How Many Carwashes are in the United States?

After 27-years in the cleaning business, most in the car washing industry, folks still ask questions about the industry. It is kind of fun to reminisce. Not long ago, someone asked me a question that, is not answerable really and it made me think a bit, as there is no real industry information that is reliable on the subject. The questions was rather simple:

How many new car washes do you think open each year? They seem to be popping up like daisies. Articles I have read said that the competition is getter stiffer and stiffer all the time. I’d love to have a rough idea of how many new car washes open each year.

About 8,000 is my thinking, that is 8,000 regular type carwashes are being built during up-ticks. 12 in every major DMA and 20 in the non-DMA Nearest car wash areas surrounding those major markets. But there are many types of carwashes:

  1. Coin-op,
  2. Full Serve,
  3. C-store add-ons,
  4. Roll-overs
  5. Hybrid Combos
  6. Mobile Car Washes

So, as we dive into this question we need to ask ourselves some serious questions, such as what exactly are you calling a ‘Carwash’ and thus, you can see why it is hard to answer correctly such a simple question. A question that should have a very definite answer too?

Indeed, I remember reading in 2000 that there 39,000 carwashes, 60,000 coin ops and 80,000 roll-overs, so the number could be double. That is a lot of water usage indeed. There are better ways to build that mousetrap, ionic vibrational ultrasound systems for instance? Think about the future of car washing now so you can answer the questions of importance later.

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