Car Wash

1. What is a sustainable car wash?

Sustainable car wash companies provide car cleaning services that minimize water/energy waste and that avoid using chemical soaps and detergents.

Using best practices of sustainability, green car wash companies can:

  • Recycle water used in washing
  • Use computer-controlled water management system to avoid water waste (eg, use 25- 40 gallons of water per vehicle whereas traditional companies use far more)
  • Use water soluble, bio-based, and biodegradable cleaning products
  • Use renewable energy sources to power up facilities

There is evidence this industry is fairly low margin, with annual revenues per employee estimated at just $40,000.  Thus, it is critical that the business be as efficient as possible in terms of its other major expenses, especially energy and water use.  The primary offerings include exterior washing, waxing, coatings of undersides, and interior services like cleaning and vacuuming.  The more intensive services, such as hand polishing, are premium services that, given volume of sales, can significantly contribute to the car wash’s bottom line.

The industry in the U.S. is not dominated by any major players, with the top chains deriving only about 15% of the total estimated $5 billion in annual sales by the industry.  Thus, there are significant opportunities for independent car washes to compete in this space.

2. What knowledge or skills are necessary?

There are no formal educational or training requirements for this job.  However, you will have to get acquainted with water usage technologies and learn best practices in car washing. You will also have to learn how to make the experience truly high quality for your customers: this includes time to wash a car, services offered during car wash (eg coffee), and effectively marketing your sustainable servces.   Depending on which type of car wash company you choose to start (full wash, external wash, self service wash), different skills will be required.

But don’t worry if you don’t yet have experience: According to an Auto Laundry survey 37% of car wash operators have less than five years experience!

3. How much money is required to start?

$$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)

4. What is the income potential?

$ $  (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)

5. What is the best location for a car wash?

Urban location with little car wash competition in proximity are ideal. Become a member of the International Car Wash Association (or other similar groups) to find locations without competition and to become part of the close-knit community of car washers.

6.  Three best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all three, this business might be for you):

Do you have a passion for cars?

Do you enjoy finding new ways to better serve your customers?

Do you like learning about new technologies?


Interested in starting one in your community? Where do you begin?  What permits do you need?  Who is your target customer?  How do you find them?  What is the best use of your limited advertising dollars?  What’s the best way to attract a great employee or volunteer?  What does an average day look like?  What strategic tips do veteran eco-entrepreneurs suggest for startups like you?

There’s a lot to think about.  Rest easy.  Our mission is to help you succeed, so drop us a line (  We’ll get you a business planning document to get you on your way for ONLY $199!  We also guarantee our work, so if you are not satisfied, you get your money back!*

Take a look at a sample table of contents and a few sample excerpts from similar plans here.   In essence, we’ll provide you the What, When, Where, and How…you provide the Who!

*Subject to the terms of our Licensing Agreement.

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