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How to Use a Car Wash: A Guide for First-Timers

How to Use a Car Wash: A Guide for First-Timers

How to Use a Car Wash

Wondering how to use a car wash? Have you grown tired of wasting your weekend with a bucket of bubbles, water hose, and sponge to completely wash down your car? We get it; cleaning a car isn’t the most fun activity to do in your free time.

In fact, it is more like a chore we all try to run away from. But the great thing is that there are alternatives to it. So, all you lazy people out there looking for a quick and easy solution to cleaning your car, we are going to talk about using a car wash and making the most out of it.

Car washes have been around for years now. They are available widely and are extremely simple to use too. The best part of it all is that it makes it possible to have a squeaky-clean car by just paying no more than a couple of dollars. Besides, it takes only a couple of minutes to fully clean the car too, which is something that you will never achieve if you wash your car yourself.

However, the thought of it could be daunting if you have never been to one. There are different kinds of car washes available. Allow us to share with you everything that we know about them.

How to Use a Car Wash: The Different Types

Washing your car is inevitable, and you have to find the most convenient ways in order to do so. While there are quite a few ways to wash your car, the most popular kinds of service that people commonly use are the coin-operated car wash and the drive-through car wash. We will talk about each of them in detail and also give you a brief guide on how to use them.

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Coin-Operated Car Wash

You will notice that quite a few gas stations have coin-operated car washes wherein you can drive in your car and use the tools and equipment provided by them by inserting a coin into the machine.

A coin-operated car wash is a hands-on procedure. You must be completely prepared with the right kind of footwear and clothing, and most importantly, have your pocket filled with change for the machine.

Step 1 – Ready the Coins

In order to use the machine, you must have the right amount of change. So, either carry it with you before you use the machine or ask the cashier at the gas station to provide you with the right amount of change. Some machine also accepts bills.

Step 2 – Park the Car

Before beginning the car washing process, you will have to park your car in the wash bay. In most cases, coin-operated car washes are all indoor with an overhead door. Once you are in the wash bay, close the overhead door. Be sure to turn off your ignition and roll up all of the windows.

Step 3 – Insert the Coin/s

The car wash will become active, and the timer starts running the second you insert the payment into the slot. Be aware of how long the wash remains active and keep the additional payment ready to put into the slot when the car wash shuts off.

Step 4 – Wet the Car

Thoroughly wet your car to get rid of any loose dirt. You will be able to choose the pressure on the washer wand. Keep the pressure at the highest to get rid of spots that are heavily soiled.

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Step 5 – Soap it Up!

Once you have thoroughly wet your car, scrub it down with a soapy brush by starting right from the top and slowly working your way down. Always clean the wheels last.

Step 6 – Rinse

Again, keep the pressure on the water wand at the highest to fully rinse the soap off your car. Do this again from the start and work your way to the bottom. Do this until you find no more suds coming off the car.

Step 7 – To Wax or Not

You can choose to spray wax your car by following the instructions mentioned there. However, you may not find this at all gas station car washes.

That’s it. Now simply pull out of the bay. Be as efficient and quick you possibly can during this whole process as that way you will be able to save money and time and will also allow the next person to start washing his car quickly.

Drive-Through Car Wash

A drive-through car wash is an excellent way to wash your car when you do not have much time or are in no mood to clean your car yourself. It will let all the machines do the dirty work for you while you sit in your car. This also includes the machine pulling your car through the entire process.

The downside to this, however, is that they tend to be harsher on the car than a coin-operated car wash. If the brushes are old, it is possible for them to cause abrasive damage to the paint or even break wipers and antenna in their rotating motion.

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Step 1 – Pay Up

Pay for the car wash at the counter before washing the car. There could be different grades of wash too, including a spray wax or an undercarriage cleaning.

Step 2 – Get in Line

Pull in to the opening of the car wash. You would typically find arrows that indicate the right path and where exactly to stop. This differs in every car wash too. In the meantime, roll up the windows, lower or remove the radio antenna, and keep your wipers off.

Step 3 – Align and Park

Align the wheels of your car with the track system that will guide through the wash. Once aligned, put your car in park or neutral. Do not pull the emergency brake nor press the brake.

Step 4 – Let the Machine Do Its Magic

The machine will pull the car forward and the exterior will be cleaned and dried (and other features, if opted) all automatically. Once the cleaning process is complete, start your car and drive away will a clean car.


Now you know exactly how to use a car wash, both the coin-operated and drive-through type. There clearly is no rocket science in order to do so. The two we have talked about at length is the most common types of car washes.

All things considered, we highly recommend the coin-operated car wash more than the drive-through car wash. This is because there is minimal to no risks involved for your car to get damage.