Why Washing Your Car During Winter Is Important (And How You Can Do It)

Why Washing Your Car During Winter Is Important


When temperatures start to drop down to the freezing point, car owners are less and less inclined to wash their cars during winter. And for good reason, you’d never want to freeze to death just to keep your car clean.  

However, because of the circumstances, your car will be more prone to dust, filth, and worse, corrosion. Leave it uncleaned for too long, and your car won’t be as good-looking as it used to. It’ll start to deteriorate making it a danger to use on the road. 

winter car wash rusting when not cleaned


Keeping your car clean during winter won’t only preserve its aesthetics, but also its structural integrity.

In this post, we’ll talk about the vital reason you need to wash your car during winter and tips on how you can do so. We’ll cover:

  • Pre-winter practice
  • Winter car wash methods
  • The most important parts of the car you need to clean during winter

If you want to keep your car good-looking and durable during the winter season, this post is for you. 

Let’s get right to it. 

Why You Need To Wash Your Car During Winter

Many would ask: why is it important to wash your car in winter? Or does washing your car in winter prevent rust? Why not just wait for the season to be over to wash your car?

Here are a few important reasons why you should wash your car during winter:

  1. In winter, you’ll come across road salt, rotting leaves, and grit to name a few. It can stick to your wheels and paintwork and leave corrosive deposits behind. It’s no secret salt can cause corrosion. If your car gets exposed to road salt for too long, pitting will likely develop.
  2. There’s also brake dust to keep in mind. While there’s less chance for iron deposits to get baked into the paintwork during the cold season, extended exposure to these kinds of dust will still cause pitting. If you let rust develop on your car, you put it at risk of mechanical issues.
  3. Cleaning your car in winter is important for safety. During this season, snow, hardened tree sap, and hardened bug splats impair windshield visibility. Obstruction in your sight when driving is a big risk for accidents.
  4. Protecting your car in the season where rust can develop fast will make it last longer and hold its resale value in case you plan to sell it in the future. 

Recommended Reading: Do You Need To Detail A Car Before Selling It?

Some would feel it’s better to take advantage of an automatic car wash in winter. But this is something I’d highly discourage you to do. 

You see, automatic car washes, those that use large rotating brushes put your car at risk of scratch and swirl marks.

The brushes are not kept clean in between each car wash. The dirt and grime from the previous cars will get transferred to yours, slapping the dirt onto your paintwork. 

As for touchless automatic car washes, while there’s less physical contact between the cleaner applicator and the car’s surface, it still puts your paintwork at risk of scratches. 

To make up for the absence of brushes, touchless car washes use caustic cleaning agents. It’ll weaken your clear coat, wax protection, or ceramic coat. 

Washing your car by hand is still the best option for you. 

Recommended Reading: Are Touchless Car Washes Safe For Car Paint?

Pre-Winter Practice 

One of the best ways to prepare your car for winter is to do pre-winter waxing. 

Just before winter starts, give your car a thorough wax job. The wax will be an added protective layer between your car and road contaminants, especially road salt. Instead of letting every contaminant stick to your car’s surface, the wax will make them slide off the paintwork. 

Protecting our paintwork with wax will thus make it easier to clean. You’ll also get a good beading effect in case it rains, so droplets will just slide off, lessening the chances of watermarks from developing.  

Winter Car Wash

Granted, you can’t just wash your car on any day during winter. Choose a day with moderate weather. 

Even on such days, your car might have ice developing on inconspicuous nooks and crevices. What you can do is to turn your engine on for at least 15 minutes to heat it up, melt any ice, and liquefy any car fluids. 

Then have pressurized warm water pre-rinse your car’s body, for a car cleaning gun is a great option. It’ll agitate stubborn dirt making it easier to dislodge these contaminants. 

Pressurized water can rinse most areas of the car, nook, crannies, wheel wells, undercarriage, and engine bay. 


Check the wheels, tires, and wheel wells for slush or snow buildup and rinse it out with the car cleaning gun or a pressurized washer. 

Don’t leave behind the tires. The slush accumulating on tires can damage the rubber. 

winter car wash tires


Recommended Reading: 4 Simple Steps To Protect Wheel Wells Even If It Gets Dirty All The Time

Carpets And Upholstery

Surely, you’ll bring in wet or muddy shoes inside your car. If your floor mats are also made of carpet material, the salt-infested water works its way down the carpets and onto the metal underneath.  

Not only will it cause smell and stains, but it’ll also be cause for rust buildup. It’s best to use rubber mats to contain the dirt you bring in with your shoes inside your car. 

Recommended Reading: 4 Practical Tips To Clean Floor Mats And Car Carpets

Windshields And Windows

Smears, smudges, fingerprints along with the tree sap, bug guts, and snow can cause visibility problems. It’s ideal to get the clearest view when driving, especially during winter. 

winter car wash windshield


To clean your windshield and windows, clean one area at a time. If you spray the glass cleaner in all areas at once, it’ll just evaporate and cause smears and marks. 

With each glass part, start at the top and wipe in a horizontal motion, not circular. This will help prevent swirl marks. 

Plastic Headlights

Plastic headlights can get hazy over time. To make it clear again, mix a small amount of toothpaste with wax. Leave it on for a few minutes and scrub with an applicator pad or microfiber towel afterward to get it clear again. 

Nooks And Crannies

Nooks and crannies include door frames and the surrounding trim. After washing the car, open all the doors and wipe down the door frames. Unless you do so, water will get stuck in these areas and cause rust in the long run. 

Hinges And Locks

Water can also get trapped in these places. Keep hinges and locks properly lubricated by using lubricants like WD-40. 

Recommended Reading: Does WD-40 Damage Your Car Paint?

Last Thoughts

Taking all the points above into consideration while washing your car in winter will help keep it rust-free and help it stay looking new. 

While it’s easy to neglect washing your car in this cold season, getting it a regular clean will do your car much good. You don’t have to stay out too long to wash your car. Use a car cleaning gun to make washing fast and efficient. 

Try out these tips in the next few months!

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