Poorer folk may not have so much to spend on cars but they keep them cleaner than better-off drivers, an AA Populus survey of car washing habits reveal.

Closer to one-in-10 (average 8.5%) of drivers from blue collar, part-time, unemployed and pensioner backgrounds (socio-economic groups C2 / DE *) wash their car once a week while an average of 6% of owners from professional and managerial backgrounds bother (groups AB / C1).

The gap grows wider among those who wash their cars once a fortnight: an average of 16% among the lower-income groups compared to 11.5% for wealthier car owners. Professionals and managers prefer more to wash their cars every couple of months (35.5% versus 29.5%).

More than one in 50 (3%) of the 18,080 AA members surveyed wash their car once a year or not at all. Perhaps surprisingly, that doubles to 6% among women.

Drivers in Scotland and the North-East should have the cleanest cars in the UK, according to the AA Populus poll which revealed that 11% of drivers in those places washed their cars every week compared to only 4% of drivers in London and the South-West.

In general the poll found that just under half (47%) of panellists wash their cars every couple of months or every six months whilst only 2% give their car just one wash a year.  Women were more likely than men to wash their car less frequently than once a fortnight (23% versus 11%).

Across the age bands half as many younger drivers (22%) than those aged over 55 (44%) washed their car once a fortnight or weekly.

Edmund King, AA President, said: "Many drivers do take pride in their cars and their Sunday morning car wash has become a ritual.  Keeping your car clean, particularly windows, lights and number-plates, can keep you on the right side of the law. Regular cleaning can help preserve the value of the car by getting rid of salt and other corrosive substances.  

"Hopefully the 3% of drivers or 6% of women, who never or rarely wash their cars, do at least keep their cars legal by cleaning windscreen, lights and number-plates. The study also suggests that you don’t need a Rolls Royce to show pride in your car. The Victorian concept of the ‘great unwashed’ perhaps needs to be reversed as richer drivers have dirtier motors."