5 Tips for Washing a Car in the Garage


All too often, washing a car falls to the bottom of people’s to-do lists. You see the dust or road grime on the car as you’re leaving work and think, “I’ll do it this weekend.” This weekend becomes next weekend and before you know it, a couple of months roll by.

While keeping your car clean and shiny might seem like an ego thing, it actually serves an important role in preserving the finish on your vehicle and helps prevent corrosion. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t always agreeable when you want to wash your car. If you have a garage, though, keep reading for five tips on how to wash your car in your garage.

1. Choose the Right Products

Most car washing products work from the assumption that you’ll wash your car out of doors. They also assume that you’ll make liberal use of a hose during the cleaning process. Those assumptions are okay year-round, in some parts of the country.

In the northern reaches of the country where temperatures drop below freezing and may well stay there for weeks at a time, that assumption is less practical. The good news is that not every car cleaning product makes that assumption.


There are a handful of water-free products out there for cleaning your car. This is ideal for your garage, but it’s not a perfect solution. In general, these products work best for light cleaning.


If you have a serious buildup of dirt, mud, or grime, these products won’t really get the job done. This is when you turn to rinse-less cleaning products.

These come as concentrated solutions that run high on the lubricant side of things. They do a better job of taking off more serious grime and buildup.

You typically find these kinds of products at the same stores or websites you get your auto parts. You can check out this website as a good example.

2. Drain Vs. No Drain

Many garages come with a drain built right into the floor or near the garage door. If your garage sports a drain, that opens up some options for you in terms of using traditional cleaning products.

You can go with the two-bucket method of cleaning your car. You fill one bucket with the cleaning solution and use the other bucket for rinse water. You can apply the cleaner with a sponge or cleaning mitt until you’re satisfied that you took off the worst of the grime.

Then, you switch over to the rinse bucket. You’ll want a fresh sponge for this step, as the cleaning sponge will likely have a lot of leftover cleaning solution trapped inside. The water simply drains away.

You can use this same approach if you don’t have a drain, but you’ll want a large squeegee on hand. You’ll need to push the water out of the garage periodically. If your drain is located near the garage door, you may want the squeegee anyway to encourage the water toward that drain.

3. Epoxy Flooring

Most garages come with a poured concrete floor. Concrete is great in a lot of ways. It’s durable enough that you can drop tools on it occasionally without worrying too much about damaging the floor.

Unfortunately, one area where concrete isn’t such a great deal is that it tends to absorb liquids. You may have noticed that you just can’t get that dirty oil stain off the concrete floor no matter how hard you try.

Concrete will also absorb water, which can prove really problematic if you’re washing your car inside during the winter. It can make your garage floor icy or even damage the floor.

Getting an epoxy coating on your floor is one way you can avoid this problem. Epoxy also provides a durable surface and offers waterproofing. That makes things simpler if you need to squeegee the water out of the garage because you aren’t fighting the clock.

If you want a solid assurance of waterproofing, look into getting a professional installation. If you think your DIY skills are up to the challenge, though, you can install an epoxy floor yourself.

4. Ventilation and Heat

No matter how thorough you are about cleaning up that water on the floor, no amount of squeegeeing will get every last drop. This is particularly true in corners. Since most people keep their homes closed up tight in bad weather, it’s a prime opportunity for mildew or mold growth.

Fortunately, you can bring some weapons to bear on the problem. While the floor is drying, you’ll want some kind of heat in the garage. It’ll encourage some evaporation and prevent the water from freezing.

You’ll also want some kind of ventilation to keep air moving. A decent-sized fan or smaller, powerful fan will do the job in most cases.

A dehumidifier is also a must if you plan on washing your car in the garage on a regular basis. It’ll pull ambient moisture out of the air, which will encourage the remaining water to evaporate.

5. Good Lighting

Garage interiors are notorious for resembling the inside of a cave, with dark corners and shadows everywhere. The situation only gets worse if you close the garage door.

Good lighting will help you while you clean and wax the car. It will also prove invaluable while you deal with the water after the cleaning. All that extra light makes it easier to spot areas where the water puddles.

Washing a Car in Your Garage

The question of how to wash your car in the garage is balanced against the question of if washing a car in a garage is a good idea. It’s not ideal. You run an ongoing risk of splashing water or cleaners on tools or other possessions stored in the garage.

If you will wash a car in the garage, look for water-less or rinse-less products if they’ll work. Invest in a big squeegee, good lighting, and a dehumidifier if you’ll go the traditional washing route.

Looking for more Car tips? Check out the post in our Automotive section.