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winter car wash

Winter Car Wash

During a Saskatchewan winter, keeping your car clean is next to impossible. When the temperature oscillates across the freezing point, your vehicle oscillates from ice-covered to dirt-encrusted. While it might seem futile, keeping your vehicle clean in winter is very important – maybe even more than in summer. So, don’t skip the winter car wash. 

The Importance of Washing

Washing your vehicle in winter is important because it might make your dad proud of you. More importantly, the sand and salt we use to melt ice and keep the roads clear is destructive to your paint. Salt is highly corrosive, and a major contributor to rust. If your paint already has scratches, road salt and dirt can cause even more damage. You need to wash your car at least every month to protect your paint. Keep in mind, your vehicle’s wheels spray salt into the undercarriage, so make sure to wash the underside of your vehicle as well.  But which is the best type of winter car wash?

Hand Wash

In the summer, a (good) hand wash is probably the best option for cleaning your car and protecting the paint and wheels. But few people actually take the time to wash properly, and their efforts can actually be harmful.

Crucially, you must use a separate rinse bucket for your washing mitt and rinse it every few passes. If you rinse in the wash bucket, your wash mitt will collect dirt and debris and then you’ll scrape it all over your vehicle and ruin the paint. Other important wash tips include:

  • Clean from top to bottom
  • Use a microfibre wash mitt
  • Rinse mitt in a separate bucket every few passes
  • Don’t wash in direct sunlight
  • Use a separate cloth for wheel and body (brake dust)
  • Don’t use dish soap, idiot!

Obviously meeting those conditions, and finding a day where the water won’t freeze on your driveway and turn into a hellish ice slide, is difficult. So a hand wash probably isn’t the most viable solution for winter.  

Automatic Car Wash

The automatic car wash is a sensible choice. It’s convenient. After all, you don’t have to get out of your car, which is a crucial benefit in sub-zero temperatures.

But there are major downsides to automatic car washes. The price is a bit higher. And if you remember the rinse bucket tip from above, you’ll realise auto car washes don’t rinse their own cloths in between each wash. So, there’s a good chance they’re accumulating debris and you’re paying $20 for the privilege of driving through a paint scraper. And if the car wash uses brushes instead of soft cloth, then it’s going to damage your paint regardless of its cleanliness.  


A touchless car wash or DIY wand wash is probably a great compromise between price, effort, and quality. Many car wash bays are heated, and they probably have better equipment than you have lying around in the garage. Touchless washes are gentler on your paint and you don’t have to worry about scratching your vehicle with debris on your wash mitt. They are a bit of hassle, though. So, you might want to consider a touchless, automatic car wash. Or, you can treat your car to professional detailing.

Professional Detailing

In terms of cleanliness and paint protection, professional auto detailing is easily the best option. At the Universal Auto Spa, we have the highest standards of service, so you can be assured that your vehicle will be cleaned thoroughly inside and out. We also use roughly 20% of the water consumed in a home wash, and clean exclusively with environmentally-friendly products.

Are there downsides to professional detailing? Of course. It’s the most expensive option on the list. Additionally, you’ll have to part with your vehicle for at least a few hours. Therefore, you’re probably not going to have professional detailing performed every other week. But detailing is far more comprehensive than any other option, and will clean parts of the vehicle you’d normally overlook. So, a few times a year, it’s a prudent consideration.


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