Why You Should Be Washing Your Car In Winter: What You’ll Need

washing a car in winter

Washing your car in winter doesn’t have to be a massive feat. In this article, we tell you all you need to know to beat the cold and get to it with ease.

Big and small, life’s joys are numerous if we choose to see them. There are small, everyday moments that are slow to reveal themselves but make us smile and lift up our mood. Then, there are the more impressive moments of happiness that we experience regarding something we’ve worked hard for or hoped for a long time. 

Such a huge joy washes over us the moment we get a car. Whether it’s brand new or pre-owned, a fancy brand or a more unassuming one, whether you’ve worked three years to raise the money and muster up the courage for it or you’ve received it as a gift, the excitement is unbeatable. 

These feelings tend to linger too because, as a car owner, the joy of driving your car doesn’t disappear so easily. Cars are huge parts of our everyday life, and the joy they bring us may last a few months or years before wear and tear start to settle.

The Ups And Downs Of Owning a Vehicle 

However, owning a car is not easy and does come with its own challenges. There’s wear, tear, and all sorts of components that will need a fix at some point. Some car care maintenance procedures you can’t skip if you want to keep your car looking new and shiny as it first did. As if this wasn’t enough, some weather conditions can sometimes make it hard to consistently commit to car care.

For example, when winter comes, you still need to follow some of the same car care steps as you used to in the warmer months, but on top of these, you’ll have others as well.

For some, you may even need to increase the frequency to better protect your car from harsh winter conditions. Washing your car is one of the general best practice car care procedures that need to also be respected during wintertime. The only issue is that it can become a lot more uncomfortable, considering how cutting the cold can be. 

But is washing a car in winter any different than washing it during the rest of the year? What happens to cars during wintertime, and what should you know about car washing in winter?

We’ll talk about this and much more in this article, so you can be well-prepared for the harsher season that is about to start, and so that you know exactly how you can keep your car in great condition, just as it was when you first bought it. 

The Ins And Outs Of Washing Your Car In Winter

Just take a few minutes to read this article till the end, and you’ll find out everything there is to know about car washing in winter.

Is It Worth Washing a Car In Winter?

Some car owners may avoid washing their vehicles during the wintertime for various reasons, typically related to not wanting to freeze while doing so! 

No one really wants to stand outside in the cold for at least 15-30 minutes to wash their car when they could leave it like that and hope that an occasional rain will fix it. 

Washing a dirty car can be a painstaking process even during the warmer season, let alone in the winter when even a quick walk outside can chill you to the bones.

However, in looking for comfort, you may not realize how damaging this can be to the car. Only a few car owners know about the hidden dangers that lurk specifically during the wintertime and are ready to wreak havoc on your car’s paint. And only a few know how important it is to properly invest their time in washing their cars in winter.

In the end, it’s important to remember that not taking into consideration winter’s masked stressors may eventually decrease your car’s resale value. A cost much higher than the one associated with taking the necessary precautions.

What Can Threaten The Integrity Of a Car’s Paint Coat During Wintertime?

Winter weather is not only tough on us as human beings, but is also pretty rough on our cars. This is because a series of contaminants are more prevalent during the wintertime than in the warmer seasons, and that’s why it pays to know about them before you actually need to invest large sums of money in fixing the damages they have caused.

Having said this, washing your car in winter can take part of this headache off your hands and set you on the right track when it comes to car care.


First of all, in cities and areas where there’s relatively heavy snowfall, local authorities will typically spread salt on the streets to make them safer and easier to navigate. 

Salt is great at breaking down ice which means that drivers that live in areas with icy conditions can count on less risky commutes and trips. This is the good news that everyone takes into consideration, but fewer people tend to look at the consequences that also come attached to this benefit. 

Before actually washing a car in winter, you need to thoroughly understand what can potentially threaten the integrity of your car’s paint. And salt is one of the factors which can cause huge damage.

Unfortunately, during winter there’s a great amount of salt around, and it will inevitably come in contact with your vehicle. Apart from the fact that it can affect its undercarriage and damage some parts, it will also negatively impact the paint coat. Once it settles on the paint coat, it doesn’t take long for salt to eat it away and then dig its way straight through the clear coat.

As soon as this happens, you can rest assured that rust is also just around the corner. And as you may already know, rust is one of the biggest enemies that any car owner can face. In extreme cases, the only thing you can do is to sand off the entire affected area. 

When it comes to rust, washing your car in winter regularly can save you plenty of money and distress down the line. This is why you need to clear away road salt as quickly as possible to prevent rust from mercilessly forming on your beautiful vehicle.

Dirty Snow

Other than salt, there’s also dirty snow. It is completely different from the pristine pure white snow we all imagine having on our roads during wintertime. In fact, most of the time, cities are far from fairy-tale wonderlands during winter. 

Instead, they are filled with dirty snow that’s been moved and shoveled around countless times, gathering up road grime and dirt that will eventually settle on your car. 

What’s more, this type of dirt doesn’t even begin to compare to loose dirt, which can be rinsed right off. The dirt stuck inside the snow is even more difficult to wash off since it’s hardened and more stubborn. Thankfully, there’s one way to avoid this, and this is committing yourself to regularly washing your car in winter.

Does Washing Your Car In Winter Prevent Rust?

car washing in winter

As we’ve said before, it’s generally a great idea to wash your car frequently during wintertime since it helps remove any salt residue that may settle on the surface. If left unaddressed, salt can eat away at the paint coat and help form rust. 

This is why it’s recommended that you set time aside for a thorough washing session at least every two weeks during winter. As you’ll come to see, it’s nothing more than good practice. We’ll broach the subject a little bit more further below in this article.

What Do You Need To Wash Your Car During Winter?

If you want to thoroughly wash your car, regardless of the season you’re in, you still need a checklist to follow. For top results when washing your car in winter, you can count on the following materials:

A Top Pressure Washer 

Through the sheer pressure it washes with, this will come in handy in removing even the most stubborn patches of dirt and debris.

Two Buckets

This age-old two bucket method still proves to be golden. You’ll need one with fresh clean water and one with soapy water. For this, we recommend a high-quality car shampoo. We encourage you to avoid using household detergents or soaps, as they can be too abrasive and damaging.

If you have the possibility, we suggest that you get warm water for this process. 

Warm rinse water will dissolve dirt quicker and may make the entire session feel more comfortable to you. When washing a car in winter, you must make it as easy as possible.

Two Wash Mitts

You’ll want to have one wash mitt for the wheels since the wheel wells tend to accumulate plenty of dirt. The second wash mitt should be for the body of the car.

A Special Wheel Brush

Since wheels are so intricately built, you’ll need a specially designed brush that can reach all the nooks and crannies, while also having bristles that are hard enough to remove all stuck debris.

Microfiber Towel

You can’t detail or wash a car without a top quality microfiber towel. Their texture is simply suited to clean off any dirt and dust while also helping you dry your freshly washed vehicle. When washing a car in winter, it helps, even more, to immediately dry your car afterward, so you eliminate any chances for the water drops to freeze.

Car Care Products

This is where you can make all the difference based on the car care products you choose. You’ll need a good shampoo, a quality pre-cleaner, a great polish, and a top ceramic coat like Torque Detail or Shine Armor. Tire shine will also work wonders in adding that beautiful finish at the end of your wash session.

Waterproof Gloves

These may seem like an unnecessary addition, but remember that it’s freezing outside, and your hands will not like being subjected to cold water and even colder temperatures. You must protect yourself when washing your car in winter, not only your vehicle.

Extra Care Materials

If you really want to go the extra mile, you can use further car care and detailing materials and products that can help protect your car and give it a stunning shine. Among these, we can mention a machine polisher, a snow foam, a glass cleaner and detailing sprays, a metal polish, and plastic treatment. 

Your car is built from a myriad of different materials, so each one of them will require a different type of care.

How Often Should You Wash Your Car In Winter?

What is the purpose of washing your car regularly in the wintertime after all? It’s not only to keep it shiny but to keep it healthy, so to speak. By washing a car in winter frequently, you ensure that no debris or contaminants ever get frozen on the body of the car. If this happens, you can expect the paintwork to take a hit too. 

This is why many car owners keep their cars in a garage during colder months, and it is highly recommended that you do this too, if you have the possibility. If it’s a heated garage, better. This prevents moisture from settling for too long on the bodywork and eating away at the paint coat. Especially since this moisture can also have salt particles that are very prevalent during the winter months. 

Car washing in winter is trickier, but it can be done with great results!

It’s true, though, that not everyone can get access to a garage at the snap of their fingers, in which case extra preventive steps need to be taken to keep your car well protected and looking great even in the cold months.

Even if it may seem like a hassle, a frequency of two weeks should do just fine. Of course, it will get dirty again. Of course, it’s not comfortable, but it will help your car stay safe during wintertime.

What Are The Dangers Of Washing Your Car During Winter?

One thing to consider when washing your car in winter is that everything gets significantly more difficult — and not just because the cold is deeply uncomfortable to your skin. 

Car washing in winter comes with plenty of sometimes unforeseen challenges. For example, one thing that can happen is that the washer fluid can freeze inside its container. As a result, it won’t flow through the circuits, so you will have to manually defrost and wash your windshield, which will take extra time and effort.

The main trouble with washing your car during wintertime is that the water you use may freeze before it actually dries up. This can cause the locks and windows to freeze and get jammed. Of course, the humidity level will also have a say in this. 

The same goes for the length of time during which the temperatures are freezing. Washing a car in winter suddenly becomes a more complex process with many variables.

If this happens, there’s a great chance for it to be difficult to sort out with the insurance company. If you can’t manage to get compensated, you’ll have to pay a quite hefty price straight out of your own pocket to hire a professional…not at all desirable. 

Whatever you do, just make sure you are patient and don’t try to pry open the windows and locks all by yourself. You could damage them and their connecting systems. 

So what can you do to avoid jamming your car windows and locks during wintertime as a consequence of washing your vehicle during freezing temperatures?

How Cold Is Too Cold To Wash Your Car?

Efficiently washing your car in winter takes a lot more than just showing up. As a car owner, it’s generally a good rule of thumb to stay on top of your game and take notice of the weather forecast. As long as you’re well informed, there are fewer chances for you to be caught off guard — you’ll know exactly what to do and when to do it.

  • Always keep an eye on the weather, and if you know for certain there will be freezing temperatures for a certain period of time, try to avoid washing your car then.
  • Avoid using any kind of wax or polish on your vehicle when temperatures are either freezing or getting close to hitting the threshold. Washing your car in winter will always be closely knit to the temperatures outside.
  • A good tip to always follow during wintertime is to start your car engine and leave it running for about 20-30 minutes before you actually begin the washing process. It will help every single part of the car’s components loosen up, be more responsive to cleaning and even melt the ice if there’s any.
  • Try to schedule your wash session around midday, when it may be a bit warmer and even sunnier outside. Even a few extra degrees could turn out to be to your advantage. Mornings and evenings will only contribute to lower temperatures and increased difficulty in successfully washing your car. 

What Can You Do To Keep Your Car Clean For Longer Periods?

It’s generally considered good practice to take all preventive measures before anything should ever need fixing. Fortunately, this also applies to cars. If you don’t want to deal with frequent washing, there are ways to protect it long-term from all types of contaminants.

Polishing And Waxing

It goes without saying that polishing and waxing will do miracles for your car. While polishing will remove any stubborn residue left over after the wash session, waxing will cover your car in an additional protective layer that will also have an enviable shine. So not only will your car look good, but it will also have a shield against common contaminants. 

Ceramic Coating

However, there is another step you can take — an extra-mile kind of step, if you will. Many car owners have started doing this for their cars recently and for good reason too. It’s called ceramic coating, and it’s a car care product and technique that will add extra protection to your whole car. 

Many professional car detailers can do this for you, but the downside is the process can require you to dig deep into your wallet. 

Fortunately, with a quality product and plenty of attention and dedication, you can do ceramic coating all by yourself, when and where it’s comfortable to you. You shouldn’t stop after simply washing your car, but also take a few additional car care steps.

Using Nexgen Ceramic Spray

The one product we strongly recommend is the Nexgen Ceramic Spray, which, thanks to its high SiO2 composition, offers four times more protection than other similar products on the market. Its water-based formula will restore and protect the surface of your car while also leaving behind a showroom shine. 

This kind of ceramic coating spray protection basically guarantees that you’ll need to wash your car less frequently during wintertime and still get that proud owner feeling every time you see it. And it’s your lucky day! You can get Nexgen Ceramic Spray for 40% off here.

The Takeaway

When it comes to washing your car during colder temperatures, there are no shortcuts. Yes, you can and should follow the tips we talked about above, but in the end, there’s no getting around it. Washing a car in winter needs to be frequent and just as thorough as in the warm months. 

Regardless of how new or old the car is, what brand or year it is, a car cannot brave the cutting cold without side effects. Windows and locks can get jammed, certain essential liquids can freeze, and the paint job can become covered in a stubborn film of ice.

Thankfully, with the right materials, you’ll be well prepared for an efficient wash session. Knowing a few extra preventive tips will help you avoid getting into any unpleasant situations.  

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