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Make your own car shampoo and save a few bucks. It's easy! Remember: there's nothing very magical in the store-bought bottles of car wash solution. All you need is some detergent that will remove dirt and oil residue without damaging paint. Here are some suggestions:

The site MakeYourOwn recommends the following recipe:

  • 1 cup liquid dish detergent
  • 12 T powdered laundry detergent
  • 1 large bucket of water

If, like me, you want to avoid washing any harmful substances into our waterways, here's an environmentally-friendly solution from

  • 1 cup liquid dish detergent
  • 3/4 cup powdered laundry detergent that is both chlorine-free and phosphate-free, and also non-petroleum based. (This rules out most of the big name brands, by the way.)
  • 3 gallons of water
  • Use sparingly and rinse well with the hose. Another enviro-tip: park your car on the grass while washing, not on the street. This helps prevent runoff.

While you're in a car-related DIY mood, make your own car windshield wash solution too. The stuff you buy in the store is just diluted window cleaning fluid. Mix at a ratio of 3 cups of window cleaner to 1 gallon of water. Store leftover solution in a gallon water jug. You can use this solution pretty much year-round in many southern states -- or the lower-lying parts of them, anyway. Northerners will, however, need to switch to a freeze-resistant mixture sometime before the really cold weather arrives. Brrr.


  • Peter

    It is generally advised to avoid using dish detergent to wash your car. Dish detergent is designd to remove grease and wax, which is what it thinks the clear coat on your car is. Continued use will end up stripping the clear coat from your car. After spending plenty on your car, spend a few bucks and get something that wont hurt it.

  • Chris

    You should only use dish washing detergent when you are going to detail your car. The detergent strips off dirt and also the wax/clearcoat that is meant to protect your car's paint. If you do use detergent, detailers usually clay bar the car to remove the impurities on the paint and then polish and wax to seal the deal

  • Scott

    Actually the use of dish soap is not recommended because it strips off the wax you painstakingly applied last time. This means you'll have to reapply the wax every time, which is wasteful as most waxes recommend application every 3 months or so. Your clear coat is safe from the dish soap, but not from the elements without that layer of wax.

    Powdered laundry detergent carries the warning that it needs to be completely dissolved before use as well. You don't want to be rubbing your car with gritty soap.

    Washing your car in the grass sounds like a good idea, but some of the things you wash off your car can be harmful to grass. Additionally you can damage your grass and put mud back on your car this way too.

  • Peter

    Scott - I knew it wasn''t recommended, but not exactly why. Thanks for the clarification.

  • melessa

    how about baby shampoo? its obviously gentle, but i know little about cars.

  • 5 Comments / 1 Pages

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