Car Wash Industry Statistics: Market Size, Employment, and Trends in 2022

Car wash is among the most active industries worldwide, significantly growing in possibilities for newcomers and innovators over the last few decades. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the industry, it is quickly recovering and thriving again. 

Professionals in the field expect the demand to increase in years to come. So, if you’re planning to jump on the bandwagon, the following figures will give you some insight.

Top Car Wash Industry Statistics: Editor’s Choice

  • The US car wash industry value was $14.21 billion in 2020.
  • 32% of annual car wash revenue comes from vehicles washed during winter.
  • The cost of a basic mobile car wash ranges from $26 to $60.
  • The average hand car wash costs about $7.
  • In-bay automated systems use around 3,500 gallons of water a day.
  • California has the largest number of car washes of all states.
  • The UK car wash industry market value is around £1 billion.
  • Mr. Wash is the largest car wash in the world.

How Much Money Can You Make Owning a Car Wash?

Since most people prefer to have their vehicles cleaned at a car wash, it can be a very successful investment for entrepreneurs. It offers an immediate solution to an everyday problem, and the industry has raked in a hefty sum over the years.

1. The value of the US car wash market was $14.21 billion in 2020. 

The car wash market size is projected to expand at a CAGR of 4.8% between 2021 and 2028. Due to their hectic lifestyles, people are turning to car wash services and the convenience they provide.

2. A car wash market analysis reveals the global industry was worth $27.8 billion in 2020.

The global car wash industry is expected to expand at a CAGR of 3.8% during the 2021–2028 period. Like in the US, the worldwide demand for car washing comes from a need for comfort and a more diversified range of luxury options.

3. The average annual self-service car wash small business profit is over $40,000.

While this is true for small businesses, larger and luxurious car washes can earn over $500,000 per year. Consumers spend $5.8 billion annually on this service, and every car wash has about 20,000 clients annually. Therefore, the car wash profit margin translates into $9.56 per vehicle.

4. 32% of annual car wash revenue comes from vehicles washed during winter.

Winter is the most popular season for having a vehicle washed. Spring and summer are close seconds, each making up 25% of the yearly car wash revenue. Consequently, fall is the least profitable season, with 18% of the annual income.

5. ​In-bay automatic car wash owners gain, on average, $86,500 per year.

It’s essential to consider the business type, charge per vehicle, and recurring expenses to determine a car wash owner’s salary. Therefore, if your business model is different from an in-bay automatic car wash, this figure may differ.

6. Car wash owners usually charge a basic mobile car wash between $26 and $60.

The average cost of a car wash with an additional engine steam cleaning fluctuates between $275 and $300. However, the service could be more expensive if the employees received professional and specialized training. Furthermore, the price also depends on the state or country.

7. In 2020, 63 net-lease car wash facilities were sold at a cap rate of 6.67%.

To determine car wash cap rates, investors need to estimate the rate of return on a property for sale. CoStar reported that the average selling cap rate has decreased by 16 basis points since 2019, meaning the value has increased.

8. Car wash revenue projections in the US show an increase of 9.4% in 2021.

Due to the decrease in consumer spending and the lockdown orders imposed by the government, the car wash and auto detailing industry has suffered a hit. However, since the economy is gradually reopening, the sector is flourishing again, reaching new staggering records.

Car Wash Industry Stats: Costs and Employment

Like every other business, the car wash industry also comes with equipment, investment, employment, and additional costs. Let’s take a closer look at the most impressive figures.

9. Car wash owners typically invest $42,000 per bay when starting a business.

Before starting a business, you should consider the overall car wash investment cost. Finding a location and equipment are only some of the initial costs a car wash entrepreneur needs to consider. In total, you end up investing over $40,000 per bay for the construction of automatic units.

10. The average hand car wash price is about $7 per car.

Apart from being fairly fruitful, starting a hand car wash requires only a few hundred dollars. The overall cost of the car wash business, including self-service, detailing, and automatic and touchless car wash, is way higher. 

11. The hourly wage for a car wash attendant in the US is $12.

With the average hourly pay between $10 and $15, the car washer salary depends on education, certifications, training, experience in the field, and additional skills. The most experienced workers can get $17 per hour, while entry-level hires start from $8 per hour.

12. In-bay automatic systems use about 3,500 gallons of water per day.

Car wash water usage statistics show that 100 vehicles require about 35 gallons each. However, a touch-free wash can use 70 gallons per vehicle, resulting in 7,000 gallons a day for 100 cars. Therefore, water consumption is the industry’s biggest problem.

Car Wash Industry Statistics in 2022 by State

Among all industries in the US, the car wash and auto detailing industry is in 15th place by market size in the “other services” category. That said, let’s take a closer look at some data regarding each state.

13. California has the highest number of car washes of all states.

These car wash industry in California statistics are rather logical since this US state has the highest number of residents. Furthermore, California is known for automotive companies. The most recent data shows that California has about 2,025 car washes with 24,851 employees.

14. In Florida, the average price of detailing services is under $140.

Car wash industry statistics show that Florida is among the states with the lowest price of detailing services, together with Tennessee, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Additionally, car detailing businesses in Hawaii charge the least. On the other hand, the cost of detailing services in Oregon, Kansas, South Carolina, and Texas is over $175.

15. Maryland has the highest hourly wage for car detailers at $15.92 per hour.

According to car wash statistics in the US, detailers in Maryland earn up to $95,275 per year on average. However, the average annual pay in the US is approximately $27,735. On the other hand, Mississippi has the lowest average hourly wage of $9.52 per hour or $34,075 per year.

Car Wash Industry Trends in 2022 by Country

After getting a good grasp of the US landscape, let’s take a look at the impact the car wash industry has on the global economy.

16. In the UK, the car wash industry is worth approximately £1 billion a year.

Car wash industry statistics in the UK reveal some concerning facts. About 8,000 hand car washes are reported to engage in illegal activities, putting car wash workers and the local environment at significant risk.

17. The startup cost for a car wash franchise in South Africa ranges from about $53,000 to nearly $80,000.

Statistics on the car wash industry in South Africa show that owners need to pay an additional fee of over $10,400 for all signage, equipment, and furniture, recruited and trained staff, dedicated customer care, and similar.

18. Asia-Pacific is the leading market worldwide with the most prominent car wash industry growth.

China, India, Thailand, and Indonesia have become some of the most prominent automotive manufacturing hubs globally. Another major driver of the car wash system market is the growth of the automotive industry that has contributed to the local economy’s growth.

19. In Canada, the car wash and auto detailing sector will reach a market size of $1.2 billion in 2021.

Car wash industry statistics in Canada show it has grown at a much slower pace than the overall economy in the country. However, the figure is expected to increase by 9.2% in 2021.

Because of the low demand caused by the lockdown, Canada’s market size dropped to about $1.1 billion in 2020.

20. The world’s most expensive car wash costs up to $150,000.

If you have a Bugatti Veyron, a Veneno, or some other expensive car, you might want to get the ultimate car washing service. Car wash industry statistics show that Ultimate Shine, based in Scotland, offers the most expensive car wash service in the world.

21. Mr. Wash is the biggest car wash in the world.

Located in Stuttgart, Germany, Mr. Wash washes up to 4,000 cars every day. The car wash currently has over 100 trained employees and draws in thousands of clients thanks to its efficient service and attention to detail.

Car Wash Industry Statistics: The Takeaway

If you’re thinking about opening a business, then a car wash might be your best shot. It’s an excellent sector for first-time entrepreneurs since it’s not monopolized by big companies, allowing small businesses to grow and thrive. 

Car wash statistics show that both the company owners and employees benefit greatly from this industry. Although the pandemic slowed it down in 2020, the sector seems to be recovering.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is car wash a profitable business?

A high number of vehicles that are made and sold every day is one of the reasons behind the car wash industry’s profit. Furthermore, people’s busy schedules prevent them from having the time to clean their cars at home. Thanks to the automated processes, it’s much easier and faster to have it done.

Research shows that owners of in-bay automatic car wash establishments gain, on average, $86,500 per year. While the figure differs depending on the type of service, location, and staff’s experience, it’s still a highly profitable business.

How many cars does the average car wash wash?

On average, a car wash in the US washes about 20,000 cars every year. However, this figure is not even close to 500,000 vehicles washed every year at Mr. Wash, the biggest car wash site worldwide.

However, the busiest season is winter, as about 32% of the annual revenue is earned during those months. Spring and summer follow, with 25% each, and fall is the least profitable period with only 18%.

What industry does the car wash fall under?

Car washes fall under the car wash and auto detailing industry, with the NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code 811192. This sector is mainly in charge of cleaning, washing, and waxing automotive vehicles.

How much does a car wash owner make?

It’s difficult to estimate how much a car wash owner earns in a year because not all car washes are the same. There’s a difference between self-service, automated, soft and no-touch, waterless and rinseless, machine dryer, and hand car washes. 

Location and expenditures are also a big part of the overall income. For example, an in-bay automatic car wash owner can make up to $86,500 a year.

How long does an automatic car wash take?

If you want to save money and time, an automatic car wash is a good alternative to doing it at home. Automatic car washing is a thorough process that includes pre-soaking, scrubbing, washing, waxing, more scrubbing, and rinsing—all that in only three minutes.

How many car washes are there in the US?

In the US, over 60,000 car washes rake in $5.8 billion a year, according to car wash industry statistics.

Mister Car Wash (Tucson), Malden Wash Depot (Malden), Zips (Little Rock), and the International Car Wash Group (Centennial) are some of the most notable names in the industry.


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