Water Temperatures


Hot water. Just like humans don’t like taking cold showers, cars prefer hot water when it comes to getting clean too! Unlike people, it’s not because cars enjoy the warmer temps. Science is the responsible party in this scenario.

If you’re trying to cut back on costs by not heating your car wash water temps to where they need to be, or if you have older equipment that can’t get the job done any longer, here are some reasons why you need to make sure your car wash business is in hot water!

All physical and chemical reactions are temperature dependent. In other words — the higher the temperature, the faster and better the cleaning! Keep in mind there are limits: don’t let your temps get any higher than 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent chemical fallout or vehicle/equipment damage.

Some quick cleaning factors that are temperature dependent:

  1. Soils and soil deposits are more soluble at elevated temperatures.
  2. The surface active agents in detergents are more efficient.
  3. Emulsification of dirt, oil and combinations of these types of soils is much faster at a temperature of 120℉ than they would be at 160℉.
  4. The higher pH builders in detergent break up the oils in soils much faster at 120℉
  5. Solvents present in liquid detergents remove and hold soils in suspension faster at elevated temperatures.

In other words: the higher the car wash water temperature, the faster water, soil and chemical molecules move in the solution. The result? Better, faster, stronger cleaning power!

You wouldn’t wash yourself, your dishes or even your dog in cold water. Your customers’ cars deserve a superior cleaning experience. Talk to a Harrell’s Car Wash chemical representative about your current settings and what you can do to optimize them. We can help you know which settings are best — for instance, our chemical products are best used at a boiler temperature setting between 120-140℉. It’s our job to know these things, and to share that knowledge with our customers.

Are you in hot water? If not, let’s work on turning up the heat! Smiley faces for everyone!

Written by Mike Wyciskalla, Harrell’s Car Wash Systems Chemical Sales Manager