How Often Should You Wash Your Car

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

How often should you wash your car depends on many circumstances. People spend quite a fortune to buy a new car. But how frequently do they wash it? And do they clean it themselves, or do they put trust in somebody else? Let's see!

How often do you actually need to wash your car?

It can come as a surprise that cars can sustain being unwashed for an entire season, let alone days or months. 

But that's not the best practice. Experts recommend scheduling your regular carwash sessions. This frequent car washing can increase the life of your car by keeping it safe from natural or artificial issues.

If your carwash sessions are regular, you need to clean after every 500 - 1000 miles. You can easily determine this by looking at the forecast or checking the weather report. If it would be raining, wait until the next day.

Here are a few things that will help you figure out when exactly you should wash your car:

  • The outside temperature – during winter, cars tend to accumulate salt and dirt on their exterior which can impact their overall appearance; this is why winter washes are very important.
  • The condition of your car's exterior – if you can notice any damages or cracks on its body, take it to the auto shop immediately. But if not, give it a couple of weeks before doing so.


Every car has a specific amount of time that it can stay without being washed, but this doesn't mean that you should keep your car dirty. Automotive experts agree that cars are meant to be driven on the roads and if they sit too long without circulating they will start to rust, leaving behind some nasty residues inside the engine compartment which will lead to more expensive repair jobs.

The most important thing is to make sure all the dirt accumulates removed from your vehicle's exterior as soon as possible. If that doesn't happen then instead of the expected lifespan of 15 years or 100 thousand miles, you may have to say goodbye after just five years!

Hand Wash vs. Car Wash

So, you'd have to weigh your options and make a choice between automatic car wash or manual hand wash.

Experts believe that you should put in some extra manual effort if you want your car's paint to sustain and not get damaged, because there is a fair chance that an automated carwash can harm your car's surface. On the other hand, if your car is not that expensive and you don't drive a lot, then just go for a regular automated carwash. The machine will do most of the work for you!

Location Matters

If you live in an area where it snows, take extra care of your vehicle during winter. Salt and snow can accumulate on your car's body and can significantly impact its exterior as well as overall performance. If it snows during spring or autumn, wash your car immediately to get rid of the dirt that accumulates during those seasons too.

If you live close to a beach consider yourself lucky: saltwater will erode yours faster than anything else!

How often should you wash your car in the summertime?

We all know that UV exposure is at its peak during summers, so it is highly recommended that you wash your car fortnightly.

If you live in a hot area that remains dry, washing your car once a week is enough. But that would not be sufficient if you live in a more humid environment, in which case, you should wash your car more frequently.

Besides these factors, the hardness of water is also an important consideration. Because more hard water can leave water spots on the surface. And if your car stays in the garage when you're not driving, no worries then. Wash twice a month! That'd be enough!

Washing your car in the winter

Winters would require a different schedule to wash the car.  So, in a space with a lot of ice and snow during winters, wash your car at least once every ten days. 

And be even more considerate of your car's paint during winters. Because you don't want water to freeze on the surface during you're hand-washing it. So, it is advisable to do it when the daytime temperature outside is forty degrees or above.

Washing your car undercarriage

Washing your car's undercarriage is equally important but not quite as often as your car's exterior. So, experts recommend cleaning it once a season or four times a year. But if you're living in a muddy area or have extra salt on roads during winters, you should wash it more often.

And if you are washing your car manually, start from the bottom of the vehicle. Because dirt accumulates at the bottom first, then moves up to the body. Cleaning wheels and undercarriages are important in order to maintain your car's exterior in mint condition. It is best if you keep all these things in mind when maintaining your vehicle's exterior appearance.

Washing your rims and tires

The rim is like a crown for your car's exterior that can make or break its overall look. If it gets dirty, don't stress yourself searching for shampoo; just take out some toothpaste and apply on it with a sponge! Toothpaste is amazing in getting rid of stubborn stains on chrome surfaces. Let it sit there for about twenty minutes before you clean it off with water. And make sure not to use hot water as most cleaners contain bleach which may leave stains behind.

As far as cleaning goes, never try to use metal brushes on rims. Use a gentle paste instead of any cleaning product. Now for the tires, only washing the surface is not enough. You need to clean them properly with your garden hose or you can get an electric pressure washer for this job!

Rust prevention

The ideal time between two consecutive washes is two weeks. But in an area close to the sea, or has salty roads during winters, cars should be washed every ten days to two weeks. This is important so that corrosive salt cannot rust your car's exterior or damage its paint.

Washing and waxing your car

Protecting paint and removing grime is essential when you care about your car. So, wax your vehicle every three months and even more frequently if it’s a restored antique piece. The extra effort would pay in the longer run.

Another important thing to take care of is washing the car during the night. It makes a difference as wax does not stay on the surface for long and usually gets washed off before morning.

It's also advised to use a washrag instead of a sponge or your bare hands while washing your car. As they contain harmful chemicals that can damage paint over time. So, always wash your vehicle from top to bottom rather than side-to-side to prevent streaking. And make sure you dry it with a microfiber towel! Because anything other than that would leave water spots all over, which further leads towards rusting.

Waxing your car would ensure that dust particles are not stuck to your paint. So, the soil settles on the wax instead of marring its exterior.

Automatic Car Washes: Safe or not?

A simple answer would be no. Automatic car washes are not made for every model and brand. They are not appropriately maintained, either. That's why always try to wash your car by hand. It would take a little more time and effort but save you a lot of money from potential damage.

Automatic car wash places are more likely to use harsh chemicals, unsuitable water pressure machine settings which can cause paint damage. Also, they are not cleaned often enough between users. All of these factors can leave scratches on your car which you would never want to put yourself through.

Washing your car at home may seem like a tedious process at first but it's worth every minute that you spend doing it! The exterior of your vehicle is key to its overall appearance, so you should take care of this aspect too.

So, avoid driving through automatic car washes if you can wash it by yourself!

Don`t forget about dry-cleaning!

Experts say that it is also important. You can use shampoos if you want but they cannot be more efficient than dry-cleaning liquids. No matter what kind of shampoo you choose, remember the following:

  • Don't forget to use a towel or cloth on your rims and tires! You do not want any stains there;
  • Use only metal brushes for cleaning hard surfaces like metals and windshields;
  • Do not let your car sit under direct sunlight during drying. It might cause water spots;
  • Remember to check your oil levels before washing, too. If it's low, do not rub your car with a sponge as this will lead to paint scratches. And do not rinse the underside of the vehicle either;
  • Try to park your car in a garage. It would help protect the exterior of your vehicle from dust and various hazards;
  • If you spot any dents, do not try to force them out with your fingers. A special tool would be better suited for this purpose.

Bottom line

Now that you know more about the car wash, it`s time to go down to the street! You might be afraid of someone looking at you like an obsessive but everyone is different. All we can say is...Wash your car as often as you want! Only make sure you keep it shiny and clean! And do not forget about the following tips before washing:

  • always turn off your engine when cleaning the exterior of your vehicle;
  • use a bucket full of soapy water and wash your car from top to bottom;
  • always dry it off with a microfiber towel. The exterior of your vehicle should be squeaky clean! And if you want that shine-shine, use only metal sealants and protectants for interior and exterior surfaces.