The Best Time to Wash Car And Other Pro Tips

To maximize the effectiveness of washing your car by hand, the time of day and temperature do matter, especially during summer months. Several factors can make it difficult to achieve a streak-free, shiny after-wash look, including heat, sunlight, weather, and others. Find out the best time to wash car to effortlessly make your beloved vehicle look like new.

This handy maintenance tip will not only restore the look of your precious vehicle but is very important in protecting the exterior from scratches and rusting due to road dust, grime and salt.

best time for car wash
Regular washing is an important maintenance job. Cre: iStock Photo

When NOT To Wash Your Car

Super hot

A myth that many car owners believe is that the best weather for washing your car is when it’s super hot. It is actually not. A warm day might be okay, but a super sunny and hot day is a big no no.

best time to wash car
Super hot and sunny days are not the ideal time for car wash. Source: HotCars

On a scorching summer’s day, dousing your car with water under direct sunlight will simply ruin the vehicle’s finish. The hot metal on your car will quickly steam off the water you douse it with, while the soap may dry out fast and cause staining.

In any case, be sure to give each area a good rinse before moving on to the next, to ensure the soap does not dry on the surface. Hot weather can also lead to unevenness in waxing and coatings. If you have a new car with clear-coat paint, the very thin topcoat can lose its shine for good.


Super windy

It goes without saying that humid weather is certainly not the ideal condition for car washing and detailing. In addition, while some might think that washing your car on a windy day means quick drying, windy conditions can throw sand and dust onto the paint during washing, leading to scratches after the car is dry.

Car wash at night

Once the sun goes down, it can take much longer to get your car completely dry, even in the open. A damp vehicle surface can lead to corrosion since you don’t have the benefit of sunlight to aid in this process.

Another big downside to washing your car at night, especially in the summer, is a bad idea, because of gnats, moths, and other insects that can stick to the surface. It’s also nearly impossible to not miss a spot, even if you have floodlights.

Should I wash my car in winter?

While warmer weather is generally more ideal for car washing, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your car some love in the colder months. While snow and rain can make it seem impossible to keep up your vehicle’s exterior, it’s important to wash your car at least once in a while to keep the dirt and grime from corroding the metals of the car’s undercarriage.

Just be sure the temperature is above freezing, since splashing water on your car when it’s below zero can lead to frozen doors, locks and cracking on the exterior.

Some professionals and detailers even suggest washing your vehicle more frequently during snowy months, because the salt and brine mixture that you use for de-icing will accumulate and eventually lead to rusting if left untreated. Rusting is most likely when winter is over and then comes the hot and humid weather.

To avoid rusting, it’s also a good idea to pay extra time on the underbody car wash with a pressure washer to effectively remove salt and debris from under your vehicle.


The Best Time To Wash Car

best time and temperature to wash car
The best time to wash your car is early morning, with no direct sunlight. Cre: Depositphotos

So what’s the ideal conditions when it comes to the safe temperature for car wash? Despite your desire to wash your car in the hot sun so it can dry off quickly, the best time to wash car is on a cloudy, overcast morning. Early morning is generally the safest bet.

If the sun is out on hot days, your second-best option is to wash your car in the shade, away from direct sunlight. A good car wash temperature is during the late afternoon when the sun is less harsh and the outside temperature has cooled down a little.

Quick Tips

After the thorough wash, don’t take off on the road for a quick air dry. This is a surefire way to leave water marks everywhere.