How to Wash an Electric Car

A helpful guide on cleaning and washing electric vehicles (EVs) to keep exterior and interior in an excellent condition.

Last updated: Apr 24, 2024 6 min read


The process of washing an electric car is almost the same as it is for a petrol or diesel car. Just take extra care around the EV charge port to avoid contact with water and make sure to wash your car regularly.

Keep your EV in top condition with regular cleaning

Picture this – you’re the owner of a new, shiny EV. It’s your pride and joy, a greener and more sustainable way for you to travel. You’re keen to keep your paintwork, wheels and interior looking like new, so regular washing and cleaning is a must.

In this guide, we’ll give you our tips on how to best wash an electric car and what you need to be mindful of to keep electrical components safe.

How safe is it to wash an EV?

Let’s make this clear: it’s just as safe to wash an EV as it is any other car. As long as the vehicle has no major damage, you’re good to wash the exterior with a generous amount of water and shampoo.

Manufacturers go to great lengths to protect electrical components in EVs from heavy downpours and rigorous washing. The heart of any electric car, the battery pack, is extremely well sealed and protected against water ingress to avoid damage.

Electric car batteries are made to withstand day-to-day contact with water from washing to rain. As with most cars, you should avoid submerging your EV in water.

If you have a big dent in the bodywork, like a bent door panel, be sure the area is still sealed properly before washing with water. A broken seal will let water seep into places you don’t want it to, having the potential to damage interiors and electrical parts.

Cleaning the exterior of your EV

Cleaning the exterior of your EV is something you can do yourself. You’ll need a few cleaning products to get the job done.

What you’ll need:

  • Bucket of warm water

  • Non-abrasive sponge or microfiber mitt

  • Absorbent drying towel

  • Car shampoo

  • Water hose

Nice to have:

  • Pressure washer

  • Wheel and tyre cleaner

  • Detailing products like polish and wax

  • Few microfiber cloths

  • Machine polisher with foam pads

Step-by-step: How to clean the exterior of your EV

  1. Pre-rinse: Start by hosing down or pressure washing your EV from top to bottom to remove loose debris and avoid scratches when using the sponge and mitts.

  2. Wash: Mix car shampoo with the water in your bucket. Using the sponge or microfiber mitt, start from the top to wash the car. Regularly rinse the sponge or mitt and take care when cleaning around the EV charge port and sensors.

  3. Clean wheels and tyres: Using a different sponge or mitt, clean the alloy wheels and tyres with the car shampoo solution. If you’re using wheel and tyre cleaner instead, apply as directed and let it soak.

  4. Final rinse: Again, from top to bottom, rinse any soap and wheel and tyre cleaner off until no residue is left.

  5. Dry off: Let your EV air dry or wipe it down with a drying towel for best results.

How to detail an electric car

To give your EV extra shine and protection, you want to move on to some basic detailing next:

  1. Polish: Apply car polish to a cloth or the foam pad on a machine polisher and spread it on an area of the paintwork. Start working the product in, using a circular or up-and-down motion until the surface is shiny and the product is not visible anymore. You may need to leave the polish for a few hours before you can do the next step.

  2. Wax: Apply a small amount of wax using the pad provided until all paint is covered. If you’re using a spray, cover the paint with wax and use a damp microfiber cloth to work it in. Once tried, get a dry microfiber cloth to buff the surface until it’s shiny and has a glossy finish.

When waxing after polishing, you may need to wash your EV first. Always read and follow the instructions to achieve best results.

Can I use a standard car wash to clean my EV?

Yes, you can absolutely go to a standard car wash or valet to clean your EV.

Depending on the quality of service and price, you may do a better job cleaning your EV yourself. That’s because you can take more time cleaning and getting details right, while a car wash or valet will try to complete a service more quickly.

We’d recommend avoiding automatic car washes if you want to keep your paintwork in top condition. The brushes and cleaner they use are often too abrasive, which can leave you with scratches instead of a shiny finish.

How to clean an EV charge port

One key difference between EVs and petrol and diesel cars is that the fuel filler is replaced by a charge port. It’s a socket in which the charger connector is inserted to charge an electric car battery.

You won’t need to clean an EV charge port very often. It's usually covered by a cap, but it’ll accumulate dust and dirt over time.

Here are tips on how to clean an EV charge port without damaging it:

  1. Wipe around the charge port area using a damp cloth. Do not touch the electric contacts.

  2. Use a dry cotton bud to carefully brush any dust or dirt from the electrical contacts.

  3. If that isn’t enough, use electrical contact cleaner or rubbing alcohol and a cotton bud to remove more stubborn dirt.

Cleaning the interior of your EV

Don’t forget to clean the interior of your EV from time to time. After all, that’s what you see when you’re driving your car, so it’s worth keeping it clean and smelling great.

What you’ll need:

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Few microfiber cloths

  • Fabric or upholstery cleaner

Nice to have:

  • Interior cleaner

  • Leather cleaner

  • Leather balm or cream

  • Upholstery cleaning machine

  • Odour eliminator spray

Step-by-step: How to clean the interior of your EV

  1. Vacuum: Remove loose dust and dirt from carpets, seats, floor mats and any hard to reach areas.

  2. Wipe down: Clean hard surfaces like the console, steering wheel, door panels and dashboard by wiping them down with a damp microfiber cloth. Add an interior cleaner or leather cleaner for even better results.

  3. Treat: Leather seats and steering wheels should occasionally be treated with leather balm or cream to prevent it from cracking and maintain it in good condition.

  4. Clean upholstery and carpets: Use specialised upholstery cleaner for seats or carpet cleaner to treat stains and wash them off with a cloth. You could also buy or rent an upholstery cleaning machine.

  5. Refresh: For persistent bad smells, apply an odour eliminator spray to carpet and upholstery.

How often should you wash your EV?

Frequent drivers should wash their EVs every two weeks or at least rinse them to remove dirt and dust on the surface.

If you live by the sea or drive on roads that have been gritted in the winter, it’s important to wash your EV regularly to remove salt from the exterior. It can accelerate corrosion and cause rust to form on the body. Something you definitely want to avoid.

However, if you only drive your EV occasionally and park it in a garage most of the time, you may not need to wash it as often.