If you really care — skip the car wash

Oct 16, 2020

Another long week closes out and the last thing you want to do is spend your weekend cleaning your car by hand. Then, like an oasis in the desert, a carwash appears while you’re headed home. Guaranteed is a quick, inexpensive, and effortless solution — but we promise the short-term benefits offered by an automatic car wash are a mirage and that spending some extra time will save more time and money in the long run.

Recycled water

Most car washes recycle the water they use and run it through a purification system. While better for the environment, these purification systems don’t catch 100% of the dirt and grime that washed off the previous car. Instead, that contaminated water gets sprayed back onto your car, embedding in the surface and paint. Imagine running a 5k and taking a shower afterward, but then putting on the same clothes.

Cheap cleaning agents

To maximize profit margins, these car washes use cheap cleaning agents to clean cars as fast as possible. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a warning to car wash attendants about the occupational hazards of hydrofluoric acid (HF) used at many automatic car washes. In Washington State, from 2001 to 2013, over 48 burn cases and one death occurred, according to the report. Yikes. Sorry, Rose Royce. (

Poor washing and drying methods

Thankfully, old bristle-based scrubbers are long gone, but the cloth replacements still cause scratches and swirls, ruining your paint and dulling your car. Furthermore, if a heavily soiled vehicle comes through, their dirt and grime isn’t cleaned off the cloth rollers often enough to be safe for your car.  

The way car washes dry isn’t much better; most achieve this by blasting hot air at your car, not drying it completely, and leaving behind spots and streaks.

Last, not getting up close and personal with your car means missing early warning signs of rust caused by unaddressed iron deposits.


The benefits of opting for hand wash instead of automatic car washing are clear. With some extra time and effort, you can save the hassle of paying for extensive, reparative paint correction or intensive detailing. Plus, when you go to trade-in, a well-taken care of car will garner some extra value.