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Should You Wash Your Windshield in the Winter?

A hand using a yellow sponge to clean the back of a car.
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Yes, this might seem like an asked-and-answered question to some, but it’s important to note the winter season impacts your vehicle differently than any other time of the year. This is especially true if you’re in an area that experiences harsh winters, as items like salt and freezing temperatures can increase your vehicle’s chance of experiencing external changes. Keeping this in mind, the short answer is yes, you should wash your car in the winter, but there are a few things you should be aware of before you break out your water hose, favorite soaps and cloths.

Why You Should Wash Your Windshield in the Winter

Visibility through your car’s windshield and other windows is one of, if not the, top reason drivers should be sure to have their cars washed. Without regular winter car washes, dirt, grime, and salt can build up on your windshield and mirrors. This buildup can impair your visibility and increase the risk of you ending up in a dangerous or hazardous driving situation, according to experts.

If you’re washing your car by hand you should make sure you’re not only washing, but also defogging your windshield and windows regularly alongside the rest of your car. You do this is ensure you have proper windshield visibility.

Here are a few reasons you should keep your car clean this winter:

  1. Moisture in the air – if you live in any of the northern states, snow is expected, but snow also means there will be humidity due to the excess moisture. The moisture in the air and on your car can cause buildup, which can damage your paint over time. Excess moisture can also cause rust to form, so it is important to wash your vehicle’s undercarriage as well as making sure your paint is cleaned off.
  2. Road salt – this is one of the main causes of damage to your car in the winter. The reason being its general makeup. Most of the chemicals that are used to make common road salt are damaging to your car, and can increase the speed and amount of rusting that may form on your car.
  3. Tire grip – all drivers depend on their tires, especially in the winter. According to experts, driver safety depends on their vehicle’s grip of the road during the winter. The salt and sand used to treat roads in the winter can be damaging to your tires. This is why you should also wash them regularly in order to prevent any excess wear and tear.

Washing Your Car at the Right Temperature

Although it is important to keep up with your car washes throughout the winter, it’s also important to be aware of the temperature before you go through your local carwash or wash it by hand. There have been mixed answers on what temperature is too low for vehicle washes, as some exterior vehicle professionals say 40 degrees and others say 30 degrees. The reason why you should be aware of the temperature before you wash your car – water that hits your car when the air is too cold could cause your door handles and locks to freeze shut. If this were to happen you, the owner and driver, would be restricted from utilizing your vehicle.Car Wash and Detailing

The goal is to wash your car’s glass when the temperature is above freezing during the winter. It’s also a good idea to make sure your car is dried thoroughly because it’s common for road salt to stick onto a wet car.

You also shouldn’t put ice-cold water on a warm windshield, because drastic changes in temperature can cause the glass to expand and shrink rapidly. The glass typically heats faster around the edges, so the expansion and contraction is happening at different rates, which can lead to cracks.

How Often Should You Wash Your Car?

Washing your car is something several experts recommend doing every two weeks or so throughout the year. Of course, you can increase that amount if you notice excess debris, dirt, or salt built up on your car. In fact, many experts suggest those who live in areas with a lot of salt (either from a nearby body of water or from salt trucks in the winter) should increase the number of washes for your vehicle, as excess salt corrodes metal and causes rust. Your car can go longer between washes if you don’t drive it as often or if you keep it in a garage and out of the elements during the winter.

How to Wash Your Car

If you’re deciding on if you should wash your car by hand or visit a carwash, either option is suitable.

  • Carwash – Those who choose not to wash their cars at home should go to a carwash that has handheld pressure wands. Having a handheld wand allows you to center in on highly impacted areas and apply water to the underside, where it’s common for salt to accumulate.
  • By hand – If you’ve decided to wash your vehicle by hand, you should try to wash your car during the middle of the day, because this is when temperatures are the mildest. While the sun is out it’s helpful to try and position your car in the sunlight, as this will help to prevent water from freezing on the surface and can help dry your car faster in cold weather.

Check out this post for more tips on washing and detailing your car.

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Washing Your Windshield in the Winter

Hopefully you now know that you can and should wash your car in the winter, in order to prevent possible corrosion and rust. If you’re still unsure about whether or not you should wash your vehicle by hand or go to a nearby carwash don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert at, we’ll be happy to pair you up with one of our experts.

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



Emmariah Holcomb

Emm Holcomb serves as assistant editor to AGRR Magazine and has a background news, as she was a journalist for Time Warner Cable News. Emm received her Bachelor’s Degree from St. Bonaventure University in New York where she studied journalism and mass communication. In her free time, Emm loves to cook and is passionate about trying new recipes and using food to bring people together. When not in the kitchen, she can be found in the gym working out and fostering her love/hate relationship with weight training. Find out more about Emmariah on Linkedin.

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