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View Full Version : Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim



KC's
Dec 17th, 2010, 08:34 AM
Hi Guys
what do u think

Dish wash soaps are designed to remove organic residue and germs from plates, not rinse road grime and dirt from a car. Dish soap might be a little hash to use frequently to wash your car. Once a yea won't hurt anything.
Perhaps I should dispel this myth. I'm an R&D Chemist that designs cleaning chemicals (generally for the Food and Beverage industries, but have also made instrument sanitisers for hospitals, etc). I'm an avid car enthusiast also and have been looking into the car wash topic for some time now. It seems to me that a lot of marketing BS is getting propagated as fact, even on this forum. THIS I'm not criticising at all, as you aren't chemists and have no other way of knowing besides what a marketing team put on their labels. I have, however, gotten annoyed with the marketing BS out there and thought I'd tear some of it down to better enlighten you all.

Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages. Commonly, SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate), Dodecylbenzene sulphonic acid (neutralised with Sodium Hydroxide, Triethanolamine or Isopropanolamine). You'll find concentrations will vary, but not by much. There will be other additives that make a slight difference - but a couple of percent difference in the bottle become negligible once you pour a capful into a bucket and dilute it that far.
Am I saying dish soaps and car wash products are exactly the same?
No. They'll use different dyes and fragrances. Potentially some silicone emulsions or waxes for an increased shine. Maybe some optical brighteners too. With regards to the actual surfactants that do the cleaning - they'll be the same. And the salt...
My initial thought on the difference between sink detergents and car wash products was this: I know EVERYONE puts salt into their sink detergents - it bumps at the viscosity and makes it easier to work with (also makes them cheaper too). Car wash products won't use salt. (as it drastically increases corrosion rates)
Sadly, this isn't true. A simple silver nitrate titration confirmed it (but I don't want to go into detail about company names, needless to say that I started with 5 different products from a local auto store and now I've tested over 20 based on the shocking results, even from 'boutique' products). Even with some products that claimed to include "corrosion inhibitors." I hate to say it, but loading up with salt negates any inhibitor you add to the product.

There is no such thing as a 'harsh' surfactant or a 'soft' one (unless we're talking skin-care, but our skin is infinitely more sensitive than the polymeric clear coat on your car). They have slightly different effects but all work on the same principle. "Harsh detergent" is marketing BS. No detergent is going to dissolve your acrylic clear coat (the chemist that sits next to me worked for BASF in their automotive paints division for 10 years, he's now been with us designing industrial rust-proof paints for another 10 - he had a very good laugh when I showed him some of the stuff written online regarding this topic). You know what causes much more damage than a "harsh surfactant" to your clear coat? UV Degradation. Paint laboratories world-wide use a UV chamber to try to destroy their paints (so they can prove how long they last) - what they don't do is soak the paint samples in sink detergent.

In saying all this, I know that there are SOME quality manufacturers out there that don't use salt. A general rule of thumb will be to look for the companies that charge good $ for a product but don't seem to have the fancy packaging to match the price tag. That fancy packaging and labelling costs more than the chemical in the bottle.

If you have any specific questions about surfactants, surface tension, dirt removal, corrosion etc feel free to ask. I'm trying not to turn this into a chemistry lesson (as even I find that boring!) yet I'm happy to go into detail should someone require it.

kristina27
Dec 17th, 2010, 11:06 AM
I'm not sure. Of course I was always told not to use dish soap for washing your car, that's detailing 101. But the reason I was told not to use dish soap, was not because of the chemical make up or that it would eat through clear coat but that the dish soap would break down any type of wax that is on your car paint and leads to drying out the finish.

TOGWT
Dec 17th, 2010, 04:03 PM
Dish washing liquids were initially used by detailer’s to remove traces of the oils from waxes commonly used on Nitrocellulose Lacquer paints, this is probably the reason some long established painters recommend its use (As Confucius didn’t say; “plus ca change plus ca reste la même chose.”)

Advanced auto wash concentrates and paint cleaners are available and are better suited to cleaning paint surfaces. Modern clear coat is porous so I would not recommend using a harsh dishwashing detergent such as Dawn® on a regular basis, as they contain both sodium and a degreaser, although most of them are approx pH 8.0 (although pH is not the only thing to consider when evaluating products, the MSDS will provide other relevant information.

The MSDS indicates that this product contains sodium hydroxide; these salt crystals could be mildly abrasive when they 'come out' of the compound later and will then permeate the pant surface. Salt is hygroscopic and highly alkaline, the same ingredient are used in engine degreasers to chemically ‘burn’ hydrocarbon oils and grease from engine surfaces.

Sodium hydroxide will severely stain aluminium, magnesium, etc other ingredients and will tend to oxidise the paint system and emulsify, breakdown and leach out oils found in rubber moulding, trim and the paint system, which causes the plasticizers to dry out causing them to lose their flexibility and eventually fail

Generally you should avoid the use of household cleaning products for automotive detailing as they are formulated for an entirely different type of cleaning.

[Your car surface and the dirt that gets on it are a lot different from the food soils and dishes that dishwashing liquids clean effectively. We don't recommend them for cleaning your car] Proctor and Gamble

J. A. Michaels
Dec 17th, 2010, 04:24 PM
Everything the chemist writes may be true.
However I will err on the side of caution. That is until dish soaps start saying all purpose on the label.

dave93761
Dec 17th, 2010, 06:13 PM
Mr. Stoops, care to comment on this thread? I know people would to very interested to hear Meguiar's POV.

KC's
Dec 17th, 2010, 10:13 PM
thanks to guys i am glad to hang around here...rather than tossing around by the winds

looking forward to hear more

thanking u in advance

wifpd4
Dec 18th, 2010, 04:54 AM
Even being a bit of a noob, I've read threads from experts, wannabe experts and other informed folks about this topic. Like many such topics, it is best answered by you for yourself. The range of opinions is there, pick your ground and stand on it. What is the most efficient, economical and least damaging product or procedure to accomplish your desired task? What will make you and or your client most happy?

I am with J.A. on this one. For me, the few cars I've done they didn't need to washed with dish soap. Plus it's one less thing to steal out of the house!!

KC, thanks for sharing. Star Kicker thanks for joining in too.

Ron-M
Dec 18th, 2010, 07:23 AM
The chemist may very well be right on the money, but for the price of Deep Crystal car wash I think I'll keep using it for general washing.

ca2kjet
Dec 18th, 2010, 07:24 AM
I thought the biggest difference was that dish soap uses strong degreasers which is not good for a car's paint?

Mary S
Dec 18th, 2010, 07:50 AM
My understanding of surfactants is that even though petroleum products, oils, etc. will not be soluble in water, the surfactants create an emulsion in which the oil particles can be carried away in the solution of the water and surfactants. But this chemical reaction may take place quickly or slowly depending on the formulation. Both car soap and dish soap need to remove oils and grease, road film, etc. But car soaps need to find a balance of stopping there, i.e. remove the bad oil-based products without removing the good oil-based products, i.e., the wax or sealant. Therefore, the surfactant action must be relatively gentle, just enough to do its job but no more. Since dishes have no waxes or sealants to worry about, dish soaps can work more harshly and quickly, and are formulated as such.

Secondly, car soaps may contain conditioning oils designed to nourish the paint, just as hair shampoos may contain conditioning oils to nourish the hair. There really isn't anything a dish soap needs to condition, other than maybe your hands that are doing the washing without gloves. So sure, you can and will remove oils from your hair or your car paint by using a product designed to clean dishes, but you may remove too much oil and need to perform a second process to replace them.

One last thing to mention is that the paint is not the only thing to worry about when washing the car. There are also rubber/plastic seals that you don't want to dry out.

In essence, the best advice one can give is use a shampoo formulated for cars to wash cars, use a shampoo formulated for hair to wash hair, use a shampoo formulated for dishes to wash dishes.

And what about if you want to wash a car as well as remove the remaining wax or sealant to have a clean base for reapplying the wax? Again, the best advice one can give is to use a product formulated for that purpose.

Will your car explode if you don't use the most appropriate product? No.

Will you save money? I purchased a gallon of Gold Class Shampoo for about 12 dollars. I don't think Dawn is any cheaper than that.

Will you do irreparable harm to the car's paints and rubber and plastic seals? Maybe not, but you may have to follow the washing with a "polish" or conditioning step with proper sealants for the rubber, so your process may take more time.

So my take is, it is a free country. All we can do is offer advice, but the world own't end if you choose to do things differently.

Lasthope05
Dec 18th, 2010, 09:26 AM
I personally dont think dawn is all that agressive as people make it seem. Modern paint does not have oils or need oils to be nourished with and most everybody that used Dawn as a car wash use it to strip waxes/sealants off paint any way.

I'll tell you what. Using apc and degreasers on rubber and trim pieces is way more harsh than dawn will ever be yet nobody says anything about it drying out rubber/plastic. Go wash your hands with dawn and then with a APC or degreaser and tell me which one dries your hands out more.

Plus we already use constantly use harsh cleaners on our paint and rubber. Factory wheels are example of this. They are clear coated in the same way cars are and we are all constantly using apc's/degreasers and acids on them. If our paint was or fragile we would be seeing a whole lot of damaged and oxidized wheels.

KC's
Dec 18th, 2010, 09:51 PM
Will you save money? I purchased a gallon of Gold Class Shampoo for about 12 dollars. I don't think Dawn is any cheaper than that.



:xyxthumbs:xyxthumbs:xyxthumbs

very well said
:worship

cheers

Mary S
Dec 19th, 2010, 08:14 AM
Modern paint does not have oils or need oils to be nourished with

True, this is less of an issue with modern clear coat, but not every car that gets washed or detailed has modern clear coat, and while polishes have less of an effect on clear coat, they can make a difference, especially on darker paints and older clear coat and when there is a beginning of clear coat failure.


Factory wheels are example of this. They are clear coated in the same way cars are and we are all constantly using apc's/degreasers and acids on them. If our paint was or fragile we would be seeing a whole lot of damaged and oxidized wheels.

Sadly, been there, done that. I once accidentally left an acid wheel cleaner on my husband's clear-coated wheels too long and removed some patches of the clear coat.

Michael Stoops
Dec 20th, 2010, 09:26 AM
Dish detergent is highly effective at stripping grease, and if it strips grease it will strip wax. A quality car wash shampoo won't strip wax. That alone should tell you which product you want to use to wash your car.

Now, we've said this before and we'll say it again - using dish detergent to wash your car is not going to destroy your paint, plastic, vinyl, rubber, etc if you follow each wash with a full compliment of wax, vinyl and rubber dressing, etc. We've got a forum member who has basically proven this since his father used nothing but dish soap on his car, but otherwise babied the car with very regular surface treatments.

But the big problem is for the "average" consumer who never does anything more than wash the car - they can't be bothered with any of the "details' of detailing and they won't regularly apply a dressing to the trim, vinyl, etc. Then they wonder why all that trim has turned white in a couple of years. We've seen these cars come into our garage where the plastic cowl is almost white, and it comes from neglect. And neglect isn't just not dressing it, it's using products that can speed up the drying out of the material.

People think of things like vinyl, leather, paint, etc to be "dry" but in truth they aren't. Unless you let them "dry out". Ever seen a piece of leather that's really "dried out"? Looks a bit different than the seats in your new car, doesn't it? Ever worked on really dried out paint? It pulls the lubricants right out of the paint cleaner or compound you're working on and the product gums up on the surface. Ever try to apply a pure polish to a dried up gel coat? The gel coat color is instantly revitalized, but the pure polish is just soaked up by the finish.

Paint, and especially gel coat, is actually quite porous and it will take in a bit of these oils. Over time, it can, will and does dry out if not taken care of. There is no doubt that a modern clear coat is far more durable and resilient than earlier single stage lacquer paints, but they are not impervious to the ravages of time and the environment.

We're huge fans of simply following a "best practices" philosophy when taking car of your car, so we'll finish this the same way we started: Dish detergent is highly effective at stripping grease, and if it strips grease it will strip wax. A quality car wash shampoo won't strip wax. That alone should tell you which product you want to use to wash your car.

Bunky
Dec 22nd, 2010, 07:08 AM
The MSDS indicates that this product contains sodium hydroxide; these salt crystals could be mildly abrasive when they 'come out' of the compound later and will then permeate the pant surface. Salt is hygroscopic and highly alkaline, the same ingredient are used in engine degreasers to chemically ‘burn’ hydrocarbon oils and grease from engine surfaces.

Sodium hydroxide will severely stain aluminium, magnesium, etc other ingredients and will tend to oxidise the paint system and emulsify, breakdown and leach out oils found in rubber moulding, trim and the paint system, which causes the plasticizers to dry out causing them to lose their flexibility and eventually fail

Generally you should avoid the use of household cleaning products for automotive detailing as they are formulated for an entirely different type of cleaning.

[Your car surface and the dirt that gets on it are a lot different from the food soils and dishes that dishwashing liquids clean effectively. We don't recommend them for cleaning your car] Proctor and Gamble[/COLOR]

Jon, I looked at the latest Dawn Dishwashing MSDS sheet at Proctor and Gamble (just google dawn msds) and it has no mention of sodium hydroxide.

ngredients listed on the product label are: biodegradable surfactants and no phosphate. For Ultra Dawn
Advanced Power, Vinegar Alternative, and Baking Soda Alternative, ingredients listed on the product label are:
biodegradable surfactants, enzymes, and no phosphate. For antibacterial hand soaps, active ingredient is triclosan
at 0.1%. Inactive ingredients for antibacterial hand soaps are listed in the Drug Facts box on back label.
Hazardous Ingredients as defined by OSHA, 29 CFR 1910.1200. and/or WHMIS under the HPA:
Chemical Name Common Name CAS No. Composition
Range
LD50/LC50
Ethyl alcohol Ethanol 64-17-5 1-5% LD50 (rabbit, oral)=
6300 mg/kg
These substances are listed because in their pure bulk form they meet the OSHA definition of hazardous. Any
hazards associated with this finished product are listed in Section II of this MSDS.

KC's
Dec 23rd, 2010, 05:30 PM
Dish detergent is highly effective at stripping grease, and if it strips grease it will strip wax. A quality car wash shampoo won't strip wax. That alone should tell you which product you want to use to wash your car.

Now, we've said this before and we'll say it again - using dish detergent to wash your car is not going to destroy your paint, plastic, vinyl, rubber, etc if you follow each wash with a full compliment of wax, vinyl and rubber dressing, etc. We've got a forum member who has basically proven this since his father used nothing but dish soap on his car, but otherwise babied the car with very regular surface treatments.

But the big problem is for the "average" consumer who never does anything more than wash the car - they can't be bothered with any of the "details' of detailing and they won't regularly apply a dressing to the trim, vinyl, etc. Then they wonder why all that trim has turned white in a couple of years. We've seen these cars come into our garage where the plastic cowl is almost white, and it comes from neglect. And neglect isn't just not dressing it, it's using products that can speed up the drying out of the material.

People think of things like vinyl, leather, paint, etc to be "dry" but in truth they aren't. Unless you let them "dry out". Ever seen a piece of leather that's really "dried out"? Looks a bit different than the seats in your new car, doesn't it? Ever worked on really dried out paint? It pulls the lubricants right out of the paint cleaner or compound you're working on and the product gums up on the surface. Ever try to apply a pure polish to a dried up gel coat? The gel coat color is instantly revitalized, but the pure polish is just soaked up by the finish.

Paint, and especially gel coat, is actually quite porous and it will take in a bit of these oils. Over time, it can, will and does dry out if not taken care of. There is no doubt that a modern clear coat is far more durable and resilient than earlier single stage lacquer paints, but they are not impervious to the ravages of time and the environment.

We're huge fans of simply following a "best practices" philosophy when taking car of your car, so we'll finish this the same way we started: Dish detergent is highly effective at stripping grease, and if it strips grease it will strip wax. A quality car wash shampoo won't strip wax. That alone should tell you which product you want to use to wash your car.


:worship thank you! for it says
it always takes a cobbler to know his tools

KC's
Dec 23rd, 2010, 05:43 PM
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="100%"> <tbody><tr> <td class="alt2" style="border: 1px inset;"> more reply from the Dr Chemist

You hit the nail on the head "advertise."

Depends what sort of sealants they use. Happy to back this up with data from chemical manufacturers too (ie Wacker, highly regarded German manufacturer of silicones).

You have traditional waxes, and numerous types of silicones. The silicones are the ones that can be designed as detergent resistant. Particularly the "reactive-type" amino-functional silicones. These bond with the surface of your paint and then cross-link with each other too. High detergent resistance!

With respect to car soaps vs dish soaps: they use a very similar surfactant package and therefore will clean in a very similar manner. If your sealant is detergent resistant then it'll resist dish soap AND car soap. If it's not, then either one will strip it.
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Let's kill this myth too: sink detergents are (or at least SHOULD BE) neutral, whereas powder for your dishwashing machine is alkaline. It's a matter of how you get a clean; there is more than one way to skin (clean) a cat.
One can use alkalinity to 'cut' fats/proteins/etc down (actually, it has a slightly diff effect on proteins, regarding the isoelectric point and increasing solubility, but that doesn't matter) OR one can use surfactants to 'pick up' the soils and solubilise them in water. Look up Micelle on wikipedia; the second graphic should help visualise this.

Knowing this, and also that you can't put foam-producing surfactants into a closed container with high mechanical action (washing machines, both dish and laundry, and also CIP systems used in the Food & Beverage industry) they needed another solution: surfactants. High alkalinity, which works fantastically, also has the down-side that it works fantastically on flesh... hence a neutral pH (and a surfactant package to compensate) in dish soaps.

All the sink detergents that I ever designed had a neutral pH, for one simple reason: You're putting your hands into it!!!
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Is it? I've never seen that documented! If you have credible links, then I'd be happy to read them for you and give an opinion. There is always more that I don't know about http://truthindetailing.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif
I know it's a potential irritant - but that's the nature of surfactants - due to the fact that it picks up the oils on your skin and 'dries' it out. Any time I've heard of a 'gentle' cleaner for your skin, it'll have a standard surfactant like SLES (sodium laureth sulphate) coupled with a moisturiser or humectant (lanolin, glycerine, etc).
Dangerous? If it was "documented" to be dangerous, then it wouldn't be used frequently in toothpaste, would it? Chemicals need to be GRAS-listed for that (Generally Recognised As Safe). This is merely my speculation though, so please do send through what you know and I'd be more than happy to read it!

The other thing I've noticed on the forum is that there appears to be a lot of fear regarding your clear coat. You (the forum, in general) give it far less credit than it deserves. The worst thing for your paint-work, aside for contaminants, is UV-radiation. Yep, sunlight. Ever seen a plastic lawn chair fade over time? A vinyl dash start to crack? UV degradation, plain and simple.

If I was any good at drawing diagrams with the PC (http://truthindetailing.com/Forum/autolink.php?id=27&forumid=7&script=showthread) I'd do up an explanation for how the paintwork fades, due to UV degradation, which then causes light scattering - and then how a polish works by abrading your clear coat slightly. (Interestingly enough, it's the same reason that milk is white - 100% scattered light)
This aside, there is a very good reason we've been using acrylic resins for protective coatings for our cars - they're tough! A detergent is NEVER going to destroy it. Pollution and sunlight will chew through it though. My only concern with mild alkalinity is cutting through the wax coating.
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from another forumer

Finally, I have scientific data that proves Dawn does not dry out your seals/harm paint

I've always been able to tell who the "Kool-Aid" drinkers were whenever this subject has been brought up in the past

i am not sure of this ......but it makes no sense

PhantomMagician
May 12th, 2011, 11:03 AM
Dish soap strip wax for sure, and meg's prod don't
i have try it my self :)

i use two of my foam app pads, full of thick wax on both of them and let them dry for 2 days ( forgot to clean it ^^ )...

then i put them in two bucket of water, one of them contain Gold class shampoo, and the other contain dish soap...

the app pad in "dish soap bucket" clean my app pad in 15 minutes
and the other app pad in "GC shampoo bucket" still full of wax even after i leave it in the water for half days, try to use my hand to remove the wax, but still nothing happen...well, the dust is gone but the wax still there ...