One thing is certain: if you drive a vehicle on the open road, it is going to get dirty. Not only will it get dirty on the outside, but the inside will also accumulate dirt, dust, crumbs, and spills. The image of a bucket of suds and a garden hose in the driveway symbolizes a home car wash. But, if you have an electric vehicle (EV), can you wash it at home?
Learn how to correctly wash and clean an electric vehicle.
How Often to Wash an Electric Vehicle
Unless you are driving on dirt roads or salted winter highways, a wash every two weeks is usually sufficient. Most manufacturers recommend removing bird droppings, insect deposits, and road tar immediately to prevent damage to your vehicle’s paintwork or trim over time.
If you have an electric truck or utility vehicle, flush the complete underside frequently especially if it is operated in a dusty or muddy environment. Keep body and door drain holes free from packed dirt.
Clean the interior of your vehicle, including floor and trunk mats, when you wash the exterior. Spills and stains should be cleaned up immediately.
Before You Begin
Washing an electric vehicle is very similar to washing a gasoline-powered car. The one precaution that you must follow is to never power wash any component under the hood, as it could cause damage to electrical components. Consult your owner's manual before washing the car or cleaning the engine area to prevent violating the vehicle warranty.
Do not wash the exterior of an electric vehicle while it is connected to charging equipment. Do not allow charging equipment to be immersed in water or any type of liquid.
Equipment / Tools
- 3 plastic buckets
- 1 water hose with spray nozzle
- 2 to 3 sponges
- 1 to 2 microfiber cloths
- 2 to 3 microfiber drying towels or shammies
- 1 wheel brush
- 1 handheld vacuum or vacuum with a hose
- 1 container mild car wash soap
- 1 container automotive degreaser
- 1 container car wheel cleaner
- 3 to 4 cotton swabs
- 1 container window cleaner
How to Clean an Electric Car: Interior and Exterior
Keep It Cool
Park the car in the shade and if it has been driven recently, allow it to cool completely.
Clean the Interior
Professionals usually remove and clean the floor mats and clean the interior of the car before washing the exterior. This is up to you but be sure to vacuum the upholstery, treat any stains, clean the interior windows, and remove dust from the dashboard.
Rinse Away Loose Soil
Use the water hose with the spray nozzle to rise the car from top to bottom. Rinse every surface, including the underside and wheel wells, to remove loose dirt that could cause scratches during the main wash.
For electric utility vehicles and trucks, the rear suspension components may require regular cleaning with a power washer or a strong stream of water if the vehicle is operated in dusty or muddy environments to remove dirt, rocks, and other debris.
Be sure the cover to the charging port and any power outlet covers are closed at all times while you are washing the vehicle.
Start With the Wheels
The wheels are often the dirtiest part of the car. Spray wheel cleaner on the surfaces and let it work for three or four minutes. Use a wet wheel brush or microfiber cloth to remove the soil. Be sure to toss the cloth in the "dirty towel" bucket so you will not use it to wash the body of the car. Rinse the wheels with the hose nozzle.
Prepare Your Buckets
Fill one bucket with clean water and add the car wash soap. Fill a second bucket with clean water for rinsing out the sponge or cloth.
Work in Sections
Wet the car again and start at the top washing each section with a sponge or microfiber cloth dipped in the soapy solution. If you have areas with bird droppings or road tar, use a degreaser to help loosen those stains.
After cleaning, rinse each section with the hose and rinse the cloth in the second bucket. Squeeze out the dirty water and then proceed to the next section until the entire car has been washed. If the car is exceptionally dirty, change the water in the buckets and use a fresh sponge or cloth as needed.
Final Rinse and Clean the Jambs
When the vehicle is clean, rinse the entire car again. Do not allow soapy water to dry on the car. Use a damp microfiber towel to wipe away any soil on the door sills or jambs inside the car.
Dry the Vehicle
Use a lint-free microfiber towel or shammy to dry the entire car from top to bottom. Move to a dry towel as one becomes saturated.
How to Clean a Home Electric Vehicle Charging Station and Car Port
Be sure the charging station is turned off before doing any cleaning.
Clean the Charging Contacts
Use dry cotton swaps to wipe away any dirt on the charging contacts. Do not use any type of chemical solvent or water on the contacts.
Clean the Outer Housing
Use a lightly dampened microfiber cloth (it should not be dripping water) to wipe away soil from the outer housing of the charging unit. Use a dry microfiber towel or allow it to air dry completely before using the unit.
Check for Needed Repairs
Check the charging station regularly for damage like cracks from the weather or excessive use. External problems can create issues such as slow or incorrect charging. Most repairs require an authorized technician or the unit may need to be replaced.
Clean the Electric Vehicle Charging Port
Use a cotton swab to gently remove debris that may be trapped in the vehicle's charging port. Go around each connection point, using a fresh swab when one becomes soiled. This will help the plug slide in and out more easily and make better contact.