When Is It Too Cold To Wash Your Car?

There is hardly anything I find more distasteful than washing cars in winter. Putting salt and sand on the road to keep ice from forming is annoying enough. Sadly, we can not avoid it.

Cars are adorned in debris whenever you drive on sand-coated streets, especially after a snowstorm. The salt stuck on your car’s undercarriage may also oxidize some parts. Though going out to get my car washed discouraging, I’m bereft of choices to keep my car in good condition.

Here I’ll answer 2 questions that has popped up frequently in my inbox, When is it too cold to wash your car? and“How often do you wash your car in winter?”

When Is It Too Cold To Wash Your Car?

You shouldn’t wash your car in temperatures below freezing (32°F/0°C). Doing so can damage the paint and cause rust. If you must wash your car in cold weather, be sure to use a gentle soap and warm water.

How Often Do You Wash Your Car in Winter?

The recommended timeframe to wash your car in winter is every two weeks.  

However, some experts recommend washing cars after every snowstorm or when you think you were exposed to salt and other chemicals. Most times, I ask myself, how do you know? It’s quite hard to tell when harmful substances get stuck on your car. Therefore, it’s safer to wash your car once every two weeks.  

I must admit that it takes a lot of courage to step out with a bucket and a brush when the temperature drops and the wind picks up. However, if you’re able to do it, then you should do it the right way. I have outlined some helpful tips to help you wash your car the right way when it snows.  

Read more: 3 Best Car Wash Pressure Washers You Should Buy

3 Best Car Wash Soap

To protect your car, you should not use just any soap. The best car wash soaps are made carefully to be used on coatings and paints without harming them. I have done enough research to find out the best products that are perfect for your car.  

Chemical Guys Snow Foam Car Wash Soap 

A small amount of this car wash soap can go a long way. The Chemical Guys CWS_110_64 produces thick suds when used with foam cannons or with regular bucket wash. The pH is neutral and does not cause corrosion on the body of the car. Additionally, the honey-dew scent is excellent and mild enough for car owners that are sensitive to smell.  

Did you get your car waxed? Not a problem. The Chemical Guys CWS_110_64 doesn’t break down your wax, and it has water softeners that prevent hard water spots when the car dries. Finally, this car wash soap does a great job at removing bug guts.  

Chemical Guys CWS_110 Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash Soap (Works with Foam Cannons, Foam Guns or Bucket Washes), 1 Gallon, Honeydew Scent, 1 Gal/128 oz

Chemical Guys CWS_110


  • PH neutral solution  
  • Produces thick suds in foam cannon and bucket
  • Great scent


  • It May require handwashing to remove tough dirt and grimes

Meguiar’s G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash  

The Meguiar’s G7101FFP is gentle on car paintwork. When you apply this product, your car wax doesn’t get washed away; it only takes away dirt, grime, and bug guts. Like the best car soaps, it features a pH-neutral solution that doesn’t rust your paint job. This wash soap produces thick suds that clings and washes off dirt and grime with ease.  

A great feature of the Meguiar’s G7101FFP is its distinct aroma, unlike the plethora of watermelon and raspberry scented wash soaps. The smell is also long-lasting, wearing off after 3-5 days.  

Meguiar's G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash - 1 gallon

Meguiar’s G7101FFP


  • Excellent foaming ability
  • Washes dirt and grimes with ease
  • Unique smell
  • Works perfectly on bright colors


  • Leaves watermarks if not dried properly

Optimum No Rinse Car Wash & Shine 

As the name implies, Optimum No Rinse Wash and shine do not require water to rinse because there are no suds to wash off. This product is unique in such a way that it contains a polymer that binds to the car coating, protecting it from abrasion.  

In addition to protection, this polymer offers more lubrication than any other car wash and leaves your car shiny. Benefits of this product are the ability to wash anywhere, including inside your garage during winter, fast washes, no messy runoff, and a glossy look afterward. Also, the pH is neutral, and it does not strip the coating of your car.  

Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine

Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine


  • Pre-washing isn’t necessary
  • No rinsing needed
  • Great value for money
  • Pleasant bubblegum scent


  • May leave a noticeable haze on windows

How To Wash a Car in Winter?

You can save a few bucks by washing your car yourself. An automatic car wash may come as another alternative, but I recommend that you avoid them. Though they seem convenient, they damage your paintwork.  

The brushes, at most automatic car washes, are not correctly maintained. As a result, you might end up with more swirl marks than you had before the wash. Furthermore, when you visit an automatic car wash, high-pressure water is shot at your car to pre-rinse and remove chemical cleaners, debris, grime, and contaminants. If the chemicals and rotating brush do not remove all the dirt from your car’s surface, the remaining dirt will be driven into your car’s paint.  

That said, hand washing wins every time. When washing your car by yourself, always use car gear with a power nozzle. This tool helps spray pressurized water under your car and tiny areas where salt, sand, and snow usually hide. 

Read more: Foam Gun vs. Foam Cannon

I have a few tips to share with you on how to wash cars in winter.  

Step 1: Getting all Your Tools ready 

Washing your car yourself is easy when the right equipment is available. To clean your car perfectly, you will need: 

  • Car wash soap  
  • Detailing spray  
  • Garden hose 
  • Two buckets (one for soapy water, one for rinsing water)  
  • Microfiber wash mitt 
  • Microfiber towels 

It is optional to get tire cleaners if you want to detail the wheels too. You can also get two grit guards. Grit guards help prevent the wash mitt from getting dirty when dropped into the washing bucket. The best solution to clean your windows is an ammonia-free auto glass cleaner. A soft wheel brush and car tire cleaner are also great additions. 

Step 2: Washing time 

Make sure your grit guards are at the bottom of your buckets; fill the buckets with warm water and car washing soap. Put on your mitt, dip your mitt-covered hands in the water, and then lather up your car.  

Work your way from the top to the bottom and pay attention to places with dirt or bugs. For bigger-sized cars, the use of small step ladders or attachment poles would be beneficial.  

Step 3: Time to Rinse  

After getting the exterior of your car lathered, it is time to rinse off using the garden hose. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose to remove any soap lather, starting from the top to the bottom. 

It is essential to clean the undercarriage. The undercarriage should be cleaned using water from the hose, with a lot of pressure. 

Step 4: Clean up your tires. 

After cleaning the main body of your car, get your wheels and tires cleaned also. Spray in your tire cleaners and sit for some moments, then gently wipe off. To clean the wheels, the use of a soft wheel brush to remove debris is much needed. You can also get materials to shine up your wheels. 

Step 5: Repeat Rinsing 

Rinse off your car after working on the wheels and tires to ensure all debris flows out of the car. 

Step 6: Dry Your Car Thoroughly 

Make sure to use a towel and clean up excess water thoroughly. Use another towel to properly dry up your car to avoid water spots being left on your car. This is also a great time to apply your glass cleaner to your mirrors and windows. 

Step 7: Finish up by using Finishing Spray 

Finally, you may want to apply a finishing spray that would give you a beautiful finish for a long time, even after using it. 

Shake your bottle of finishing spray, apply on a clean and dry surface, then work the spray gently into your car’s surface with a microfiber towel. Finally, use an additional towel to buff it in. 

Apply on each section carefully, one at a time, from top to bottom. Leave the car after applying finishing spray in your garage or a similar place to cure. 


  • Do not wash your car if the temperature is below freezing. If you must do it on a freezing day, drive around to get the hood heated or turn on the heater to prevent water from freezing. 
  • Use waterproof gloves, boots, and clothing to avoid freezing.  
  • Dry your car as best as possible in case of fluctuating temperatures. 
  • Always wash with warm water.  

Read more: Terry Cloth Vs. Microfiber: Which Is Better for Car Detailing?

Final Thought

Washing your car in the winter, although tedious, is essential. It is crucial to prevent rusting and spoiling important parts of your car with salt. It is advisable to wash your car immediately you notice grime, bug guts, bird poop, dirty water stains to avoid spoiling the paint.  

To take care of your car, the minimum amount of time should be once a week, and it depends on how frequently it snows in your region. Be careful enough to avoid frequent visits to automated car washes, which can easily cause damage to your car paint.  

Finally, if you plan on washing your car yourself this winter, get any of the wash soaps recommended in this post. The products highlighted are produced by reputable brands and offer significant washing actions. 

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