Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim
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Thread: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

  1. #1
    KC thedetailers KC's's Avatar
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    Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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.
    it only takes a little patience and plenty of PASSION!!

    detailing blog

    http://thedetailers.blogspot.com

  2. #2
    Registered Member kristina27's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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.

  3. #3
    Star Kicker TOGWT's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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
    ~ Providing unbiased advice that Professional and Enthusiast Detailer’s Trust ~ Blog – http://togwt1980.blogspot.com

  4. #4
    aka: 23jam J. A. Michaels's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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.
    quality creates its own demand

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    Obsession Detailing dave93761's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    Mr. Stoops, care to comment on this thread? I know people would to very interested to hear Meguiar's POV.

  6. #6
    KC thedetailers KC's's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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
    it only takes a little patience and plenty of PASSION!!

    detailing blog

    http://thedetailers.blogspot.com

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    Registered Member wifpd4's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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.

    "fishing for swirls in a sea of black"
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    David

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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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.
    Ron

  9. #9
    A Humble Detailing Man ca2kjet's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    I thought the biggest difference was that dish soap uses strong degreasers which is not good for a car's paint?
    Black on Black - 2007 Chevy Avalanche Z71 4x4
    Personalized Detailing

  10. #10
    Registered Member Mary S's Avatar
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    Re: Dish soaps and car wash products use the same surfactant packages claim

    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.

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