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6 Winter Washing Tips


The winter months are often when your vehicle gets neglected the most. It’s cold, rainy, maybe snowy and you would rather drink hot chocolate next to the fireplace while watching Netflix rather than detail your car. Except, you’re a detail freak and can’t stand your car looking this dirty, so how can we make the process less terrible?

If you live somewhere where it snows the first step is to move, just kidding, but of course be safe when choosing to detail your vehicle as not to put yourself in danger. Also, if you have a garage, that is always ideal.

1. Nitrile Gloves

This may seem trivial but it may be one of the most important tips as moisture wicks away heat. If your hands are wet, they’re going to be cold and you’re going to have a bad time. I like to put a pair of nitrile gloves on and if it’s really cold, a set of winter waterproof gloves over those.

Winter washing tips hand with nitrile glove

2. Don’t Fill your Bucket all the Way Up

Normally we would want the extra water but if you put your arm in to dunk your wash mitt and you gloves goes past the water line the water will get into your gloves, and your going to have a bad time. Instead use less water and dump it out a couple of times instead if needed.

Winter washing tips hand in buck

3. Heavy Soaking

If you live in an area that salts the roads it is important to heavily soak the surface with water and use a foam gun to loosen it up and get as much off as you can before washing.

Foam cannon on car

4. Warm Water

Simple one right? If you can, use warm water to give your hands a little bit of relief. Keep in mind if the protection of your vehicle is wax, water that is too warm will remove or severely deteriorate it.

5. Air Dry

If you have access to an air dryer or even just a vacuum that has a blowing function and a nozzle tip it will greatly help with drying. Since it is so cold, there will be little evaporation so the “trails” you may normally get when drying that would dissipate, do not. So you are often lefts with streaks and need to use more towels to fully soak up all the water.

Water trails on car paint

6. Use the Right Kind of Protection

Ideally you wouldn’t need to add protection if you added it before it got too cold. If not, certain types of protections may give you a hard time due to the same evaporation aspect in tip 5. For example, pastes actually do well such as the Wolfgang Sealant, the time to remove it may just be faster or slower depending on the product. However, spray and wipe sealants/coatings such as my favorite Gtecniq C2V3 can be difficult due to the excess moisture. Another good one would be Hydr02 as there isn’t much “application” and you could dry the car as normal.

Hopefully these simple tips can help you have a better time when detailing and never put your self in danger due to freezing temps just to have a clean car!

Ian Martinez
Gloss Angeles
Irvine, CA
Instagram | YouTube

12 comments on 6 Winter Washing Tips

  1. Todd says:

    Great article !!!! I’m dealing with the cold weather right now I keep the car running with the heat on high for those cold mornings but use the traditional 2 bucket system always reading n learning new helpful hints thanks guys

  2. Todd says:

    Great article !!!! I’m dealing with the cold weather right now I keep the car running with the heat on high for those cold mornings but use the traditional 2 bucket system always reading n learning new helpful hints thanks guys

  3. Frank Been says:

    It sounds so simple, but it’s brilliant! “Don’t fill your bucket all the way up.” It’s something that I definitely overlooked during my last job, and paid the price (in lost time), for allowing my hands to get wet and cold; my gloves took on water faster than Jack Sparrow’s ship, and… I had a bad time. Lol!

    Thanks for the tips, and keep them coming!



  4. Charles Long says:

    In winter, I used to regularly wash salt off vehicle, sometimes below freezing, with no gloves. Just keep moving. At 1 or 2 degrees below freezing the well water was warm enough to melt the ice.
    When done, (don’t forget the underside) drove vehicle into garage to dry.

    72 now, might consider those nitrate gloves.

  5. Jose Garcia says:

    For those cold days I take about 5 to 7 microfiber towels and soak them in a 5 gallon bucket about half way and add ONR Wash and Wax and the car comes out clean and protected. Now being this should only be done on a vehicle that is not so dirty.

  6. Devin Kelly says:

    I have hot water from my hot water heater plumbed to a spigot in my garage, if it set to say 125*, is that water hot enough to remove wax when running it through my pressure wash and 50 feet of hose?

    • Ian says:

      Hello Devin,

      Depends what product you have but for the most part no. At least not right away but it will degrade the longevity of it.

  7. Ryan Buckner says:

    Ian, do you have any experience with the Meguiars waterless wheel and tire wash? I keep meaning to get a bottle of it to try. I have a heated garage and if I can do everything 100% inside, that would be great. Unfortunately I have no drain in my garage and the water spigot is outside as well. Let me know what you think and thank you for this article!

    • Ian says:

      Hey Ryan,

      I have not tried that product specifically so wouldn’t be able to speak to how the cleaning + dressing works. However, I do use Optimum ONR or even a regular wheel cleaner if needed. Then a pump sprayer with water or ONR mixture used to remove the cleaner. Wipe down with a couple micro fibers and you don’t have to break out the hose at all!

  8. brightoncorgi says:

    Fill the soap buck first with hot water from the kitchen sink and then the hose for the rest.

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