How Long Does It Take to Hand Wash a Car? – Answered

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how long does it take to hand wash a car

If you wish for a thorough car cleaning without any scratches, swirl marks, water marks, and damages, you should hand-wash your car. But in our daily lives, wherein time is also an important factor, you might wonder, “How long does it take to hand wash a car?”

It usually takes approximately an hour or more, depending on the steps taken and the services used. Read further to know more about the process.


How Long a Hand Car Wash Takes

Hand car washing is a manual process done carefully with much attention. It usually involves filling buckets with water, preparing the car washing solution, applying the solution to the different parts of a car one at a time, scrubbing one portion of the car at a time, rinsing the solution off, and drying the car.

So with all that effort, it would normally take a great deal of time.

Depending on how much cleaning is needed, it can take approximately an hour or sometimes two to three hours. But if you avail of additional detailing services, it would take longer.

Thankfully, if you don’t want to deal with all that manual and time-consuming cleaning, you can always avail of professional service at a Holiday Car Wash near you. A gas station car wash would also be another good option.

Pros and Cons of Hand Car Washing


The long period of time it takes for a car to get cleaned by hand may be off-putting. But this actually means a more thorough cleaning, wherein every nook and cranny of the car gets adequate attention.

Aside from duration, there are many other pros and cons you can look into to decide whether to hand wash cars or not. Check them out below.

1. Pros

  • It’s a Gentler Means of Car Washing

A hand car wash doesn’t make use of harsh chemicals that automated car washes use for cleaning off contaminants. With the manual labor involved, it only requires regular car wash soap, which makes it gentler on a car.

  • Least Likely to Cause Scratches

Since the process is done by hand, it would be done carefully and gently without causing scratches on a car’s paintwork. It doesn’t make use of the rotating brushes that move back and forth on a vehicle to get rid of contaminants, which automated car washes usually use.

Instead, car wash staff would usually use microfiber wash mitts and cloths that are gentle on paintwork but work excellently in grabbing contaminants and absorbing moisture from a car’s surface.

Moreover, there are other cleaning products and tools that would be used to prevent scratches on paintwork, which would depend on the particular hand car washing procedure of a car wash shop.

Some car washes would use a foaming kind of solution that helps lift away the dirt and debris from the surface to prevent scratches. Multiple buckets along with grit guards would usually also be used to give a thorough car wash without scratches.

  • Least Likely to Damage Parts of the Car

Damage to protruding parts of a car such as the antennas, rearview mirrors, etc. is also prevented in a hand car wash. It’s more likely to happen in automatic car washes due to their moving brushes.

  • Doesn’t Leave Swirl Marks and Water Marks

Careful manual labor as well as excellent products and tools would be used for the process, so there won’t be any swirl marks and water marks left on the surface.

  • More Options for Detailing

If you also want to go for detailing, a hand car wash can provide you with more options. In an automated car wash, on the other hand, there are only limited options programmed into the machine.

2. Cons

  • Takes Longer Than Automated Car Wash Types

A hand car wash normally takes longer than automated car wash types since it doesn’t make use of the machinery and strong detergents that makes car washing faster.

Every part of the car is given attention and thorough cleaning. And each step of the process takes a couple of minutes.

  • More Costly Compared to Automated Car Washes

The thorough and careful car washing in a hand car wash comes at a higher price compared to an automated car wash, usually about $20-30. You’ll also have to leave a tip for the staff.

How Long Does a Car Wash Take


There are different types of car washes such as the traditional automatic car wash with brushes, the touchless car wash, and hand car wash.

Each of them makes use of different procedures and equipment in washing a car, so the average car wash time varies among the different car wash types.

Since automated car washes make use of machinery and strong detergents for washing cars, these car washes can get a car cleaned in as fast as three to five minutes.

A hand car wash, on the other hand, can take much longer since the washing is done manually.


How long does it take to hand wash a car? You now know the answer. It may be a downside to hand car washing, but the numerous benefits that come with this procedure make the long duration worth it.

If you prefer a quick wash, you can go for an automated car wash. But for a spotless and flawless wash, it’s best to go with a hand car wash. Also, you can check this article to find out how long an automatic car wash takes.

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