How often should you wash your car? Can you wash it too often? What about in winter? We’ve got all the answers right here. 

If you take pride in what you drive, it can be very tempting to treat it with the best car detailing shampoo every time you cover long distances. But how often should you really wash your car? Can there be too much of a good thing? And what happens if you neglect it?

In this article, we’ll separate myth from reality, so you can stick to a car cleaning schedule that’ll keep your ride looking fresh and feeling healthy.

car wash in Lockdown

How often should you wash your car?

If your car sees regular use, most motoring authorities will recommend that you wash it roughly once every couple of weeks. This is to protect the paintwork from common road grime and all sorts of other contaminants like bugs or tree sap. On the other hand, if your car doesn’t see many miles, and is garaged or in a location where it doesn’t get too dirty, then your cleaning schedule can be a bit more lenient.

You may wish to wash your car more frequently than recommended if it’s exposed to potentially more harmful substances, like dreaded road salt or even the surprisingly acidic threat of bird droppings.

If you want to make sure you’re washing your car the right way, feel free to check out our handy step-by-step guide.

dirty Peugeot

What happens if you don’t wash your car?

If you’re not a detailing geek, washing your car can be rather tedious. As a result, even if we love our cars, sometimes it’s easy to let them get dirty for sustained periods of time. However, no matter how lazy you’re feeling, it’s important not to let the situation get too out of hand.

For a start, you’ll suffer the indignity of people starting to write and draw things on your car, but more importantly, that build-up of grime could start to do some real damage if left to rot. As dirt accumulates and festers, it’ll begin to take on the ability to retain water. When that happens, you’re looking at a corrosion-ridden future for your pride and joy, unless you get your hands dirty and give it a proper clean. Even if the results aren’t as severe as literal rust, sustained neglect of the exterior of your car will eventually lead to other cosmetic woes, such as paint scratches.

In short, if you want to keep your car structurally healthy and cosmetically in-shape, you’ll need to wash it at reasonable intervals – even if that’s just on a scale of every two months rather than every two weeks. Something is better than nothing.

detailed shot of cleaning a Porsche

Can you wash your car too much?

Realistically, the answer to this question is simple. No, you can’t. If anything, super-regular washes are great for your car’s maintenance… so long as you do it right.

It’s not the frequency of washes that can damage your car, but rather the conditions and techniques that can. For example, you might be tempted to wash your car under direct sunlight on hot days. But, in this instance, you might find that your cleaning products dry up before you can rinse them off again. If that happens repeatedly again and again, those misused products could eventually start to do some damage to your car’s finish.

It should go without saying that the products you use should have car-friendly chemicals in them. Oh, and when drying your car, use the right towels and cloths and make sure they’re clean. There’s no point religiously cleaning your ride if you’re just gonna scratch it with a dirty rag at the end…

Finally, if you’re going forensic with your detailing routines, make sure no water gets in places where electricity, fuel, or clean air should be. Admittedly, engine bays are more resilient to water than you might imagine, but that shouldn’t mean you let common sense go out of the window when cleaning under the hood.