The Facts About Car Wash Facilities

Car wash facilities generally fall into one of three categories: In-bay automatics (where the vehicle remains stationary while machinery moves around it); conveyor systems; or self service stations. CR checked in with paint specialists, car-wash owners and professional detailers to get the scoop.


Slick soap foam lubricates, loosens and floats abrasive contaminants off the paint. But what happens to the dirty runoff?

The History of Car Washing

One hundred years ago, Michigan’s city of Detroit was home to the first car wash. While this business was dubbed Automated Laundry, it did not use any automated systems; instead cars were pushed into a garage where employees manu 인천운전연수 ally soaped, rinsed and dried them. This process was very time consuming and was not efficient at all!

It wasn’t until 1940 when the first automatic conveyor car wash opened. This was a huge step forward for the industry but not as efficient as today’s modern car wash technology. This system used a winch to pull the vehicle through the tunnel while workers aided in the scrubbing, rinsing and drying process.

1946 brought more advancements to the car washing world. A company named Minit-Man was founded as well as the Anderson brothers introduced the first fully hands-free automatic car wash in Seattle, Washington. This was made possible by a 50 HP blow dryer, nozzles that sprayed the vehicle with soap and water and a car pulley.

As the economy improved in the 1980s, customers started to become more specific about how they wanted their cars cleaned. This led to the invention of the flex-serve car wash, where customers could choose between different cleaning options such as express detail or full-service washing. From here, the industry has continued to grow and improve with new 인천운전연수 technologies such as soft cloth friction washing and wraparound brushes.

The Equipment

Car washing involves a lot of machinery. Every piece of equipment has a specific purpose, and each car wash designer and manufacturer offers guidance as to which pieces fit a region’s climate and water supply.

Some of the most basic equipment includes conveyor belts (or tunnels) that transport vehicles through the cleaning process, mitter curtains made of cloth strips that gently rub a vehicle’s surface, and dryers that leave windows, chrome and paint spot free. Many facilities also have high pressure equipment, which uses pressurized water to flush dirt out of areas that brushes and other friction equipment cannot reach. This equipment consists of side and top washers, as well as prep guns.

Many professional car washes use water treatment systems like reverse osmosis (RO), to reduce the amount of energy and water used in the wash. This helps them stay environmentally friendly, which can be a big plus when it comes to attracting customers and meeting regulatory requirements in certain regions. Water storage tanks are also a necessity, as they collect runoff and store it for reuse or disposal. Some of these systems require regular maintenance to keep sediment from settling in the bottom. This prevents water from entering storm drains and contaminating soil. This is especially important in areas with tighter regulations and water restrictions.

The Soap

Carwashers need soap, but the ordinary kind you might use on your lasagna pan or the shirt sleeve that got covered in soup won’t cut it. To wash a vehicle without harming its paint job, you need a special type of soap.

That’s why the industry has come up with a wide variety of task-specific soaps and shampoos, as well as rinseless or waterless options. Many of these products are based on newer, concentrated chemistry that improves soil-penetrating and loosening capabilities and reduces water usage.

For example, wheel cleaning/iron removal products are formulated to be highly effective for removing embedded brake and other ferrous dust, without damaging the painted finish. Some of these products are available as spray cleaners, while others are formulated as shampoos and can be used with traditional hose-and-bucket or foam gun/foam lance techniques.

For those who wash their vehicles at a self-serve carwash, Marquis suggests using reclaim-compatible or reclaim-friendly products that won’t interfere with the performance of the reclaim system. He also advises rinsing the surface of the car before beginning washing to remove loose dirt particles and avoid scratching, and washing and rinsing in sections rather than going over the whole car at once. He also recommends avoiding high-pressure applications of any sort during the wash process, as this can damage the vehicle’s clear coat.

The Water

Car washes use lots of water. Between 15 and 85 gallons per car are needed to clean a vehicle, depending on the method of cleaning.

The amount of water used can be a problem, especially in drought conditions like the one currently occurring in Utah. The National Carwash Association suggests that a good goal is to use 40 gallons or less of fresh water per vehicle. Using recycled or reclaimed water, as well as using a less harsh detergent and high-pressure rinses can help carwash owners achieve this goal.

Using recycled water also helps reduce sewer costs and waste disposal fees, which can be significant for carwashes. Water recycling systems use a combination of settling tanks, filtering and recirculation to remove solids from the reclaimed water before pumping it to the wash tunnels. These systems are very effective at reducing the total volume of freshwater used.

Another advantage of reclaimed or recycled water is that it significantly reduces the amount of pollutants discharged into local waterways. Automobile service station wastewater, or ASSW, is known to contain non-biodegradable or slow-degrading contaminants such as surfactants, oil and greases, phosphorus, nitrogen and sulfate; metals (antimony, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, silver and zinc); and microorganisms (total coliform, E coli, Aeromonas, Pseudomonas and Verrucomicrobia) [1]. Water recycling technologies that reduce COD, TSS, turbidity and sulfates can significantly reduce the environmental impact of carwash facilities.