Tesla Cleaning Guide: Tips for Washing and Maintaining Your Electric Car

Tesla Cleaning Guide: Tips for Washing and Maintaining Your Electric Car

In order to keep your Tesla looking clean and pristine, it's important to follow a regular cleaning routine. By following these simple steps, you can keep your Tesla looking as good as new for years to come.
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How Do You Clean a Tesla

Cleaning your Tesla is probably last on your list of things to do when you own a Tesla. You’re much more likely to be thinking about how you can accelerate faster, or where you can find a supercharger to recharge. However, keeping your Tesla clean and well kept is good for maintaining its value. Dust and dirt can clog up the air filters and reduce the efficiency of the heating and A/C system. If there are any areas of the car that are particularly dirty, you can spend a little bit of extra time cleaning them. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to clean the interior and exterior of a Tesla (or any electric car).


Some cleaners and car shampoos contain chemicals that can cause damage or discoloration, especially to plastic trim pieces, lamps, or camera lenses. For example, some car cleaning formulas contain hydroxide or other highly alkaline or caustic ingredients that can damage exterior components. Damage or discoloration resulting from cleaning products is not covered by the warranty.

How to put Tesla in car wash mode?

The process is simple to enable the car wash mode in a Tesla, touch the following: control > services > car wash mode. The car wash mode will shut the doors and close windows and disable windshield wipers and Sentry Mode. When you exceed 10 mph or touch the exit on the screen the car wash mode is disabled.

When taking Model Y to a car wash, Car Wash Mode closes all windows, locks all doors, and disables windshield wipers, Sentry Mode, walk-away door locking, and parking sensor chimes. To enable, touch Controls > Service > Car Wash Mode. Your vehicle must be stationary and not actively charging.

Instructions from Tesla:

If using an automatic car wash, Enable Free Roll keeps your vehicle in Neutral and activates free roll for the duration of the wash, while preventing Model Y from applying the Parking brake if you leave the driver's seat. To enable, press on the brake pedal and touch Enable Free Roll; or shift into Neutral.

Car Wash Mode disables if the vehicle's speed exceeds 16 km/h or by touching Exit on the touchscreen.


Failure to put Model Y in Car Wash Mode may result in damage (for example, to the charge port or windshield wipers). Damage caused by car washes is not covered by the warranty.

How to Clean the Exterior of a Tesla

Cautions from Tesla when cleaning exterior:

  1. Do not wash in direct sunlight.

  2. Do not use windshield treatment fluids. Doing so can interfere with wiper friction and cause a chattering sound.

  3. Do not use hot water, detergents, or highly alkaline or caustic cleaning products, especially those containing hydroxide.

  4. If using a pressure washer, maintain a distance of at least 30 cm between the nozzle and the surface of Model Y. Avoid aiming the water jet directly at parking sensors (if equipped). Keep the nozzle moving and do not concentrate the water jet on any one area.

  5. Do not aim water hoses directly at windows, door, or hood seals or at electronic modules or exposed cabling.

  6. To avoid corrosive damage that may not be covered by the warranty, rinse away any road salt from the underside of the vehicle, wheel wells, and brakes. After cleaning the vehicle, dry the brakes by going on a short drive and applying the brakes multiple times.

  7. Avoid using tight-napped or rough cloths, such as washing mitts. A high-quality microfiber cleaning cloth is recommended.

  8. If washing in an automatic car wash, use touchless car washes only. These car washes have no parts (brushes, etc.) that touch the surfaces of Model Y. Some touchless car washes use caustic solutions that, over time, can cause discoloration of the decorative exterior trim. Avoid exposure to soaps and chemicals above pH 13. If unsure, check the product label or ask the staff at the car wash. Damage caused by improper washing is not covered by the warranty.

  9. If washing in an automatic car wash, make sure the vehicle is locked. In addition, avoid using controls on the touchscreen that can result in accidentally opening doors or trunks while the vehicle is being washed. Any damage caused is not covered by the warranty.

  10. Ensure the wipers are off before washing Model Y to avoid the risk of damaging the wipers.

  11. Do not use chemical-based wheel cleaners or pre-wash products. These can damage the finish on the wheels.

Read this Warning from Tesla - Source

Never spray liquid at a high velocity (for example, if using a pressure washer) towards the charge port while Model Y is charging. Failure to follow these instructions can result in serious injury or damage to the vehicle, charging equipment, or property.

What You Will Need to Clean Exterior

Before you get started, make sure you have the following items on hand:

  1. A water hose

  2. A wash bucket

  3. A wheel brush and tire brush (or something similar)

  4. A microfiber drying towel (we don't recommend a bath towel)

  5. Car Wash Soap

  6. Wash Mitt

  7. All-Purpose Cleaner

  8. A leather cleaning product (If you have leather seats.)

  9. Window or glass cleaner

  10. A vacuum

  11. An interior brush set (for cleaning air vents and small crevasses)

Interior Detailer Spray

★★★★★ "Simple to use and cleans great. Perfect!" -John D.

Learn More

Wash the Wheels and Tires First

Start by washing the wheels and tires with a wheel brush and tire brush. This will remove any dirt or mud that might be stuck on the wheels and tires. Make sure to get the insides of the wheels and around the tires as well. We highly recommend our wheel cleaning kit to make your job a whole lot easier. Make sure to wash the front grille, headlights, and side mirrors of the car as well.

Hand Wash

Handwashing your Tesla at home can be a great way to reduce the chances of scratches an d other damages being inflicted. You can follow the steps given below for a perfect, scratch-free car wash at home:

  • Step 1: To avoid damaging the car's surfaces, it is necessary to pre-wash your Tesla with water before the washing process starts. This loosens dirt that is already stuck onto the car and reduces the chances of scratching.

  • Step 2: We recommend washing your wheels and tires first. Then wash your Tesla from top to bottom using the two-bucket method. Fill one bucket with a car wash soap and use the other to collect the dirty water and rinse out your wash mitt. Put your mitt into the soapy water first, wipe your car and then dunk it in the second bucket to rinse it out.

  • Step 3: Once you are satisfied with the results, the next process is drying your car. We’d recommend you use microfiber car towels to dry your car. After you’ve dried the car with a microfiber cloth, carefully check for any leftover water to make sure you haven't missed anything.  

Waterless Car Wash

For those who have a hard time keeping the car clean, a “waterless car wash” may be your solution. This is a method of washing the car without using any soap or water. Make sure to grab yourself a bottle of Ethos Ceramic Waterless Wash, to Clean, Condition and Coat any finish, in seconds.

The benefits of waterless car washes include:

  1. No water waste - The cleaning product makes it more environmentally friendly than traditional methods.

  2. No buckets or hoses - Save them for when your car has heavy environmental contaminants on the surface.

  3. Less time spent on washing - Because there is no rinsing required, this process allows you to spend less time on your vehicle each week.

Automatic Car Wash

This cleaning method is not recommended, that's why it is last on the list of cleaning the exterior because it has a high chance of scratching your Tesla.

The 2 different options for automatic car washes are contact and touchless.

Contact Automatic Car Wash

Contact is a car wash that uses plastic brushes (either bristles or cloth) to clean the vehicle as it travels down the tunnel. Hundreds of vehicles a day go through car washes which lots of dirt sticks to the brushes and is not cleaned between cars, which then ends up on your car scratching your paint and other surfaces with micro scratches as you ride through the tunnel.

Touchless Automatic Car Wash

Touchless is the other type of automatic car wash that does not use brushes, but uses strong chemicals to loosen the grime and dirt on your car. We would recommend the touchless automatic car wash over the contact automatic car wash. Keep in mind, that if you have protected your vehicle with a vinyl wrap or ceramic/graphene coating, the harsh chemicals have been known to wear down the coating or even discolor the vinyl. It is in your best interest to contact the vinyl company before putting your vehicle through an automatic car wash. 

How to Clean the Interior of a Tesla

To clean the interior of your Tesla, start by vacuuming the interior, then the windows, next take care of your seats, and lastly Vacuuming is an excellent way to remove dirt and dust from all the nooks and crannies in your Tesla. Once you’ve vacuumed, you can use a soft cloth to wipe away any dust and dirt that may have been left behind. You may want to consider using a microfiber cloth since it won’t leave any scratches. If you have kids or pets, you may want to wash the interior more frequently.

Cautions when cleaning Tesla Interior

  1. Using solvents (including alcohol), alcohol-based gel products (such as hand sanitizer), bleach, citrus, naphtha, or silicone-based products or additives on interior components can cause damage.

  2. Statically-charged materials can cause damage to the touchscreen.

Warnings for cleaning your Tesla Interior Surfaces

  1. If you notice any damage on an airbag or seat belt, contact Tesla immediately.

  2. Do not allow any water, cleaners, or fabric to enter a seat belt mechanism.

  3. Exposure to chemical cleaners can be hazardous and can irritate eyes and skin. Read and observe the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the chemical cleaner.

Clean the Floor Mats

Follow along with these easy steps:

  1. Remove from the car. You will be getting them wet and using products so you do not want to get any of this in your car.

  2. Remove debris by whacking. Take your mat and gently whack it against the ground(we recommend concrete) or another hard surface. If anything is left that is stuck to the surface, you may want to get a scraper to get it off.

  3. Hose them down. Use a pressure washer to loosen the dirt. There is no need to wash the backside of the mat that touches the carpet floor of your vehicle.

  4. Wash them with cleaner. Using a cleaner such as our APC, the grime should easily wash off.

  5. Hose off the cleaner. Use a water hose to wash all the soap or cleaner you may have used.

  6. Let the mats dry. You can hang them on a fence, hand railing, wire or another similar place to let them air dry. Make sure to check the mats to see if they are fully dry before placing them back in your vehicle.

Clean the Steering Wheel

The most touched part of your car is your steering wheel. The oils on your hands and other contaminants can build up which can cause your steering wheel to become dirty or possibly discolor. Our DIY steering wheel cleaning guide breaks down all the steps and processes to clean your steering wheel.

Vacuum the Interior

Vacuum the interior of your Tesla to remove any dirt or sand that may be stuck in the seats or in the nooks and crannies of the interior. Make sure to use a soft brush attachment to clean the seats.

Clean the Windows

Cleaning the windows of your Tesla is an easy way to give your car a quick clean-up. You can use a window cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean the interior and exterior of your windows.

Clean the leather

If your leather seats look a little bit worn down and dirty, you can use a leather cleaner to clean and restore them. You can use a clean cloth or a microfiber cloth to apply the cleaner to the seats. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the cleaner to avoid damaging your seats. If you have children, you may want to invest in a car seat protector.

Put everything away

Finally, make sure to put everything away after you’ve finished cleaning your Tesla. Make sure to replace the vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment, and replace the engine cleaner with the cap that came with it. You can also clean out the bucket or bowl you used to clean the car with. When you’re done, make sure to take a quick picture or video of your clean Tesla. This is a great way to keep track of when you last cleaned your Tesla and how often you clean it, this way, you’ll know when it’s time to clean it again. If you post a photo on Instagram tag us in it! @ethoscarcare


Certainly, although it is recommended to avoid an automatic car wash that could damage the delicate components on your Tesla. It is best to use a touchless auto car wash or a hand car wash to clean your Tesla. In addition, using a waterless car wash process will yield great results and save on water waste.

A hand car wash will not damage your Tesla when done properly. It is recommended to avoid automatic car washes as these can be more aggressive and cause damage to your vehicle's finish or components.

It is recommended to use only a touchless drive-thru car wash to clean your Tesla.

A detail on your Tesla can run you anywhere from $100-400 for an interior and exterior detail. If opting to add additional protection in the form of a ceramic coating of paint protective film, these services can run you upwards of $1,000-$3,000.

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