Step-by-step method to clean your Tesla, the products to use & how to overcome fogging/algae buildup

Last modified: 08/02/2021
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We take no responsibility for improper cleaning or following of this guide. Use common sense and if unsure pay someone to do it for you.

Secondly, a Tesla is nothing special and therefore this process can be used on any car and not just a Tesla

Tips for success:

  • Do not use automatic car washes (unless they’re touchless which are very rare) – The manual warns against this and it will damage the paintwork
  • Don’t wash in direct sunlight – It will generally cover the car in white watermarks
  • Be cautious of any strong cleaning products
  • Give yourself plenty of distance (~30cm) when using a pressure washer, especially around any stone chips
  • Don’t use a sponge, dirty wash mitt or a wash mitt that has been dropped on the floor
  • Don’t aim pressure washers at cameras, sensors and light edges etc
  • Don’t aim pressure washers at windows, seals for any long period of time
  • Don’t aim pressure washers at the charge port whilst charging

Things you will need:

Optional but recommended:

  • Some wheel woolies/brushes – These are superb and surprisingly worth the money, no chance of scratching the wheels as they’re lovely and soft.
  • Wheel arch brush (any brush will probably do the job) but be cautious of not using one of these on the paintwork/wheels
  • A water filter e.g. Aqua Gleam or Ionic (a must IMO if you’re in Hard water area, check your water with a PPM Meter)
  • Glass Cleaner that doesn’t remove ceramic coatings
  • Interior Screen Cleaner
  • A Hand Duster for inside the car
  • Buy some Wet & Forget or similar, if you have a build-up of algae around the edges of the lights etc, dilute it at 5:1 with water, you should be able to see a gap where the algae builds up, you can spray it into that gap and then leave for two / three days, the rain washes the green moss away. It will be fine on the paintwork but if you’re concerned consider washing any excess fluid away with water.

Things you will need if you don’t have paint protection:

Things you will need if you don’t have a water filter & live in medium/hard water areas:

For a car with ceramic paint protection applied this is how I would (& do) clean the Tesla:

  1. Snow foam the whole car (1/5 liquid 4/5 hot water)
  2. Wait 10 minutes for the snow foam to loosen and lift the dirt
  3. Whilst you wait: brush wheel arches to remove large debris (with specific wheel arch brush that isn’t used anywhere else on the car)
  4. Pressure wash the whole car to remove the snow foam and large bits of dirt, be careful with the paint (i.e. don’t get too close)
  5. Use a dedicated wheel brush to gently brush alloy wheels to remove brake dust/dirt etc (might not be needed on every wash)
  6. [If it’s Winter] spray the underneath of the car to remove excess salt residue etc
  7. Two Bucket Technique the whole car (from top of car down)
    • 1st bucket filled with car shampoo and hot water
    • 2nd bucket filled with fresh clean cold water
    • Use wash mitt to clean from top of the car downwards e.g. always start with the roof, then edges of roof, then top parts of doors and so on…)
    • After each section (or part of section), squeeze dirty water from mitt then dip in cold water, squeeze water out again. Then dip in hot bucket and continue to clean.
    • Remember door shuts and inside the boot
    • Finish with cleaning the wheels (not needed on all washes), you might want a separate wash mitt for this or use wheel brushes
    • The wash mitt might become very dirty, if you’re careful you can pressure wash the mitt to remove any stubborn stains
    • Avoid washing the mitt in the washing machine etc
  8. Rinse car with filtered water or rinse car and then dry with large microfibre cloths
  9. Clean glass/lights/cameras
  10. Do a visual inspection of key parts of the vehicle, like the inside edge of tyres (hands and knees job) and other essential maintenance
  11. Done.

What else should I consider?

I’ve got green algae build up around the edges of my lights, what can I do?

Buy some Wet & Forget or similar, if you have a build-up of algae around the edges of the lights etc, dilute it at 5:1 with water, you should be able to see a gap where the algae builds up, you can spray it into that gap and then leave for two / three days, the rain washes the green moss away. It will be fine on the paintwork but if you’re concerned consider washing any excess fluid away with water.

I’ve got fogging, mist, condensation or water inside the lights what should I do?

First of all, don’t panic, this is fairly common in all manufactures cars (especially after washing or when it’s particularly wet outside for long periods of time) but especially those with LED lights which is the majority of new cars on the road as the LEDs create very little heat so the water condensation doesn’t evaporate, the lights are not completely airtight so water can sometimes get inside, this could be from you pressure washing too close or possibly a fault with the light. There are several things you can do:

  • Simply do nothing, it will generally just dissipate with time for most people in most scenarios. Be extra cautious when cleaning the car to ensure you’re not pointing water jets directly at the lights.
  • Ensure the car is parked with its rear pointed into the sun, so the water can evaporate
  • If this continues or if the water is clearly visible (i.e. a pool of water at the bottom) contact Tesla
  • If your car is out of warranty or the problem still persists follow this guide
  • See if there is an update to our escalation to Elon here

Originally written by William Fealey for his blog.

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