10 Things You Should Never Use to Clean Your Car


a car on a driveway next to a bucket of cleaning solution

Washing and waxing your car regularly will help protect it from the elements when done properly. | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Suds and water hose at the ready, millions of car owners take to their driveways on any given Saturday, looking to do things the old-fashioned way, cleaning a vehicle by hand. This isn’t just a time-honored tradition to clean your car. It’s a crucial part of vehicle maintenance and rust prevention. Because neglect breeds premature paint correction, taking the time to guarantee your ride stays squeaky clean seems to be a small price to pay if you want protection from the elements.

Regularly cleaning a car’s candy-coated shell not only keeps it looking pristine, but it also prevents foreign contaminants from embedding themselves in the clear coat. While this transparent protective layer might not seem like a crucial component to some, it plays a much more significant role than one might expect.

If a vehicle’s clear coat becomes compromised it exposes the paint beneath it to the elements, which in turn leaves the metal surfaces beneath vulnerable to all manner of malady. Rust, surface bubbles, fading, and discoloration are all threats to an automobile’s appeal and longevity, so nipping a superficial issue in the bud will help prevent it from growing into a much larger, malignant concern down the line.

Unfortunately, many car owners continue to use whatever they find lying around the house to clean their cars, a move that often hurts more than it helps. Not having the proper tools on hand and substituting them with something else is rarely a wise decision to clean your car. If you wouldn’t clean your television with shower spray, chances are your car won’t appreciate it either.

Here are 10 products that should never be used to clean your car and why they can be counterproductive in prolonging an automobile’s lifespan.