Dish Soap to strip wax a legitimate use?

Messages
10,008
Location
Upstate NY
Some guy was washing his '87 Porsche 944 with dish soap today to "strip the wax" off it while I was doing a quick-and-dirty two-bucket (one soap, one rinse) wash with Meg's Gold Class on my Buick. The car was in immaculate condition, and was very clean. So he clearly cares about it. I've always heard you're not supposed to use dish soap because it is bad for the paint, namely stripping old wax off and possibly harming the clearcoat. But if the purpose is to strip wax, then I can sorta see using it... My question is: Does dish soap have a legitimate use when you want a clean slate to wax on?
 
Messages
7,430
Location
beaver land EH?
LOL! You should consult some autobody paint suppliers and see what else they have for you (prepsol or similar). dishwashing liquid may be too harsh not just on the wax itself but may also harm your paint. If you want to strip old wax, do it right. Get something proper instead. Q.
 
Messages
2,759
Location
CarMax
It's OK to use a dishwashing detergent before waxing or a full-on detailing session. Most detergents do a good job of cutting thru grease and dissolving wax but its not sulfuric acid or anything. It's only soap. After 25 years of washing cars with dishwashing detergent, including the vaunted blue Dawn, I've never experienced damaged clearcoat, eroded rubber seals, or any other malady associated with the stuff. On a car with a good coat of wax, even blue Dawn won't strip it off the first wash. It'll take 3 or 4 washes at least to dissolve the wax layer from the paint. It's not THAT strong! For regular use a dedicated, pH balanced car washing shampoo is best. There are plenty of good ones on the market.
 

sciphi

Thread starter
Messages
10,008
Location
Upstate NY
I learn something every day! So the Dawn dish soap is a valid carwash. Good to know for my next detail! Until then I'll stick to my Meg's Gold Class wash.
 
Messages
2,759
Location
CarMax
 Originally Posted By: sciphi
I learn something every day! So the Dawn dish soap is a valid carwash. Good to know for my next detail! Until then I'll stick to my Meg's Gold Class wash.
Yep, OK to use for the occasional wash. Sticking with the Meguiar's stuff for regular use is a good idea.
 
Messages
111
Location
Trabuco Canyon, CA
Dish soaps are actually fairly harsh detergents and will do a great job cleaning pots and pans with baked on grease - they'll strip wax, no doubt about it. Compared to a good quality car wash soap they are very harsh. But is that a bad thing? Well, for the odd wash or two before a complete detail, no. For regular use, maybe. If you're to wax after washing, and dress all the vinyl and rubber seals, then it's probably not a big deal. But the problems are when the average guy on the street uses dish soap all the time, and only waxes his car the first month he buys it, then never again in 6 years. Dress the vinyl and rubber? Nope, he'll never do that. And he'll end up with badly faded black plastic trim and wonder what the heck happened. But even though it's safe if used from time to time, do you ever REALLY need to use it? Like before a full on detail session? Claying will take off your wax, so will a paint cleaner. Are you going to machine polish to get rid of some swirls? Think you can effectively remove the swirls and still leave your wax on the finish? Of course not. So even then, you don't HAVE to use a dish soap to strip the wax. Funny thing is, some people worry about a "wax build up", while others believe they're "layering". So, which is it? Best bet, just stay away from the dish soap and stick to a good quality car wash soap. Best practices is always the way to go.
 

sciphi

Thread starter
Messages
10,008
Location
Upstate NY
The guy in my original post had a large bag filled with car detailing stuff that he was liberally using, and his car looked immaculate. So he probably figures it's okay every once in a while. After hearing this, I'd agree. No harm, no foul. The car is currently parked across the lot from mine, and looks shiny. Recently waxed. My own regimen will not include dish soap.
 
Messages
9,679
Location
Central Coast, Calif.
What's the deal with blue dawn being the only dish soap to use? Is there something that makes it better than all others? what about lemon joy? what if I want to use Palmolive to soften my hands while I wash the car?
 
Messages
1,391
Location
Lynden, Washington
Hmmm... I agree that using hand dishwashing soap once in a blue moon probably won't hurt but I would avoid it as a primary cleaning agent. Just my opinion. Since this year is claybar year for the Civic (yes, I do remove the Liquid Glass before claybarring it), maybe I'll use some of that Industrial Dawn I've got... nah, I'll use a dilute solution of Oil Eater!
 
Messages
2,759
Location
CarMax
 Originally Posted By: tom slick
What's the deal with blue dawn being the only dish soap to use? Is there something that makes it better than all others? what about lemon joy? what if I want to use Palmolive to soften my hands while I wash the car?
IMO it all goes back to the popularity of Zaino and the early days of detailing discussions on the web. Without going into all the details, people who wanted to switch to Zaino were instructed to strip off any old wax prior to apply the Zaino sealant. When customers asked which detergent they should use, Zaino recommended blue Dawn because they knew it did the job. I'm sure other detergents performed similarly but it was the Dawn product that became accepted for this particular task. Since then it became its own topic of discussion and debate on web forums. There was no in depth evaluations of various detergents; most any could do the job. People were looking for specific recommendations and Dawn was the defacto choice. Simple as that.
 
Messages
357
Location
NC
 Originally Posted By: Mike-in-Orange
But even though it's safe if used from time to time, do you ever REALLY need to use it? Like before a full on detail session? Claying will take off your wax, so will a paint cleaner.
Right. The best way to prep for a new coat of wax is to use a paint cleaner. On a daily driver, paint cleaning 2x per year is a good routine. It will remove any old wax as well as some water spots, oxidation, etc. Dawn or any detergent will not. Clean paint is the key to a good shine.
 
Last edited:
Messages
12,979
Location
ROCHESTER, NY
 Originally Posted By: rg200amp
Dish soap is fine is you plan on waxing after the wash. I do it once a year.
I agree with all who say that dish soap is fine if... you are going to wax afterwards. I don't use dish soap any longer as I do notice that it does dry the paint if used regularly. Dish soap dries the paint and damages it to a point where the paint may not be restored. I've been detailing vehicles since 1972 and there was a time when dish soap was all I used. I also agree with this statement...
 Originally Posted By: MKZman
 Originally Posted By: Mike-in-Orange
But even though it's safe if used from time to time, do you ever REALLY need to use it? Like before a full on detail session? Claying will take off your wax, so will a paint cleaner.
Right. The best way to prep for a new coat of wax is to use a paint cleaner. On a daily driver, paint cleaning 2x per year is a good routine. It will remove any old wax as well as some water spots, oxidation, etc. Dawn or any detergent will not. Clean paint is the key to a good shine.
 
Messages
720
Location
texas
zaino recommends it but that is the only time i used it...use a clay bar to get a better and easier wax job for waxes...zaino isn't a wax so they want you to do that.
 

SL2

Messages
462
Location
Upstate, NY
When i was younger, we had a Black 1989 Mercury GrandMarquis LS, and Every weekend i would wash it.... With dish soap. The clear coat looked Ok and shiny, but you could see every hairline scratch because there was NO wax on the paint...
 
Top