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How Often Should I Wash My Car?

Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall... How often should I wash my car?

Have you ever parked your car at the office or grocery store only to come back and find that a ‘helpful’ citizen has written ‘please wash me’ across the back? It’s quite funny when that message is on someone else’s car, but it’s extremely disheartening when that mud-caked dust-adorned vehicle belongs to you.

But with a busy schedule and seemingly more important things to do, washing your car often falls by the wayside- I understand, I’ve been there.

All of this begs the question, how often should you wash your car, really? How many times do you need to take a bucket of water and a cloth to your car’s exterior in order to feel like a good car owner?

Well, we’ll answer that question below in full detail. So if you’re banging your head on the wall and asking yourself ‘how often should I wash my car?’ this comprehensive guide is for you.

Why Should You Wash Your Car?

Contrary to popular belief, washing your car does not just offer aesthetic benefits. Washing your car ensures the integrity and value of your vehicle.

Let me explain a little bit further.

There are plenty of contaminants in our environment, including dirt, dust, grime, pollen, dead bugs, bird droppings, road salt, tree sap, and air-borne pollutants.

These contaminants corrode the paint on your car over time, and they rust any metallic surfaces.

How Often Should I Wash My Car? There Are 4 Factors You Need to Consider

While some car experts believe that you should wash your car on a weekly basis, others acknowledge that less frequent washings (twice a month or monthly) are fine. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the specific environment your car is in.

1. Residence- where do you live and where does your car spend the most time?

Do you live or work in an urban city, a wooded area, or near the ocean? Each of these locations poses its own set of contaminants that you need to be aware of.

Urban or industrial areas often suffer from high levels of air pollution, caused by construction, factories, and other cars.

This pollution combined with contaminants such as bird droppings can corrode your paint, and you therefore need to ensure that you wash your car on a weekly basis.

Additionally, pollutants in the air might mix with rain to form acid rain, and in this case you should give your car a good rinse afterwards.

On the other hand, areas with trees such as parks, woods, and city streets, expose your car to tree sap. This sap can stain and tarnish your paint, leaving your car with extensive damaged.

Lastly, coastal regions carry salt in the air from the sea, which can rust your undercarriage if left on for too long. In all of the aforementioned cases, washing your car on a weekly basis is recommended.

2. Commute- how often do you use your car and what contaminants are you exposed to you on your route?

If you use your car on a daily basis, you expose it to a steady stream of contaminants that threaten to discolor and corrode your paint.

Bird droppings and splattered bugs in particular can adhere to your paint if left for too long, making them almost impossible to remove without causing damage.

If your car is exposed to these contaminants, a weekly wash is your best bet. If exposure to the contaminants is limited, then you can get away with a bi-monthly or monthly washing.

3. Weather- is it sunny or does it rain a lot?

Heat speeds up the damage caused by contaminants such as bird droppings and tea sap, as constant exposure to the intense sun destroys your car’s wax protection which serves as a protective barrier.

On the other hand, moisture locks in contaminants, which then accelerates rusting. If you live in an area of heavy sun, rain, or snow, a weekly washing is recommended.

4. Storage- Where does your car ‘sleep’ when it is not in use?

As you can imagine, storing your car in a closed garage reduces exposure to contaminants, therefore warranting fewer washes. However, if you park your car without any protection, make sure you wash it weekly.

Use these tips to determine whether your car needs a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly washing. Additionally, be sure to wipe off bugs, sap, and droppings on a daily basis, as this will prevent serious discoloration and scratches.

Tips for Washing Your Car

If you'd like to give your car some TLC, here are some simple tips for you to follow:

  1. ALWAYS use car wash shampoo as opposed to household cleaning agents. Shampoo is specifically created to remove dirt and grime without degrading the wax protection or sealant on your car.
  2. Use the TWO BUCKET METHOD to get the most out of your car wash.
  3. NEVER wash your car when the body is hot, and do not wash it in the sun.
  4. Use a DIFFERENT sponge for your tires and wheels.
  5. PAT your car down with a microfiber cloth to dry it. This action prevents any dirt from spreading around, and it stops you from scratching your paint.


This article was originally published on Auto Deets