How Often to Wash Car in Winter: Tips & Guide!

Ollie Barker

how often to wash car in winter

how often to wash car in winter

The weather is getting colder and, in turn, your car’s exterior is accumulating more dirt and salt. The buildup of filth will not only make your vehicle look dirty, but it can also be bad for its paint job. Which leads us to the question: how often should you wash your car during the winter?

We have answered this frequently asked question by providing some helpful guidelines below

Where Do You Live?

If you live in a place that experiences snow during the winter, your car is likely to be covered in salt, dirt, and grime to some degree. Plus chances are you will have driven over some salted roads. The same goes for a place where it rains frequently. In these arid regions, water and oil/grease droplets are likely to settle on your car’s exterior. The areas most vulnerable to grime buildup include your vehicle’s wheels, fenders, and windshield.

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If you live in these areas, you should pay more attention to take care of your vehicle in the winter.

Why Is It Important To Wash Your Car In The Winter?

The most important reason to wash your car in the winter is that it’s easier than washing your car in the summer. In the summer, you need to apply a fresh coating of wax or sealant every two to three weeks. However, you can get away with cleaning your car in the winter with just a quarter cup of clear detergent and a bucket of water.

Why Wash Your Car In Winter?

Washing your car in the winter is not only easier than washing in the summer, but it’s also necessary for:

  • Cleaning dirt and grime – allowing water to penetrate the dirt and grime
  • Preventing paint deterioration
  • Keeping exterior surfaces of your vehicle clean
  • Giving a protective coating to your vehicle’s exterior surfaces
  • Preventing rust from forming on your vehicle’s fenders, rims, hood, and body

What Salt Does to a Car?

Unfortunately, salted roads can wreak havoc on your paint job. The salt can damage your paint through oxidation and corrosion. When cars drive over the roads, they pick up salt and water. This mixture dries on your car’s exterior and forms a thin film of residue. If this film is not removed, it will soon become rust that can ruin the look of your vehicle.

How Often To Wash Car In Winter?

We recommend you wash your vehicle every other week during the winter months. The exception is if you drive your car frequently. In this case, you will need to wash your car more often. You can also take a look at your car’s paint job after every wash. If you notice some rust starting to form, it’s time to get your vehicle’s bodywork repaired.

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How To Wash Your Car In Winter?

Before washing your vehicle in the winter, make sure that there is no snow on top of the vehicle.

#1 Pour one cup of car wash detergent into a bucket

#2 Add three gallons of warm water and 1 cup of clear dishwashing soap

#3 Rinse your vehicle with a microfiber towel to make sure that there is no snow on top of your vehicle

#4 Take the edge of the microfiber towel and run it around the windows to make sure they are clean

#5 Use a car wash mitt to wash your car from top to bottom, making sure not to miss any spots

#6 Wash the wheels and tires separately

#7 Rinse your vehicle with a garden hose making sure that there is no more soap left on the vehicle

#8 Use a microfiber towel to dry your vehicle from top to bottom

Tips for Washing Cars in Winter

There are a few tips you can keep in mind when it comes to washing cars in winter. Doing so will help reduce any damage to your vehicle and also prevent any future rust from forming. Here are the tips:

#1 Make sure you use high-quality shampoo and wax for your car wash.

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#2 Use a special winter wash or wax specifically made for the winter season to protect your paint from salt and snow.

#3 When washing your car, be sure to spray every single door, wheel, and tire with water before washing it so that no salt remains on the surface of your vehicle.

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#4 Always use a cover for your interior in order to avoid it from getting wet.

#5 Finally, make sure to check the temperature of the water before using it in order to avoid any damage caused by freezing water.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1 What Temperature Is It Okay to Wash Your Car?

It is recommended to wash your vehicle at night so that minimal damage occurs on the exterior, such as paint scratches and dents. The temperature should not exceed 80℉ in order to prevent evaporative fluids from freezing.

Find out: Wash your car without scratching the paint!

#2 Does Washing Your Car In Winter Prevent Rust?

Be careful with this one, because it actually depends on what you use to wash your car and how well it dries.

Most of the time just washing your car with water will cause the salt to run off. This is actually good for you if you plan on washing the salt off regularly and keeping the rust away.

But as soon as pure water starts contacting metal that isn’t dry, rusting can start, which means even a wet car wash can cause rust in the winter.

#3 How to Wash Car in Winter Below Freezing?

When the temperature drops below freezing, you may end up with ice on your car. If you are planning to wash your car, you should make sure that the car is completely dry before washing it.

In fact, the water should be warm enough so that it will not freeze when it comes in contact with cold metal, so you will need to check with a thermometer and make sure that it does not drop below 30℉. This temperature is ideal for washing cars since it takes much longer for water to freeze when it’s around freezing point.

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#4 How to Wash Car in Winter Without Hose?

When you cannot wash your vehicle from a hose, you have a couple of options:
Use a large bucket or pool. Fill the bucket with warm tap water and add one cup of regular washing detergent. Then, fill the rest of the water with warm water. Next, put the car in there and let it soak for half an hour.

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After that, scrub your car around every inch using a sponge or toothbrush until all dirt is gone. Then, use a towel to dry the car by hand. If it’s a really cold day and you do not want to touch the metal with your hands, use gloves. When you are done drying the car, you can then wipe it with a more efficient microfiber cloth.


Washing cars in winter can be tricky; however, if you keep these aforementioned tips in mind, you should have no problem keeping your car looking pristine this winter.