Keeping your car clean is essential, but with so many car wash options out there, how do you choose the best one for your vehicle? From automatic to touchless car washes, each type offers unique benefits and drawbacks.

At Soapy Shark, we take pride in our car wash expertise and want to help you make the best choice for your car’s care.

Let’s dive into the different types of car washes, their pros and cons, and answer some common questions along the way.

Types of Car Washes

Automatic Car Washes

Automatic car washes are convenient and quick. You drive your car onto a conveyor belt, and it moves through various stages of washing, rinsing, and drying. These machines use brushes, cloth strips, or high-pressure jets to clean your car.


  • Fast and efficient.
  • Typically affordable.
  • Widely available.


  • Brushes can potentially scratch your car’s paint.
  • Not as thorough as a hand wash.

Just FYI, Soapy Shark located in Okeechobee and Lake View is an automatic professional Car Wash. 

Self-Service Car Washes

Self-service car washes provide you with the tools and equipment to wash your car yourself. You typically use a high-pressure hose, soap brush, and various cleaning products available on-site.


  • Control over the washing process.
  • Usually cost-effective.
  • Can be more thorough than automatic washes.


  • Requires physical effort and time.
  • May not have the best quality tools.

Hand Washes

Hand washing your car involves manually cleaning it with soap, water, and microfiber towels or sponges. This method is often considered the most thorough.


  • Gentle on your car’s paint.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Can be customized to your car’s needs.


  • Time-consuming.
  • Can be more expensive if done by professionals.

Touchless Car Washes

Touchless car washes use high-pressure water and strong detergents to clean your car without any physical contact. This reduces the risk of scratches.


  • No contact with your car’s surface.
  • Quick and convenient.
  • Reduces risk of scratches.


  • May not be as effective on heavily soiled cars.
  • Strong chemicals can be harsh on your car’s finish.

Mobile Car Washes

Mobile car washes bring the car wash to you. Professionals come to your location with all the necessary equipment and clean your car on-site.


  • Convenient.
  • Personalized service.
  • Saves time.


  • Typically more expensive.
  • Dependent on the quality of the service provider.
  • Only available at some places.

FAQs About Car Washes

Do car washes scratch your car? 

Some automatic car washes can scratch your car if they use abrasive brushes. However, if the automatic car wash uses up-to-date professional machinery and instruments then the chances of scratches are significantly lower. Modern car washes often use soft cloths or touchless systems to minimize the risk. It’s also essential to regularly maintain your car’s exterior with wax or sealants to protect the paint.

How often should you wash your car?

It depends on your driving conditions, but a general rule of thumb is to wash your car every two weeks. 

What is the best type of car wash for my vehicle? 

This depends on your needs. For a quick and convenient wash, automatic or touchless car washes are ideal. For a more thorough cleaning, hand washes or self-service options are best. At Soapy Shark we offer amenities like microfiber cloth, buckets to help you wash your car with the thoroughness and detail of a hand wash.

Is hand washing always better than other methods? 

While hand washing can be more thorough, it depends on the tools and products used. Improper techniques can also damage your car’s paint.

Are touchless car washes effective? 

Touchless car washes use high-pressure water and strong detergents to clean your car without physical contact, reducing the risk of scratches. However, they may not be as effective on heavily soiled vehicles.

How do I choose the right car wash? 

Consider your car’s needs and your personal preferences. If you value convenience, an automatic or touchless car wash might be best. For those who prefer a detailed clean, hand washing or a self-service option is recommended.

What should I avoid when washing my car? 

Avoid using abrasive materials and harsh chemicals. Instead, use soft cloths, gentle detergents, and follow proper techniques to prevent damage to your car’s paint.


There are various types of car washes available, each with its own pros and cons. Whether you prefer the convenience of an automatic wash or the thoroughness of a hand wash, keeping your car clean is essential for maintaining its appearance and value. 

If you are in the area, Visit Soapy Shark in Okeechobee or Lake View for a professional car wash.