Washing a Car in the Garage
The cold winter months can assault the paint and undercarriage of your car with snow, dirt, dust, and rust. It’s especially hard to combat the negative effects of winter on your car when it’s too cold, rainy, or snowy outside to give your car a proper wash. You’ll need to wash your car from the safety of your garage to achieve the same clean you can get on a sunny summer day.
How does winter weather affect your car?
Snow can carry dust and dirt that it picks up from the road as well as the air. If your car makes contact with dirty snow, the snow will melt, but will leave the contaminants it contains on your car. As the dirt dries onto your paint, it creates a kind of adhesive that makes cleaning tough and damages your paint.
Salt from roads that were salted to help melt ice also wreaks havoc on your undercarriage and paint. Salt is highly abrasive and helps accelerate oxidation.
Extra moisture due to rain or snow helps sludge accumulate on the road. As you drive, that sludge collects toward the bottom of your vehicle. Your bumpers and undercarriage can become caked with road sludge before you even notice.
If you live in an area where temperatures stay above freezing in the winter, the extra humidity can also encourage rust. Once rust begins to form, it’s hard to stop.
These problems can be prevented by washing your car inside the shelter of your garage.
Washing Your Car Inside
For garages with drains:
You can wash your car inside your garage safely if you avoid using high-pressure water tools such as hose attachments. The most effective car wash is the two-bucket car wash. You’ll need:
- A bucket for soapy water
- A bucket for rinsing
- A sponge or washing mitt
- Microfiber towels
- Terry cloth drying towels
Your soapy water bucket should contain a soap solution made up of the following:
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup dishwashing liquid
- Enough water to fill a gallon bucket
Add your baking soda to a 1-gallon bucket first, then dishwashing liquid, then fill to the top with warm water. Mix until the solution feels slick on the pads of your fingers.
It’s handy to also have a water source in your garage. If you don’t have a hose hookup inside, bring your house from outside to the garage. You’ll need to refill both buckets as they get low. The hose is also useful for a preemptive and final rinse.
Keep a safe source of heat with you in the garage. The water from your car wash may freeze on the body of the car if temperatures dip too low. The heat will also encourage evaporation as you dry your vehicle.
Your garage should also have a heat source so that the water that you use to wash your vehicle doesn’t freeze. Finally, your garage should be fairly large. If it is too small, you’ll end up getting your possessions wet due to the spraying and splashing that occurs with a car wash.
For garages without drains
Most of the water from your car wash will be contained by your garage door weather seals, especially if you’ve managed to prepare your garage door for winter. Seal areas that lead into your house just in case the water in your garage becomes too high during your car wash.
Use a floor squeegee once you’ve finished washing to remove excess standing water from your garage. Leave your heater on away from the water to allow evaporation to remove the remaining water before it freezes.
Wash your car according to these steps:
- Pre-rinse your car using the hose
- Wipe down your car with the sponge or mitt and soapy water
- Wring out your sponge or mitt and dip in the rinsing bucket
- Wipe down your car with the sponge or mitt and water
- Repeat as necessary
- Rinse a final time with the hose
- Dry with the terry cloth towel followed by microfiber towel