Fact or Fiction: Car Washes

This article was submitted by MacNeil Wash Systems. They have 30 years of experience in the car wash industry, supplying superior car wash equipment to the tunnel car wash industry, automotive dealers, fleet and rental markets.

As the country’s green consciousness evolves, it has become evident that even simple behaviors, like washing a car, can contribute to pollution on a mass scale, when multiplied by the millions of car owners out there. It may have been easy to believe that one car’s emissions weren’t a big deal, when few people owned cars, but now that the roads are full of stagnant, rush-hour, traffic that fact, multiplied by the many on the road today, makes it a fiction today. Similarly, upgrades in technologies from car wash manufacturers like equipment, recycling, conservation, and our ever-increasing time-starved lives has helped to turn some tried and true facts about car washing on their head. Can you separate fact from fiction when it comes to car washes today? Taking some of these advances into mind, see how much you know when it comes to your knowledge of commercial car washing versus private car washes, by making an educated guess on what’s fact and what’s fiction about the following beliefs.

Car Washing at Home Saves Water
This is fiction. The truth behind this “fact” was due to the way previous commercial car washes used a lot of water, prior to our understanding of water conservation. However, today, with water-saving programs and car wash equipment in place, conservation-minded car washes can use 40 gallons on one car wash versus the 120 gallons wasted in a driveway in a private car wash.

Commercial Car Washing Adds Chemical-Laden Water to the Storm Sewer System
This is another piece of fiction based on old-time practices. Today, if you go to a green car wash, they will also recycle the water to wash more than one car, while the home car washer water will immediately go back to the ground, if not diverted into the storm sewer system. However, commercial businesses use a different sewer system that takes water back to a treatment plant instead. Thus, the potential for chemicals heading into the storm sewer system is highest with the driveway washing.

Commercial Car Washes Can Ruin Your Paint Job
Fact, but only in those places that don’t pay attention to the car wash equipment they use. While it’s true that you can get scratches from commercial car washes that employ a team to rub your car dry with dirty, grimy, rags, the large brushless mops that most commercial car wash equipment use today are not going to do that. Air or blow drying can help to keep scratches off your car. There is even “touchless” car wash equipment in modern car washes that rely on pressurized streams of water to do the scrubbing. Just make sure not to pick a car wash operation with old-fashioned brushes or that use grimy car wash equipment and rags.

You Can Better Control Chemical Pollution By Washing the Car at Home
Fiction. Commercial car washes are subject to laws that define how they use and dispose of hazardous chemicals, whereas no one is watching the driveway home washer. Unused portions of chemicals can end up disposed improperly. Even when you buy eco-friendly car wash chemicals, there will be some hazardous waste that lands in the streams and waterways when you wash your car at home, due to the natural run-off. In a commercial car wash that recycles its water and uses environmentally friendly products, the result is less chemical waste going into the storm sewer system. Plus, all unused products and packaging are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

It’s Cheaper to Wash Your Car at Home
It depends. This one could be either fact or fiction, depending on how many extras you load up on at the car wash and how high the water utility rates are in your area. However, when you get down to it, a basic car wash can be as cheap as $10 in some spots around the country. If you only have a hose to wash the car, you will be wasting about 120 gallons of water. It will take several hours of labor to wash your car properly. Add in the cost of buying the eco-friendly cleaners, and now we’re seeing quite a bit of cost in lost time and inventory. If you avoid getting too many extras at the commercial car wash, it will almost always be cheaper to do it at the car wash, in time and money. So, this one is going to almost always be fiction.

Commercial Car Washers Clean Your Car Better
Fact. Don’t feel bad, but it doesn’t matter how much elbow grease you put into it, a commercial car wash will always do a better job. Why is that? It’s because commercial car washes that have undercarriage sprayers can reach places too difficult to do on your own. In addition, a commercial car wash knows more about the right types of cleaners and car wash equipment to use safely. When a do-it-yourself washes a car, they often do it in direct sunlight, which can cause burns on the car. Wrong detergents and grimy rags will also lead to scratches and a stripping of the protective wax. If you’re not sure how to clean your car properly, it’s always better to leave it to a commercial car washer. They have the right car wash equipment to remove the dirt and grime, from all areas of your car, while safely maintaining the protective wax exterior.

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