How Long Does It Take To Wash a Car by Hand?

Washing your car by hand ensures every part of it gets properly cleaned. What once looked dirty and grimy now shines amongst the sea of cars in your city. Having a clean car can fill you with pride, but the time it takes to reach that feeling is an investment.

Man hand washing the car wheels

Washing your car by hand can take between one to three hours. The time you take varies on the type of cleaning you choose. If you take your car to a hand car wash center, it will take around an hour. Expect two to three hours if you decide to handwash your vehicle yourself.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explore a few topics related to handwashing your car, including the factors that affect the duration of a hand car wash and why it’s better to wash your car by hand. I’ll also tell you the fastest way to wash a car by hand and how often you should wash your car.

Factors That Affect the Duration of a Hand Car Wash

Man focusing on hand car wash

Factors that affect the duration of a hand car wash include the process you use to wash the car, what kind of equipment you use, and how long you spend on each step. Let’s examine each of these factors in more detail.

The Process of the Hand Wash

The process used in handwashing a car can vary amongst different people and car wash centers. For example, some might only use snow foam once on the car, while others use it twice.

Furthermore, some people incorporate waxing into their washing routine. Others save that for a separate occasion. The process will also depend on the number of rinses one gives the car. Some rinse the vehicle after each step, while some only give the car two rinses.

The Materials and Equipment

Additionally, the materials and equipment used can affect the duration of a hand car wash. For example, if you use a poor-quality car shampoo, you’ll have to wash the car twice to get it properly cleaned.

Spraying the car down with a water hose will also be much faster than having to rinse it with clean buckets of water you bring out from inside the house.

The Duration of Each Step in the Hand Wash Process

Finally, if a specific step takes longer or shorter than other car wash centers, this will affect the duration. This is true whether you hand wash the car yourself or take it to a carwash center. For example, some automatic car washes dry the vehicle quicker while others take longer.

Is It Better To Wash Your Car by Hand?

Girl confused in the car

It’s better to wash your car by hand because doing so can ensure that your vehicle gets thoroughly cleaned and not damaged during the process. While automatic car washes are generally pretty safe, there’s always the potential for damage. If you wash the car yourself, you can ensure you’re careful.

Hand washing your car or taking it to an automatic car wash both have pros and cons.

It’s no surprise that an automatic car wash is faster than a hand wash. However, it isn’t necessarily better for your car’s condition.

Let’s look at the three main reasons why a hand car wash might be better for your car despite taking longer:

It Can Protect Your Vehicle From Damage

Automatic car washes might seem like a cheaper and time-saving way to wash your car. However, they may cost you more in the long run because of the damage they can inflict on your vehicle.

Automatic car washes use brushes that aren’t gentle or maintained regularly. Therefore, they can scratch and create swirl marks on your vehicle. This damage can further build up and ruin the paint of your car.

It Makes Your Car Cleaner

An automatic car wash can’t reach all the areas of your vehicle’s exterior. With a hand wash, more attention is paid to every part, ensuring it is thoroughly cleaned in every corner.

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Automatic car washes also use brushes that aren’t cleaned out, which contaminate your vehicle and make it dirtier.

It’s Cheaper in the Long-Run

It might seem like a hand car wash is more expensive, but it’s economical in the long run because your car stays cleaner for longer because it’s been thoroughly cleaned, reducing the trips you need to take to a car wash center.

Additionally, your car is more prone to damage from an automatic car wash, so you’ll avoid the cost of repairs.

The Fastest Way To Wash a Car by Hand (Step-by-Step)

Man cleaning side mirror

If you want the benefits of a hand car wash but are strapped for time, follow these 10 steps for a cleaner car:

Items you’ll need include the following:

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  • 2 microfibre cloths: A microfibre cloth allows the dirt to be lifted away without dragging across the paint and damaging your car. I recommend this 3-pack of Chemical Guys microfibre towels. They’re soft and won’t scratch your car.
  • A microfibre wash mitt: A microfibre wash mitt lifts the dirt away from your car, which gets trapped in the mitt. This reduces the risk of scratching your paint. Regular sponges and brushes don’t do that because they’re too dense, and there’s no place for the dirt to go. I recommend this 2-pack of Amazon Basics wash mitts.
  • 3 buckets: You’ll need one to clean the wheels, one to clean the rest of the car, and the last one will have plain, clean water.
  • A pressure washer or hose: This will allow you to rinse the car easily.
  • Snow foam: Snow foam eats the dirt on the surface of your car and softens it, which makes it easier to clean. I recommend Chemical Guys Car Wash Soap and Tool Daily Foam Cannon. The cannon makes it easy to apply the foaming soap onto the rest of your vehicle.
  • Car shampoo: You can use a car shampoo or the Chemical Guys Pink Foaming Car Wash Soap.

Once you have everything you need, you can get started. Here are ten easy-to-follow steps to help you wash your car more quickly:

  1. Rinse your wheels with a hose/pressure washer.
  2. Mix car shampoo and water in one of the buckets. We use a separate bucket for the wheels because they tend to be the dirtiest, and you don’t want to wash the rest of your car with grimy water.
  3. Soak your microfibre cloth into the car shampoo bucket and wipe the wheels.
  4. Rinse down the rest of your car with a hose/pressure washer.
  5. Cover your car in snow foam. Let the foam sit on your car for 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse the foam off with your hose/pressure washer.
  7. Next, add another layer of foam to reduce the risk of scratching your car. After that, you can wash your car with a microfibre cleaning cloth or a microfibre wash mitt. Dip your mitt/cloth into the 2nd bucket, which should have car shampoo mixed with water, and wash in a back-and-forth motion. Be gentle and light while you do this.
  8. Rinse your mitt/cloth in the 3rd bucket (with plain water) after each wash before dipping it into the 2nd bucket because you don’t want to transfer the dirt from each wash back to your car.
  9. Rinse the car down with your hose/pressure washer when you’re done washing it.
  10. Dry the car with a clean microfibre towel. Once again, be gentle and light when you do this. There’s no need to add pressure.

If doing this yourself is time-consuming, contact a hand car wash service near you. Your car is a reflection of you, and although you’d love to spend three hours cleaning it by yourself, sometimes it’s just not possible.

How Often Should You Wash Your Car?

Hand squeezing out cloth

You should wash your car at least once every two weeks, and be sure to wash it more frequently if you’ve driven through mud, muck, or something else that’s made it especially dirty.

You might be concerned that you might damage your car if you wash it too often, but if you use the suitable DIY materials or take it to a car wash center that treats your vehicle with TLC, your car will be healthy.

Final Thoughts

Washing your car by yourself can be a therapeutic activity. But you might not have two to three hours to spend doing it yourself.

If you want the best for your car without the considerable time investment, you can drive to your closest hand car wash service, which will preserve your car’s paint, and retain the value of your vehicle.

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