How to clean grime off your car this winter

Though it’s not as pleasant, ensuring that your car stays clean in the chills of winter can be more essential than keeping it pristine during the height of summer.

As a result of gritters being on the road as well as general muck and dirt finding its way onto our highways, winter can be a tough time for cars. If you want to keep your car’s bodywork in a good condition, it’s paramount that you give it a bit of regular maintenance. Here’s how.

General rinse

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Giving your car a thorough rinse before anything else gets rid of surface grime and loose materials, as well as washing any salt from rust-prone areas like the wheelarches and sills.

A thorough rinse is a crucial part of the process
A thorough rinse is a crucial part of the process

Don’t be shy with the pressure washer, either; concentrate on areas like the grille, front splitter and under-boot section. You’d be surprised where salt and grit manages to get to.


Applying a pre-wash can make the whole process easier. A product like snow foam or a designated cleaner can strip the grime and muck off a car and ensure that the most amount of grit and salt is taken away.

Pre-treatment can make the whole process easier
Pre-treatment can make the whole process easier

Allow it to sit for a good amount of time before rinsing off and carrying forward to the next step.

Lathered up

The next part of the process is to apply plenty of car shampoo. Don’t ever attempt this with household dish soap – it’ll do more bad than good, as it can strip a lot of the protective coating on a paint.

Leave it on for a little while, too. Allow it to work its way into all of the difficult areas, and don’t be tempted to rinse it off too early. Then, get scrubbing with a soft microfibre mitt.


Make sure that all soap is rinsed off thoroughly
Make sure that all soap is rinsed off thoroughly

Give the whole car a thorough rinse once you’re all done scrubbing. Concentrate on fiddly areas like the wheels and brakes, as well as in gutter sections and in the wing mirrors.


Use a clean, dry microfibre cloth to remove all of the excess water from the car’s bodywork.

This not only takes off the last of the surface grime that the scrub may have missed, but it also means the car isn’t covered in streaks as it dries.

Spray wax

A finishing touch, but a worthwhile one, spraying a wax or sealant is a great way of prolonging the shine you’ve worked so hard to create.

I always forget just how utterly grim the roads are in Yorkshire until you come back to a town and get people staring at how dirty your car is. Thankfully sorted now

— Ted Welford (@TedWelford) December 2, 2019

Apply a coat of your favourite product and it’ll make cleaning dirt and grime off next time a little easier, too.