How often should you wash your car?

Last updated December 15, 2022

It’s important to wash your car regularly if you want to keep it in great condition. Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of putting off washing the car ‘for another day’, as cleaning your car manually can be a very time-consuming task.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with skipping your regular clean once in a while, when life gets in the way, but postponing it for too long could lead to a heavy build-up of dirt and grime on the vehicle’s exterior.

So, exactly how often should you be washing your car in order to keep it looking its best – and is it possible to wash your car too much?

Value your car in under 30 seconds

How often should I wash my car?

It’s generally recommended that you wash, or at least rinse, your car once every two weeks to keep it looking clean. However, depending on the conditions that you tend to drive in, your car could benefit from being washed even more frequently. For instance, if you often drive in rural areas, your car likely picks up more mud and dirt than the average city car.

Washing your car every two weeks might seem excessive to some, but it’s important to note that there could be a considerable build-up of dirt on your car before you even see it. By rinsing your car with a hosepipe at least once a fortnight, you can prevent dirt build-up from getting out of control.

If you’re planning to sell your car, we would recommend giving the exterior a thorough wash (and cleaning the interior) before putting the vehicle up for sale. Whether you ultimately decide to sell your car privately, to a dealership, or to a car buying service such as webuyanycar, cleaning the vehicle inside and out should help you to secure a better price for it.

To find out how much your vehicle may be worth after a thorough wash and clean, you can run its registration number through our free car valuation tool.

How often should I wax my car?

It’s recommended that you wax your car every three months, though new cars (less than a year old) won’t usually need waxing this frequently. You can use water spray to determine whether it’s time for a wax; if you spray your car and the water beads on the surface, you probably don’t need to wax it again just yet.

Waxing is a great way to reduce paintwork damage and deterioration in the long-term, preventing scratches, whilst also making your car much easier to clean. Wax will offer some additional protection for your vehicle’s clearcoat and paintwork, which will help prevent its ‘shine’ and colour from fading as quickly as they might without.

How often is too often to get your car washed?

If the idea of washing your car manually every two weeks sounds like quite the chore, you’ve probably considered just visiting an automatic car wash once a fortnight instead.

Automatic car washes are a great time saver; it’s certainly a lot less taxing to visit an automatic car wash than it is to wash your car by hand. That said, it’s worth keeping in mind that the cleaning machinery used in automatic washes can be rather harsh on the body of your car, especially if you visit a car wash that uses rotating bristles.

Frequent exposure to these bristles could lead to damaged wax coatings and even scratches in your car’s paintwork. With this in mind, we would recommend visiting an automatic car wash no more than once a month and washing your car manually in between.

When should you wash your car?

It’s recommended that you keep to a fortnightly schedule rather than waiting for a visible build-up of dirt to appear. If dirt is left to accumulate over time, it will damage the overall look of your vehicle and may even cause issues with the inner workings of the car, such as dust build-up on the bottom or around the exhaust of the car.

What is the best equipment to clean your car with?

There is a wide range of car cleaning products on the market, from squeegees to high-tech pressure washers. However, you can keep your car perfectly clean by simply using a sponge and a hose or bucket of water. Remember to keep clean, dry cloths on hand for polishing and waxing. It goes without saying, but you should always avoid products that are likely to scratch or damage your vehicle’s clear coat or paintwork, such as scouring pads or harsh brushes.

Automatic car washes – Are they worth it?

Although using a drive-through car wash once in a while won’t do your car any harm, the results will likely fall short of what you could achieve with a manual clean.

The rotary brushes and cloths used in car washes come into contact with hundreds of dirty cars each day, which means residue is often left behind, even after washing. While they’re a good alternative to manual cleaning if you’re pressed for time, we wouldn’t recommend relying on them for a high-quality finish - or using them more than once a month.