Aaron Widmar
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How Does A Touch-Free Car Wash Work?

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Touch-Free Car Wash
Photo: Pixabay via CC

The state of your car’s exterior is a key indicator of the level of care you take of your car. If you want to make a good impression, you need to keep all mud, road salt, and bug residue off the body. Driving through an automatic car wash is a quick way to keep your car clean. Many drive-thru car washes offer “touchless” services as an alternative to traditional soft-brush washes. Here’s a look at how a touch-free car wash works and why you might want to use it on your vehicle.

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What is a touchless car wash?

Traditional car washes use spinning brushes and wet cloths to slap against your car and scrub dirt away. They directly come in contact with the surface of your vehicle and utilize friction to wipe off residue.

Touch-free car washes, on the other hand, do not use these brushes to wipe your car. All that touches your car are jets of soap and water. According to David Dwyer of CarWash.com, this method uses sensors to scan the car’s size and shape, and then sprays jets of high-pressure water and cleaning chemicals to break up the grime.

The effectiveness of this method depends heavily on the chemicals used in the treatment and how good they are at removing gunk. In many ways, it’s like running your car through a dishwasher rather than scrubbing it in the sink.


It’s safer for your car. With touch-free, you are far less likely to have any problems with damaged parts, scratching, or paint chipping since your vehicle is never touched during the process.

It accommodates a variety of vehicles. Because they use sensors, touch-free car washes can adjust to many different kinds of vehicles. Plus, there’s more space in the bay since there aren’t all of those large brushes.


It’s not as tough on grime. If you have any caked-on dirt or mud coating your vehicle, a touch-free wash is going to be less effective at removing it than old-fashioned scrubbing. There are a few pre-soaking techniques the touch-free washes use, but they can’t always get the toughest substances off.

Chemicals can sometimes be corrosive. Rather than using a friction method to clean your car, touch-free car washes have to use chemicals to give it that same level of clean. While that’s usually OK, some disreputable companies may use cheap or corrosive chemicals that can damage your car.

If you’re worried about your car being damaged in an automated, drive-thru car wash, you could just scrub it by hand. It’s not as difficult as you might expect if you do it properly.