When you want to take care of your car — improving its appearance, extending its life, maintaining its resale value — it needs to be washed regularly. However, when you’re interested in maximum benefits from regular washes, which option should you choose? Is it better to wash a car by hand, or to use a drive-through car wash? To help answer these questions, here’s a look at the differences between an automated car wash and a home car wash.
The Pros and Cons of Car Washing at Home
There’s something idyllic about washing your car at home — scrubbing away dirt by hand, protecting the paint with a level of care that only you can provide. Hand-washing is the most traditional way to clean a car. Does it make sense for you?
Read below for pros and cons:
- PRO: Higher touch. There’s just no comparison to the level of attention and service you can give your car. When you are the one taking off dirt and reaching into crevices, your car may get a superior wash.
- PRO: Low cost. All it costs to clean your car is the expense of buckets, quality sponges and wipes — like the ones we offer at CleanTools — water and soap. Most of these items are easy to access and keep on hand, so you’re able to wash your car anytime.
- CON: Damage to paint. Ironically, the extra care you can give your car through hand-washing could actually harm it. As you scrub away at the paint, you could accidentally scratch it or wear away at its delicate nature. It might need to be repaired or replaced sooner.
- CON: Time-intensive. Washing your car yourself takes longer than running it through a car wash, no question. It also can be physically demanding to keep laboring at scrubbing and wiping for several hours — causing you to be less focused and precise in your cleaning.
The Pros and Cons of an Automatic Car Wash
In terms of convenience, you can’t beat the appeal of driving to the local automated wash and getting your car clean in minutes. Easily available and typically inexpensive, car washes via car wash machines have their own set of pros and cons, including:
- PRO: Thorough coverage. Today’s automated car washes are professionally designed to run through a specific set of steps, so it’s less likely that some part of your vehicle would get overlooked.
- PRO: Better paint protection. A car wash is designed to be gentle, even as it quickly and efficiently cleans your car. This can protect your paint and help it last longer.
- PRO: Fast. One of the biggest benefits of a car wash is speed. You can pull in and out in minutes, getting your vehicle clean without wasting a moment.
- CON: Water spotting. Sometimes, automated car washes will leave watermarks on the vehicles that don’t get to air-dry perfectly, so the overall effect is less than ideal.
- CON: Lower touch. While a wash that involves less car contact can be good for the paint, there’s also the chance that some hard-to-remove grime gets left on the vehicle after an automated wash.
How do you know if hand-washing or automated washing makes more sense for you and your vehicle? If you have a specialty car that you want to protect personally, you will likely prefer hand-washing. If you’re in a rush and don’t have a lot of time to spare, a car wash makes the most sense. Many car owners will use both options — washing at home when they have the time and energy, and washing at a facility when they don’t.