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At the car wash: Which UK cities have the cleanest cars?

Keeping your car clean requires time and effort, and we can all be guilty of neglecting dusty bonnets and leaving old receipts in the glove compartment. Even so, cleaning is important to keep your vehicle protected inside and out - and to make sure you can drive safely, avoid fines and points on your licence.

We reveal the cities in the UK where drivers keep their cars spotless, and the places where they’re not so diligent. We’ve also taken a look at the cleaning methods Brits favour the most, and the implications of letting your car get too dirty can have on your safety, and car insurance.

Where do drivers wash their cars the most?

Our survey shows drivers in the capital wash the outside of their cars an average of 39 times a year (22% more than the national average) making them the cleanest car owners in the country. Cars can get especially dirty in a city as big and busy as London, so it makes sense that car owners there need to scrub down their vehicles more often.

Nottingham ranks as the city with the second-cleanest car exteriors, with drivers washing their cars an average of 38 times a year. This is followed by Leeds, whose residents clean their cars an average of 35 times a year, and Norwich and Manchester with 34 washes a year.

London also takes the top spot for the most diligent car interior cleaning, with residents doing it 40 times a year. Cardiff follows closely behind, cleaning their interiors 38 times a year. Nottingham rounds off the top three, with 36 interior scrub-downs annually.

Number of times people clean their car annually

Cleanest and dirtiest cities based on average combined exterior and interior cleans per year

Seaside cities are home to some of the dirtiest cars

Car owners in the port city of Plymouth admit to washing their car exteriors an average of just 16 times a year – that’s 50% less than the national average. They also rank second-last for interior cleaning at 21 times a year, only once more than Sheffield, where drivers clean their interior an average of 20 times annually.

Which car makes are washed the most?

Make of car can also impact frequency of cleaning. We found that almost half (49%) of BMW drivers, a third (34%) of Audi drivers and 27% of Mercedes-Benz drivers say they clean their cars one or more times a week.

Younger drivers less likely to clean their car themselves

Our survey shows that most UK drivers prefer to clean their cars themselves rather than pay extra for a professional clean. 47% say they clean the exterior themselves, and 64% say they clean the interior themselves. However, the younger you are, the less likely you are to do your own car cleaning. Our research also found that car owners aged over 55 are the most likely to clean both the outside (50%) and inside (68%) themselves, while those aged 17-24 are the least likely.

Almost half (47%) of UK drivers don’t know that a dirty windscreen could land them a fine

We asked drivers whether they agreed with certain statements about the potential legal implications of driving a dirty vehicle.

We found that almost half (47%) of UK drivers are not aware that they can get a fine or points on their licence for driving with a dirty windscreen, and over two-thirds (66%) don’t know that this can also invalidate their car insurance.


Why it’s important to keep your car clean

To make sure you don’t invalidate your car insurance or land in legal trouble and aren’t dangerously driving, you need to clean your car regularly. Rubbish piling up inside your car can cause just as much trouble as a dirty exterior if it distracts you or obstructs the pedals, so cleaning your car interior is just as important as washing your windscreen and mirrors.

Brought to you by our car insurance experts at Comparethemarket

Sources and methodology

Survey of 2,013 17+ UK drivers with a valid licence, conducted between 29.07.2022 - 01.08.2022.      
To determine the cities with the cleanest and dirtiest cars, we combined the number of times each city cleans their interior and exterior per year, based on our survey results.