Avoid these products when washing your car

December 18, 2014

Washing your car may seem simple enough, but knowing which products to avoid can help preserve your car’s finish.

Avoid these products when washing your car

Here are tips on products to avoid when washing your car to make sure you are not accidentally doing damage you'll regret later.

Special products for special vehicles

Cars are a common thing in the city, yet even the worst clunkers are still specialized machines that require products designed specifically for them. You use oil in the kitchen that you know you can't use in your car, so why would cleaning products be any different?

Hopefully by following a few tips on products to avoid when washing your car, you can keep your car's finish looking as good as new.

What causes damage

Driving in the city, our cars are subjected to grit and dirt, salt and pollution, rocks, grease, bird droppings, and a number of other hazards. You can't protect your car from everything. That's why they're called accidents, after all. But you can give your car's finish a fighting chance in the urban jungle.

Aren't all cleaners the same?

For the most part, you need to avoid household cleaners. They're not formulated for the surprisingly soft finish that cars have, and are often designed with a scouring element built in to remove hard water stains or grime from household surfaces like porcelain, tile and chrome. Certainly, these products will clean your car, but they'll scratch the surface of your vehicle, which will allow the elements and cleaning products in and accelerate how quickly the vehicle's finish ages.

Crust on, crust off

You may be facing crusted-on dirt or salt, especially around your wheel wells, and have a hard time dislodging it. The temptation will be to find an abrasive pad that you use in the kitchen to help you hack the buildup off. Avoid these pads at all costs.

In fact, you really shouldn't use anything abrasive on your car's surface at all, as it can (at best) leave swirl marks and (at worst) scour your finish completely. Instead, look for products in the car aisle that are specially formulated for wheel wells or to cut through salt and dirt build up. For the most part, these products will do the work that a scouring pad would do, without the friction.

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