What Is a Touchless Car Wash and Is It Safe? – A Complete Answer

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

what is a touchless car wash

There are different car wash options, each with pros and cons. An automatic car wash is the quickest but potentially damaging. Meanwhile, a hand car wash is more thorough and safer but very time-consuming. A touchless car wash can offer the advantages of both car washes with less risk of damage.

So what is a touchless car wash? It’s also an automated car wash without spinning brushes or cloth strips. It just sprays water at increased pressure and applies powerful detergent.


Touchless Car Wash: What’s It?


A touchless car wash, like any typically automated car wash, will require you to select how you want your car to be washed and make your payment in a machine. This car wash type can also either be in-bay or in a tunnel.

In an in-bay touchless car wash, the car owner would drive in and stay on a spot where the car washing equipment would be going around the car to clean it. While in a tunnel, the car would be dragged by a conveyor toward the car washing equipment.

But unlike other automated car wash types, particularly the traditional automatic car wash and the brushless automatic car wash, an automatic touchless car wash doesn’t make use of any spinning brushes or cloth strips.

Although both cleaning types of equipment effectively remove dirt and grime, they can also potentially damage the paintwork. So a touchless car wash would be the safer option since it would wash a car with only increased water pressure and strong car wash soap.

Are Touchless Car Washes Safe?


A touchless car wash may not have the brushes and cloth strips that may grind and smack dirt and debris on a car’s surface. Still, it uses relatively stronger pressure in spraying water and potent detergents. And these powerful cleaning implements may make a car owner wonder, “Are touchless car washes bad for paint?”

  • The elimination of brushes and cloth strips in a touchless car wash may lessen the risk of scratching.
  • However, there still is a possibility of it. It’s because a touchless car wash doesn’t make direct contact with a car. Instead, it makes up for it by spraying water at a pressure level that’s greater than the typically automated car wash with brushes or cloth strips. And the friction from the very high-pressured water may also possibly scratch a car’s surface.
  • A touchless car wash also substitutes direct contact cleaning with a potent detergent. When applied to a car, the powerful detergent would be breaking down the dirt, debris, and grime on the car’s surface.
  • Although it is effective, it’s also very harsh. It can be damaging in the long run, especially with frequent touchless car wash going.

The point is a touchless car wash is somewhat safer than other automated car washes that use brushes or cloth strips. But there still may be chances of paint damage in it, but lesser.

So a touchless car wash gives car owners the advantage of quicker car washing with less risk of damage.

How Does a Touchless Car Wash Work?

  • For the touchless car wash to operate, you’d first have to approach a machine where you will set the washing procedure for your car.
  • Then, make your payment in the designated slot. There are usually many options you can avail of. Like you can go for a basic wash or add more applications like more soap layers, protective coating, tire shine, etc.
  • After you’ve chosen the washing procedure for your car, you will drive through the bay or tunnel.
  • And once you’re in place, the touchless car wash will spray water on the car to loosen up the dirt and grime, spray detergent on the car, and rinse the car once again. Rinsing would be the last part of a touchless car wash unless you avail of other services.
  • Moreover, some touchless car washes also provide drying through blowers. While others offer hand drying, if your car is dried by hand, you must give a tip to the worker.

Tips on Using a Touchless Car Wash


To get a touchless car wash safely and to get the most out of it, there are some things you need to do beforehand. Keep them in mind to be prepared for when you get a touchless car wash.

1. Apply Protective Coating on Your Car

Applying protective coating like wax, polish, and ceramic coating on your car will provide a barrier for dirt, debris, and grime for your car’s surface. It’ll prevent particles from getting stuck on your car’s surface. That way, it allows them to slide off easily and helps in preventing scratches.

So, for example, when you have your car washed, also apply a protectant on its surface. It is to keep the car protected and lessen the risk of damage on your next touchless car wash.

2. Have a Clean Cloth Prepared in Case of Excess Moisture

There might be excess moisture left over from the car wash. So it’d be a good idea to have a clean cloth kept in your car so that you can wipe off any excess moisture after getting a car wash.

3. Take Advantage of the Touchless Car Wash Discount at a Gas Station

Gas stations that also provide a touchless car wash usually offer a discount on car washing when you buy gas from them. It’s a good deal, as you won’t just have a clean car, but your car will also get fueled, and you get to save money too.

You can search on the internet gas stations with touchless car washes near me if you want to save on car washing.

4. Lower the Car’s Exterior-Mounted Antenna

The pressure from the sprays is extreme. So it would help to lower the exterior-mounted antenna to be safe and avoid damaging it.

5. Ensure That the Windows and Doors Are Closed Shut

High-pressure water can enter small openings. You need to check all the windows and doors of your car if they are open and make sure to close them tightly to prevent water from getting inside and wetting the interior.

6. Drive Slowly When Drying Through Blowers

If the car wash comes with blowers for drying, which you will drive past through, go slowly past them so that you’ll get the most of the blow-drying.

But don’t drive too slowly, as you might end up only having some portions of the car dry.

Touchless Car Wash vs. Other Automated Car Washes

There are also different types of automated car washes, and they vary in cleaning methods. They all have in common, though, to give car owners the advantage of effortlessly and quickly getting their car washed. But let us compare the touchless automatic car wash to the other automated car washes.

  • Traditional automatic car wash – In a traditional automatic car wash, brushes would spin along the sides of a car to remove dirt and grime from its surface.
  • Furthermore, there is a tendency for the brushes to grind dirt onto the car’s surface and scratch the paint.
  • Brushless car wash – Instead of bristled brushes, long strips of cloth or new synthetic versions of cloth are used for cleaning off dirt and grime from a car, which makes it relatively safer than the traditional automatic car wash.
  • And, in a brushless car wash, although the cloth strips are softer than the brushes, they might also smash the dirt onto the car and also damage the paintwork.

There’s also the risk of getting some dirt and grime from a car that previously got washed on your car. Because many other vehicles go through a car wash, dirt and grime can get caught on a car wash’s brushes or cloth strips.

There could also be the possibility of sharp debris getting stuck on them, which can scratch the paintwork.

Touchless Car Wash vs. Hand Car Wash

Touchless car washing is the quicker and more effortless way to get a car washed.

But hand car washing is the car washing method that experts recommend, as it is the safest for paintwork if it is done properly. Its downsides, however, are that it takes more time and involves some preparation to achieve thorough hand car washing.


The bottom line is that the touchless car wash is the safer option to get a car wash fast. But still, the safest and most thorough type of car wash would be the hand car wash. If you don’t want car washing to take too long, though, a touchless car wash will do the trick.

Hopefully, this article enlightened you on what is a touchless car wash. And remember the tips provided for a safe touchless car wash and for getting the most of your touchless car washes.

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