How to Wash Your Car in the Winter

8 Tips to Wash Your Car in the Winter

November 29, 2023

Keeping your vehicle clean becomes particularly challenging in the winter months. Snow, mud, water, and ice can take a toll on your vehicle's exterior, not to mention the debris that gets tracked inside. 

The thought of cleaning the car in the chilly winters seems like a formidable idea. But it has to be done as regular and effective car maintenance contributes to the extended lifespan of your vehicle. 


Here are some tips to wash your car this winter:


1. Opt for warm water

It's important to note the emphasis on warm water, not hot water. There's a specific reason for this caution. Hot water, especially in cold weather, is too harsh for washing cars. 

Glass and heat are not a favorable combination, and therefore, using hot water can potentially enlarge microscopic cracks on your windshield or, in extreme cases, cause it to shatter.

Warm water, on the other hand, provides more effective cleaning than cold water. An additional perk of employing warm water in your wash bucket is that it helps warm up your hands before returning to handling cold metal and plastic. 

Start by warming up your car. Use the front and rear window defrosters and keep your car in the sun if you can. This way, the glass won't get shocked when you use warm water to wash it.


2. Clean the underside of your car

To enhance winter driving conditions, local authorities apply road salt. If the temperatures are too frigid for salt to be effective, sand is used as an alternative. All these substances accumulate on your vehicle and can infiltrate its mechanisms. When road salt lingers on your car's surface, it becomes a catalyst for rust and corrosion.

In combating this, incorporating an anti-salt and corrosion car soap additive becomes a valuable tool in your winter washing routine. Ensure thorough cleaning by using a hose to spray water underneath the vehicle, paying attention to wheel wells, which also need to be rid of salt and dirt.


3. Dry the car after a wash

After washing your car in cold weather, it's common to find ice in different places. In order to avoid that, dry your car really well. If you have compressed air, use it to blow out water from all the small spaces. If you don't have compressed air, a leaf blower works too. Remember to dry the door jams. Doing all this helps prevent ice from forming after you wash your car.


4. Take care of your wipers

Right after washing, sit in your car, close the door, and spray washer fluid for about 10 seconds while the wipers move. This prevents ice on the blades and hinges and clears water from the nozzles.


Read: 12 Tips for Safe Winter Driving in Canada


5. Wash in an enclosed space if possible

Carry out your car washing inside an enclosed space, such as a garage. Although it's not advisable to use a pressure washer or sprayer without drains and proper ventilation, doing the washing in a closed area makes the task much warmer.

If you don’t have a garage, you can find coin-operated wash bays. These bays have a spot-free rinse feature, which is handy if you accidentally miss a spot while washing. It also helps shield against the wind and keep water from drying up quickly.


6. Don't scrub too hard

When washing your car, it's better to rinse than to scrub vigorously. Scrubbing too hard with a soapy brush might scratch your car's paint by grinding in things like salt and dirt. Instead, let rinsing do most of the cleaning. If you want to use soap, a foam soap gun is a good choice. It gently sprays soapy foam on your car without needing a bucket of soapy water, which makes less mess and keeps you from getting too wet.


7. Clean one section at a time

When you're washing your car at home, focus on cleaning one section at a time. Make sure to rinse off the cleaning solution before moving on to the next part.


8. Wax your car

Depending on where you live, you might need to wax your car every two or six months. It really depends on how harsh the weather is in your area. Just know that putting on wax is tougher when it's colder than 55 degrees.

Waxing is a good way to protect your car, but it's harder to do when it's really cold. So, it's smart to clean and wax your car really well before winter comes to make sure the paint stays safe during the tough months.

To sum it up, washing your car in winter might seem tedious, but it's important for your car's health. The tips we shared will help keep your car looking good and working well during the tough winter months. So, follow these tips to make sure your car stays in good condition.

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