Teeter, my Audi TT Roadster, after a good washing.

How I Wash My Car in 1 Minute for $1/Month

I used to keep my car clean by quickly swiping it with the California Car Duster or one of its numerous knockoffs in between car washings on my driveway. Nowadays, I rarely wield a shaggy duster or a hose and bucket anymore. But it’s not because I became lazier than Garfield or don’t appreciate having a sparkling clean, shiny car that you could “almost eat off of” anymore.

Well, actually the former might have a sliver of truth to it, but I also like to think I got smart! Here’s how I wash my car in one minute for $1 (or less) per month.

  1. When running errands, on the way home I stop by a do-it-yourself car wash and park my car into one of the service bays.
  2. I turn the dial on the car wash operator machine to “rinse” and then grab the spray nozzle.
  3. I chuck 2-4 quarters in to the operator machine (depending on how dirty the car is or how much change I have), which then feeds water to the spray nozzle for about 40-80 seconds. I hose down the entire car with clean, high-pressure water.
  4. I don’t bother to dry the car. Driving home at speeds above 50 mph blows off just about all the water.

Note that I do not use soap. I do the above about once a month, although sometimes 2X/month in winter. At $0.50-$1.00 per shot, I can afford it.

By washing my vehicle at the self-service car wash instead of my driveway, I save reservoirs of time by not having to uncoil and connect a hose and bust out a bucket. Plus the water at a car wash typically is clean, recycled, high pressure and does not leave hard water spots. While this quick-wash method is admittedly not as thorough, it is “good enough” 95% of the time.

Every six months, I do thoroughly wash the car in the driveway and then wax it. I use Perma-Seal Hand Glaze whose makers dub “The Lazy Man’s Wax,” a product I picked up at the Denver Auto Show a couple years ago. It doesn’t quite produce the shine of, say, Blitz Carnauba Wax, but application and wipe-off is easier and it is supposed to last six months before needing reapplication.

Waxing is particularly important for the 1-minute car wash method so that dirt, oil, tar and bugs don’t stick so well to the paint and can be easily sprayed off.

Teeter, my Audi TT Roadster, after a good washing.
Teeter, my Audi TT Roadster, after a good washing.