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Car Wash Guide 2022- Can You Put Car Wash Soap in a Pressure Washer

Car Wash Guide 2022- Can You Put Car Wash Soap in a Pressure Washer

Are you still stuck on the old cleaning methods or have you gotten a pressure washer to clean your car?

Big congrats to you if you have taken another step further and bought a pressure washer. Honestly, your poor car needed that the most. We can totally sense your excitement to use that pressure washer for the first time to bring back the new-like shine and take it to your friends to get some admiration. But pal, you better get used to it because you would be driving your shiny-clean car to work every day.

Assuming that you have recently switched to a pressure washer, you need to learn a few new things and let go of some old habits. Knowing them would definitely make your car washing experience worthwhile. Since we are talking about adopting new practices, we will be answering a popular question coming from all the newbies; ‘Can you put car wash soap in a pressure washer?’

Furthermore, we will share some easy-peezy cleaning hacks to add more shine and newness to your old car. So, without any further ado, let’s get on it!

What is a car wash soap?

You probably didn’t know about a car wash soap if you took your car to a service shop to get it clean every time. Well, no it isn’t like your dish wash soap that you usually use to remove that hard lasagna crust from your pan. Car wash soaps or shampoos are formulated to be milder or less aggressive, you can say. It is made of surfactants that are used to clean dirt from cars. Primarily, the soap is composed of two molecular chains, one has an affinity for dirt and the other, for water. When you apply car soap on the surface of your vehicle, its active ingredients surround the dust and grime and take it off in a suspension of water. With a good car shampoo, you can conveniently remove debris, dirt and soiling from your car’s exterior.

Pressure washer and car shampoo

Firstly, you need to determine whether the pressure washer you bought allows the use of shampoos or soaps because not all pressure washers come with a detergent tank. However, if you have gotten the one with a provision for car shampoos, you are good to proceed to the next step.

Now that you know your pressure washer has a detergent tank, you need to learn what detergents or car wash soaps you can use to wash your car. No, you cannot use any detergent to clean your vehicle as, during the process, a lot of foam and bubbles form, which could be damaging to the nozzle of your washing tool.

You must be thinking, are detergents and car soaps the same? Read about that in the following.

Are car wash soaps and detergents the same thing?

Surprisingly, the two are not the same thing. We will state how they are different from each other. Firstly, car washing soaps come in a diluted form which means they are not very aggressive and you don’t have to mix them with water to wash your car. On the contrary, car washing detergents are concentrated and therefore need to be diluted before you apply them to your car. They mix with the pressurized water discharged from the nozzle to get diluted. There is no other way to use it to clean your car.

Also, as we mentioned earlier that car wash shampoos make foam and bubbles, which could be detrimental to the pressure washer’s nozzle. Detergents on the flip side don’t make that many bubbles, making them safe to use with pressure washers.

Can you put car wash soap in a pressure washer?

While it majorly depends on the product you use, most car shampoos are not made to be used in pressure washers as they are primarily designed for manual applications. That being said, there might be some other shampoos out on the shelves that are suitable to use with pressure washers. Still, you need to research well before getting one for yourself.

We would recommend you get a car washing detergent compatible with your car washer to be on the safe side.

What detergents are compatible with pressure washers?

Markets are flooded with car washing tools and products, which clearly means it’s no big leg work to get one for your car. However, the actual question is, which ones are compatible with car washers? Well, you can try Karcher Car Wash & Wax Soap, it is a good match for pressure washers and is widely used across the United States. If you want an all-rounder type one, you can also try out Krud Kutter House & Siding, as it is a multi-purpose one and has a good consumer rating.

Which one is better, detergent or soap?

Both can be used for washing cars. Though, if you want something that goes well with your pressure washer, then we would suggest you get a car wash detergent. They typically comprise chemicals essential to remove stubborn dirt and debris and lather in all types of water. On the other hand, soaps don’t lather well in hard water as they contain fats and oils.

Detergents have proven to be more potent in removing dirt as they comprise synthetic chemicals, making them harsher than soaps. This is one of the reasons why they need to be used with pressure washers and can’t be used for manual cleaning.

How to clean a car using a pressure washer with detergents?

Most pressure washers today come with detergent tanks called pressure washer soap dispensers. They enable you to freely move around without struggling with a detergent water bucket. Though, not all pressure washers come with detergent tanks and will require a container to fill detergent into.

Once you have filled the detergent tank, turn the valve to ‘on’ so the pressure washer nozzle sprays detergent while applying. Now set the nozzle pressure settings to ‘low’ as the detergent won’t work well with high-pressure water. Next, start spraying in an upward direction with detergent to avert streaking. At least spray twice on every spot so that you don’t leave any part untreated.

After applying detergent, leave it for 5 to 10 minutes to let it work. However, make sure it doesn’t dry out completely. It needs to be wet to clean your car properly. Also, in hot summers, you might need to re-apply for detergent after short intervals to prevent it from drying.

Once the detergent gets enough time to loosen all the stains and dirt, turn the detergent tank valve ‘off’ and press the nozzle’s trigger to clear the line and flush out the remaining detergent. Now set your nozzle to high pressure to perform the actual cleaning process.

Clear the dirt from top to bottom and gently spray the delicate areas to avoid any damage.


So, can you put car wash soap in a pressure washer? A regular car wash soap is not cut out for pressure washers, not even in diluted form. It will eventually cause damage to your pressure washer’s pumps. Though, if you are still bent on using shampoo, it is better to apply it manually rather than using it in a pressure washer.

Lastly, check out this ‘How to get stains out of car seats guide for deep internal cleansing.

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