How to Wash a Tesla Electric Car [Helpful tips]

We all want our cars to look new and shiny all the time. Unfortunately, they go through so much: muddy roads, dust, bird droppings, dead insects, and whatnot! This means they need a regular wash.

Washing a car is not a difficult task. But what if you own a Tesla? Is washing a Tesla the same as washing a regular car?

New Tesla owners often don’t know what to expect when it comes to washing their cars. So, let’s discuss how to wash a Tesla in different ways.

There are two main methods of washing a Tesla:

  • Hand-Washing a Tesla by Yourself: This category encompasses three methods; water wash, waterless wash, and rinseless wash.
  • Visiting an Automatic Car Wash Station: This category is further divided into two methods; contact and contactless.

Let’s explore each of these methods below.

Car Wash Mode

No matter which method you choose to wash a Tesla, you should first turn on car wash mode.

Car Wash Mode is one of Tesla’s newest features in the 2021.24. 4 update. The function was first offered on all Model 3 and Model Y Teslas.

Later, it was included in the revamped Model S and Model X. However, this function is not present in the older versions of the Model S or Model X.

What happens when you turn on the Car Wash Mode? Your Tesla closes all windows, locks all doors, and deactivates windshield wipers, parking sensor chimes, Sentry Mode, and walk-away door locking.

You should enable this function every time you need to wash your Tesla. Follow the Touch Controls > Service > Car Wash Mode settings.      

But remember, your car should not be moving or charging when you turn this mode on.

When using an automatic car wash, you have to keep your vehicle in neutral by enabling Free Roll. This feature will prevent your Tesla from applying the parking brake if you get out of the driver’s seat.

Turn on the Free Roll option by pressing the brake pedal and clicking on Enable Free Roll. Alternatively, you can just shift into Neutral.

The car wash mode deactivates in two ways: when the vehicle goes over 16km/h, or you click ‘Exit’ on the touchscreen.

How to Wash a Tesla
How to Wash a Tesla

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Hand-Washing a Tesla by Yourself

Washing your Tesla by hand is probably the best way to clean it. Why? Because it is economical and reduces the chances of equipment scratching your car.      

Hence, wash your Tesla by hand if you have enough time or you are just prepping your car for some service. Also, hand-washing means only the trusted cleaning equipment and products are used on your car.

However, washing a Tesla by hand is not a good idea when it has a lot of dry mud and dirt stuck on the body.

This is because you will not be able to clean stubborn dirt spots with your hands without scratching the car. Hence, you should not let dirt and other abrasive impurities on your car sit for too long.

There are several methods to hand-wash a Tesla, like the water wash, waterless wash, and the rinseless wash. So, let’s look at each method in detail.

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1. The Water-Wash Method

Now, what do you need to wash a Tesla using the water-wash method? Grab a pen and notebook and write these Tesla cleaning essentials: two buckets, car wash shampoo, a microfiber car wash mitt, a microfiber drying cloth, and a brush to clean your rims and wheels.

Cleaning the Exterior

Now that you have the list of cleaning tools, let’s jump into the process of hand-washing Tesla with water.

  1. The first step in any method you try, as discussed previously, is to make sure your Tesla is in Car Wash Mode.
  2. Next, you have to use a hose or pour a bucket of clean water over the Tesla for a pre-wash rinse. A pre-wash rinse loosens accumulated mud and stubborn dirt stains from the wheels, panel seams, and other areas.
  3. Then, you have to follow the two bucket rule: Fill two buckets with clean water, one for washing and the other for rinsing. Make sure the bucket you use for washing has a grit guard, the water you use is lukewarm, and the car wash shampoo you use is high-quality and mild.
  4. Mix the car shampoo into one bucket to make a soapy liquid. Pour the soapy water over the Tesla’s body carefully and let it soften all the dirt and grime like mud stains. Next, use the microfiber car wash mitt to clean the whole exterior. The car wash mitt should be clean and not abrasive.
  5. It’s better to clean your car in parts. Why? Because using the same microfiber to clean the entire car in one go increases the risk of scratches. Hence, you should either rinse your car wash mitt with clean water after cleaning a specific section or use different microfiber cloths for each part.
  6. Remember to use separate microfiber cleaners for wheels and the body. This is because wheels are the dirtiest part of a car, and they will require a fresh microfiber for effective cleaning. The best way to clean your wheels and rims is by using an appropriate car-cleaning brush.
  7. Now it’s time to rinse away the soapy liquid on your Tesla with the clean water bucket. Make sure no soap or chemical is left over or dried up on the body.
  8. Immediately after comes the drying part. What’s the rush, though? Because leaving water on the surface of Tesla for too long may result in watermarks all over your car. So, take a clean microfiber cloth and start drying up your car from top to bottom.
  9. Make sure the water-sensitive areas of your car are completely dry, like the brakes. You can go on a short drive and use the brake multiple times to make sure they are dry and working fine.
  10. Lastly, move on to the windows and mirrors. You will need an automotive glass cleaner to clean these parts of your Tesla.

If you have appropriate equipment like a pressure hose and an air dryer, use them to make your car-washing task easier.

For example, you can use the pressure hose to rinse your car before washing and use a foam cannon to foam it up.

But the hose used in the process should not be a high-pressure one. If you only have a high-pressure hose, make sure you spray your car from a considerable distance.

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Cleaning the Interior

Cleaning your car does not just involve washing the outer body. A car’s interior also gets covered in dust, grime, and other impurities. There are cases of spills too.

Hence, you should frequently inspect and clean your Tesla’s interior to maintain its appearance and protect it from wear.

  1. You can wipe the interior surfaces with a soft, damp cloth and a mild non-detergent cleaner. But don’t forget to dry immediately with another clean cloth to avoid watermarks and streaks on the surfaces. Also, test the cleaner on a concealed area to make sure the cleaner it’s mild and doesn’t damage the interior in any way.
  2. Clean the interior glass and mirrors with a mild glass cleaning solution that doesn’t affect the reflective surface of the mirror or heating mechanisms in the rear window.
  3. The seat surfaces of Tesla are mostly stain-repellent, but you should still clean them regularly for a fresh appearance. To clean any spill stains from the seats, damp microfiber cloth with warm water and non-detergent soap, wipe softly in circular motions and dry the surface with a soft cloth. Use a vacuum to get rid of loose dirt.
  4. For seat belts, you can just dampen a microfiber cloth with little water and wipe them off. Keep them away from sunlight until they dry naturally.
  5. Carpets can be washed with a diluted upholstery cleaner.
  6. Do not use any water, alcohol, or gel-based cleaning solutions to clean the monitors and screens. Just wiping them off with a soft, lint-free cloth is enough. (Don’t forget to turn the Clean Screen Mode on before that).

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2. The Waterless Wash

The name says it all; we don’t need water to wash a Tesla by this method. All you need is a special spray designed to clean a car’s body. Such sprays also contain wax to add shine and protection.

This method is best used when your car isn’t too dirty, you are on a trip or in a rush, and you don’t have access to water. Plus, a waterless wash is ideal for door sills and trunk areas.

Note: Don’t use this method when your Tesla is covered in dirt and mud. It will just result in scratches on your car.

Also, make sure you only use a clean microfiber towel for the task to avoid scratching your Tesla.

Cleaning a Tesla by the waterless method is simple and quick. It will just take you around twenty minutes to complete the whole process.

The only tools you need are a spray and microfiber towels to dry your car.

Use the waterless wash spray on a specific part of your car and leave it for 10 seconds. Next, wipe off the spray gently with the microfiber towel multiple times in a single direction.

Then, use a fresh microfiber towel to rub that part. Follow the same technique for other parts of your Tesla, including side mirrors and rims.

Do you know the best part? Your Tesla will look new and shiny after a waterless wash because the spray softens the dirt and adds a protective coat to the exterior.

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3. The Rinseless Wash

The rinse-less method enables you to skip the rinsing part when cleaning your Tesla because there are no suds or soaps involved. So, you are just left with two tasks: washing and drying.

You can use this method when your car is not too dirty, you either don’t have access to water, or you want to avoid water runoff.

Plus, this method also comes in handy when you don’t have a lot of cleaning equipment available.

The products you will need for a rinseless wash are a rinseless car cleaning product, a bucket of water, and microfiber towels.

Mix the rinse-less product in the water bucket and a spray bottle and presoak the dirty areas with the spray. Then, take a microfiber cloth and wash the panel.

Use a fresh microfiber towel to dry the panel thoroughly. Clean the rest of the parts in the same way to complete the rinseless wash process.

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Visiting an Automatic Car Wash Station

Ideally, you should hand-wash your Tesla to avoid the risk of scratches or other damage. However, if you don’t have enough time or don’t want to put in the effort, you can opt for an automatic car wash service.

(Note: The insurance does not usually cover damage caused during an automatic car wash).

There are two kinds of automatic car washes: contact and contactless.

1. Contact Car Wash Station

Is Washing a Tesla at Automatic Car Wash Station Safe?
A Car Being Washed Automatically with Brushes

These car washes use bristled or clothed brushes to wash a car while it goes through the washing tunnel.

Tesla manufacturers specifically warn people not to take a Tesla through a contact car wash because the brushes are already contaminated from cleaning multiple cars before yours.

Your Tesla is at high risk of scratches and damage at a contact car wash station.

2. Touchless Car Wash Station

Washing a Tesla
A Car Under the Car Wash Tunnel

They are less harmful than contact car washes because no use of brushes is involved. However, touchless automatic car washes are still not entirely safe.

Some automatic car wash stations in Florida and other states use harsh chemicals to soften the dirt on your car.

If your Tesla has a vinyl wrap or a ceramic coating, these chemicals may discolor the paint or wear down the exterior.

Ending Words

Keeping your Tesla clean is the most crucial part of its maintenance. You should make sure your Tesla gets washed regularly, depending upon the frequency of your use and the conditions of your routes.

Ideally, you should wash your Tesla every once in two weeks. The best way to clean a Tesla is to wash it at home. It involves the least risk of scratches and damage.

Plus, washing the car yourself means you can choose the best cleaning products and equipment for your car; you don’t get that liberty at automatic car wash stations.

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