how to start a mobile car wash business

In the UK alone, there are around 50,000 car washes and most of them are situated in larger cities. In the past 2 years, most of the car wash businesses that have been opened up are mobile car washes. This trend can be attributed to the fact that a mobile car wash is extremely convenient for the client and owner, as it not only pays well but it is also easy to start up and saves the client time spent visiting a physical car wash.

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If you want to start a mobile hand car wash business and don’t know how to go about it, and you are thinking how to start a mobile car wash business, then you have come to the right place. Our complete guide will help you start a mobile hand car wash business with very little money and zero experience.

The mobile hand car wash business is much easier to start and can become profitably faster if well managed. With persistence, smartness, great marketing, and the right location, your business can grow quicker.  However, starting a car wash business is somehow tricky as you need proper planning, concentration, marketing, and car washing skills to execute the job.

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A mobile hand car wash business is where the owner of the business travels in a specially furnished vehicle to the client’s location or where the car is based. If you want to flourish in this business, you’ve to know your competition well and offer the best services possible.

But first, you’ve to create trust and credibility as clients will be entrusting you with their car keys. Also, you need to learn the right techniques and pick specific services to specialize in as there are many.

how do i start a carwash business? Without much ado! Here are the steps to follow to start a successful mobile hand car wash business.

Assess your competition

One of the mistakes that business do when starting up is undermining the competition. Carry out extensive research and find out which mobile car wash companies are operating in your location. Also, discover other car wash companies and the major services being offered in the area. Compare prices for mobile hand car wash and physical car wash businesses in the area. Knowing your competitor helps you build a better brand and superior services.

Acquiring all this information about your competitors in the area will help you separate yourself from the competition and assist you to determine what mobile hand car wash services you should provide and at what price. The main point here is to detect an area for yourself that will help you discover clients as easy as possible. Also, you should identify how to make your business stand out from the rest by offering the best services and do things that others are not doing.

Choose a location

This is a very important step when you’re starting a mobile hand car wash business. One of the things to consider when looking for a location to operate in is the circumstances that make people wash their vehicles. An ideal place will be where most of the car owners are busy and have no time to stop by and have their car washed.

Furthermore, you need a location that is going to enable you to keep all of your equipment and provide you with ready access to reach to your clients.

Need to Know!: Car wash environmental drainage regulations

Create a mobile hand car wash business plan

A business plan is not only great for a mobile hand car wash business but also for all business ventures. It helps you be prepared for the ups and downs of running a mobile hand car wash business. So, you need to take time and draft a detailed plan of how you will grow and the costs involved all the way. Also, in the business plan, you will be able to note down all the calculations, projections, and costs involved in running of the business.

Writing a business plan is no joke as you have to pay attention to every small detail that will help you to develop in the long run. That’s why some people prefer to hire consultants to write the business plan for them instead of doing it on their own. But this is something that you can do if you’ve done market research properly and have all the necessary figures with you.

One of the important parts of a business plan is having a candid budget. For instance, you will require an estimate of the start-up costs, potential revenue, and necessary equipment to start the business. The good news is that for a mobile hand car wash business, the start-up cost is slightly lower than that of setting up a physical location.

Mobile hand car wash equipment

Of course, you will need equipment to use for cleaning cars. Have a list of the equipment that you will need and what you already have. Note that you will need different equipment for different services. Even though it is not advisable to get expensive equipment, you should get high-quality equipment that gets the job done exceptionally well. If you want to retain clients at a high rate and offer the best services, consider going for high-quality equipment.

New to this business, learn pricing: How much to charge for mobile car washing

Unlike a car wash business located in a building or with a physical base, you will need to have a vehicle or van for carrying the equipment. The size of your van will depend on the services that you offer. Besides, you have the choice of buying a quality used van at a great price.

Most localities in the UK prohibit dumping of wastewater and as a result, you might have to purchase a water renewal system. Moreover, you will have to carry enough water for washing cars. You should carry at least 300 to 500 litres of water.

Other tools that are required for mobile hand car wash cleaning business include:

  • Buffers
  • Bucket
  • Sponges
  • Microfiber towels
  • Brushes
  • Portable generator
  • Chemical storage
  • Pressure washer
  • Water supply tank and pump
  • Polishers
  • Tire cleaners
  • Vapour steamer
  • Mobile phone
  • Cleaning products such as detergents and air fresheners

Note that you have the option of offering a waterless car wash, where you do not need the use of the water supply tank and electric generator.

Mobile hand car wash services you can provide

When starting a mobile hand car wash business, you’ve to decide on the services that you’re going to offer as there are many. Specializing will enable you to offer the best services and even master your work. Some of the most notable mobile hand car wash services include normal cleaning, waxing, bathing, and shampooing.

These are usually divided into two – exterior car washing services and interior car washing services. Exterior car washing services include washing the vehicle, claying the paint, and removal of every bug and tar. On the other hand, interior car washing includes rigorous vacuuming, window cleaning, and trash removal. Also, some provide leather surface wipe downs and all kinds of upholstery cleaning.

Other mobile hand car wash services include mould removal, shampoo carpets, car wax, shampoo seats, scratch removal, pet hair removal, engine cleaning, leather conditioning, and much more.

For every service that you offer, you should use the right products. Also, use safe products for finishes so that the car can glow when you’re done. And whether the weather is hot or not, you will have to bear the harsh conditions and have the stamina to work for several hours.

Legal requirements

Before you start operating your mobile hand car wash business, you need to have the right documents and ensure that you meet all the legal requirements. These will allow you to operate smoothly without having to violate the law or face any fines.

In the UK, you need to have a business permit, insurance, and meet health and safety standards. Also, take time to know the rules and regulations of the areas you will be operating in such as in malls, certain estates, and premises as well.

But prior to doing anything, you will have to register your business and also register it for self-assessment tax. Then, you will have to get liability insurance which is a sign of goodwill. This type of insurance shows your clients that you’re a committed and professional service provider. Additionally, ensure to include it in your business cards, flyers, banners, and website as well. If damage or a chemical spillage takes place during cleaning, the insurance company will step in to save you.

One of the rules that a car wash business should adhere to is to avoid discharging wastewater into a public sewer without the consent of the area’s local water company. This is considered as trade effluent and you may be charged for it. Also, there are restrictions on chemical usage and drainage requirements dependent on chemical content in a particular place.

To be on the safe side, you will have to calculate how much effluent your car washing business will likely produce and provide details of what chemicals you will be utilizing, drainage plans for your base, and information of treatment on the location. For instance, Southern Water in the UK charges an administration fee of £231 to process a trade effluent application and needs a notice of 2 months or more.

Marketing a mobile hand car wash business

Marketing is a big part of your business success as it sells you out there. When proper marketing is done, you will be able to find more customers easily and quickly. Start by visiting local office parks and businesses to get employees that may be interested in having their car washed while they are at work. Apart from that, you can provide clients with discounts if they bring you customers or refer your services.

Getting started is not easy thus you may find many challenges. At first, you may be rejected several times before being given business. So, you should be ready to operate at losses before making profits later.

You shouldn’t rely on just word of mouth to market your business as several forms of marketing will help you in this day and age. These include:

  • Business cards – as you meet potential clients, leave them with a business card so that they can call you if they need your services. Also, you can give them extra businesses cards to give their friends and colleagues.
  • Flyers – this is a great way of reaching a particular target group. You can give out flyers to people around your local area or local businesses. This will help people to spread the word about your business.
  • Banners – as you move from one corner of your locality to another, placing a banner when working is a great way of advertising yourself, especially if people passing by and are interested in your services.
  • Branding – come up with a wonderful logo for your business. The colours should also be appealing before branding them on your van, overall work clothing, website, and even on business cards.
  • Online marketing – since the world has gone digital, having a website with your logo and services advertised on it will help to sell you. Furthermore, create social media accounts where you can interact with clients and advertise your services.
  • Charity car washes – another great way of marketing yourself is through donating your time and techniques as a professional to local organizations. Search for upcoming events in your local area and offer your services.

Decide on the nature of your business

If you’re available throughout, you can decide to do the job full-time. But if you’re busy and want to treat the business as a side hustle, then you can do it part-time. Also, you will have to decide what day to offer your services such as on Fridays and Saturdays. To take your business to the next level, you will have to give it all the attention that it requires and do it full-time.


Creating a successful mobile hand car wash business requires proper planning, hard work, ideal location, and dedication. Follow our guide and you will comfortably be on your way to successfully start a mobile hand car wash business.

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