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Automatic car wash or hand washing: Which is best?

When it comes to washing your car, you can choose to wash it by hand, using brushes, cloths, and water, or opt for an automatic wash with high-pressure water guns.

Do you know which option is best for your vehicle? Read on to learn how to protect your car’s paintwork.


What is hand washing?

Manual, or hand, car washing is the most commonly used type of wash in the automotive industry and is usually done at home with specific car soap or shampoo, car cleaning cloths, and water.

Washing your car may seem like a simple task, but it’s something you need to take care when doing so as not to damage your car’s paintwork.

If you want to find out how to clean your upholstery, see our article How to clean car upholstery effectively.

What care should you take when hand washing your car?

Before you start washing your car, you should start by assessing what you’re going to wash and how you’re going to wash it. Then you should take the following precautions:


1. Park in a covered area

Washing your vehicle in direct sunlight may harm your vehicle’s paintwork, as the sunlight can react with the soap to leave marks on your car.

Look for somewhere covered where you’re sure to be shielded from the sun.


2. Choose the right products

Using products not designed for use when washing your car by hand is a mistake people make fairly frequently.

Avoid using homemade products and surface cleaners to clean your car.


3. Mind the engine

If washing your engine, you should do so with the utmost care, given that it contains electrical components.

Avoid allowing too much water to splash on the engine’s electrical components to avoid short circuits.

If you’re looking for more information on how to wash your car engine, check out our article Washing your car engine: How to give it a proper wash.


4. Start at the top of your car

The first thing you should do when washing your car by hand is start at the top and work your way down, as dirt tends to run down your vehicle.

If you start handwashing from the bottom, you’ll be giving yourself double the work.


5. Wash your car in sections

We suggest dividing your car into sections for a more careful clean, ensuring every part gets the attention it deserves.

When washing in sections, you also avoid the risk of staining or damaging certain parts of your car by letting the product dry on the car’s surface.


6. Dry your car with a microfibre cloth

Once you’ve finished handwashing your car, we suggest drying it with a microfibre cloth. Drying your car in this way prevents moisture from building up and staining it.

If you have an air compressor at home, you can also use it to blow away water residue that has built up in hard-to-reach areas.


What happens at an automatic car wash?

Automatic car washing, as the name suggests, is done by mechanisms automated to wash your car automatically. This type of washing involves the vehicle being pre-washed with powerful car shampoo to remove dirt and then rinsed with high-pressure water jets.

The last part of the wash involves rollers rotating at high speeds, being swept up and down the car to remove accumulated dirt.


What are the advantages of using an automatic car wash?

  • You get a quick wash;
  • It’s cheaper than manual washing.


What are the disadvantages of using an automatic car wash?

  • Water jets can cause damage to your paintwork;
  • Rollers can scratch your car’s paintwork;
  • Not as effective as manual washing.


Automatic car wash or hand washing: Which is best?

The best option to wash your car is manual washing.

Now that you know which choice is best between manual and automatic washing, you can clean your car carefully to ensure your car’s paintwork and rims are left sparkling.

Remember that regularly taking your car for an automatic wash can damage its paintwork over time. As such, hand washing your car is the best option to keep your car in the best condition possible.

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