How Often Should You Wash Your Car?

Person washing their car, scrubbing wheels at a car wash station.Most car owners would agree their vehicle is a significant investment that they want to protect. In this same vein, we spend a lot of money maintaining them—from regular oil changes and tire rotations to new brake pads and other repairs. But have you considered that keeping your car clean inside and out is also a factor of proper car maintenance? Let’s examine why it’s important to wash your car on a regular basis and how often you should be doing so in order to get the most mileage (both figuratively and literally!) out of your set of wheels. 

Why You Need to Wash Your Car 

Routine car washing is the best way to maintain your car’s finish and detect blemishes or other potential issues you may not have noticed otherwise, such as rust or loosening trim. Sometimes, it’s obvious when your car needs a wash—like after driving down a long and dusty gravel road, or when a flock of birds takes aim at your windshield. Other times, it may be less obvious to the naked eye, but a car wash is needed to protect your car’s paint job, prevent metal corrosion, minimize rust, keep it in good condition for a higher resale value in the future, and other reasons.  

How Frequently You Need a Car Wash 

As a rule of thumb, most experts recommend you wash your car once every two to three weeks. It may require more frequent or less frequent washing depending on weather and climate (check out our car care tips for winter and for summer), driving conditions, vehicle usage, and vehicle storage. For example, if you only use your car a couple of times a week for errands and the rest of the time it sits in your garage, you probably don’t need to wash it every two weeks, as it hasn’t been exposed much to the elements. 

The following are reasons that might require more frequent washes:  

  • Road salt
  • Animal droppings
  • Bugs and insects
  • Tree sap
  • Dirt, mud, and road grime
  • Pollen

Car-Washing and Cleaning Tips 

Here are some quick tips to ensure you’re washing your car adequately and safely. 

  1. Fully Rinse the Car with Water Before Washing. A good spray-down will clear off loose dirt and other particles that can cause scratching once you break out the sponge.
  2. Only Use Soap Made for Your Vehicle. Don’t use dish soap, household surface cleaners, or any other products not specifically intended for use on cars, as these can damage the paint.
  3. Wash in Sections and Rinse Regularly. Don’t lather up your entire vehicle with soap right away; this will cause dried soap marks. Instead, break the car into sections, washing and rinsing one section at a time before moving to the next.
  4. Use a Separate Sponge to Clean Your Wheels. These are typically covered in sand, brake dust, and other debris that can ruin the finish on the body of your car. Keep the sponges in their own buckets.
  5. Don’t Let the Car Air Dry. Use soft terry towels to dry after the wash, otherwise you’ll likely be left with watermarks from minerals in the hard water. And make sure the cloth or towel isn’t abrasive—those can leave scratches in the paint.
  6. Treat Your Car to a Seasonal Waxing. Wax helps protect your car from the elements (like preventing salt damage) and gives it a like-new shine.  

While car washing is just one small part of car maintenance, it shouldn’t be overlooked. The same goes for car insurance: don’t undermine the importance of buying the right policies from the right providers to protect yourself and your vehicle. Want to explore if you have the coverage to fit your auto insurance needs? Contact TJ Woods today to discuss your options or get started with a free quote now!