18 Things You Should Know about Self Car Wash

Self car wash: Looking for a cheap, effective way to clean your car? A manual car wash is exactly what you need. Even if you’ve never been to one before, most self-service stations are relatively similar, and they’re all easy to use. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of using a self-serve car wash so you can drive off with a clean, shiny vehicle.

Read on: 12 Tips on Choosing a Car Wash & Paying

Self car wash

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1. Things You Should Know

  • Use the service machine inside the car wash bay to pay and select the setting that you want.
  • Rinse your car with water, then spray it with soap or scrub it with the foam brush. Apply tire cleaner to the tires and wheel wells for an extra clean.
  • Rinse your car with Spot Free Rinse to ensure it dries without streaks.

Self car wash

2. Pull into an empty bay and park your car.

The bay is the area of the self-service station where you will be washing your car. Park your car in the center of the bay, leaving enough room to walk in front of your car.

3. Hang your floor mats on the provided metal clips.

If your floor mats are made of rubber or plastic, take them out of your car and hang them on the bay with metal clips. If your car wash doesn’t have metal clips, simply set them against the wall so you can wash them later. Skip this step if your mats are made of carpet, or if you’d rather not clean them.

4. Insert coins or a credit card into the machine.

Many newer machines work with a credit card, but older models might only take coins. Once you insert your money, the sprayer wand will be ready to go, so make sure you’re ready to wash!

  • Different car washes charge different amounts, but in general, most of them charge about $1 per minute.
  • If you’re using a credit card, the machine will automatically charge the card from when you turn the machine on until you press stop.
  • If you’re using quarters, the machine will stay on for the amount of time you pay for. If the machine stops, you can insert more money to turn it back on again.

Self car wash

5. Set the dial to “Wash” or “Pre-Soak.”

Head over to the machine that controls the settings of your spray wand. Near the bottom, you’ll notice a dial with about 10 options on it. To start, turn the knob to either the “Wash” setting or the “Pre-Soak” setting to get your car wet.

6. Stand about 3 to 5 feet (0.91 to 1.52 m) away from your car as you wash.

If you stand too close, the high-pressure stream can damage your vehicle. Keep a safe distance so you don’t scratch or mark up your car.

Self car wash

7. Rinse your entire car with water.

Hold the spray wand away from your body, and squeeze the handle to release a high-pressure water stream. Take one full lap around the car, and spray down the entire vehicle to remove superficial dirt and debris.

  • Use the spray nozzle to rinse your entire car, including the wheels, the mirrors, the undercarriage, and your floor mats.
  • If you’re using the Pre-Wash setting, switch to Wash after you’ve made your first lap around the car. Once you’ve switched to Wash, take another complete lap before moving on to the next step.

8. Apply soap to your car with the spray wand.

Turn the dial on the machine from Wash to Soap. When you pull the handle on the spray wand, a soapy stream will start spraying from the wand. Take another lap around your car to spray down your entire vehicle with the suds from top to bottom, including the tires and wheel wells.

  • Pay extra attention to the dirtiest parts of your car during this step, especially the crevices underneath the doors and the front grill.

Self car wash

9. Rinse the foam brush with the spray wand.

Look around for the foam brush, which is near the service machine. Grit, sand, and mud might linger in the brush from previous use, so quickly change the spray wand setting back to Rinse, then rinse off the bristles of the foam brush.

  • Some car enthusiasts prefer not to use the foam brush at all. Instead, they’ll bring their own sponges from home, and fill a bucket with soapy water from the machine to dip their sponge in.
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10. Brush your entire car with the foam brush.

Manual scrubbing will leave your car shiny and sparkling clean. Hold the foam brush by the handle and work from the top down, starting on the roof of the car and moving down to the body. Then, use the foam brush on the wheels and the wheel wells.

  • Gently flick the soap off of the foam brush every minute or so to dislodge dirt and grime.
  • If you’re using a sponge that you brought from home, the same theory applies: work your way from the top down, ending with your tires and wheel wells.
  • Don’t forget to scrub your mats, too!
    Read also: 25 Ways on How to Set up a Drive Thru Car Wash

11. Apply tire cleaner to the wheels and tires.

Head back to the service machine and turn the knob to “Wheel and Tire.” Use the spray nozzle to spray down your wheels, then scrub them with the foam brush for a deeper clean.

12. Rinse and dry your car mats.

It’s easy to leave your car mats behind, so don’t forget them! When you’re finished scrubbing, trade the foam brush back for the spray wand, and turn the wand to the Rinse setting. Give the mats a final rinse, then dry them off with a paper towel or a rag that you brought from home.

  • Rinsing your car mats first gives them time to dry while you finish up with the rest of your car.

Self car wash

13. Use the spray wand to rinse all of the suds from your car.

Take a lap around your car to rinse all of the soap from your car, working from the top down. It’s best to work quickly to prevent a soapy film from developing on your car.

See also: How Do I Open Water Touchless Car Wash Near Me( Read this 15 Tips)

14. Wax your car for a shiny finish.

If the wax setting is available at the station, set the spray nozzle to Wax and take a final lap around your car. This will help seal in the clean surface of the body while protecting the paint from dirt and salt.

  • Waxing your car helps it dry faster, especially when it rains.

Self car wash

15. Rinse your car with a Spot Free Rinse.

If you’ve added wax to your car, there’s one final step you need to do: rinse it off again. Set the spray nozzle to Spot Free Rinse to use filtered water. Then, rinse your car from the top down, being sure to get the crevices and the wheel wells as well.

Read also: Top 13 Ways to Start Car Wash Business

16. Dry your car with the air dry nozzle if your car wash has one.

Not all self-service car washes have a drying option, but some new ones do! If you’d like to dry your car quickly, set the nozzle to “Air Dry” and use the hose attached to the service machine to dry off your car.

  • Work your way from the top down to gently push the water off your car.
  • You can also bring a microfiber towel from home and use that to dry off your car. Or, you can simply wait for your car to air dry once you drive away.

Self car wash

17. Press “Stop” on the service machine and replace the spray wand.

At this point, you are finished using the spray wand, so it’s time to return it to the place where you found it at the station. Press “Stop” on the service machine so it stops charging you money.

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18. More tips

  • Most car washes have a vacuum that you can use on the inside of your car, too. For a full deep-clean, vacuum the inside of your car before heading to the self-serve car wash station

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