1 in 5 British Drivers Rarely Clean Their Car, New Study Reveals

Britain, You Should be Ashamed of Yourselves!

It turns out that there’s some seriously dirty driving going on, and by that, we don’t mean undertaking on the motorway or middle lane hogging

A new and updated survey conducted by Intelligent Car Leasing has revealed some eye-opening statistics on how regularly drivers in the UK actually give their car a full clean inside and out.

What We Asked the Public

A sample of 1490 drivers were asked the following question “How often do you give your car a full clean inside and out?” and were presented the following choices to answer from:

Every 2-3 Months
Less Than Once Every 6 Months


Here are the overall findings:

  • 3% of those surveyed claim to clean their vehicle weekly
  • 7% of those surveyed claim to clean their vehicle fortnightly
  • 19% of those surveyed claim to clean their vehicle monthly
  • 26% of those surveyed claim to clean their vehicle every 2-3 months
  • 14% of those surveyed claim to clean their vehicle every 4-6 months
  • 22% of those surveyed claim to clean their vehicle every 6 months
  • 6% of those surveyed claim to have never cleaned their vehicle

We were pleased to see that only 6% of those surveyed replied ‘never’. Even though this figure is still high, it’s a vast improvement on the figures from our last survey completed in 2014. However, 28% of those surveyed either only clean twice a year or never at all. As a fairly sizable sample was used, this means it’s very likely that over a quarter of Britain’s cars are a real nest for germs, dirt and grime. This is something that people should be aware of when leasing a car as once the vehicle is returned, the condition is inspected and you could find yourself with additional charges based on your contractual agreement.


Why should we clean our cars more?

Cars are a breeding ground for different germs and viruses. 

We all use our vehicles for a variety of reasons. Each journey that you make creates an opportunity to contaminate the interior of your car with whatever you may come into contact with. Whether you’re picking up a take away meal, doing your weekly shop or inviting people into your car, each action brings an element of risk with what bacteria could grow. 

Viruses stay on surfaces for longer than we think.

We need to be conscious of this more than ever. In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 (Coronavirus) a global pandemic and we’ve all had to experience various forms of lockdowns or restrictions. We have created a car cleaning checklist which will not only help you with cleaning during the coronavirus pandemic but also for a regular routine going forward.

A clean home, a clean car

A car is no different to your house. We all know the value of cleaning the interior of your home because this is where we live. We also ‘live’ in our cars. Many of us spend long periods of time commuting and we also do a lot of what we’d do at home within our cars. Eating, drinking and we touch everything! It’s important to put the same level of focus with cleaning your car as you do your home.


What Is The Difference Between Men & Women Drivers?

We know that almost 30% of us Brits don’t consider cleaning their car a necessity but how does this split filter down when comparing the answers from both men and women? (Responses to the survey were split evenly between those who identify with being male or female).

In 2014, out of those who answered ‘Never’ 57% were male and 43% were female, showing in no uncertain terms that men take the least care of their cars in terms of cleanliness. We are delighted that these figures have dropped drastically in our latest survey. Now only 27% of men either clean their car twice a year (or never) and 28% of women either clean their car only twice a year (or never). In comparison to 2014, this time only 6% of men and 6% of women actually admitted to never cleaning their car – a big improvement.

Is age a factor for whether you clean your vehicle?

All those surveyed were over the age of 18 ensuring accurate results from daily drivers, here are the findings:

  • Those aged between 18-24 were most likely to clean their cars every 2-3 months. 
  • 27% of 18-24 year olds only cleaned their cars once every 6 months
  • 6% of 18-24 year olds have never cleaned their car
  • These figures were consistent amongst all the different age groups
  • The oldest group (55+) were also most likely to clean their cars every 2-3 months (28% – the same as 18-24 year olds)
  • Those aged 55+ were the least likely age group to rarely or never clean their car

Although splitting up the different age groups gave very consistent and similar results, the most noticeable figures came from the over 55’s who were the most likely to clean their vehicles. Factors such as the amount of free time they have could be the reason for this.


Are you more likely to clean your car if you work?

Working status is another demographic that we looked at regarding these results and some of the figures could shock you:

  • Full time workers claim to either clean their car once every 2-3 months or once every 6 months
  • 26% of part time workers claim to clean their vehicles once every 2-3 months
  • Part time workers also had the highest figures for never cleaning their cars with 11%
  • 40% of full time students claim to clean their car every 2-3 months
  • Full time students were jointly least likely to never clean their cars along with the retired (3%)
  • The unemployed had the second highest figures for never cleaning their cars with 9%

Many would have predicted that the two groups who would be most likely to clean their vehicles would be those with the most free time – part time workers, students, those unemployed and those who are retired. This is the case with the full time students and the retired but those without work and those who work only limited hours are actually the ones who answered ‘never’ most frequently. 


Which region’s residents are best at cleaning their car?

Age and occupation are both demographics that focus on factors such as free time. As such, we wanted to see if there were any interesting figures regarding the regions and where those surveyed are currently living:

  • Northerners (England) had the second most drivers who clean their vehicles weekly (4%) while the Welsh had the most (5%)
  • Most regions were fairly consistent, however 15% of Scottish drivers clean their vehicles fortnightly. 
  • This figure was also high in the Midlands (12%) even though the other regions were in single low figures
  • Londoners had the highest percentage of those who fail to clean their car at all (11%)
  • Northern Ireland had the highest percentage for those who admitted to only cleaning their car twice a year. 

The figure to look out for most here are those from London. Free time could also be a factor with regions as Londoners outshone the others with admitting to never having cleaned their car. London is the UK’s capital and its inhabitants tend to work longer hours, have less free time and spend much more time commuting with public transport. Pollution could potentially also be a reason why they never clean their cars. What’s the point in cleaning my car if it’s going to be dirty again tomorrow? This is the wrong mentality.

There could be many different scenarios as to why these figures have improved. We are just proud of the British public for finally getting their sponges dirty! That being said, 20% of you are still failing to clean your car more than twice a year and this can be dangerous…


The Dangers of Not Cleaning Your Car


Cleaning your car is not just a vanity task, it is essential.  There are a number of very real safety risks associated with not cleaning your car. Other than the risks that we’ve already mentioned based on the germs and bacteria in the interior, the exterior is also important when you consider road safety. Windows need to always be clear to prevent the possibilities of road traffic collisions. Reacting to hazards can be impeded without the total vision from your windscreen and your mirrors.   Other than putting you at risk of immediate accidents, dirt on the exterior of the car can also wear away paint over time. This may not sound like a danger but over time worn away paint patches will rust and spread. Rust can be very damaging to your car’s structural integrity and can spread from the body to the underside of your car. This causes holes to emerge in filters and tanks.  So to avoid sudden breakdowns and costly repairs it really does pay to keep your car clean.

The interior is also incredibly important, especially when you consider the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent YouGov survey showed that 63% of the British public are more conscious about their personal hygiene since the outbreak of coronavirus. Cleaning your car thoroughly reduces the risk of virus transmission.

View our COVID-19 car cleaning checklist here

This entry was posted in Reports & Research on by Marc Murphy

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