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Pros and Cons of a Self-Service Car Wash

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If you ask us, taking the car out for a spin is one of life’s simplest pleasures – especially come the weekend when a recharge and unwind is in desperate order.

But all too often we hear the relaxing experience is marred when it comes to washing the dirt and grime from the vehicle post-drive. 

While for many owners the act of washing their own car is part of the road trip ritual, we need to be honest, it is not without risks.

So, in this blog post we thought we would explore the pros and cons of the self-service car wash, ultimately answering; what makes for the best method of cleaning a car? 

But first let’s take things back to basics.

What is a self-service car wash?

Anyone who has searched for a “self-service car wash near me, knows there are several car wash types on the market. 

Knowing where to start can definitely be a hurdle in and of itself.

There’s everything from self-service, to automatic, drive-thru, tunnel washes, touchless automatic – even mobile car washes these days.

For the purpose of clarity, in this article when we refer to a self-service car we are not referring to an at-home car wash. 

Instead, we’re talking about when drivers take their vehicle to the self-service section of a washing facility. 

Here, they are required to pay a set amount of money, all to access the equipment to clean their own wheels. This self-service is done within a set amount of time, and at the facility in question.

A self-service clean will typically involve spraying the vehicle with a powerful stream of water, washing it with a soapy solution, giving it a rinse and dry, before applying a protective wax or polish.

The self-service is a great alternative for those who love washing their own car but don’t have the proper equipment, or space, to do so.

It’s also ideal for those on a budget as the cleaning is done by the driver, rather than service technicians. An ample amount is also saved as they’re not buying the equipment and cleaning solutions themselves.

Self service car wash

What are the benefits of a self-service car wash?

So, we’ve already begun to touch on the pros of the self-service car wash; namely that it helps drivers save on space and money.

But let’s examine a few more advantages of this cleaning method, shall we?

Saves you from making a mess at home:  No-one likes a sudsy driveway at home, or all that cleaning product flowing out into garden beds or drains. The self-service car wash provides a safe space for you to scrub your vehicle without leaving a mess in your personal haven.

You have control: Cleaning can be a personal thing, and this point is a major draw card for those who hate to see the clean of their beloved wheels handed off to someone else. To do a job the way you want it done, sometimes it feels like you just must do it yourself.

You have access to professional tools and cleaning agents:  When it comes to benefits this is probably the most important of them. The self-service car wash takes the guesswork out of what cleaning agent and tools you need to do the job, including vacuums to clean out the insides, and nice fragrances to leave your car smelling fresh as can be. 

With all that in mind, one can’t examine the pros without being honest about the cons, and as we mentioned, there are a few risks associated with the self-service car wash.


What are the disadvantages of a self-service car wash?

No pun intended, but we haven’t even scratched the surface here, for the self-service car wash does have its downsides.

When weighing up the benefits of low cost and saving on mess at home, you also have to take the below into consideration.

The water: Not all water is created equal, and you will find a lot of self-service options use unfiltered water. While you may be thinking what’s the big deal here, we assure you the H20 does make a difference; unfiltered water can lead to unsightly water stains and streaks.

A lack of familiarity: If you’re not familiar with the cleaning agents provided you can damage your car, so pay attention to whether the solutions are PH-balanced. You don’t want your car to be stripped and scratched at the end of the clean; both can be the result of a lack of familiarity.

It’s dirty work: To do a thorough clean you will need to get wet, sudsy, and dirty. Now a little bit of elbow grease does not faze everybody, but it is worth mentioning, as some prior planning is needed – meaning sometimes self-service is not the most convenient. For instance, you want to factor the time of the day you go into the decision-making process, as well as what clothes to wear.

It’s time consuming: This brings us to another point. To do a good job you will need to put in the effort, which takes time. But the whole pay-model of a self-service car wash works off the basis of you paying for that time. See the conundrum? This means you could inadvertently rush the job, which ultimately means you don’t do as good a clean as needed, or in the worst case scenario, even damage the car by taking short cuts/being rough.

So, we’ve talked about the advantages and disadvantages of the self-service car wash – and it should be clear by now there are arguments for both sides!

It’s time for us to now solve the ultimate car washing dilemma; what is the safest type of car wash.


Brush car wash


What is the best method of cleaning a car?  

To self-service clean or not to self-service clean; that is the question you should be asking yourself after weighing up the above.

And look, it can be a good option for those who need to keep a tighter hold on the purse strings, should they be willing to take the proper amount of time – and more importantly, care – when it comes to cleaning.

But for us, we personally believe it’s not the most convenient of options.

In a fast-paced world of school drop-offs, work, chores, those seemingly never-ending grocery runs, we’re guessing you want your time to be well maximised and your money smartly-spent.

Sadly, with a self-service car wash you risk walking away feeling neither of these things. 

That’s why we think automated car washes are always the way to go. Some things, on some days, are best left to the professionals after all. 

Besides, after the hustle and bustle of your day – you deserve to put your feet up and relax!

If you found this blog post useful please check our previous article: Touchless vs Brush vs Soft Cloth Car Wash.


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