Company car cleaning – working hours, duties and tips.

Company cars serve as a signboard for the company. It is therefore important that the company vehicles are always in a well-maintained condition. To achieve this, regular visits to the car wash or car wash as well as careful interior cleaning of the vehicle are necessary.

To find out who is responsible for cleaning and whether it is working time, click here.

Why a well-maintained company car is important.

The company car is a valuable investment of the employer – and should therefore be treated with care. Especially if the vehicle is used for customer appointments, it should always be visually in good condition. Because a company car covered in dirt does not make a positive impression on customers. Even a cluttered interior doesn't radiate professionalism at all. Regular cleaning and care of the vehicle are therefore indispensable.

It should be ensured that the following cleaning work is carried out regularly and conscientiously:

  • Thorough exterior washing – if necessary including pre-wash and rim wash
  • Cleaning door frames and door rubbers
  • Vacuuming of the interior, especially the footwells
  • Tidying up the inside of the car – including removing leftover garbage, empty bottles and other debris
  • Elimination of dust on the fittings
  • Cleaning of seats, if they are dirty
  • Airing out, if unpleasant odors are present

In case of mishaps, such as a spilled drink or food spills in the vehicle, cleaning should be done immediately so that the stains do not dry up and can be removed without leaving residues.

Who is responsible for cleaning the company vehicle?

As is so often the case, no general statement can be made on the question of responsibility. Thus, the responsibility varies depending on the type of transfer of the vehicle and the provisions made in the transfer or employment contract.

If it is a personal pool vehicle, the responsibility for cleaning ultimately lies with the fleet management. However, this does not mean that the drivers of pool vehicles are allowed to handle them carelessly and untidily. As a rule, there are guidelines for the correct handling of the pool vehicles, which regulate, for example, whether smoking or eating is allowed in the vehicle. Depending on the company, either the fleet manager himself, the facility management or an external cleaning company is responsible for cleaning the vehicles.

In the case of personal company cars, the cleaning responsibility – unless otherwise stated in the employment contract or the transfer agreement – lies with the respective company car driver.

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Cleaning time = working time?

If it is a company vehicle that has been personally assigned to you as an employee, you are responsible for cleaning it. Whether you are allowed or even obliged to carry out the cleaning during working hours depends on the handover situation of the car and the handover agreement.

Company cars without private use must be washed and cleaned during working hours – because you are not allowed to use the car outside working hours.

The situation is different for a company car that you may also use for personal trips. In this case, take a look at the transfer agreement that you have concluded with your employer. As a rule, the instructions for handling and caring for the vehicle are recorded there – including information on whether you are allowed to clean the company car during working hours.

Who bears the costs for cleaning company cars??

In addition to the responsibility for cleaning, the assumption of costs for cleaning is also often debated. In the case of pool vehicles, the regulation is again quite simple: The employer pays for the cleaning.

In the case of personal vehicles used exclusively for business purposes, it depends on the agreed regulations in the contract – however, as a rule the employer will pay.

If you also use your personal company car for private purposes, it is again helpful to take a look at the transfer agreement. The employer often pays for a certain number of visits to car washes or car wash facilities. If this is not the case, you are responsible for the costs.

Keep the receipts of the car wash visits and keep them – because you can deduct such additional payments in the tax return, since the costs reduce your imputed income. However, the imputed income can be reduced to a maximum of €0 as a result of such additional payments; an imputed income disadvantage cannot arise. This was held by the Federal Fiscal Court in two rulings on the use of company cars.

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Company car not kept clean? The consequences.

If keeping the vehicle clean is contractually regulated, non-compliance can result in you having to pay for professional cleaning after returning the vehicle. This applies, for example, if the transfer agreement prohibits smoking in the vehicle, but you have nevertheless smoked in the company car and as a result ash and smoke odor have settled in the vehicle. Pursuant to Section 280 (1) of the German Civil Code (BGB), this constitutes a breach of duty and you are obliged to pay compensation for damages.

At the latest when the company car is returned, for example at the end of the employment relationship or parental leave with a company car waiver, dried stains, smoke odor and the like will be detected. usually noticed and recorded in the handover protocol. If the employer then has to make an additional payment to the leasing provider or commission professional cleaning, these costs can be passed on to you as a former company car driver.

Under certain circumstances, the employer may also issue a warning because you did not handle the company vehicle provided by the employer with care. As a rule, you do not have to fear termination without notice – in the case of the first violation of care agreements regulated in the employment contract and without a previously issued warning – as immediate termination of the employment contract is usually seen as disproportionate in this case. This is also made clear in a ruling by the Cologne Regional Labor Court, which dealt with such a case in 2020.

However, it is easier than going to court to take care of the company car right from the start.

Treat company cars with care.

Regardless of whether it is a pool vehicle or a personal company car – company vehicles should always be handled with care. This includes not creating garbage in the car, cleaning the car regularly and generally being careful with the company's property.

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