Self-Service Car Wash Tips

Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to get your ride cleaned up and ready for your adventures! Not only are self-service car washes cost-effective, but they also allow you to focus on the details that make your car look shiny and clean.  Plus, it’s extra satisfying to see your car looking perfect when you washed it by hand. The OneRequest team compiled a list of tips for maximizing your time at a self-service car wash.

It’s All About Prep

Self-service car washes generally charge by the minute. Maximize your time by cleaning out any garbage or personal items before you go.

A quick dusting goes a long way. If your car is particularly dirty, dust both the interior and exterior with a high-quality car duster.

Don’t forget to gather up those quarters! It’s always smart to be prepared in case a car wash doesn’t accept card payment.

Bring Your Own Supplies

Consider bringing your own brushes and sponges to prevent scratching your car’s paint with grit and dirt left from the previous customer. We also recommend bringing soft cloths for drying and buffing, a bucket and a soft sponge, and a squeegee for windows. Additional items to bring include interior cleaning supplies for leather and upholstery and a multipurpose cleaner for the dashboard.

Understand the Settings

Car washes usually provide detailed instructions for how to use the wash features. Using products and settings incorrectly could leave your car dirtier than before your wash. Review the instructions to optimize your car wash experience!

Extreme water pressure can also damage your paint. Use a medium-pressure hose setting and don’t stand too close. Stand three to five feet back from your car. If you’re getting wet, back up!

The car community has varying opinions about using the pre-soak setting. Some say it’s just diluted soap at a lower pressure setting. Others hail it as one of the most important parts of a car wash. It’s up to you to decide your opinion on the “controversial” pre-soak debate.

Scrub the Right Way

Using hard bristle brushes can severely damage your vehicle’s exterior. Using a sponge or a cloth to handwash your car is much safer and won’t cause any damage. Scrub your car from top to bottom so that the dirt moves downward instead of spreading to areas you’ve already cleaned.

Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!

Thoroughly rinsing is one of the most important parts of a car wash. Car wash soaps contain chemicals that can damage your paint if not properly rinsed off. Start at the top of your vehicle and work your way down with the hose. Focus on the vehicle’s cracks, seams, and corners.

Dry With Purpose

Take the time to properly dry your car from top to bottom with a microfiber cloth. Microfiber is much less abrasive than household towels made of cotton or polyester. This type of cloth is also more absorbent, saving you time and effort.  We promise, it’s worth it! Your car will look shinier and won’t have those pesky hard water spots!


Looking to purchase a new ride? Submit your Request here! (Car washes sold separately)

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