The local hand car wash

Are they really as bad as detailers say they are?

Even the best in the UK are still poor, and we all know of a few who give the appearance of being incredible but the reality is unless it's a LaFerrari it's just not going to get the treatment they appear to offer.

The local hand wash really don't care about swirls, they just want your care to look clean as quickly as possible but when you leave & when the sun hit's your paintwork will show the damage that has been caused due to low quality methods, formulas and equipment.

Micro Scratches, Swirls

Yep this is very real and it only takes one bad wash to create deep swirls in your paint work. To give you an example let's say a dirty cars comes in ahead of yours and they are using the same mitt that's just cleaned the underside of the last 5 cars before yours then you can almost guarantee they will be cleaning your car with effectively a sandpaper mitt.

Double bucket grit guards are an absolutely vital but of kit to a swirl free wash & you can almost guarantee nearly every local hand wash will have a drum split in half filled with cheap strong solution that will only most likely get replaced once or twice a day if your lucky. This split drum will be absolutely filthy and gritty by the time 5 cars have rolled through.

The grit, lack of care and drying processes are the main culprits for creating these swirls, the drying process can sometimes even include a squeegee, this rubber blade runs across your paint work, this truly the most sicking process to dry a car and carries a high risk of leaving deep micro scratches or an actual scratch if it remotely picks up any grit.

All in all you are almost guaranteed to pick up swirls when visting the local hand wash, aka chop and wash.

The techniques and equipment they use

Pole Brush

Often to speed up the process they will use a brush to cover more area quickly and the brush itself creates swirls and that's without mention of grit the brush picks up and holds creating further damage to you paintwork.

You often see people make this mistake in self serve jet washes when they use the brush.

If you see brush in use at any cost do not enter this car wash.

TFR / acids

Traffic film remover is primarily designed for trucks and is most probably a caustic formula. TFR much better suited to non painted surface. TFR is incredibly strong and frequent use will damage your painted clear coat because it's incredibly strong partially if it's not been diluted to the suggested strength from the manufacture. You will notice them spraying it on your car as you drive in, because it dissolves dirt quickly. Notice how no one wants to go near this solution and how carful they are not to allow to touch skin.

TFR is responsible for the corrosion you see on alloys, commonly BMW alloy lacquer breaks and bubbles when it's in contact with TFR also notice the plastic caps bubble up due to the strength of this product.


It really does amaze me that some hand car washes use a squeegee to dry your car because it would to an incredibly dim person to not be aware that this is scratching your car and carries a very high risk of picking up grit and scratching it further but yet they still use them. It really shows the lack of care they have for your pride and joy.

Hot breaks and alloys

Food for thought.

If you have been driving for 15 minutes or more than its very possible your breaks and alloys are going to be hot!

When hot alloys and breaks are mixed with TFR it only increase the chance of burning away pint on your alloys and callipers.

Ceramic Breaks

I would be truly amazed if I seen a car with ceramic breaks entering a local car wash but the are photo's online of supercars going through the Asda hand wash, ceramic breaks are very sensitive to chemicals and it can damage the discs and pads and you are most likely looking at spending upwards of £10,000 to replace all four sets so it's just not worth the risk.

PH Natural snow foam should be used to clean ceramic breaks.

What are my other options?

Swank it yourself

It's going to be very hard to do as bad a job as the local hand car wash, even with the most basic of methods just using one bucket and hose you are less likely to be leaving as many swirls as the local dirty rag facility.

It's actually surprisingly hard to swirl your car providing your working top to bottom with a fresh mitt. The local hand wash is swirling your car because grit is everywhere and on everything.

You can follow our free swank guides online LINK

Hire a a great detailer, ye detailers are a little pricy in comparison to the hand wash however our work and results speak volumes, your car is often your second most expensive asset after your house so it's worth looking after. Also resale value can be maintained with proper maintenance so the cost of detailer can almost pay for itself by the time you trade or sale your car.

Ceramic and protective coatings

Amazing so you have had your car corrected and all the swirls are gone and you opted for the ceramic coating to be applied by a professional detailer costing you upwards of £300+

You absolutely must not take your ceramic coated car to the the local hand car wash and this is the reason why.

Most professional ceramic coatings will be permanently bounded to your paint and TFR has very negative results on your coating, I have personally seen the coatings almost become cloudy and hazy from the use of harsh chemicals and in order to remove these coating the they need a very heavy compound polish or even wet sand so it's important to look after your coating and don't let the local dirty rag warriors damage your gloss.