Last Updated on January 6, 2024 by Stewart

You’d be surprised how many times I hear friends and neighbours ask me how often they should wash their car. The answer isn’t as easy as saying, once or twice per month. Instead, it depends on several factors.

Asses How Clean The Car Is

The first thing that you need to consider is how dirty the car is. For example, you’ve washed the car and since then you’ve barely driven it. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the car should still be pretty clean. In this case, you really don’t need to wash it (although feel free to do so if you wish). Instead, all you would probably need to do is to rinse the car off with your hose or pressure washer to remove any surface dust from it.

You also need to factor in is where you park your car whilst at work. I use off street parking at work, but I know a lot of people that park under trees. In this instance, some of them need to wash their car every other day. This is due to tree sap and debris landing on the paintwork which can damage the clear coat. Also, the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to remove from the paint work. Likewise, if there are bird droppings on the paint work, this should be removed as soon as possible and not wait for your routine wash.

Generally speaking, I wash my once per week. This is based on me driving just over 100 miles per week. This also factors in that whilst I park off of the main road, it is somewhat near to a scrapyard which in itself generates a lot of dirt.

One big thing that will impact how often you wash the car is what kind of protection you have on the car. The reason for this is that high quality waxes will have a degree of self cleaning to them. This means that when it rains, it will help to push off dirt that is already on the car.

The biggest way to gauge when to wash your car though is when you can visibly see the dirt on it. Once you get to this stage, it’s definitely time to give it a thorough clean. In some situations, it’s impossible to clean the car on a weekly basis. This is always the case in the winter. At the time of writing this (January), I’ve just been able to give the car a proper wash in 4 weeks. There was a significant build up of grime and dirt on the car, but it was actually stuck to the wax and not the paint itself. This meant that it was a lot easier to clean the car.

My argument when washing a car has always been to wash it before you see how dirty it really is. The car is always picking up dirt and contaminants, especially iron particles from the road, brakes etc. By washing it regularly, you’re preventing these building up and embedding into the paint.

Do You Have Time & Tools To Wash The Car?

Another thing to factor in is when you can do it properly. If you don’t have enough time to wash the car properly without damaging the paint work on a certain day, don’t do it. Waiting an extra few days won’t make a massive difference to the level of dirt, but it could just be the difference between a subpar job and an excellent one. As always, the proper steps have to be taken to ensure you don’t scratch the paintwork.

Likewise, if you don’t have any car shampoo, you can’t wash your car. Some might try and use washing up liquid/dish soap instead, but this can severely damage the paint work. Instead, wait until you have the proper shampoo to clean the car before washing it. I’ve reviewed a lot on the site, and my favourite one’s can be found here. You might need to wait a few more days to get the shampoo delivered, or pick it up from the shop, but it’s a much better than using subpar tools for it.

Be Wary Of Car Washes

One thing that also needs to be addressed is using a drive through car wash, at a petrol station or a £3 wash that you see on the side of the road. You should never use either of these to get your car cleaned. In the case of the former, they use high speed brushes and caustic chemicals to remove the dirt, but these brushes have also been used on other cars. This is a sure fire way to damage the car.

In the case of the latter, these “hand” car washes also use caustic chemicals, as well as sponges, brushes and old rags that will do nothing but damage the clear coat on your car. In addition to this, many of these car washes also use illegal workers to carry out the job who really couldn’t care if the car is damaged or not. If your car needs a wash, and these are your only options, let the car stay dirty instead. It might take a bit longer for you to get the dirt off of the car when you eventually get to wash it, but it also means that you won’t have damaged paint either.