The #1 Step-by-step Ultimate Guide on How Long Does It Take to Wash a Car Properly?


Washing your car by hand is one of the best ways to avoid scratches and swirl marks on the body. But how long does it take to wash a car properly? Washing a car by hand may take longer than an automatic car wash, however, it is more thorough and there is less chance of damaging the paint.

To wash a car properly at home, you will need car wash shampoo which is available at any car accessories store online or in your locality.

A car wash at home usually takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour depending on how thorough the cleaning is and how much time you spend on each step.

This article discusses the steps involved in a car wash so that you will know more about the process involved.

How much time should you spend washing a car?

Cleaning a car by hand is a manual task that has to be done with care. The whole process consists of a number of steps including filling buckets with water, adding soap solution to the water, applying the soap foam to the car exterior and finally rinsing the soapy solution off and drying it.

Washing a car properly by this method usually takes some time, perhaps an hour or more. It may take longer if you decide to use a polish and wax the car after the wash. Keep in mind to follow the dos and donts of car exterior protection.

Detailing services have to be done meticulously and cannot be finished in a hurry. Car exterior protection products include polish and wax that needs to be buffed into the paint to provide a good shine.

If a hand wash sounds like too much hard work, you can always opt for an automatic car cleaning service by a professional. There are car wash services offered by petrol stations that do a good job of keeping your car clean. However, these car washes take a little longer.

Advantages and disadvantages of washing a car by hand

The time to wash a car by hand may make you reconsider the procedure. However, a hand wash is the most thorough way to wash a car properly. Every nook and cranny are covered and all body parts get adequate attention.

Apart from how long it takes, there are some pros and cons to hand washing a car.


It is gentle on the car body

Automatic car washes use harsh chemicals to clean a car. A manual car wash by hand makes use of simple car shampoo that will not damage the paint.

Less chance of scratches

A hand wash is less likely to cause scratches on the car’s body. If you need car paint protection like polish or wax, buffing by hand will be a smooth process. Electric rotating brushes may chip off weak sections of car paint. 

Less likely to damage car parts

Protruding parts on the car exterior such as rear ORVMs and radio antennas sometimes come in the way of a car wash. When washed by hand, they are less likely to get damaged. Automatic spinning brushes may damage such parts.

No swirl or water marks left behind

A hand wash is essential to prevent water and swirl marks on the paint. If you use a micro fibre cloth to dry off all the water, there is less chance of stains being left on the car body.

More options for detailing

A manual hand wash allows you to detail the car with a number of products. Automatic car washes have limited options when it comes to detailing.


There are also some cons to cleaning a car by hand.  Other than the time factor, it is also more costly to buy all the cleaning equipment individually to wash a car properly.

It takes longer for a hand wash

Washing a car by hand is a lengthy process that can take up to an hour of your time. Automatic car washes use strong chemicals that clean the car quicker but are not good for car paint protection.

Hand washing costs more

With a manual hand wash, you have to invest in all the cleaning equipment like buckets, car shampoo, soft brushes and microfiber cloths. A professional service will charge you much less for a car wash.

Conclusion – How long does it take to wash a car properly?

There are several types of car washes. First is the automatic car wash, where large rotating brushes clean your car. Next is the waterless car wash which uses chemicals. And finally, you have the manual hand wash.

Each type of car wash takes a different approach, but the hand wash takes the longest at about 1 hour. The other types of car washes may take 20 -30 minutes.

Automatic car washes use strong detergents that clean the car very quickly and don’t require much scrubbing.

A hand wash is done manually and takes longer but you end up with a more thorough cleaning and less chance of damage to your car’s exterior.

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