Starting a Self-Service Car Wash: Helpful Tips & Priorities

Keeping any business running and profitable is always a challenge. Car wash facilities are no different. Equipment and supply costs must be kept low to maximize potential revenue. If you are looking for a new way to make money in the vehicle wash industry, consider starting a self-service car wash.

Because self-service car washes operate 24 hours a day, they can give you a consistent revenue stream with lower overhead. However, they aren’t completely risk-free ventures. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1. Franchise Opportunities

Joining an established franchise is certainly worth considering, especially if you’ve never owned and operated a car wash before. Although, some entrepreneurs hesitate about going this route because of the residual income that a franchising corporation requires. Franchisees also don’t have the same opportunities as other facility operators to develop a unique experience in their individual businesses.

However, there are several advantages to being a franchisee. As part of an established brand, working with a franchise gives you a strong corporate backing that you won’t get by going independent. This includes a variety of tools to help your business be successful such as marketing, advertising, and access to top quality professional car wash equipment. Not only does being a franchisee eliminate some of the inherent start-up costs you run into with a new facility, but when customers are familiar with the franchise you are working with, you’ll have greater financial certainty.

2. Leasing or Owning

If you’re starting a self-service car wash, you’ll need to decide whether you’re leasing a property or buying it outright. Leasing offers operators greater flexibility. With a lease, you can change locations easily. This is extremely useful if you find out the location of your operation isn’t ideal, or if you decide you need to expand your operation later on. Breaking a lease and paying a penalty is always an easier undertaking when compared to trying to sell commercial real estate that comes with car wash equipment.

Leasing is not cheap, though. Make sure to compare the recurring costs of a lease that doesn’t have an end to payout terms versus making a monthly payment toward ownership of the land. Owning the property can also help you forge deeper ties in your community, which is great for building customer loyalty.

3. 24/7 Traffic Patterns

Location can make or break your business. Whether or not you choose to lease or purchase a property, it’s important to know the surrounding area’s traffic patterns. Make sure to determine what kind of traffic your locations gets during both day and night time hours, too. Doing so will illustrate just how much exposure your facility would get from drivers of all kinds. Regardless of how much advertising you do for your business, drivers won’t use your facility if it’s not convenient.

Overall, the best location for a self-service facility is one that has space for people to comfortably wash their cars. It is also helpful if the facility is located in an area that sees high volumes of traffic during peak business hours and evenings, too. If the neighborhood is busy during the day, but doesn’t see much action at night, then investing in professional car wash equipment for a 24-hour facility may not be practical for your business.

4. Safety Considerations

Speaking about knowing the activity around your property throughout the day and night, it’s useful to know just how safe your facility’s surrounding area is. Whatever area you choose to start a self-service car wash in may be an acceptable part of the city in the day, but what are things like at night? Do people make a habit of not traveling there because of safety concerns? It’s important to remember that public perception of your business’ potential location can play a big part in its success.

5. Car Wash Equipment

For customers, giving them the ability to professionally clean their cars quickly is a huge convenience. This is also beneficial for operators as self-service facilities have few or zero on-site employees. But without workers to monitor and maintain equipment, it becomes increasingly important for each machine to always operate at its peak.

Investing in the very best professional car wash equipment is essential. If something breaks down it could take hours – if not longer – before the malfunction is discovered and taken care of. Having the best equipment available and making sure to perform routine, scheduled maintenance on the machinery is an essential part of self-service facilities to prevent safety liabilities and costly down


While self-service car washes may look like a win-win for business owners and operators, how you go about starting a self-service car wash involves some considerations. Are you going to lease or own your property? How about having the financial backing of an established brand by becoming a franchisee? These are all important things that N/S Wash encourages new operators to consider before starting a self-service facility.

If you’d like to learn more about which essential car wash equipment is right for your business, contact us today. Call (800) 782-1582 or leave us a message online.

Our “Bubblizer” Arch: Create a Halloween-Themed Wash

Going to the car wash doesn’t have to be a dull experience for your customers. Equipment like the Bubblizer arch from N/S Wash combine brightly colored soaps, lighting, and more for a car wash theme that makes for a memorable customer experience. The Bubblizer is perfect for creating a custom look at any time of the year; especially around holidays as a one-of-a-kind car wash promotional idea – especially during Halloween.

Your facility can adjust its offerings throughout the year to take advantage of holiday and seasonal opportunities to earn increased value. Halloween is one of the most popular holidays of the year, so take this opportunity to create an engaging customer experience with the right car wash promotional ideas.

Bubblizer Halloween Themes

Autumn tends to be a lull for many businesses with summer drives in the rear view mirror and the grime from chemicals used to clear icy roads not yet an issue. This gives you an opportunity to create a memorable experience for your customers that’ll keep them entertained with a premium wash that ensures they’ll keep coming back.

Imagine your car wash theme including the Bubblizer’s foam and soap bubbling up like witch’s brew or dripping from the ceiling like monster slime. Lighting effects can be added for a drive-thru haunted house feel. Or, you can easily combine the Bubblizer with other car wash equipment for a custom experience that will attract and entertain customers.

Bubblizer Arch Features

  • Chemical applicator arch offers a brilliant light show to drivers.
  • Multi-color lights available.
  • Bubbles increase the chemical efficiency of soap and wax.
  • Can be used to create themes that draw customers.

Bubblizer Arch Specifications

  • Vehicle Clearance: 8 ft.
  • PVC internal Bubblizer plumbing manifold
  • Built-in DEMA chemical injection
  • 1.5 HP / 120 VAC / single phase / 7A motor


Creating a custom car wash theme doesn’t have to be a scary or stressful experience. The Bubblizer can easily fit over established systems or mounted to a free-standing arch to create a new piece of equipment. So, there’s no worry about down time or installation costs. A variety of options are available including multi-color lights, different powder coating colors, a chemical dosing pump, and more.

Give your facility a unique entertainment value that other car washes can’t offer. Call (877) NSWASH-1 (877-679-2741) for more information or contact us online.

Risks of Letting Soap Residue Accumulate in Car Washes

Water and soap are the most basic, fundamental components in ensuring each vehicle that goes through your business is as clean as possible. Yet, there are a number of safety and maintenance considerations that any business owner needs to manage.

As technology develops to create more powerful car wash soap sprayers that can handle the various forms of grime, the challenges of leftover soap increase. Allowing even a small amount of residue to accumulate on surfaces can lead to significant issues. No matter what type of car wash sprayers your facility uses, here are some of the more common problems that can occur if your operation doesn’t handle soap residue properly:

1. Slip and Fall Injuries

If you’re a business owner, you need to ensure your facility is as safe as possible for customers and employees alike. Operators in the vehicle washing industry have to pay particular attention to this as water, soap, wax, and other elements can create slippery conditions.

Car wash sprayers can create hazards for your technicians if the equipment experiences a breakdown. Injuries from slip and fall accidents can happen when repairs are being made, too; or even during routine maintenance. Cleaning off the washing track as well as other operations can pose serious risks to your employees if soap residue is left behind.

2. Workers’ Comp Cases

A poorly cleaned and maintained car wash soap sprayer that causes accidents doesn’t just mean downtime for employees. In many slip and fall injuries, workers’ compensation cases arise. These cases aren’t just costly for facility operators who have to pay out on liability claims, but can raise your business’ workers’ comp insurance premiums.

3. Customers Can Slip and Fall

Depending on how your facility’s car wash sprayers are positioned, there’s a great possibility that customers are at risk for slips as well. While your employees may know the inherent risks of working in a facility dealing with slippery conditions, your customers aren’t held to the same standards. Employees may also have stipulations in their contract which prevent lawsuits in the case of an injury. To keep customers safe, ensure all waiting areas are regularly cleaned and maintained, with minimal obstructions customers could trip over and non-slip mats by entryways.

4. Amazing, No Smoke “Peel Outs”

Residue from a car wash soap sprayer isn’t just the only thing that can endanger customers and employees. A buildup of soap at the end of a vehicle wash system can cause “peel outs.” These peel outs happen when a car literally spins its wheels and barely inches forward while trying to exit the wash facility. Rear wheel drive vehicles are especially susceptible to peel outs.

5. Vehicle Accidents & Property Damage

Peeling out doesn’t just damage the vehicle trying to exit, it can damage other vehicles as well. Imagine a car is spinning its wheels at the end of the track then suddenly gains traction. When this occurs the vehicle can literally shoot out of the wash track and impact whatever is in its path.

Along with injuries and vehicle accidents, property damage is another liability that can arise from poor car wash sprayer maintenance. Accidents caused by vehicles shooting out of a tunnel may not be limited to vehicle damage alone. A car may also slide off the track into a pole, wall, or a piece of equipment. If the accident is determined to be a result of residue from your facility’s car wash soap sprayer, you may be held liable for any repair costs or insurance expenses.

Clean & Maintain Your Facility

If soap residue accumulation is a problem at your vehicle wash facility, let N/S Wash give you the expertise and equipment needed to ensure your business always stays safe and operational.

For more information, call (800) 782-1582 or contact us online.

The Chemistry of a Good, Clean Vehicle Wash

How people wash their vehicle has come a long way in recent years. No longer will grabbing any soap straight from the cabinet do. Aside from there being a push for car wash chemicals to provide a more thorough cleaning of vehicles, those chemicals have to be more eco-friendly too. Whether you are looking for new options to offer at a commercial vehicle washing facility or just want to give the best cleaning possible for your personal vehicle it’s important to have an understanding of the complicated car wash chemistry at work. Below are a few of the essential things that you should keep in mind to make sure you are using the best vehicle washing chemicals for the best results.

Rinsing and Prewash Detergents

Maintaining a clean vehicle – along with a good wash facility – begins with the pre-wash. Giving a solid rinse to all of the surfaces of a vehicle is great for removing surface dirt as well as breaking up stubborn road grime. So before you even use any car wash chemicals, make sure to hose off every surface with water. Pre-wash detergents are available that focus on helping to remove the stubborn grease and pollutants that can accumulate as well. These detergents are also very useful for removing organic matter (such as insects and bird droppings) that can ruin a vehicle’s otherwise pristine look.

When it comes to choosing pre-wash chemicals to offer to customers – or to use on your personal vehicles – it’s important to note there isn’t a single solution for all of the surfaces of a vehicle. Tires and rims, which suffer from varied grime building up, require a different detergent than other parts of a vehicle. Finding chemicals that can target specific areas of your car is ideal to give the best cleaning possible.

Modern Cleaners: Shampoos or Foams?

Speaking of cleaning detergents, the industry has moved beyond just using standard soaps to ensure a properly cleaned vehicle. What kind of equipment is used at a car wash facility determines which car wash chemicals are needed. But when selecting the right soaps for an operation, it often comes down to a combination of shampoos and/or foams to get the job done. Facilities with rollover brushes and tunnels typically focus on shampoos to scrub clean vehicles, while businesses that rely on jet washers often focus on using different foam cleaning agents. Depending on the setup of your facility you may need to use both kinds of cleaners for the best results.

Regardless if your equipment relies on shampoos, foams, or something else (a small number of machines utilize powder cleaners), these agents have seen major advancements in recent years. While the industry has focused on making cleaners that are available in different colors and scents, there has also been a push to make them as environmentally friendly as possible. The chemistry of your car wash facility will be enhanced thanks to these improvements and your machines will work better as a result since residue is less likely to accumulate with modern formulas. And your customers will notice the difference too. Vehicles that are washed with modern shampoos and foams are much cleaner with less residue left behind for customers to worry about later.

Finding Ways to Overcome Poor Water Quality

It’s not just the soaps and cleaners that can throw off your car wash chemistry: water quality also plays a major role. Depending on where your facility is poor water quality may be a constant struggle. Whether you use well water or are part of a large city system, having the right water quality is extremely important. That’s because when water quality is poor every grain of water hardness that mixes with the cleaning products you use reduces their effectiveness; requiring higher usage to achieve intended results.

To make sure you get the best cleaning possible whenever you are washing vehicles it’s important to work with a knowledgeable water quality expert. They can look at the car wash chemicals that your operation utilizes and find the best alternatives to meet the specific needs of your location. Experts can also get involved in assessing location needs to design and install a cleaning system that gives you the best “bang for your buck” so you can avoid wasting money on expensive chemicals to overcome poor water quality, and instead utilize a system that addresses water quality issues specific to your site.

Finishing off with Waxes and Polishes

At the end of the day, you may look for that extra bit to really let vehicles shine. Sometimes soaps aren’t the only car wash chemicals that will do. To really have any vehicle looking great, there’s no better way to finish off a wash than with a polish or wax. Polish can give vehicles a nice shine to make them really eye-catching in the sunlight. Meanwhile, adding a wax to a vehicle is like giving it an extra layer of protection. The right wax can block out harmful ultraviolet rays that cause the paint job on a vehicle to fade. While adding either is optional, it is definitely worth considering how it can affect your car’s wash chemistry when applied.

Consult the Experts at N/S Wash

Finding the right car wash chemistry for your vehicle can be tricky. There are a lot of components out there to make sure your vehicle gets the proper, thorough cleaning you are looking for. Depending on what road conditions you face, how often you drive, and even your type of vehicle can all factor into which combination of chemicals are best to wash a vehicle. Reading about different products and carefully testing them can help you find the best solution for your washing needs.

Finding the right mixture of car wash chemicals becomes even more complicated due to the ever evolving nature of the industry. New ideas are being developed to make chemicals more effective at protecting vehicles, while also reducing their impact on the environment. Regardless if you are trying to find the right chemicals to offer customers at your vehicle washing facility or just want the right combination for your personal vehicle, it helps to consult with experts to understand what options are available. Partnering with a knowledgeable company like N/S Wash can help you stay on top of the latest advancements.

Reach out to our customer service team whenever you have questions about maintaining the best vehicle cleaning chemistry. They can give you new tips and suggest products for your business that makes sure every vehicle can shine without damage or impacting the environment. Contact us today!

How to Wash a Car Properly

Every driver wants to make sure their vehicle stays in great condition. But proper vehicle care isn’t limited to performing routine mechanical maintenance; you also need to be washing it regularly, and washing it the proper way. That’s because washing your car isn’t just about giving it an impressive look: it can also help your car last longer. Before you grab a bucket of water and soap it’s important to know there are right – and many wrong – ways to wash any vehicle. This guide of how to wash a car properly looks at some of the common things you need to consider when washing your car to make sure you aren’t doing more harm than good.

Prep by Getting the Right Tools

The first thing to consider is where you are washing your vehicle. Whenever possible, choose a spot with plenty of shade. This prevents premature drying which creates water spots leading to a stain on the vehicle’s exterior. You can also avoid water spots by keeping your car wet at all times and making sure to wash your vehicle when there isn’t a breeze. And of course, make certain all windows and doors are shut; as well as the hood as you don’t want to squirt water underneath and potentially cause damage.

Once your vehicle is ready, the next step in how to wash a car properly is gathering the right supplies. Recommended items include:

  • A sponge or washing mitt made of sheepskin or microfiber
  • Brush or additional sponge for tires
  • Multiple buckets (one for soapy water and one for plain water)
  • Wheel cleaner
  • Microfiber drying towel, shammy, and/or squeegee
  • Bug and tar remover

If you really want to go all out on cleaning your vehicle, then look into getting some wax and/or polish as well. By having these essential tools, can make sure you do a thorough job that is as effective as a professional wash.

Avoid Common Soaps that Damage Paint

Soap is probably the single most important tool when it comes to washing a vehicle. Many people who choose to wash their car may be tempted to use dish soap or other common cleaner from their cabinet. But if you want to know how to wash a car properly then you should avoid these soaps. The goal of dish soap is to remove grease and caked on food, which requires it to be abrasive. That abrasiveness accelerates the oxidation process on your car’s paint job to give it a dull look. Dish soap also breaks down a car’s wax coat as well as being tough on rubber components and plastic moldings.

While you’ll want to avoid dish soap, it’s not the only household cleaner that is off limits. Laundry soap and hand soap should be avoided as well since they are not pH balanced – which results in damage to your vehicle’s paint job. For the best results you’ll want a dedicated car shampoo. These soaps contain more lubricant, which you’ll notice when you move the soap behind your fingers. The slick formula found in many car soaps is also much safer for a vehicle’s surface to ensure a great looking finish.

Focus on Giving Tires a Good Scrub First

Now that you know what supplies you need to wash a car properly, how you go about it is the next step. Always begin washing your vehicle by focusing on the wheels. This is because the wheels on any vehicle are extremely dirty and require the most scrubbing to get clean. Rinse off any debris from the wheels before you get out your brush or sponge. Using a formulated wheel cleaner, make sure you scrub rims vigorously to help break up any lingering grime. You can also use a chrome polish on them (depending on the alloy your rims are made of) to give them a stunning shine after you spray them clean with water. When you are finished cleaning the wheels then be sure to refill your buckets with fresh soap and water so you don’t transfer dirt onto the body of the vehicle.

Tips for Washing the Vehicle’s Body

Once you’ve cleaned off the rims, then it’s time to wash the main body of your vehicle. When it comes to washing a car properly, knowing how to tackle the grime on the body of your vehicle is extremely important. As you move to the main sections of your vehicle you’ll first want to rinse off any surfaces with a hose to remove as much debris as possible. This includes rinsing underneath wiper blades. After rinsing, pre-treat any stains on your vehicle from bugs or bird droppings. Applying a bug and tar removal soap directly to stains can help lift them off of surfaces.

For soaping up your vehicle, focus on one side of the car at a time by applying soap with your sponge or washing mitt. As you do, periodically rinse off the mitt in the water bucket to prevent dirt from accumulating which may damage your vehicle’s finish. It’s also important to avoid scrubbing too hard and always wash in straight lines – circular motions can create unsightly swirl marks. Once you’ve finished applying the suds, give the side of your vehicle a thorough rinse before moving on. It’s also helpful to wash your vehicle from top to bottom. Since the grimiest parts of the car are closest to the road. Saving those areas for last ensures you don’t unintentionally carry grit and grime to other parts of your vehicle

Don’t Forget to Properly Dry Your Vehicle

Washing a car properly doesn’t end with rinsing everything off. Many people don’t realize that you also need to think about the best way to dry your vehicle. Leaving your vehicle in the sun to air dry is a common mistake that many people make after they wash their vehicle. But air drying creates unsightly water spots that leave your car looking almost as bad as before you washed it.

Instead, use a car squeegee carefully over the surfaces of your car to remove excess water that has accumulated. Once that is done, gently running a microfiber towel over every part can help things dry properly. For the best results the towel should be flat and moved in straight lines – avoid circular motions that tend to just push water and residue around the surface of your car.

Give Your Vehicle the Care It Deserves

Properly washing a vehicle is one of the most misunderstood parts of auto care. Not using the right tools or supplies can result in a dull finish or even worse, unsightly scratches and damage. That is why it is so important to know how to wash a car properly if you want to take it on yourself.

For the best results and advice when it comes to proper vehicle washing, rely on the experts at N/S Wash. Not only do we have state-of-the-art facilities that can give your vehicle a sparkling appearance, but we can give you advice on how to keep your vehicle looking great between visits too with the best tips whenever you want to wash your vehicle at home. Contact us today!

Bus Wash! Have You Ever Wondered How to Wash a Bus?

From bus wash sprayer systems to brick-and-mortar set-ups that run exactly like car washes, it’s not difficult to figure out how to wash a bus. Some drivers choose to wash their own buses, or the owner may put someone else in charge of cleaning the fleet. Who does the washing up doesn’t matter as much as how it’s done. Whatever the method, there are dozens of tips that will result in a cleaner, shinier bus. Have it ready for school kids in the morning or passengers ready for a cross-country adventure.

Passengers deserve the best, regardless of how old they are or where they’re going. Young children and teens on the school bus need a disinfected, clean environment to keep seasonal bugs and illness away. They pass enough germs back and forth as it is. Adult travelers who choose to take the bus — whether it be down a city block or across state lines– deserve the same thing. Wherever these passengers go, it’s essential that they get there in a clean bus.

Stick to the DIY Method

Rather than visiting a bus wash business, some fleet owners and bus drivers choose to wash their vehicles themselves. Washing a bus yourself can save money, and it gives the drivers freedom to choose their methods and their wash times; if a bus needs to be washed sooner than previously scheduled, it’s not a big deal! The only thing to keep in mind when washing a bus yourself is that you’ll need several specialized pieces of equipment.

Assemble Your Tools

Even if you already know how to wash a bus, you can’t do much without the correct tools. For example, a power washer is absolutely necessary when washing your bus. It reaches more areas than you can with a regular hose, plus you need the pressure to successfully clean the outside of the bus, which has a tendency to attract compacted, large messes. If you don’t have access to a power washer, a simple garden hose will do helpful for the final rinse and gentle cleaning. Next, make sure to grab your detergent and, if you choose, a foam mixer.

If you decide to be really old-school and wash your bus by hand, you’ll need much more. You’ve washed a car before, right? Maybe in your driveway on a sunny morning? Washing your bus is very similar! For the outside washing, grab the same things you would for an at-home car wash — gloves, sponges and scrub brushes, and buckets.

For the inside of the bus, assemble a different set of tools. Paper towels, brooms, multi-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and trash bags are all essential for inside cleaning. You may need air freshener, as well, and a vacuum never hurts to get fine dust and debris out of small cracks and crevices. Vacuums are especially handy for seats that gather unexpected debris in the microfibers or vinyl seat casings!

Choose the Right Detergent

On the subject of detergent, you have to pick the right soap carefully. Not sure which type of detergent to use? Contact your local bus wash and inquire about which products they use. At any rate, the detergent you use should have a high pH level. Your detergent needs to be alkaline as possible for the best results and to keep the vehicle’s paint and finish as pristine as possible.

Never Let the Chemicals Dry

Never let the chemicals you use dry on the vehicle. This applies to everyone, even those of you who don’t use an additional foam mixer. After soaping down the exterior, you can let it rest for no longer than 60 seconds. After that, you need to rinse it off quickly. The tip is particularly important when you’re washing the bus outside in warm or windy weather.

Hot Water Is Best

Using hot water is always best when you clean a bus with a pressure washer. It’s a small but vital tip to remember as you learn how to wash a bus. Aim for a temperature that ranges between 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 degrees Fahrenheit — temperatures in this range are effective at melting away impacted dirt while also keeping your paint safe.

Don’t Forget the Inside

The inside of the bus gets just as dirty as the outside. You may be able to find a comprehensive, full-service bus wash that takes care of the interior as well as the exterior, but don’t be surprised if you don’t. Your fleet might have its own cleaning service, but that’s no guarantee either.

Just like cleaning the outside of the bus, however, cleaning the inside of the bus isn’t hard, even if you have to take care of it yourself. The first step is to get rid of any detritus. The best way to do this is to clean from top to bottom. That way, dirt, grit, and food particles will fall to the floor instead of spreading around and creating new messes. You may need to use upholstery cleaner on the seats, but a vacuum cleaner can suffice in relatively neat buses. Next, take your broom and sweep the floor. Just open up the doors and sweep dirt out the back. If the floors are especially dirty, consider mopping from front to back.

Clean the Windows from the Inside

You can’t claim you don’t do windows when you have a bus to take care of, and not just because of how many there are. Windows get dirty on commercial buses. Everyone touches them — it doesn’t take much for a bus window to end up smeared, greasy, and unsightly. To clean your windows, try using old newspapers to wipe down the panes after you spray them with cleaner. The material in newspapers doesn’t leave nearly as many streaks. Before you finish up, make sure you’ve cleaned the windshield, the driver’s side window, the panes on the door, and the glass in the back.

Try a Gantry System for Cohesion

Bus wash units with a gantry-type setup erase any need for the drivers to judge where to clean, what to scrub, and how long to do it. Ideal for any type of bus — commercial, school, and everything in between — gantry systems typically have two brushes tackle the sides, back, and front of the bus on a vertical plane, while a horizontal brush tackles the top, the hood, and the windshield. With a gantry system, each vehicle in a fleet of buses can get as clean and sparkling as the others. Everything is even thanks to controllers with programmable logic functions.

Consider a System Without Brushes or Touches

Brushless, touchless bus washing systems mean that you never know how to wash a bus yourself. Touchless washes are careful as they clean not just the bus, but also any of its attachments. In other words, there’s less of a worry that the washers might damage a side mirror or a caution sign. This system uses a gantry platform itself, although some of them have drive-through options.

Drive It On Through

Finally, when time is short, you can always find a bus wash that’s just like a traditional car wash. These drive-through washes are completely automatic, leaving the driver with no responsibilities beyond driving the bus through. Different washes may not have the same design, but they’re all set up in much the same way. Scrub curtains handle the top and the hood, while vertically aligned brushes tackle the back and sides of the bus.

Whether you head to a bus wash station or conquer the job yourself, you have to remember that washing a bus isn’t quite like washing a car. There’s more of everything, and the job is a big one. The most important lesson you learn as you seek tips about how to wash a bus is that you can always use a helping hand. How do you prefer to clean your bus? Do you take it to a wash facility or do you scrub it down yourself? Share any tips that you have, and don’t forget to mention your favorite products, on our blog now!

Our Guide to Car Wash Site Design

Investing in Commercial Car Wash Equipment

To have a successful car wash, you need more than offering the right commercial car wash equipment and services for customers. For your business to really take off, it comes down to your site’s design. Appearance, accessibility, and convenience are priorities that need to be considered.

There are many exciting ways your car wash business can take shape, and there isn’t a set road to success. Before you start your car wash design layout, there are some important steps that every entrepreneur should keep in mind.

It All Begins with the Right Location

It may seem obvious, but having the right location is vital for success regardless of how impressive your business plan or equipment may be. Before you settle on a design or key investments in commercial car wash equipment, you need to find the right piece of land and/or real estate. Factors that need to be considered include:

  • Population
  • Competition
  • Street types
  • Car counts

If you have a target area in mind for your facility, you should spend time driving around to get a feel for the neighborhood. Pay attention not just to what properties may be available for sale, but also what businesses are in the area. This gives you an idea of what type of businesses are thriving, along with any potential competitors. And of course you may discover some design aspects to incorporate in your car wash design layout that appeals to your area’s customers.

Research Different Facility Styles, Options

Once you know where you are going to build, you can decide on what type of facility you want. Are you going to cater to strictly personal cars, or will there be room for commercial and public transit vehicles, too? What about having on-site to assist customers or going for a strictly self-serve model that can be open 24 hours a day? All of these considerations are easier to decide on once you know where your building will be and can aid your site plan.

One way to approach this important research is to take a hard look at competitors. What have they done successfully? What are their facilities lacking? By taking a close look at other wash facilities you can discover services that might be in need – which you can offer exclusively to customers and have a larger potential for profits.

Design Your Building for Better Visual Appeal

Once you have the basics for your facility, it’s time to start thinking about its overall and layout. Making a good first impression is critical when starting a new car wash – and that is extremely dependent not only on the commercial car wash equipment you offer, but the overall look. Today, many entrepreneurs are opting for customized layouts to make better use of their specific location. After you’ve done your research and come up with your site plan, then you can create a visual appeal for your structure that meets your goals.

Build a New Facility or a Convert an Old One?

When it comes to implementing your car wash design layout, you’ll have to answer an important question: do you want to build a new facility from the ground up or convert an existing site into your new business? Conversions of old wash locations are popular as many of the traditional full-service models are falling by the wayside in favor of a more “express” approach to vehicle washing. Snatching up one of these properties and outfitting it with the latest commercial car wash equipment can get your business off the ground a lot faster – and for less money. In addition to an expedited opening date, investing in a former wash facility alleviates any concerns of possible zoning issues. You can also use data from the former facility to understand what their customers liked – and what they didn’t. Learning from this previous business will enable you to adapt your layout accordingly, giving your new facility a stronger chance of success.

However, don’t completely discount the idea of building a new structure either. Creating a facility by building new can help you meet your unique vision with a structure designed to fit your needs.

Equipment Upkeep Can Keep Customers Coming Back

How your facility looks is great for bringing in customers, but if you want to have them continue to come back you want to make sure your building is well taken care of. Ensure you provide options in your car wash design layout that will make that job easier with organized bays and equipment that is easily accessible by technicians.

Speaking of technicians, you will want to make sure they routinely provide inspections on all of the commercial car wash equipment you have. Solid engineering can go a long way in maintaining the success of your facility no matter how it is designed.

Make a Marketing Plan

Unless your new business is in a busy area, even the best designed and maintained facility probably won’t draw in enough customers to meet your goals. That is why your site design should be created alongside a solid marketing plan. Your marketing efforts can easily find car wash equipment other commercial washes don’t have or services that aren’t being offered elsewhere. You can also find unique architectural highlights or themed décor that feed into your marketing plan to generate interest in your facility before you even open.

No matter what your “hook” is for your business, don’t get stuck in one frame of mind. The best marketing plans take advantage of customer expectations. Be ready to test out slogans or advertisements ahead of time and collect feedback to refine your ideas. Remember that the most effective marketing strategies are ones that know their customers well and can adapt to changing attitudes.

Always Be Ready to Evolve

The car wash industry is one that is always experiencing changes. New technologies are developed to offer different cleaning options. Vehicle design is constantly changing as well, which calls for different strategies for making sure everything is kept sparkling. Additionally, customer attitudes regarding cleaning chemicals or your site’s environmental footprint can change as well. With this in mind, it’s extremely important that you implement a car wash design layout that has room for flexibility so you can evolve with the times.

If you need any experienced advice on if your site plan can last for the long haul then talk with the experts at N/S Wash. We have the knowledge you are looking for that can let you know if you are on the right track with your design before you start construction – or we can help you refine an existing facility with the latest car wash equipment. Commercial or privately owned, we can help you develop the best car wash site design to stay in business into the future.

Cold Weather Car Wash Prep

Winter can be really tough on vehicles of all kinds. If you live in an area where the temperature drops to bitter levels and precipitation becomes frozen, you have to take all kinds of steps to prepare your vehicle. Many of those same elements need to be kept in mind when operating a car wash in cold weather so that your facility is properly winterized and able to remain profitable even during a particularly frigid onslaught.

While there are shorter daylight hours and more dangerous conditions during the winter, that doesn’t mean your business should see a drop off in customers. In fact, there are many areas where customer volume increases for wash facilities during the winter. Tough road salts and other chemicals used to keep roads safe can actually damage vehicles, too. Because of harsh additives, drivers often flock to their preferred car wash to keep their vehicles clean and well-maintained. With that in mind, it’s important to be prepared with the right car wash repair maintenance routines depending on the weather you’re expecting. To ensure your facility is ready before winter sets in, here are some useful tips:

Prep Before the Cold Weather

As you begin weather preparations at your facility, timing is important. Consider what you need to do at your facility long before the weather turns chilly. Start off by testing all of your facility’s wash systems – including tunnel and bay heating equipment – to make sure they are in proper working order. Waiting until the first cold days to test out heating equipment can result in some inconvenient downtime and money spent replacing parts if something doesn’t work.

While preparing your car wash to operate in cold weather, don’t just focus on equipment: employee preparation needs to be done as well. OSHA standards have guidelines for the outdoor work your employees are likely to be involved in. This training can include knowing how to operate engineering controls and other equipment that may be exposed to the elements.

Make Sure Employees Dress for Weather

Speaking of employees, it’s important to make sure they are properly protected for any cold conditions. While it seems like common sense to have your employees bundle up, layering for insulation is always recommended for any worker who may be exposed to wind and precipitation. Other employee recommendations from OSHA that you should keep in mind include:

  • Wearing loose clothing to encourage blood circulation
  • Ensuring clothing is water resistant, including gloves and waterproof boots
  • Ensuring clothing also accounts for visibility, like bright neon safety vests, to account for fewer daylight hours.
  • Keeping a hat that covers the ears, or a knit mask to cover the face and mouth if needed

Having guidelines for all employees to follow when it comes to proper winter wear can ensure your facility is well staffed during busy winter periods to avoid downtimes from labor shortages as you run your car wash in cold weather.

Protecting Equipment with Proper Heating

Another way to keep your facility running smoothly during the winter is by providing adequate protection to all necessary equipment. Take note of what equipment inside of bays and tunnels may be exposed to the bitter cold and provide appropriate protection. It is essential to have the proper heating system for your facility, so you can avoid frozen water lines and ice buildup that can result with potentially devastating results.

A stainless-steel infrared system is generally considered the most cost effective heating option when it comes to car wash facilities. This type of system is also a more effective option to keep all essential equipment properly heated. Stabilized temperatures inside of tunnels and bays – which can ensure equipment is kept running at peak performance regardless of outside temperatures – is also an advantage of infrared systems. Before you invest in a heating system though, it’s best to research options to find the best fit for your facility.

Invest in Equipment with Maintenance & Upgrade Plans

It’s important to adopt proper car wash repair maintenance procedures before the cold weather sets in. You want to be proactive with any issues, rather than reactive, to minimize any weather related breakdowns. Unless you are a new operator, you are likely familiar with the weather patterns in your area and know what to expect before winter arrives. Avoid running any vital equipment close to their failure point during winter months as this can be costly; especially if parts or technicians can’t come to your facility promptly due to inclement weather. You can also take advantage of unusually warm stretches or even dry periods during the winter to perform additional inspections on all of your equipment to stay on top of potential issues. Despite any initial costs that come with scheduling additional maintenance checks the potential savings in preventing a breakdown can be huge when you are running a car wash in cold weather.

As you perform inspections make sure to get an accurate inventory of all your equipment and parts to see where improvements can be made. Older facilities may benefit from technology upgrades – especially if there is new equipment that has been designed to better handle cold temperatures and snowy conditions. Your facility can potentially see major gains over its lifetime if you stay on top of upgrades as well as maintenance.

Note Chemical Location to Avoid Potential Freezes

Every facility deals with a lot of cleaning chemicals. Many modern day operations even go beyond the simple soaps and waxes that have been traditionally used to clean vehicles by offering customers a full-service experience. If you plan to operate your car wash in cold weather, be sure you take note of any chemicals you routinely use before winter approaches.

Certain chemicals can freeze in really low temperatures. This is problematic if your facility is in an area that often sees sub zero days throughout fall and winter. As you go about routine car wash repair and maintenance checks, take note of where chemicals are stored in relation to areas where any cold air might seep in. Frozen chemicals can often cause serious damage to sprayers and other equipment. Worse yet, if chemicals come out in frozen chunks there is the potential to damage customer vehicles as well; leading to costly complaints and potential safety and legal issues. Avoiding these problems is easy when you pay extra attention to chemicals at your facility ahead of time.

Keeping All Areas Clear of Snow & Ice

One of the biggest winter storm issues is buildup from snow and ice. Facility operators tend to focus their snow removal efforts on parking lots and sidewalks so that employees and customers alike have easier access. But when it comes to cleaning following a storm, you need to pay attention to more than just these obvious spots. Removing snow from the roof of your building is also essential to avoid structural damage caused by the weight of a heavy snowfall. Electrical hazards may also be present if ice builds up around environmental controls or other equipment. And of course keep an eye on sprayers, as excess water may freeze and create slip hazards. Making sure all areas are clear of snow and ice can promote a safe work environment, as well as present a more inviting facility to customers.

Other Safety Considerations

Improve the safety at your facility this winter by setting up work zones with signs, barrels, and other barriers. This protects employees from skidding vehicles that may hit a patch of ice as they try to come onto your property.

Operating your car wash in cold weather can be easy and stress-free with the right preparation – along with thoughtful car wash repair maintenance – you can keep things in running order throughout the year. If you need more ideas or help getting your facility ready for the winter, the professionals at N/S Wash are here to help. For more tips or to speak with our experienced team members, call (800) 782-1582 or contact us online.

Why Consumers Prefer Professional Car Washes

professional car wash equipment

Professional Car Wash Equipment

Everyone wants their vehicle to look sparkling and new. When it’s time to get rid of road grime that dulls a car’s paint job and wheels, some people bring out a hose and a bucket, but most would rather not handle the job themselves. They prefer to have the work done by advanced professional car wash equipment. Below are eight reasons why many consumers would rather roll through your car wash instead of performing a weekend DIY wash job in their driveway.

1. Professional Washes Offer Thorough Cleaning

Perhaps the biggest advantage of utilizing professional car wash equipment is that it truly performs thorough cleaning. When vehicle owners manually wash a car, it can result in areas of the vehicle being unwashed. Usually, a DIY wash focuses primarily on the top and sides of a vehicle, but a top-notch, professional car wash delivers a more thorough approach.

The car wash can clean a vehicle’s undercarriage to eliminate salt and other road chemicals that collect during cold weather. If left unwashed, these chemicals can cause significant metal corrosion. This is why car wash equipment manufacturers have designed equipment to wash the underside of vehicles, ensuring that even the trickiest to reach spots are taken care of.

2. Consumers Consistently Get Quality Results

Another reason consumers prefer professional car washes is consistent wash results. Unlike manually washing a vehicle, the best professional car wash equipment cleans vehicles the same way, every time. When consumers use a facility, they don’t need to worry about getting great results on one occasion, and then mediocre results the next time around. They can be confident that their vehicle will be thoroughly cleaned every time they visit your facility.

3. Many Wash Facilities Strive to be Eco-Friendly

The push to be “greener” and more “eco-friendly” are drive many consumer purchases. Washing a vehicle at home involves soaps and chemicals that could harm the environment, especially as the waste water from the wash job flows into storm drains and onto lawns during rinsing.

Car wash equipment manufacturers can combat these issues by implementing more environmentally friendly wash technologies. Many professional facilities have water recycling and chemical waste disposal systems that help them shrink their environmental footprint. These technologies simply aren’t available when consumers wash manually on residential property.

4. Vehicles are Left Free of Exterior Damage

Washing a vehicle at home might seem like a reliable way to avoid vehicle damage, but many consumers learn that they can actually damage their car’s appearance if they aren’t careful. Brushes, sponges, and other common tools used for hand washing can scratch vehicles, as small particles from accretions become trapped and pressed against a vehicle’s exterior. A properly constructed car wash uses equipment that will not damage any part of the vehicle.

5. Saves Lots of Time on the Washing Job

Between work and other commitments, many people don’t have much down time. Consumers often choose to wash their car with professional car wash equipment simply because it’s faster than a DIY job. Why waste a Saturday afternoon manually washing your vehicle, when you can go to a car wash and have the hard work done for you in minutes?

Considering how much time can go into prepping, cleaning, and rinsing when performing manual car washing, the expedience of a professional wash simply cannot be matched.

6. Convenient Washing While on the Go

Most vehicles don’t become badly soiled when they sit in a driveway. It’s the road conditions and terrain they experience during driving that causes them to collect layers of debris. Using professional facilities, drivers can easily clean a vehicle while on the go. If their vehicles get dirty due to weather or the terrain they travel, consumers don’t have to set aside time for manual washing. They can simply roll through your wash and have their vehicle clean for the next day.

7. Modern, Cost-Effective Technology

Top car wash equipment manufacturers are constantly engineering new, more modernized technologies for wash facilities. Some of the new hardware helps facilities become more cost-effective than washing a vehicle at home. Thanks to new generation professional car wash equipment that is offered at top-of-the-line wash facilities, there is no need for customers to purchase wash resources for cleaning vehicle areas that traditional wash technology did not.

8. Additional Services May be Offered

When someone washes their vehicle in their driveway, the wash job is the extent of the wash experience. But many professional facilities decide to offer more than just exterior cleaning. In addition to vehicle washing, some commercial car washes offer value-added services such as interior detailing for vehicles, vehicle maintenance products, and commonly purchased consumer products such as snacks, drinks, and other convenience store items.

This makes going to a car wash an experience consumers can’t get elsewhere. In addition to having their vehicle cleaned inside and out, they can pick up items they would otherwise purchase at a gas station or grocery store, creating a one-stop service experience like no other.


Professional car wash equipment has come a long way in recent years. In addition to the offering of new services, advancements in technology help explain why many consumers strongly prefer to use professional facilities instead of washing their vehicle at home.

By partnering with a proven car wash equipment manufacturer like N/S Corporation, your facility can offer high-quality, eco-friendly solutions for cleaning vehicles that not only save consumers time and money, but also provide consistent wash results with no damage or grime left behind. If your car wash is in the market for new, better equipment, explore our range of solutions today.

Infrared Scanning: How it Enhances Car Wash Maintenance

Running a car wash facility can be costly, especially when a breakdown occurs. Performing proactive car wash maintenance can minimize downtime by identifying potential issues before they become major problems. Infrared scanning for equipment maintenance is a useful technology for this purpose. Utilizing a thermal scanner can have major benefits if implemented properly.

Get Precise Readings

Like many types of commercial equipment, professional car wash equipment can heat up from repeated use. While some machines come with a thermometer or temperature readout, these devices are not always effective at gauging temperatures in every part of the machine.

By including infrared scanning that uses thermal imaging as a part of your car wash maintenance service plan, you can scan individual areas on machines to get the most accurate temperature readings. When a temperature reading for a particular area runs abnormally hot, it can indicate a potential problem that may eventually require a repair.

Problems Scanning Can Identify

Unusual temperature outputs are often the first sign of damage or malfunction in many machines. Using infrared scanning, you can keep a closer eye on equipment and note any concerning fluctuations. Infrared scanning can identify concerning fluctuations by:

  • Monitoring bearing temperatures in large motors
  • Identifying “hot spots” in electronic equipment
  • Identifying leaks in sealed vessels
  • Finding faulty insulation or terminations
  • Locating overloaded circuit breakers
  • Identifying fuses at or near their current rated capacity
  • Identifying problems in electrical switchgear
  • Capturing process temperature readings

As employees conduct car wash maintenance based on infrared scan results, they can use the address areas that require special attention, handling the issues before they cause a breakdown.

Cost Factors and Benefits

While thermal imagers are popular for predictive equipment maintenance, smaller facilities might hesitate to buy them outright and incorporate them into their car wash maintenance plan. Like any hi-tech tool, the initial cost can be high. You also have to consider time spent training staff.

However, once the initial investment is made, many facilities see a savings of 30-40%, according to the Federal Energy Management Program, as maintenance costs and breakdowns are minimized. With that said, for facilities that don’t have the budget to acquire infrared scanners, infrared scanning can be performed as a third-party maintenance service for a reasonable fee per scanning session.


The best car wash maintenance services focus on preventative instead of reactive maintenance.
When you focus on being proactive rather than reactive with equipment needs, you can see big savings, as breakdowns are minimized.

Whether you decide to use your own scanner or receive scanning from a third party, incorporating infrared scanning into your car wash maintenance can help locate problematic issues before they become severe. Even though N/S Wash does not currently perform infrared scanning, we recommend considering implementing it in your equipment maintenance plan.