Skip to main content
March 28, 2023

Commercial Car Wash Vs. Self Car Wash: Which Should You Choose? (2023)

Car being washedEvery month or so, it's time to give your car a good wash. But the question arises: should you wash your car at home or in a commercial car wash?

Commercial car washes and self car washes each offer different advantages and drawbacks. Here are several factors to consider.

Quality of the Wash

Washing your car yourself has some drawbacks. Your hose simply doesn't generate enough water pressure to remove tough dirt. Also, the towels, rags, and sponges you use can spread particles that scratch your car's paint.

But are commercial car washes actually more effective than self car washes? Commercial car washes offer many thorough washing options, from in-bay automatic machines to tunnel wash systems. One drawback is the water spots sometimes left behind by commercial air dryers.

Commercial car washes are typically stronger and more comprehensive than self car washes. However, washing your car by hand lets you address all the little details that a quick commercial car wash might ignore.

Impact on the Car

In the past, many people thought commercial car washes harmed their cars. They feared that the harsh brushing could damage a car's finish. Fortunately, modern improvements to commercial car wash equipment reduce the likelihood of car damage. Many car washes use softer brushes and devices that spray water rather than directly touching the car.

Washing your car yourself can lead to damage. Some people make the mistake of using dishwashing detergent, which can leave residue and remove wax. Plus, if you wash your car in direct sunlight, you can burn spots in the paint.

You're probably less likely to harm your car if you use a commercial car wash, as long as you choose a car wash without rough brushes.

Impact on the Environment

When you wash your car yourself, the water runs down your driveway and into your storm drain. Metals and sediment from your car travel through this water, polluting the water and endangering wildlife. On the other hand, commercial car washes trap these contaminants in a drain. The contaminants are then removed by a water treatment system.

Thus, commercial car washes are safer for the environment than self car washes.


Basic commercial car washes cost between $5 and $30. The price increases based on other services, including vacuuming, waxing, and detailing. More expensive companies are mobile car wash services that bring their equipment to your home. While commercial car wash costs usually aren't astronomical, they can add up over time.

Washing your car on your own is very affordable. You do need to pay for the equipment, such as the soap, sponges, and microfiber cloth. Your water bill may increase slightly, depending on how much water you use to rinse your car. However, in the long run, self car washes are still cheaper than commercial car washes.


A commercial car wash takes about 10 minutes, while a self car wash can take up to an hour. No matter which automatic wash you choose, it's sure to save you time and hassle.

When all the factors are weighed, commercial car washes are generally your better option. However, they can be costly and they lack a certain personal touch. It's probably a good idea to rotate between commercial washing and hand washing.

If you want an option that's a cross between the two, a self-serve car wash is a good bet. You park your car in a station, where you can pay for soap and a water rinse. You may even be able to choose options like car vacuums and wax. You then do the washing work yourself.

Make sure to wash your car about once a month to keep it clean and attractive. If it's time to trade in your car, donate it to Newgate School. Your car provides our responsible students with hands-on automotive training.