Can police officers wash their cars?

Yes, police officers can wash their vehicles. Most police departments do contract local car wash vendors for the task, while other departments have their automatic car wash facilities. With some exceptions, police officers are the ones who wash their patrol cars.

Yes, police officers wash their vehicles, though police departments around the country will have different protocols and procedures in place for things like car washing. There are many day-to-day protocols and procedures police officers have to follow to manage equipment besides washing vehicles. They include care and maintenance of police cars, gear, maintenance and operation of firearms, and regulating uniforms and appearance.

When we think of police work, we usually picture the police shows on television where investigators look for clues and investigate crimes. The day to day business and operations don’t make for good television, so are often not given much thought. Things like who washes police cars to uniform and appearance requirements make up many standard policies and procedures. Regulations are a part of any organization. These day to day operations and activities are just as critical as apprehending perpetrators and keeping the streets safe. Read on to discover the more common day to day operational policies and procedures dictating care of police resources.


Police car policies cover everything from who and how to patrol vehicles are cleaned to how the maintenance should be done. Most of these questions can be answered in each department’s policy and procedural manual, though some are not dictated in a manual.

Cleaning Patrol Vehicles.

Can police officers wash their cars?

Cleaning cars may seem like something that wouldn’t make a difference in day to day operations, but a clean police vehicle reflects each department in the community. Just like in life, if your cars show someone cares, it usually reflects order and direction in what you do day today. Though usually, this isn’t something dictated in a manual, it is essential nonetheless. So who does clean police cars?

    • Rookies. This is a standard answer among most police officers. New police officers are usually given the dirtiest jobs as a kind of initiation into departments. The lower on the chain of command, the more likely you’ll end up washing a car or two.
      Officers. Officers who bring their cars home in the take-home program will run their cars through touchless car washes and use voucher programs through the department to keep their patrol vehicles sparkly clean. Often, the day shifts are stuck with the job due to businesses not being open at night.
    • Hired Citizens. Some of the larger departments might employ people to clean vehicles on a weekly or monthly basis. It depends on the program and department.
      Department Owned Car Washes. Some of the bigger departments or cities will have public works maintenance and car wash facilities for keeping fleet vehicles in top condition. It cuts down on costs overall, and officers are more likely to keep cars maintained well.
      Trustees and Parolees. Officers employ trustees or parolees as positions for transition purposes and to cut the cost.

Of course, the question then is, who cleans the bodily fluids out of the back? Well, whoever is driving the car on that shift. Ensure you know the departmental and health department procedures for dealing with this, as it can often occur. Keep yourself safe from bloodborne pathogens!


Maintenance includes oil changes and other general things like tires and tune-ups. At times, this is contracted out, but depending on the department or agency, there are different resources available. It is still the officers’ job to ensure the police vehicles are making it where they need to go.

    • Officer’s Responsibility. As stated above, if an officer has a take-home car, they are usually in charge of handling all maintenance. This may mean just scheduling and making sure it gets to the right place at the right time. Since it’s a vehicle they take home, these vehicles are usually better-taken care of.
    • City Works Department. Some cities have fleet maintenance facilities at the City Works Department that include police vehicle care.
    • Fleet Manager. There could also be somebody in charge of scheduling maintenance for police vehicles. They will be in charge of letting officers know what patrol vehicles need maintenance and where it will occur. Sometimes this falls on the officers who drive certain patrol vehicles the most.

Some of this may not be in a Policy and Procedure manual but will be vital information for anybody going into law enforcement.

Are cop cars bulletproof? Find out HERE!

Maintaining Gear and Equipment

Can police officers wash their cars?

Most law enforcement officers will purchase their gear and equipment or upgrade issued items. This is usually due to budget constraints, though officers also want gear that is comfortable and well-suited to their personal preferences. They do have to meet guidelines set in departmental policies and procedures. A few things to remember:

  • Department Issued Gear. If an officer is utilizing department-issued gear and equipment, they will need to follow maintenance and repair procedures. Departments have policies in place on lost or stolen items due to an employee’s negligence. Most will have an employee compensation clause if it’s due to negligence.
  • Personal Gear. Even if the department does not issue gear and equipment, they will still need to meet the job qualifications. If personal items are damaged in the line of duty, departments will have different policies for how this will be compensated as well.

Most Policy and Procedure Manuals will have sections and clauses concerning the care of gear and equipment. The manual will also inform how different compensations will be handled.

Maintenance and Operation of Firearms

This section is separate from gear and equipment due to the critical nature of firearms in law enforcement. All guns need to be well-maintained. Departments will issue weapons, but officers may carry their own under certain situations. These regulations are dictated on a department by department basis. There are strict policies concerning the care of weapons.

  • Inspections. Departments may require inspections yearly. This could change with the agency and under special circumstances, like a gun misfiring. Inspections are usually recorded in training logs. Before any law enforcement officer can carry a weapon, they typically have to be designated safe by an armorer or equivalent.
  • New Weapons. Patrol officers may carry personal rifles under certain circumstances. If an officer brings any such new weapon or equipment, it needs to be approved by the department.
  • Cleaning. Officers will be required to keep their weapons clean and in operating order. Though some departments have armorers, they are not responsible for the general care of firearms.
  • Training. Training may not be a part of maintenance but will often bring to light problems with weapons and firearms while on the firing range.

There are sections in policy and procedural manuals dictating the operations and care of firearms. This goes hand-in-hand with how and when to draw or use a gun in a critical incident situation.

Care of Uniforms and Appearance

Can police officers wash their cars?

Officers take pride in their uniforms and appearance. They are representing law enforcement and a level of public scrutiny that needs to be maintained. Uniforms are usually issued to new employees, and all officers are responsible for their uniforms’ care and condition. Different policies and procedures may vary but follow a lot of the guidelines above with a few exceptions.

  • Types of Uniforms. Officers must keep and maintain certain types of uniforms for different situations, like dress uniforms and general use. These have different classifications. Each department will vary.
  • Accessories. These include awards, pins, and plates that need to be cleaned and maintained. The policy will dictate what is allowed on uniforms, but officers are responsible for these types of items.
  • Inspections. Like with firearms, uniforms and gear can and will be inspected for serviceability and neatness. Unserviceable items will need to be replaced.
  • Miscellaneous Attire. This will vary between jobs, but officers must maintain a set of clothes for court appearances if not wearing a uniform. Detectives or plains-clothes officers may have different requirements.

Police officers work and operate in a job under close public scrutiny. They will always need to dress to reflect their positions in society.

Related Questions

How often do police cars get washed?

On average, a police vehicle will be washed once a week. This does depend on the agency or department as different places will have additional requirements for cleanliness. There will be places that value cleaner patrol vehicles.

How often are police cars replaced?

A reasonable estimate is around 100,000 or every 4-6 years. It will vary from department to department. This rule of thumb also depends on highway or city miles. If it is a take-home patrol vehicle, it will usually last longer–up to eight years.

Is it a good idea to buy a used police car?

Probably not a good idea. These vehicles are well-used. Police cars are not made to withstand their almost constant use. This may be an idea some people have when looking at buying a used police car at auction. This is just in general and may not apply to every old police vehicle out there.

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.