Best Time to Wash Your Car

Last Updated 6th April 2020

It’s really important to make time to clean your car, but there are several factors at play which can make this much more difficult than it needs to be. Getting your timing wrong can turn an enjoyable detail into a disastrous rush. 

Washing in the Summer

Summer is the most rewarding time of year for cleaning your car. Your car will stay cleaner for longer and the bright sunshine does wonders for your pampered paintwork.

However, whilst we love the long hot days, it doesn’t always provide the best environment for washing your car. Here are some tips on finding the best time to wash your car in the summer.

The best time to wash your car during summer months is early in the morning or later in the evening. The sun is far too powerful during the daytime in the summer. By washing your car early in the morning or late evening you are avoiding direct sunlight and intense heat. 

If you’re fortunate enough to have a large shaded area then washing your car in the day is perfectly acceptable. As the sun moves across the sky then shaded areas may change shape or become completely unavailable in a few hours. Keep this in mind when starting a car detail – I’ve been caught out plenty of times when the shade completely disappears

Finally, sometimes the environment will simply not exist for you to clean your car. If this is the case then just accept the circumstances and wait for a window of opportunity. There’s no point in giving in and washing your car in direct sunshine – it will not be an enjoyable experience.

Washing in the Winter

During winter months, the days are shorter which means it gets darker earlier and stays darker for longer. 

This makes it very difficult to wash your car in the evening, which means no after-work car detailing. If you work regular hours, 9 til 5, Monday to Friday then this limits you to the weekend. 

Whilst weekend detailing doesn’t seem too bad, it narrows your window of opportunity because you only have 2 days to make the most of good weather – of which is lacking during winter months.

With early mornings and evenings out of the question for winter months, this pretty much leaves you with the day. However, during the winter months the sun tends to be a lot weaker in the UK, meaning that even if it’s sunny, you should be able to get away with a good wash. 

Obviously you should always assess your unique situation, ensuring that the sun isn’t warming the paintwork as this is not a recommended environment.

Assess the Weather Forecast

Weather in the UK is about as temperamental as it gets, with blistering sun, gale force winds, and torrential rain being a common routine for a week’s weather. However, amongst the variations of weather there are a few factors which ideally need to exist to clean your car outside.


Higher temperatures increases the time that water and chemicals will dry onto the paintwork. This gives you much less time to work around the car. It also decreases the effectiveness of a lot of chemicals, and can even cause damage to the surface of the paint. 


As you probably know, most manufacturers advise you not to use their products in direct sunlight. With this in mind, the best time to wash your car is when there is a lot of cloud coverage. Grey, dull clouds are perfect – but always check the rain forecast too!


Most people only focus on whether it’s too hot or too rainy, so the factor of wind is often forgotten. It’s quite simple – make sure it’s not too windy before starting on your car. As I have found on several occasions, snow foaming a car results in more foam on the driveway than on your car. Furthermore, wind tends to kick up a lot of dust and contamination which inevitably ends up on the paintwork – not ideal for any type of car wash.

Allocate Time and Plan Ahead

It might seem obvious, but allocating time and planning ahead will help to be more time-efficient when cleaning your car. Sometimes you’ll just want to relax and see where a car detail takes you, but this is a less ideal approach if you’re strapped for time!

Before you get started, create a mental plan of what you want to achieve during your car clean. This might be a very quick maintenance wash or a full 3-day detail. Either way, it’s important to make this plan to ensure that you’ve got enough time to complete everything you want to. 

If you’re strapped for time and are already cutting it fine, try to prepare as much as possible the night before you plan to clean your car. Even if it’s layout everything out in the garage and reeling out the hosepipe, it means you can get straight into the clean the following day!