dish soaps have chemicals that can harm your paintwork. See the instructions above for the appropriate dish washing liquid.

Is it OK to wash my car with laundry detergent?

No, some laundry detergents can contain chlorine or other bleaching type chemicals that ‘brighten’ your clothes. These may damage your car paint coating.

What is borax and is it safe?

Borax DIY detergent additive

Borax DIY detergent additive

Borax is a common additive to homemade detergents. Borax also know as boric acid, sodium borate, sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate can be toxic when in concentrated form. Borax can be harmful to skin, eyes, nose etc.. it is NOT to be consumed. Keep this out of reach of your children.

Is vinegar safe on car paint?

Yes, vinegar is safe to use on car paint. Most types of vinegar are not very acidic, pickling vinegar is more acidic than others. Vinegar should not damage car paint, glass or rubber under normal conditions. If allowed to sit on paint or glass under high heat for a long time it start to damage it. When mixed in water (like the car recipe above) even under high temperature conditions there is even less chance of vinegar damaging your paint, glass or rubber.

Can I use sugar soap on my car?

No, never use sugar soap on your car. Sugar soap is a harsh chemical that you do not want to get on your skin clothes or anything else except painted drywall that you are trying to clean.

Sugar soap is not to be used on your car

Sugar soap is not to be used on your car

Sugar soap sound harmless but it is not. Sugar soap does not contain sugar. Sugar soap is a concentrated alkali solution usually sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide and a small amount of solvent.

What soap can I use to wash my car?

There are a multitude of specific car wash detergents that you can use. If you want to use a homemade DIY soap, follow the recipe above.

Can you use a pressure washer to wash a car?

Yes, there are a range of pressure washers that are suitable for washing your truck or car. Not all are designed to be used to wash cars to choose a pressure washer that is. You can read my review of the best pressure washers for cleaning cars here.

Can you use the DIY soap in your pressure washer to wash a car?

Yes, just be sure that all of the ingredients are fully dissolved before using it. You don’t want to clog your pressure washer nozzle.

Can I wash my car every day?

The cleaning of the car does not damage the car. However, if you are scrubbing your car with abrasive brushes or clothes, these can scratch your car and the more you use them the more scratches you make. If you are going to wash your car daily or even just on a weekly basis I recommend that you use soft car washing sponges and cloth.

What is the best commercial car wash soap to use?

These are some great commercial car wash soaps that are great for your car care.

Best way to wash a car

Read about how to wash your car the right way

Best way to dry a car

Read about how to dry your car the right way

Related: How to clean leather car seats: Great  for car detailing


Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *