How often should you wash your car?

Find out all you need to know about washing your car, including frequency and best practices.

How often should you wash your car?

Whether you drive a vintage sports car, a brand new minivan, or a mid-period sedan imported from the former Soviet Republic, you want your ride to look sweet. But are you inadvertently dulling its shine by over-washing or using techniques that impair its lustre? Here's what you need to know about how often you should wash your car to keep it looking great.

Driving forward

You don't need to wash your car every day, and doing so increases your chances of scoring up the finish or accidentally scratching the surface. However, by giving yourself enough time to do the job right, and following a few simple rules, you can get everything you need to know about how often you should wash your car to keep it looking great.

The hazards of the city

There is no problem washing your car by hand once a week. Just sitting parked, our cars are subjected to grime and sun, bird droppings, pollution and  even cats sleeping on the hood. When they're driven regularly, our cars are exposed to salt, sand, dirt and rocks, so to keep a car's finish shiny, you need to wash it regularly.

Time out

First of all, give yourself ample time to wash your car. Many people find washing a car by hand to be calming and therapeutic, but not if they've only given themselves a half-hour to do it. Leaving enough time means you can take it slow and do the job properly.

What you need to know

Never wash a car that's still warm, or has been sitting in direct sunlight for a while. Let the car cool down or you risk having the soapy water leave deposits from drying too fast.

  • Fill two buckets. Fill one bucket with warm water and add in a car-cleaning product rather than dish detergent or any household cleaner. Fill the other bucket with warm, clean water for rinsing.
  • Use a soft, clean chamois or sponge and work in long, smooth lines along the car's surface. Do not go in circles as this can lead to swirls in your car's finish.
  • Wash the sponge out thoroughly and frequently, and rinse only in your rinsing bucket to stop grit from the car getting lodged in the sponge. This dirt can easily score your finish and leave scratches, so make sure you keep your clean stuff clean.
  • When you rinse the car, use a hose and work top to bottom, to create a sheeting effect that works to improve lustre.
  • Allow the car to air dry. Do not drive it around until it's dry as it will pick up dirt and debris more easily if it's still wet.
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