How to safely wash your car after it's been covered in Saharan dust

Saharan dust is regularly blown up to parts of Europe, clouding cities in an orange haze and diminishing air quality. To remove the rust-coloured dirt from their cars, drivers should make sure to use enough water. Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa
Saharan dust is regularly blown up to parts of Europe, clouding cities in an orange haze and diminishing air quality. To remove the rust-coloured dirt from their cars, drivers should make sure to use enough water. Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa

Much of Western Europe has repeatedly been swept by clouds of Saharan dust in recent weeks, turning the skies hazy and diminishing air quality, with parts of the continent shrouded in a particularly orange tinge over the Easter weekend.

The small particles blown up all the way from the Sahara Desert can be a particular nuisance for drivers, as the dust tends to meticulously cover cars.

Dust alone is not a problem for your vehicle, but the particles arriving from the Sahara can cause damage when not cleaned properly, road safety experts from Auto Club Europa (ACE) warn.

Saharan dust contains very fine grains of sand which can scratch the car's paintwork, windows or plastic surfaces if you are not using enough water to wash them off, the experts point out.

Before driving through a car wash, it makes sense to carry out a thorough pre-wash using plenty of water, according to ACE.

The pre-wash included in the car wash's programme is not sufficient to properly remove Saharan dust, the experts say.

When washing off the red dirt, don't use a sponge or cloth as the friction will cause it to sand your vehicle and might result in fine scratches in the car's paint.

Instead, it's best to rinse the car thoroughly using a hose or pressure washer to remove the sand from the surface.

Make sure to also clean the windscreen, headlights and rear lights before heading to the car wash so that your visibility is not restricted.