The Paint A Part Blog

Automatic Car Wash vs Hand Wash: Which is Better for your Paint?

foam soap tentacles in car wash

Find Out Which Style of Car Washes Actually Damages Your Car More Than Protecting It.

Washing your car is one of the many regular practices needed for vehicle upkeep. Everybody has a different way of washing their car: some like to wash by hand, while others enjoy the efficiency of an automatic wash. Have you ever thought about what type of wash might be better for your paint. Is washing by hand more careful, or do automatic washes clean your vehicle in ways a hand wash can’t compete with? Is one method more likely to damage your paint job? Which method is more cost-effective? We’ll answer your concerns and let you decide which method of washing will better protect car paint.


Which Car Washing Option Will Most Likely Damage Your Car Paint?

Touchless car wash

When it comes to a touchless car wash vs non-touchless car wash, the automatic wash is less likely to damage your paint. Hand washing your car requires the use of hard brushes –and all that careful cleaning can damage your auto paint. Automatic car washes are designed to be gentle on top of being faster and more efficient.

Not all automatic car washes are equal, however. There are touchless and non-touchless automatic car washes. How does a touchless car wash vs non-touchless car wash stack up? A non-touchless, or soft-touch car wash, is more thorough and car reach places touchless car washes cannot, but like hand washing, you also risk scratching your paint. Touchless car washes carry the lowest risk for scratching your pain, but they also provide the least amount of cleaning.

Which Method Gets Your Car Cleaner?

Hand drying car with micro fiber cloth

When it comes to attention, a careful hand washing cleans your car more thoroughly than an automatic wash can. Automatic washes are faster and easier, but that efficiency comes with its own drawbacks. When you wash a car or truck by hand, you’re able to give your ride a more thorough wash. By getting in close contact with your car, you can reach places automatic washes can’t, like under your chassis. Some automatic car washes are better at cleaning than others. A non-touchless car wash gives you a better cleaning than a touchless car wash will.

Using an automatic car wash puts you at risk for water spotting. When beads of water dry before you have the chance to clean them off, they leave behind stains called water spots. Because automatic car washes aren’t as thorough, you might wind up with more water spots on your paint job.

How Often Should You Wax a Car?

Regular waxing is an important part of car maintenance –experts suggest you do it every season. That’s every three or four months. Depending on the type of car wax you use, you may need to wax more frequently or less frequently. For example, a paste wax is denser and lasts longer than a liquid wax will. Where your vehicle is stored and how often its driven also makes a difference. A vehicle stored outside or driven more frequently will need to be waxed more frequently too.

Which Method Uses More Water?

Which washing method is more efficient? The answer might surprise you: automated car washes are more efficient than hand washing when it comes to water usage. Washing your car at home can use up to ten times more water. Over the same long period of time, a commercial car wash uses about 50 gallons to clean your car, while an at-home wash consumes almost 100 gallons of water.

Does the Soap you use Make a Difference?

The soap you use to wash your car does make a difference. Dish soap might be a convenient option, but it has hidden drawbacks. Dish soaps contain abrasive particles that help them remove grease and residue, and these particles can also remove your paint job’s protective top coating. Hand soap and glass cleaner contain similar particles and should also be avoided.

Instead of using dish soap, opt for using non-abrasive soaps specially designed for auto bodies. If you don’t have any specialized soaps, you can also try using a mild laundry detergent. These detergents aren’t strong enough to strip away your car’s paint or coating. Baby shampoo is another accessible alternative to car washing soap, because it uses mild chemicals and will be gentler on your auto body.

Is There A Proper Technique For Handwashing Your Car?

Soapy car being hand washed

When you wash your car or truck’s body at home, you should always work top to bottom. That’s because the soapy water drips downward, and if you wash from the bottom-upward, you risk dirtying the spots you’ve already worked on. Pay extra attention to your wheels and bumpers, because these are usually the dirtiest part of your vehicle. Once you’ve hand washed your car, you can apply a wax to protect car paint.

Which Method Saves You More Money?

paying for carwash with debit card

Finally, everyone wants to know which method of car washing is most cost effective. Automatic car washes are more costly than washing your car at home because they use special machines to maximize efficiency. A thorough hand washing at home takes longer, but it will always be cheaper.

How Can I Repair Damaged Paint without Paying a Fortune?

If you notice scratches, scuffs, dings, and chips in your car paint there are always options to resolve these problems. Paint A Part delivers pre painted replacement bumpers, fenders, hoods, and more, directly to your door and at a fraction of the cost you pay an automotive body shop. Save money and get that car or truck of yours road ready in no time factory matched painted auto body parts from Paint A Part.

front end of car leaving touchless car wash