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  • Writer's pictureCWPD Marketing Team

A Brief History of the Car Wash

It’s been a long time since the only options a person had were to wash his own car by hand or pay someone else to do so. Detroit was the location of the earliest semiautomatic washes. Conveyors dragged the car forward while employees scrubbed the car down manually with brushes. How did we get from those humble beginnings to the modern express car wash?

The Introduction of the Self-Service Car Wash

In the 60s and more so in the 70s, self-service car washes started to spring up across the country. Sprayers, brushes, spot removers, tire cleaners, fragrances and the like were made available for drivers to use. A coin in the machine turned on the shampooer, wash wand, or other elements. Now a driver could get a clean car without having to purchase cleaners, sponges, and other supplies. No more wet driveways, unless the car was still dripping when you got home.

Automatic Wash Bays Go Touchless

Early automatic car washes gained a bad reputation for beating up a car’s finish with plastic brushes. Thus, the brushless car wash came into existence. You could still get the tender care from the self-service bay without having to get wet. Suddenly, business persons in suits and dresses could get a car wash at lunchtime.

The Return to the Manual Wash

As owning a new car became more common, consumers wanted even more attention to detail when it came to getting a car wash. Soon, detail shops opened that not only often a hand wash and wax but also internal detailing such as shampooing of rugs and leather protector for seats. While hand wash prices were higher than running through the automatic bay, car owners saw it as a way to protect their investment.

Modern Tunnel Car Washes

With annual sales in the billions, the car wash industry has now expanded to include various options to meet the needs of individual car owners. Many washes feature multiple self-service and automatic bays. The tunnel car wash is also becoming an inexpensive way to get a wash with quality comparable to a hand wash for a fraction of the price. Plus, the driver enjoys a relaxing experience either riding along at some washes or spending a few minutes in a waiting area with amenities like coffee and tea at others.

The Future of the Car Wash

This is a booming industry with plenty of room for investors to stake out a claim. Water reclamation systems, high-pressure nozzles, computer controls, and other advanced features are driving the industry into the future. Are you ready to join the future of the car wash industry?

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