Love Your Motor | Professional Valet vs. Budget Car Wash
You have probably used a cheap car wash, or cheap hand wash service in the past (we all have at one point or another). You cannot argue with the price or the convenience - 5 to 10 minutes to wash & dry a car for under £10, what's the problem...? The real question is, when has anything done properly taken only 5 to 10 minutes!
If you need a basic clean and only have 10 minutes (and are not overly concerned about the finish or damage) then they're very useful! However, whilst we cannot say that all budget car wash services are guilty of using the cheaper damaging solutions or equipment below, our own experience and that of our customers suggest many are...
Why you should NOT use a cheap/budget Car Wash service
1. Regardless of the service, Automatic Car Washes cannot clean a vehicle properly - a Hand Wash (budget or professional) will always provide better results, but the limited time spent on your vehicle with a Budget Hand Wash service does not allow the cleaner to pay the required attention to ensure a good clean (with most budget car wash attendants relying on the pressure washer to do most of the work)!

2. When not dried properly (by an automatic service or hand wash), you will end up with lots of spotting & water stains - we've never seen a good result from an automatic car wash, whilst most budget hand wash services do the minimum needed (often using inferior chamois).

3. Automatic and Budget Car Wash Services will typically leave your car with scratches (however small), and almost always with swirl marks. Whilst these are not necessarily noticeable from a distance, when up close it is always apparent, and potentially causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage - the brushes used in the automatic washes will almost always contain debris from previous washes, whilst the pure haste of the budget hand wash almost guarantees a failing in the precautionary process that is designed to prevent debris contamination and damage (if they even have such a process). If you ever see a hand wash attendant using the 'rubber squeegee', drive away as quick as you can!!

4. The cheap Shampoos and Cleaning agents used by both the Automatic Car Wash machines and the Budget Hand Wash Services are often damaging to a cars bodywork - if not the paint, then any existing coating or wax. Additionally, the cleaning solutions will often be of an acidic variety, which can damage the metals, wheels and the body work. The damage is often not noticeable until some time later!

5. Do you know who is washing your car? When visiting a pop-up or budget car wash outlet, you never quite know who is going to be washing your car, what they are using in those big barrels or bottles, whether they'll be there in a weeks time and whether they'll be accountable for any poor services or damage etc.

Whilst many (if not most) budget car wash companies suffer the above failings, it is often a result of the paid for service rather than the technicians or company doing the work - in reality, it is unfeasible for a company to charge £10, £8 or even £6 to clean a car thoroughly, and whilst some car wash attendants genuinely do care about your car, a good percentage of them do not! We would always advise, when visiting these establishments, you take a look at their high end Valet services. The prices are typically a lot higher (and comparable to the prices charged by Mobile Valet Professionals), and we would hope that the extra attention required to ensure a good clean is carried out so hopefully providing a much better result (you'll still not know what is in those big barrels though).

We would always recommend you use a professional Valet service, but if you choose to wash your car at budget outlets, please follow our top tips at the bottom of the page!
...What our customers have to say...
      5 Star Car Valet and Detailing Service in the St Albans and City District  
    " You've reminded me what my 'black' Jaguar looked like when it was first delivered (perhaps better). I've never been able to get close to that kind of finish - well done! " Mr Wells, Hertfordshire (Full Connoisseur Detail)
      5 Star Car Valet and Detailing Service in the Welwyn & Hatfield Borough  
    " Seeing your cleaner work, it was obvious he has a passion for detail (one might say slightly OCD), and I will recommend you to my friends and family. Thank you xx " Mrs Atkins, Hertfordshire (Pro Valet +)
      5 Star Car Valet and Detailing Service in the Hertsmere Borough  
    " Please thank your staff for doing such a great job, and taking the extra time to deal with all the bird muck stains on the bonnet and chrome trim " Mr Cozier (Pro Clean +, and Spot Treatments)
Top Tips if you are going to use a Budget Car Wash Service

1. Always ask the attendant to thoroughly rinse out the wash cloth in fresh, clean water BEFORE starting on your vehicle.

2. Make sure they are using buckets with fresh, clean water (rather than the bucket used for the previous car they washed)

3. At the very least, they should be using a 2-bucket process where they wash your car with soapy water from one bucket, ensuring they rinse the cloth in a 2nd 'rinse' bucket EVERY TIME they return to the soapy bucket again - if not, request that they rinse the cloth in fresh water EVERY TIME they step away from your car! This will help reduce the majority of scratches caused by contaminated soapy water!

4. Unless the attendant can show you what product is being used on your wheels (or any other sprays being used), don't be afraid to 'bring your own'. It may seem like an additional expense, but asking them to use your own pH neutral Wheel Cleaner (for example) could save you hundreds of pounds in the long run if they are using acidic cleaners all over your vehicle!

5. When drying, DO NOT let them use a bladed squeegee under any circumstance - ensure they use a new, clean microfibre cloth and NOT a chamois leather. Whilst it used to be the drying cloth of choice, a chamois is well know for holding small debris and will likely scratch

These tips may seem a little overkill, and may require you to pay the attendant a little extra, but they will go a long way to help reduce the damage done to your vehicle and even provide better results (you may be expected to tip heavily too, but its worth it). If you really want the professional service, and the correct attention to detail, then a professional detail company (even their basic wash) is what you need!