How to Wash an Electric Car – The Ultimate Guide

Electric vehicles are increasingly becoming mainstream. But, so are the myths and misconceptions about them, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. One of the widely prevailing bits of information about electric cars is that they cannot be taken through a car wash.

Is it true? How to wash an electric car, then? Read on as address this question and many more, with regards to cleaning and washing an electric vehicle, in this guide.

How to wash an electric car?
How should you wash an electric car?

Can You Take an Electric Car Through a Car Wash?

Yes, you can! All the information floating around about why it’s not safe to take an EV through a car wash is false. You can take your electric car through a car wash and also wash it on your own.

It’s perfectly safe and won’t damage the battery, motor, or any other system of your electric vehicle.

If you come to think of it, it doesn’t even logically makes sense that a car, that too such an expensive one, cannot withstand a wash.

Similar to gasoline or diesel cars, electric cars are also made keeping in mind the fact that they will need to be washed, or driven through rain and snow.

Not only all their electric components are protected with the metallic body, but they are also sealed to avoid water damage. 

The only thing that can make taking your vehicle through a car wash unsafe and potentially damaging for your car is when it has insecure bodywork or loose fittings. But, that applies to all the cars, not just electric ones.

Having said that, there are a few things you need to be careful about while taking your electric car through a wash or washing it on your own, just like you should with regular vehicles.

Read Can You Recycle Electric Car Batteries?

General Tips on Taking an Electric Car through a Car Wash

Things to consider when washing an electric car
Tips on taking an electric car through a car wash

Taking an electric car through a car wash is pretty much similar to taking your petrol or diesel car through it.

Here’s what you need to do before taking your car (electric or regular) through a car wash:

  • Close all the doors, windows, and sunroof properly
  • Fold in the side mirrors
  • Retract the aerial
  • Disable all the automatic functions of the car, such as windshield wipers

There are a few additional guidelines for taking EVs through a car wash that varies a bit depending on what type of car wash you’re going to. We’re listing them down here for your convenience:

  • When taking your EV through a car wash tunnel, you should keep the ignition on and emergency brake disabled. Make sure that the car is in a neutral position to be moved through the tunnel.
  • The directions are totally opposite when getting your electric car cleaned in a rollover or jet wash area. Experts recommend switching off the car engine and engaging the emergency brake in these car wash areas.

With an EV, you also need to make sure you have sufficient charge. But, you will have to ensure that before hitting the road anyways, regardless of where you’re going.

Now that we have overviewed the general tips and guidelines for taking an electric vehicle through a car wash, let’s take a look at how you can wash it on your own, as many people avoid car washes.

In general, to avoid the risk of scratches or damaging the paint that the brushes can potentially cause on the car’s body.

Check out, Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Vehicles or Electric Cars

How to Wash an Electric Car Yourself?

Washing an electric car manually, on your own, is the best way to clean and maintain your vehicle. It can be done in two ways – using a jet wash and washing by hand.

Let’s talk about both these methods in detail to make sure you don’t end up making any mistakes while washing your electric car at home.

Washing an Electric Car Using a Jet Wash

Things You’ll Need

  • Jet Washer. If you don’t own a jet washer already and going to buy one now, you should consider getting a no-emission electric jet washer for your green vehicle.
  • Car Wash Soap or Shampoo. In addition to ensuring that the soap you’re buying won’t cause any damage to car paint or dull its shine, you should (ideally) also look for an eco-friendly option. Using a bio-degradable and eco-friendly car wash soap or shampoo will ensure that you’re not causing any harm to the environment through this car washing activity.
  • Microfiber towel
  • Wax

Prepare for Wash

  • Park the car in an area with plenty of space around or remove things from around it to clear the area
  • Preferably, park in a shaded area. It’s important to note here that this applies to all the cars and not just the electric ones.
  • Make sure the car is not charging and the charging port area is closed.
  • Check all the windows and doors and make sure they are closed properly.
  • Ensure the ignition is turned off.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing an Electric Car Using a Jet Wash

Washing an electric car using a jet wash
Steps to washing an electric car with a pressure washer

Step 1 – Connect Jet Wash

Connect the pressure washer with the hose and plug it in. Make sure it is long enough and can reach all areas of the vehicle easily.

Step 2 – Prepare the Cleaner

Prepare the car wash soap or shampoo following the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, they need to be diluted. Make sure you do it as recommended to get the desired results.

Step 3 – Apply the Soap

Spray the car cleaner on the vehicle generously and evenly all over the car, ensuring you do not miss any area.

Step 4 – Wash

Rinse off the soap using your pressure washer. It will come off taking along all the dirt, dust, and debris clinging to your car’s body.

Using a jet wash is pretty easy, but there are a couple of things you need to be careful about when washing your car with it; electric or any other.

Be careful not to turn the pressure too high and do not stand very close to the car. The pressure setting of 1200 to 1900 PSI is considered safe and effective for cars, in general.

As far as the distance is concerned, you should keep the nozzle at least a six-inch distance from the paint and 12-inch away from the trim.

Moreover, you should preferably spray water at a downward angle. Considering these factors will ensure that you don’t damage the car surface while washing but get rid of all the dust, dirt, and stains.

Step 5 – Dry It Off

If you have washed a car before (any), you would know how important it is to dry them afterward to prevent water stains. Electric vehicles are no different. So, once you’re done washing your car, make sure to dry it off with a microfiber towel.

Step 6 – Apply the Wax

Just like with a regular car, the final step to washing your electric car at home is to apply a layer of wax to protect the paint, improve color, and enhance the shine.

Your best option is to use natural carnauba wax. However, you can also use synthetic wax or sealant.

Applying the wax in small, linear motions is your best bet. You don’t want to take the risk of going with circular motions (as many suggest) as you may end up with swirl marks.

Handwashing an Electric Car

Things You’ll Need

  • Car cleaner
  • Wheel cleaner
  • Water
  • 2 buckets – one for cleaner and one for clean water
  • Car wash mitts
  • Microfiber towels

Prepare for Wash

The prerequisites for handwashing an electric car are the same as that for washing it via a jet washer.

Steps for Handwashing an Electric Car

How to hand wash an electric car?
Handwashing an electric car

Step 1 – Clean the Wheels

If you haven’t hand washed a car before, you may find it strange to wash the wheels first. But take our word for it; it is the right way to hand wash your vehicle.

Follow the directions on the wheel cleaner to wash the wheels of your electric vehicle.

Step 2 – Work on Small Areas

Unlike cleaning with a pressure washer, you need to divide your car into smaller zones when washing with your hands. Since it’s going to be a slower process, you can’t apply the cleaner all over the car at once and then wash it all off. You have to work in batches.

Start with the hood, moving on to the rood, sides, and then the back of the car. For each area, apply the cleaner, rinse it off, and then dry it before moving on to the next one.

Make sure to dry every area as soon as you wash it with water. Do not leave it for the end.

Step 3 – Apply the Wax

Follow the same directions to apply the wax as described in the previous section (washing using a jet wash).

Check out, Electric car maintenance: Are electric cars expensive to maintain?

How is Washing an Electric Car Different from Washing a Regular Car?

There isn’t much difference between the two. Washing an EV is pretty much the same as washing a petrol or diesel vehicle. You just need to be careful of a few little things, depending on what car washing method you’re using.

To recap all the guidelines that we discussed above, you should keep the ignition on and emergency brake disabled when taking your EV through a car wash tunnel, but switch off the engine and pull the emergency brake when going through a jet wash or rollover car wash.

When washing at home, be careful to not throw water directly onto the charging port, batter housing, or any other electronic component.

Lastly, always check the doors, windows, and charging port before car washing and make sure they are properly closed.

With these few small considerations, you can wash your electric car as normal. Remember, electric vehicles are made keeping all these factors in mind. The manufacturers know that they will get dirty and hence, will need to be cleaned or washed.

Moreover, the owners will drive their vehicles through rain or snow at some point.

The vehicles are manufactured accordingly, so you don’t need to be worried about damaging your electric expensive car or, worse, igniting a fire (as many assert or are afraid of) just by washing it.

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Conclusion – What is the Best Car Wash Method for EVs?

Experts agree that handwashing is the best and most foolproof car wash method for electric vehicles. It enables the owner to be more careful and eliminate the chances of water getting into any electronic component accidentally.

But, this doesn’t undermine the effectiveness of other car washing techniques or make them riskier. It’s just that handwashing tends to give owners the satisfaction that they are doing everything right and that water isn’t seeping into any electronic component.

It’s important to note here that it has more to do with personal satisfaction than the actual effectiveness or safety of different car washing techniques.

Since electric vehicles are still a new phenomenon, it will take time for people to get used to them and stop treating these vehicles just like they do the standard petrol or diesel ones. I hope you got an idea about how to wash an electric car?