Car Washing Myths Debunked

Not sure whether you should wash at home or the car wash? Did you grow up hand washing your family station wagon with a bucket of soapy water and one old rag? Seemed ok then….right?

There are a lot of conflicting personal opinions and myths surrounding the best way to wash your car. Here, we break down some of the most common ones you’ve probably encountered:

Car washes waste a lot of water.

Actually, professional car washes are better for the environment! They use water reclamation systems that allow for the filtration and re-use of wash water. Car washes actually only use a fraction of the water per car that an at-home, garden-hose-wash would use. Part of this is due to the special nozzles found in car washes – they are specially designed with specific flow rates and spray angles that allow you to get the full impact of the water, with less overall usage.

Special car wash soap is a racket.

Car wash soap – for commercial use or the kind you can buy to use at home – is specially formulated to keep your car safe. They use surfactants and pH levels suitable for paint and clear coats. Household dish soaps and laundry detergents are made to lift grease off of plates and pants. If you apply them to your car, you’ll remove the petroleum based waxes keeping your paint protected.

If it’s raining a lot you don’t need to wash your car.

Car wash operators know that customer counts drop off during rainy seasons. But, just because rain has washed away some surface dirt, it doesn’t mean your car is clean! Rain water has minerals and pollution in it that wind up on the car, damaging paint. According to Mr. Clean Car Wash, these pollution acids can hang on to your car after the water evaporates, making regular washes very important. Plus, it creates spots! Either way, rain isn’t strong enough to clean away baked-on dirt and salts.

Friction washes can damage your paint.

It is important to fold in mirrors and lower antennas before going through a friction wash. Anything sticking off of the car could become damaged. However, a commercial friction wash should not harm the surface of a vehicle. Operators should be using enough water to rinse dirt off of the brushes. This means your car gets a nice gentle scrub. But, have a look before entering and take your business elsewhere if you see dirt and grime on the brushes.

Washing your car at home saves money.

You’ll have to do your own math on this one, but it’s likely to be false. When washing a car at home, you’ll need to provide your own:

  • Water
  • Car wash soap
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Buckets
  • Drying towels
  • Waxes
  • Vacuum

…plus any other special products you want to use on your car. This all adds up!  You’ll also lose more time, between setup, washing, changing products/water, and cleanup. Car washes are often cheaper and faster, especially when you consider using a coupon booklet or membership.

Are there any other myths you’ve heard that grind your gears? Let us know in the comments!


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