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Hand Car Wash vs. Automated Car Washes

Updated on May 29, 2012

If you own a car, you have probably tried to wash it by hand and at an automated carwash, but you may be wondering which is better. This guide will break down the reasons why hand washes and car washing machines are both good and bad, as well as way is best for keeping your car in tip-top shape.

You can vote below on which you prefer: washing your car by hand or going through an automated wash. Ultimately, what works for you is whether you have the money, time and space to wash your car by hand. If not, you may consider washing your car in an automated wash, but your car's finish may suffer as a result.


Automated Car Washes

Mechanical car washes are convenient, fast and efficient. Many people use automated car washes because they may not have the space or time to wash their cars by hand.

For example, when I moved into my apartment, I realized that I didn't have a place to wash my car. The only parking that is available to me is street parking and I have no access to an outside water source. Using the auto car wash at my local gas station has been much more convenient and saves me money due to the fact that I do not have to purchase cleaning supplies.

The cons of washing your car in one of these mechanical washes is that certain details are not always cleaned such as the rims. My car may be shiny and clean when I exit the wash, but my rims remain dirty and I must go and polish them by hand.

Another con to using an automatic car wash is that often times, the dryer is not powerful enough and may not rid your car of all the water left by the wash. This can result in unwanted water spots and ultimately damage the paint on a car.

You may also want to know which kinds of cleaner and wax the automated wash uses on your car as some of the washes use cheap soap that may damage your exterior.

Do you prefer to hand wash your car or go through an automated wash?

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Hand Washing Your Car

Washing a car by hand can be time consuming, dirty and costly, but ultimately, this is the best way to maintain your car's exterior. Details that the auto wash misses can be easily cleaned when washing by hand.

Some downsides to washing your car by hand include time, money and space. It takes a lot of time to wash a car thoroughly and buying all of the supplies can be costly. If you live in an apartment like me, you may not have the space to wash your car either. To solve this issue, find a hand car washing facility where you can use the hoses and water supplied by the facility.

Hand washing your car allows you to clean every part on your car and also control which types of cleaning products and chemicals touch your paint. To hand wash your car, you will need the following items:

  • A hose (preferably with a trigger nozzle) and water source
  • Rags or sponges
  • Soap/Car cleaner
  • Wax
  • Buffer
  • Tire/mesh sponge
  • Tire coating
  • Window cleaner


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    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      I'll use automatic washes if I don't have an alternative, but I love the exercise, getting out in the sun and the sort of zen feel I get when I wash my car by hand. Sure, the supplies cost money, but they're not bad, plus you usually have enough left over for several more washes. I also buy biodegradable soap, which allows me to "water my lawn" in the process. :) But you bring up a great point: if you have an apartment, you can't always just go out and wash your car, especially if you only have street parking - automatic washes are really good for that. That's tough. Great tips and points here.