We could all use a little extra cash, right? Well, despite the fact that the internet is an awesome place to earn it… there are still some offline ways to generate extra money every month… and car washing just might be one of them! But can you really make money washing cars?
Actually Making Money Washing Cars
In this post, we are going to take a closer look at this age-old side-hustle and figure out if it is actually viable!
Personally, I have never actually washed cars for money. I have washed my own car. I’ve done it dozens of times. It is almost like a ritual that I perform every spring, when the weather starts to clear—and after that, I do it about once per month until it just gets too cold to stand outside and work in the water.
But I also know people who almost never wash their cars. Would it be possible to earn some cash doing this?
Here is what I found.
The Basics: Doing An Internet Search
First off, I wanted to do an internet search to see if I could locate anyone else doing this as a side-hustle. This led me to this little gem of an article.
You can visit the article itself here. But I will go through the highlights just to fill you in anyway.
In this post, the writer talks about how they love cars. They also talk about how they love to wash their car, and about how it is pretty much always beautifully clean… even in the harsh winter months (the writer is from Scotland, so keep that in mind).
Well, this writer got started car washing as a side hustle when their co-workers started to notice how clean and shiny their car always was. Eventually, they asked if the writer could clean their cars for them in exchange for some cash.
And bam. A side-hustle was born!
It grew until the writer was able to earn $230 over the course of the first summer, but it was also made clear that he believed that this amount would be greatly increased over the following summer.
As for pricing, in this example, the writer charged $8 for a basic wash and vacuum, and $55 for a complete wash, vacuum, polish, and wax.
This was probably the best example that I found online of someone actually turning this into a side-hustle—so I was already pretty pumped about it.
But would it cost anything? That is the next thing I investigated.
How Much Does This Side-Hustle Cost?
So how much does it cost to start a car-washing side-hustle?
Well, according to our previous example, not much! The writer of the above-mentioned-post says that you can get started with a bucket, a sponge, water, and car shampoo. Of course, these items are very basic. You may need more supplies if you plan to offer more ‘premium level services’ for your customers.
Supplies like this could range from $20-$30 to over $100, depending on what brands you buy and how much you stock-up on. If you start small, you may not need to spend much at all.
One thing that you may want to look into is insurance. I hate to complicate side-hustles, but when dealing with cars, it is important to be aware of the risks. What if you accidentally drop a wood-backed sponge on the hood of a car and scuff the paint?
What if you accidentally slide your belt-buckle across the fender and scrape some paint off? What if you’re kneeling against the side-wall and accidentally put a small dent in it?
Damage can happen when you’re dealing with cars… which is why insurance may not be a bad idea if you plan to go very far with this side-hustle. If your customer has full-coverage, you might be safe… but you never know!
I realize that the entire point of a side-hustle is to keep it simple… and honestly, if your operation stays small enough, you may not ever have to worry about insurance.
But do yourself a favor, and at least look into it… just to see if it may be worth it to protect yourself from accidental damages!
How Much Can You Earn?
One of the great things about car washing is that it would likely be easy to pick up return clients if they like your work. So if you do a good job the first time, odds are good that they’ll be down to have you wash their car regularly!
With that being said, the best way to get started is just to set your price and start selling. If you charge $10 a car or so for a basic wash, and end up getting just 5 clients a month, that’s an extra $50 a month for playing in the water and rubbing a sponge all over a cool car in the sunlight!
The amount that you can earn is really up to you. It is based on how many customers you can find, and contingent upon how often you want to work!
If you want to scale up to an automated car wash, or a hand wash with employees, your profitability can scale up, but so do your costs, so you should take careful consideration before doing something larger than just a one-person business.
How To Find Car-Washing Clients
This seems like it would be the biggest challenge for some people, so I put my hands to the grind-stone and started researching different ways to earn car-washing clients. Here are some of the ideas that really popped out to me.
Go Door To Door And Offer An Initial Wash For Free
You may not be super-interested in washing someone’s car for free… but the good thing about this idea is that it only requires a time investment. Plus, using this method, you get to put your best foot forward by showing potential clients how good you are at what you do!
Offer local residents the option to get a free basic car-washing. All they have to do to qualify is listen to your pitch and take your card. Then, do the best job that you can on their car, thank them for their time, and ask them if you can sign them up for monthly car-washes!
You might be surprised by how much business you can drum up like this!
Ask Around At Local Car Dealerships And Car Auction Houses
I read another story online about a guy who made really good money power-washing totaled cars for an auction house. He only did it a couple nights a week, but he earned well over $100 a night doing it!
Car dealerships sometimes need people to wash their cars as well. Most of them probably have people lined up to wash their inventory already—but you never know when having your card on file might help you to get some extra work!
Word Of Mouth
This is still probably the number-one best way to bring on some car-washing clients. Just start talking to people you know and letting them know that you plan to wash cars for money.
Don’t be pushy… just let them know and offer to give them a killer deal!
You can also ask your close friends and family to spread the word for you. Your coworkers can also help to get the word out and potentially help you to bring in some more jobs.
My Personal Feelings About Washing Cars As A Side Hustle
This is an old-fashioned, simple, yet profitable side hustle that can absolutely help you to crush your side-money goals. You obviously need to be physically fit enough to wash cars to make this one work, and you have to be able to buy some supplies to get started with.
But once you get these things down and you actually get started, it shouldn’t take you long to level-it-up and start bringing in some serious cash.
You might even be able to start your own legitimate car-washing business after a while, once you really get rolling!
You may want to look into insurance. And if you get big enough, a service-based business license for your city may also be in order.
But you could also expand on this idea by offering up-sells for extra cash. Car fresheners are just one example of a product that you could up-sell to make a bit of extra money. It would be simple and easy to put this together.
Plus, car washing, as an activity, isn’t really that hard.
If you’re looking for a physical side hustle that you can use to earn money while getting some extra sunlight and outdoor time, then washing cars may be the perfect option for you!
This side hustle probably won’t make you rich—unless you build it into a huge business and start hiring employees. But… it can be an awesome side project to help get a little bit of extra cash into your wallet.
And hey… there’s nothing wrong with that, right?
Our Final Opinion Of Washing Cars As A Side Hustle
Should you start trying to sell your services as a ‘car washer’ to make some extra money?
There are a lot of ways to make money online. Some are good, some not, but ALL of them are still just trading hours for dollars.
Starting your own affiliate website really is the best way to build passive income and "make money while you sleep". Affiliate websites earn income in every timezone, and can be instantly accessed by billions of smartphones across the globe!