How Often Should You Wash Your Car?

April 18, 2019


Some people take pride in washing their cars, whereas other folks see it as an unnecessary chore. When it comes to vehicle care, washing it is an incredibly important task. It preserves your investment over the years, which leads to a bigger return if you sell the vehicle.

How often should you wash your car? It depends on several different factors, but experts say you should wash your car every two weeks.

Let’s take a look at washing frequency and the details surrounding it. There is a quantifiable strategy to washing your vehicle, depending on its use and environmental exposure. 

Siding With the Experts 

The general rule is to wash the car every two weeks. This bimonthly guideline assumes that the car is being driven on a daily basis, such as to and from work or school. There might be a mixture of sun, rain and other environmental factors impacting the car. Washing it twice a month reduces the impact of these factors. 

Regardless of your car’s paint job, the environment will degrade the surfaces. There might be sealants and waxes on top of the color, for example. Dust, wind and debris will wear down the paint’s films over time. It’s your job to remove the contaminants so that they don’t accelerate the degrading process. 

Considering Salt Exposure 

Most people don’t think of corrosion when it comes to car care. The vehicle’s paint job should protect the metal underneath. This statement is partially true. However, there are environmental factors that can lead to corrosion across many parts of the car. 

Salt sprinkled onto streets and driveways is handy for ice and snow removal. When other vehicles kick up the salt, however, it can stick to your car. Tiny sections of exposed metal are adversely affected by the salt. Corrosion and rust are the result of extended exposure to salt. 

If salt is a constant threat in your neighborhood, wash your car more often. Detailing the vehicle once a week may be standard during the winter. Don’t forget that the salty air surrounding a beachfront home is also a threat to factory paint jobs. Practice the once-a-week routine with cars parked in and around the beach. 

Dealing With Insect Debris 

Wash the car more frequently if insect debris litters your windshield and front end. During long drives, bugs inevitably strike the front of the car. This debris has a lot of acidity to it, which eats away at the paint. 

After a long drive, wash the car immediately afterward. The longer the bugs remain on the car, the more damage they can do. 

There are several bug removers on the market that you can choose. Regardless of the cleaning product you choose to use, you should always check and read labels to identify if it needs to be diluted and if it?s a concentrate.

Check out this post for some good pointers on how to remove bugs from your car.

Being Aware of Bird Waste 

Another item that’s bound to stick to your car’s paint job is bird waste. This particular substance is detrimental to the paint because it’s in liquid form, which can drip into tight crevices. It’s also highly acidic. 

When you see bird waste on the car, try to wash it soon afterward. The acid will continue to eat away at the paint. You may be familiar with this scenario because the paint will leave a slight discoloration to the surface even after being on it for only a few hours. Wash part of the vehicle or the entire thing. Ideally, a full wash is better so that every drip is cleaned away. 

Commuting Far Distances 

Many people have extremely long commutes. Fifty miles or more each day will give the paint job several encounters with pollutants and acidic conditions. Stick to the two-week washing rule for commuting cars, but don’t be surprised if a once-weekly wash is in order. 

Your commute might be by the ocean or along a busy highway with a lot of soil surrounding the edges. These environments translate to particles on the car that will harm the paint job. 

Parking in a Garage 

A car that remains in a garage for most of the week will mainly have dust on its surfaces. It’s possible to wash the car once a month, depending on when it’s exposed to the weathering elements. 

Keep in mind that pollutants can still damage the car. Smog and other pollutants stick to the surfaces even when the vehicle remains under a carport or garage structure. Wash these cars every few months. If you keep the car in a garage with the door closed most of the time, a biannual wash is possible. Simply observe the dust accumulating on the car to make a sound decision. 

Leaving the Car Under Trees 

If a person leaves a car parked under some trees, washing it every week may be necessary. Trees drop all kinds of debris, including sap. These natural substances don’t help a paint job. They’ll eventually wear it down with acidic conditions. 

Try to park away from overhanging trees. Remember that sap isn’t the only item that might harm the car. Dropping leaves, twigs and even branches will ding the vehicle’s exterior surface. It’s always better to avoid trees, especially for long-term or overnight parking. 

Cleaning the Interior 

Take a look at your car’s interior. Compare its appearance to the vehicle’s everyday use. A person who merely commutes in the car will probably clean out the interior every few months. A busy family car, in contrast, needs a monthly cleaning. Use the vacuum cleaner’s accessories in order to reach into crevices. Wipe away any dusty surfaces too. This cleaning chore gives you a chance to clear off the dashboard so that you can see everything as clearly as possible. A clean interior encourages you to take care of the entire car, which adds to its value over time. 

Caring for Leather Interiors 

Leather seats and dashboard accents are luxurious additions to any car, but they do require some care. If you use the vehicle as a commuter car, clean and condition the leather every two to three months. Sunlight and everyday wear will make the leather appear unsightly. 

When you have a vehicle that’s mainly housed inside a garage, the leather isn’t exposed to too much weathering. Commit to a biannual cleaning and conditioning at this point. The leather should last for many years with this routine. 

Click here for some tips on cleaning your leather seats.

Waxing the Exterior 

Consider a biannual schedule when it comes to waxing the car. Adding this film to the car is just as important as washing it. The wax forms a shell on the paint so that minimal friction doesn’t harm the finish. 

If a pebble strikes the waxed surface, for example, the film might stop the impact from touching the paint. The wax will wear down over time, so it’s critically important to keep up with the biannual applications. 

Buff the wax into the freshly washed surfaces. The process takes some effort, but it’s worth it when you see the final product. 

Choosing Washing Locations 

Because you’ll be washing your car more than a dozen times in a given year, many people opt for performing this task at home. It’s cost effective and convenient. Ideally, wash your car as it’s parked on the grass. The water can benefit your plants instead of sloughing off into the drain. 

Alternatively, pay for a car wash at certain times of the year. It might be in a self-service facility or hand-wash business. Mixing up the different types of washing locations will help you remove as many contaminants as possible. Those industrial sprayers might be stronger than your buffing arm. 

Remembering the Undercarriage 

It’s understandable to concentrate on the car’s paint job with every wash. However, keep an eye on the undercarriage too. If you compare every part on the car, the undercarriage components are the most vulnerable. They aren’t painted and remain exposed to the elements at ground level. 

It’s difficult to clean the undercarriage at home, so take your vehicle to a car wash every once in awhile. Look for a facility that has sprayers underneath the car. There should be a drying mechanism too. These professional components will keep the undercarriage looking clean while fighting off corrosion. 

Whether your vehicle is a budget brand or luxury model, they all require a good washing on a regular basis. Take these suggestions into consideration as you plan out your weekly and monthly chores. Creating a habit of caring for the vehicle will only make the process easier to fit into your schedule. A shiny and beautiful car is your reward.

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About The Author



I've been detailing cars for years. I love cars but more importantly, I love clean cars. I created this blog to share all of my knowledge around keeping cars as clean as possible.