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Can a Car Wash Scratch Your Car?


Just as there are different cars, there are also various ways to wash a car. And as a car owner, you want the best for your vehicle to look brand new for a long time. So you may have paused and wondered, ‘Can a car wash scratch your car?’ does this apply to you? Then you are not alone. You’ll find the answers here.

There are different ways to wash a car. As a car owner, you want the best for your vehicle to look brand new for as long as possible. You may have paused and wondered, ‘Can a car wash scratch your car?’ If this describes you, then you are not alone. You’ll find the answers here.

Oh yes! Car washes can scratch your car, but the severity of the scratch depends on the car wash method you use. So, in this article, we’ll walk you through all the different ‌car washing methods and how they can scratch your car.

Read on to get the best of this article.

Types of Car Wash

These methods of washing a car are not the same, and they all have both upsides and drawbacks. So, we will examine the different types here with their pros and cons.

1. Handwash

2. Rinseless wash

3. Waterless wash

4. Automatic was

5. Brushless wash

6. Touchless wash


Handwash is the safest method of car washing. It won’t scratch your car. The most important thing is to use two or more buckets instead of one. Also, use a different towel for the wheel and body.

Any detailing professional will also advise you on the safety of this method. Even though it takes time and money, it is the most efficient kind of car wash and is therefore worthwhile.

Car Hand Wash


  • It minimises scratches
  • Because of the high touch and attention, you give to your car when washing comes out clean.


Although this method is safe, it still has some drawbacks. First, let’s go over the cons of hand washing.

  •  It is time-consuming. This method is not for someone who is not patient. It requires a reasonable amount of time and energy.
  • It is the safest car wash method, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t even scratch the car. On the contrary, because of the acute attention and concentration you give to it, you may scratch the vehicle, and the car paint may ‌fade away.
  • It is more expensive than an automatic car wash

Rinseless wash

This no rinsing wash method requires you to mix a small quantity of the washing solution into a bucket with water. However, it will not produce suds, so you do not need to rinse. After you’ve washed a particular area, all you have to do is wipe it down to dry using wash mitts or microfiber towels.


  • It is a faster method than handwash.
  • It is less prone to scratching than a waterless wash.
  • It uses less water than handwash.


  • It is difficult to take off heavy contamination.
  • It is more prone to scratching than a handwash.

Waterless wash

This waterless method requires you to use a washing product, usually in a spray bottle and a few microfiber towels. All you need to do is spray the effect on your car and use the towels to clean up.

While this method seems simple, it doesn’t remove heavy dirt. However, people who may not have the time to hand wash may find this method helpful.


  • It is quick and simple.
  • The wash solution isn’t expensive.
  • It doesn’t use water.


  • There are possibilities for scratches.
  • It doesn’t remove heavy dirt.

Automatic wash

Automatic wash requires driving your car inside a conveyer belt that uses spinning brushes and blowers. Unfortunately, the bristles on these brushes often have some abrasive grime from previously washed vehicles, which will probably harm your car’s paint.

The heavy washing solution can also spoil a car’s paint. Nevertheless, people prefer this method because it’s quick and less expensive. And so may not consider all the downsides that come with it.


  • It is the fastest method of car wash
  • It is less expensive compared to handwash


  • Compared to any other car wash method, it causes significant scratching.
  • It sometimes leaves watermarks on the car after air-dry
  • While it is good that it washes quick, it leaves some parts the unwashed in the process

Brushless wash

It is an automatic wash that uses soft clothes instead of bristles. You may believe that this eliminates ‌abrasive bristles causing harm to your car’s paint, but a contaminated cloth will scratch an automobile as much as a bristle.

The dirt from other previously washed cars left on the clothes can mar your car’s finish. Like the automatic wash mentioned above, brushless wash also uses strong detergents that may harm your vehicle.


  • It is a quick method
  • It is not expensive


  • It doesn’t remove heavy contamination
  • It causes scratches on the car
  • The strong chemicals used in washing the car may be harmful to your car’s paint.

Touchless car wash

Unlike automated car washes that use spinning brushes and wet mats, a touchless car wash cleans a vehicle using high water and air pressure. The goal of the touchless car wash is to eliminate the scratching that occurs with automated washing.


As the name implies, it doesn’t directly contact your car, hence using heavy cleaning solutions and water spray to take off the dirt. But then, does this method proffer the best solution to car wash scratches? Well, let’s see if it works here.


  • Touchless car wash is cost-effective compared to handwash
  • This method of car washing is fast
  • It reduces car wash scratch


  • When compared to automatic and brushless wash, it is costlier
  • It uses harsh chemicals and stronger soaps which may increase the chances of car paint damage
  • It does not take away contamination that is quite heavy.

Dennis Taljan, director of automotive coatings at PPG, told Consumer reports that while automotive finishes are now durable enough for car wash, poorly maintained bristles or soft-cloth washes could cause unforeseen problems.

Which type of car wash is the safest?

Among the various ‌car washes discussed above, most experts believe that hand wash is the safest because you can control everything you use for washing.

But, when considering the safety of your car, touchless and brushless washes are both in the middle. The advantage of touchless car washing is that it is the fastest method of car washing when compared to others.

Though automatic wash can do a thorough and quick washing, experts suggest ‌it is the most unsafe car wash method since it uses spinning brushes that may damage the car’s paint.

Wrapping Up

Car washing is one of the many factors to consider when caring for your car to improve its appearance, extend its life, and maintain its resale value. So, when choosing a car wash method, you should also keep in mind the pros and cons of your chosen method.

The detailed explanations above answered your crucial question, ‘Can a car wash scratch your car?’ As a result, it is entirely up to you to determine which car wash is best for your vehicle and how many scratches you will risk.

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