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How to Wash Your Car in the Winter

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No one likes to wash their car in the cold, but no one likes driving around a dirty car all winter either. One day of driving through salt and dirty snow can leave your car looking like it hasn’t been washed in months. It’s not just the aesthetics that you need to keep in mind. Keeping your vehicle clean will ensure it stays in top condition and prevent premature wear and tear. Not only does washing it protect your car, but washing your windshield keeps you and your family safe as well. So what do you do?

Is it a Good Idea to Wash a Car in the Winter?


It is definitely a good idea to wash your car in the winter as long as the temperature is above freezing. Salt and dirty snow can damage your car’s clear coat and paint if left to sit on the surface of your vehicle and, in worse cases, can cause your vehicle to rust. It’s important to wash your vehicle, especially if you’ve driven through salty and snowy roads.

However, washing your car in below-freezing temperatures would be a difficult task. This is due to the fact that the water would freeze on your vehicle and make it hard for you to de-ice your windows and windshield.

If you live in a climate that has moderate days in the high 30s or 40s at some point in the winter then take advantage of those days to wash your vehicle if possible. You will feel more comfortable and you won’t need to de-ice your windshield and windows. Also, it’s important to wear protective winter clothing to keep yourself safe from the cold when washing your vehicle.

The Dos and Don’ts of Washing a Car in the Winter

  • Use warm water when washing your car in the winter. This will prevent the water from freezing and will keep your hands warmer.
  • However, avoid using hot water as a sudden temperature change could damage the glass.
  • Be sure to use soap intended for washing cars, as dish soap can remove wax and a vehicle’s protective coat. You can also use glass cleaner for both the inside and outside of your windows and windshield.
  • Use a lint-free towel to avoid leaving lint on your vehicle glass.

If the inside of your windshield is covered in dust and dirt build-up then moisture has plenty to cling onto in your vehicle. Keeping your windshield clean can prevent your vehicle glass from fogging up.


Tips to Keep Your Vehicle Glass Clean in the Winter

It’s important to consider winterizing it as well. One way to protect yourself and your vehicle is to drain its windshield wiper fluid and replace it was a de-icing fluid that can withstand temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Taking this winterizing step will ensure that your vehicle’s windshield remains clean, allowing you to see where you’re driving.

One way to make snow removal easier is to fill a spray bottle with one part water to three parts vinegar and then spray that solution on your vehicle’s windows in the evening. When you go out to your car in the morning, there should be minimal snow accumulation on your glass, making it easier to scrape. Acetic acid, a component of vinegar, lowers the melting point of water, preventing it from freezing.

Bringing snowy and wet clothing into your vehicle can create moist air that fogs your windows as you drive. To avoid this, consider putting some of that wet clothing in the trunk. When your windows are fogged, turn on the defroster to ensure that you are able to see out of your vehicle. To make the defrosting process more effective, avoid recirculating the air, as the moisture won’t leave the vehicle in that case. Also, be sure to allow your engine to warm up before turning on the defroster, otherwise, you’re just blowing cold air at your windshield.

More Information About Auto Glass

If you’re interested in learning more about auto glass or other types of glass, you should check out the® Info Center. Need to have your vehicle’s auto glass repaired or replaced? Get a free quote from a reputable glass shop by clicking here.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Jordan Scott

Jordan Scott serves as the assistant editor for USGlass magazine. She has a background as a reporter for Tennessee’s Tullahoma News and associate producer for ABC2’s “Good Morning Maryland.” Jordan studied English and international studies at Virginia Tech where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Jordan is a voracious reader and has an extensive book collection. She is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do but jokes that she has now also earned her black belt in “attempting” to go to the gym. Jordan loves to travel and learn languages. When not abroad, she enjoys exploring new restaurants in her local Washington D.C. area. Find out more about Jordan on Linkedin.

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