How Long to Wait to Wash Car After a Paint Job? – Answered

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how long to wait to wash car after a paint job

What a dismay it would be to get a BMW paint job, only for it to be ruined by improper cleaning. That’s why it’s essential to know how long to wait to wash car after a paint job and how to properly perform the task.

We’ve rounded up tips from Reddit and expert recommendations along with our expereince to inform you that it would be safe to car wash by hand, but not waxing, only after two weeks. See the subtopics below for more information.

When Can You Wash Your Car

The safe time to wash your car after a paint job is after at least two weeks. Even if car paint cure time would only take 24 hours, the paint job could still be adversely affected by water and ingredients in car washing products.

But if, by chance, bird droppings, dust, or mud get on the paint job before it’s even safe to wash the car, you should clean the affected area gently and carefully. Only rinse the affected area with water and use a soft automotive-specific microfiber towel to dry the area.

How to Wash a Newly Painted Car


After the two-week wait to wash car after paint is over, you can wash your car only through a gentle hand car wash, which should be done under a shade, away from the sun’s heat. When you’re going to wash car after touch up paint, use a mild car wash soap. Also, use a soft automotive-specific microfiber wash mitt or microfiber cloth.

Avoid washing car after paint job with dishwashing soap, as it can cause the paint job to dull. You should also do away with brushes or anything too abrasive and hot water.

  • Wet the car surface first.
  • Then, apply the soapy water with your wash mitt or cloth, but avoid scrubbing the paintwork.
  • Afterward, thoroughly rinse the surface, ensuring there is no soap leftover.
  • Finally, gently dry the car with a soft, scratch-free, lint-free, automotive-specific, microfiber towel, leaving no water behind that can cause water marks on the freshly painted car.

Related: Average Time of Car Paint Drying

How Often Should You Wash a Car After a Paint Job

Once two weeks have passed since your paint job, weekly car washing would be necessary to maintain your paintwork in good condition and protect it. Taking good care of the paint job will make it last longer.

When Can You Use an Automatic Car Wash After Paint Job


You can only take your car to an automatic or touchless car wash after paint job when a month has already passed since you got your car a paint job.

By then, it will be safe for your car to enter an automated car wash, as the paintwork would already be able to withstand the pressure and force from the sprays and brushes as well as the strong detergent used in an automated car wash.

When Can You Wax Your Car

The time you have to wait before you can finally wax your car would be longer than the time you need to wait to wash car after painting. The solvents and thinners present in the paintwork need to evaporate from the surface first to allow the paint to fully harden, taking around 60 to 90 days.

If the wax is applied on a paint job that has not entirely settled, the wax’s ingredients can damage it. So avoid using wax earlier than the suggested period.

After the two-week wait, washing your car weekly can keep it clean enough before it finally gets waxed. Moreover, remember also to apply wax on your car regularly once it’s already safe to apply wax to keep your paintwork protected.

Go Ask the Auto Shop

The painting materials and painting processes can also differ among auto shops. And these are factors that can determine the waiting time, which the staff at the auto shop would precisely know.

So for a more accurate answer, you could ask the staff who had worked on your paint job about how long you should wait before you can wash and wax your car as well as other post paint job care tips.

Or if you forgot to ask them in person, you may also call the shop to ask someone to enlighten your queries.

Beware of the Rain

Rain can be harmful to a new paint job, so you must protect it from bad weather conditions. Especially when the rain comes with all sorts of contaminants and pollutants, called acid rain, it can deteriorate the paint.

Also, the raindrops can form water spots on the paint once the sun’s heat dries them on the surface. So when your newly painted car gets rained on, take a microfiber cloth and wipe the surface dry.

Other Post Paint Job Care Tips

  • You must protect your newly painted car from extremely high and low temperatures, which can adversely affect the paint job. As much as possible, park it in the garage or a covered area.
  • Avoid parking your car under sappy trees or berry-bearing trees, as sap and berries may fall onto the paintwork and ruin it. Berry trees may also attract birds that might leave droppings on your paintwork, which can also be damaging and must be rinsed off immediately.
  • Amidst hot temperatures, avoid parking in areas exposed to the sun’s heat, as it can cause the paintwork to fade. You should find an area that can provide shade for your car to park in.
  • If snow accumulates on your newly painted car during winter, do not use a scraper to get rid of the snow, as it can also scrape the paint.
  • Never dry wipe its surface, as it can scratch the paintwork.
  • Avoid driving on gravel roads and shrubbery, which may scratch and chip the paintwork.
  • Roads with newly laid asphalt must also be avoided, as if the asphalt gets on the paintwork, it can be hard to remove and damage the paintwork.
  • Suppose you notice any chips and scratches on the paintwork. In that case, you must have them touched up immediately, as they can lead to rusting, especially when they are deep.
  • In the case of accidental spills of gasoline, oil, windshield solvent, transmission fluid, or antifreeze on the paintwork, immediately rinse it off the surface. Avoid wiping the surface as much as possible to prevent smearing, but if wiping is necessary, do it very gently.


A newly applied paint job needs to be properly cared for and protected. So it’s important to educate yourself on how long to wait to wash car after a paint job and other post paint job care tips. Car owners should practice those tricks to enjoy new beautiful car paintwork fully and not let it get ruined.

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