Do It Yourself Car Wash For The Frugal

by David Ning · 13 comments

Going to car washes seem to be a very region specific phenomenon. When I was in Canada, there is no such thing as a hand car wash place. Well, there is but those places are only for the richest of the rich. Yet, they are everywhere in Southern California.

Since I don’t really have access to a water hose, it was my perfect excuse for going to these hand car wash places, which typically costs $16 dollars each trip. After a few months, I discovered the use of coupons, and that cut the expense down to about $10.

Around the end of last year, my fiancée told me about places that let you wash your car yourself. So what I did last weekend was go to one of them, and as you can see, it ended up costing me $0.75.

coins for car wash
From $16 –> $0.75 is not bad huh?

dirty car before car washdirt all over car before car wash
Hmm… a little dirty isn’t it?

the car wash placeplace for car wash
This is the car wash place that let you do it yourself

car wash settings
What we use is just soap, water, and spot free rinse. We found that the main reason why people use much more money with these machines is because they would keep it on the soap setting and then keeping feeding the machine money while they wipe their car. We just turn it to the soap for 30 seconds, and then we would turn it off and wipe the car with the soap that is already on the car. We find that you really don’t need that much soap to make the car clean, which at the end of the day saves us lots of money since these machines are on a pay for time basis.

clean car after car washdetailed shining after car wash
After the Spot free rinse, the car is sparkling clean.

For those of you who are going to hand car washes with the excuse that you don’t own a house and do not have access to a water hose, try this for $0.75 from now on.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • This is awesome, we have this kind of self-car wash in our street but i never really checked it out. I will stop there tomorrow!

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  • PAULA says:

    I have learned that if I gas my car and wash it at drive thru at the station I can get a great job if I clean my windows, rear view mirror and clean any bird poop off by using the brush and water they provide before I go thru the drive thru. This helps to clean up the worse and loosen anything that is really stuck. I don’t wipe down anything. Clean it enough to drive to the car wash. NOTE—Ask and make sure the car wash is working before you make a mess on the windows!

  • Douglas says:

    Moneyning, you’re full of it. I consider myself a self-serve car wash afficionado. I wash my car once a week at a minimum and more if it rained mid-week or something. I do these washes in my own state and several other states when I travel. 75 cents to start a cycle is a stretch but let’s say it is so. I have never come accross a self-serve carwash that stops the time when you click the switch from wash to stop. Once you drop your coins to start it you get a set amount of minutes that doesn’t stop ticking until your quarters are gone. Unless you’re the Flash or Superman, there is no way you can soap your car, scrub it, and then rinse it in what the 75 cent time allotment will give you. Please post a believable commentary next time. Oh, the minimum to start a self-serve cycle here in my home state of South Carolina is $1.25 and you only get 2 minutes run time. And this is one of the better deals compared to the many other states that i’ve visited.

    • amifrugalreallydeepdown says:

      I totally agree. We tried this once and got so mad. It takes trial and error to figure out how to do it right and even that costs you money. It ended up being the same as a 5.00$ carwash when we were new to this not to mention the wasted efforts The car didnt look great either.

  • Our local do it yourself car wash places require $2.00 minimum to turn on and the clock keeps ticking even if you turn the knob to off.

  • William says:

    This is crazy…most self wash things won’t even turn on until you put $2.00 in, and there is no way to turn it off after 30 seconds of soaping.

  • Sam says:

    Nice pics.

    I like washing my car once a week, usually the results are always good.

  • NewSunSEO says:

    Hello, this may be a cost efficient way to go if that makes you happy. To us detailer’s on the other hand, you can see the swirl marks and spider webbing all over the car which is basically micro scratches in the paint from drying the car incorrectly or from wiping down a dirty car. Detailers focus on paint correction and once you start detailing, it is addictive.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Digerati Life: $15 – $30 for a car wash is quite expensive. Are you sure you cannot do it yourself since using those public vaccums can’t be THAT expensive.

    On the flip side, at least you aren’t paying $200 for those detailing service since I had a friend who was doing that every 2 weeks. (that was a year ago and now he’s in financial trouble)

  • The Digerati Life says:

    Nice pix man. I do car washes too, maybe once a month. My van always becomes fairly filthy after a while because of two kids who do everything in it… 😀 I have to spend some for the inside and outside cleaning though. Around $15 – $30 a pop.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Family: No I don’t usually use their vaccum. What I do is try my best not to mess it up in the first place since it’s inside the car. Southern California also doesn’t rain much so it helps with the dirt on the carpet etc. Another thing I use is a plastic mat on top of the standard carpet that it comes with so all the sand and rocks stay on the plastic mat so I can just take the mat out and clean it.

  • Great money saving idea. I always thought those carwashes cost about the same as a drive through one which is about $5.00. I’m going to try it and see if I can do it for 75 cents. Do you use their vacuum too?

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