How To Wash Your Tesla, The Right Way

Will H.
7 min readAug 23, 2022

How to Wash Your Tesla, the Basics…

Knowing how to Wash a Tesla is something you never think about until you finally own a Tesla. Why are Tesla cars so peculiar when it comes to washing them, and why do they get such a bad wrap?

It begins with the paint Tesla chose to use (Love you, Tesla ;). It’s water-based. There are several theories, but many Tesla owners point out that California, the state where Tesla is built, has rigorous environmental protection rules that mandate manufacturers to use water-based paints rather than solvent-based paints (which are thought to be more durable).

It’s also crucial to mention that many people were not as aware of paint flaws as they are today.

Back then, there were no such things as paint correction, nanocoating, or self-healing transparent coatings. To be clear, the fact that paint is water-based does not devalue it. Paints are now more durable than ever thanks to innovative ceramic coating technology. I believe we have reached a point where innovative paint technologies are being developed by paint producers as a result of the regulatory changes.

Anyway, you’re here ultimately because of water-based paints, and that’s where the problem for us Tesla owners ultimately stems from. We’ve got to be delicate and diligent in how we keep up our Teslas. Now let’s hop into how to wash your Tesla the right way, and get you washing your Tesla today!

Some Pointers Before We Get Started:

  • Please don’t take your Tesla through an automatic car wash unless it’s been wrapped in paint-protected film (PPF).
  • Touchless Car Washes are an okay option but don’t expect a great wash if your Tesla is very dirty. #DirtyT #CakedT #GrimyT
  • Hand washing your Tesla with a Foam-cannon and the two-bucket method is the BEST wash method to use.
  • Technique matters. Don’t wipe your Tesla down in circles, wipe horizontally and use big strokes for both hand-washing and drying. Wipe Left to right, then move down one level, and repeat the left to right movement before moving down another level.
  • What soaps and quality tools you use matter! The chemical guy’s bundle you can get online is a win for Tesla owners.

Step #1: Preparing To Wash Your Tesla

Tesla paint is delicate, but how to take care of it is the more crucial concern at hand. As with any paint, the paint will be swirled and scratched if you take it to a vehicle wash with rollers or even a hand wash with filthy gloves and towels. You’ll be astonished at how well you can keep the paint on your Tesla, however, if you use a high-quality lambswool wash mitt, high-quality detergent, and a high-quality microfiber towel (not one from Costco). Additionally, the technique and method used absolutely matter. We’ll be using the two-bucket method with a foam cannon. The exterior wash takes about 30–50 minutes and the interior is about 20–30 minutes. You can expect about 60–80 minutes to complete your Tesla wash.

Equipment Recommended to Wash Your Tesla:

Quick Note on the Two Bucket Method: The two bucket method’s fundamental components are one bucket filled with your shampoo wash solution and one bucket filled with plain water for washing your wash mitt. Working in tiny parts, wash the car from top to bottom. Rinse the wash mitt in the rinse bucket, then reload it with shampoo solution from the wash bucket.

Step #2: How To Wash Your Tesla — Technique

When you begin washing your Tesla, the first thing to do is hose it down. One thing we can’t recommend enough is not washing your Tesla in direct sunlight. Make sure to park under shade if possible. Once ready go ahead and get the Tesla fully wet. We like to recommend hosing it down with the power washer on a 45-degree head. Once your Tesla is wet and lubricated, then it’s time for the foam cannon. The foam cannon requires one part shampoo and one part warm water. Fill the cannon up with that mixture, and then throw the hopper onto the end of your power washer. Like you did while hosing down, spray the foam cannon side to side in big horizontal movements and start at the top moving towards the bottom. Once your Tesla is covered in foam, leave it for 5 minutes. This will let the shampoo do its work and free up the dirt particles sticking to your Tesla.

Alright, and we’re back. The foam on your Tesla should be a little runny. It’s time to hand-wash your car now. Time to break out the buckets… two buckets that is — in the Two-bucket method.

Again, let’s make sure you’ve got some good microfiber towels. We don’t want low-quality microfibers (we see you Costco). Begin by putting a fresh microfiber in your 1st bucket (the one with shampoo in it). Begin at the top of the Tesla and use the big horizontal wipes. As you make your way down continue using the horizontal motion. Wash each car panel one by one. Do not wash the panels simultaneously. You can lose track of what you’ve washed, this way you stay organized.

Once you’ve hand-washed each panel it’s time to change the power washer heads and get back to the 45-degree head. We’re going to spray down the Tesla. Again start at the top and use big horizontal motions. Once the whole Tesla has been hosed down it’s a race against the clock (especially if it’s sunny out).

It’s time to get some towels out and start drying your Tesla. The reason we say it’s a race against the clock is that water spots can become your worst enemy if you aren’t fast enough. Start with your towel on your Tesla’s roof. Slide it across horizontally. If you’re using the towels we recommended it’ll pick up every water droplet in its path. We recommend having two towels on hand because 1 simply gets too wet by the end of the drying session. Once your Tesla is dry, give it a walk around with your towel in hand. You will catch a few places where water persists.

Once you’re done drying it’s time to work on your wheels. Before we start, let’s be cognizant that our Tesla is now washed and looking great. Let’s not be careless to get water or suds on the car from here. Go ahead and take a used microfiber and wipe down your wheels with some shampoo water, once they’re wiped down, go again with just water on the microfiber. Step three here is to dry your wheels using a towel or fresh microfiber. Once you’re done drying (don’t forget the water that sits in the wheel well) it’s time to get the tires. Tires’ color can wear out surprisingly quickly, so it’s nice to restore the color (at least temporarily) back to a deep black shine. We recommend Chemical Guys Tire Shine. Use a kitchen sponge and go around each tire. The color should be looking black and shiny by the end.

Step #3: Take Your Tesla For a Quick Post-Wash Drive

Water tends to accumulate in your wheel wells after you wash your car. As with any vehicle, take your Tesla for a quick 1–2 mile drive (take it for a quick drag race, JK). This ensures the water gets out of the wheel wells and the car gets dried off. Word to the wise, don’t roll down your windows when you go for your post-wash drive — it’ll leave water marks if you roll them down. When you get back home, grab your towel and do another quick walk around. You’ll usually find a couple of other places water snuck out. Once you’re done with your walk-around, it’s time to move on to the interior. You can expect another 20–30 minutes depending on how detailed you want to get.

Step #4: Cleaning The Interior of Your Tesla, The Right Way

Cleaning your interior is going to be quicker than your exterior, and there are a couple of tools you can buy to make the process more enjoyable. Since there’s so much glass in your Tesla, getting a good glass cleaning tool (like this one) can help a ton (think Swiffer for your Tesla glass). Wipe down your seats and any other fabric with a nice interior towel. Please don’t use cleaning wipes, instead use an interior cleaning solution that’s designed to not damage your fabric. Once your interior is wiped down, go ahead and go the vacuum out and do a thorough sweep. Get your mats, seats, truck, frunk, and don’t forget under the seats. Oh, the things we’ve found…

Once you’re done with the interior that’s it. Go ahead and do another walk around your Tesla for any last water-marks, but your Tesla should be looking a helluva lot better than it did an hour ago. Now it’s time to take a spin in the #NotSoDirtyT.


Hopefully, you’ve taken a thing or two away from this guide. We want to empower Tesla owner’s to wash their own vehicles and do it the right way. Minimizing scratching and getting your Tesla looking your best is always a top priority. If you’re ever strapped for time, offers Tesla Mobile Car Wash Services in every major city in the US. Check us out.

Oh, and have a wonderful day washing your Tesla!