How Hot Water Heats Up Car Wash Profits

Grimy grills, greasy dishes and grody grit. Hot water cleans them all better, faster and uses less water, yet many car wash operators still offer only cold water washes. Read on to learn how hot water profits car wash operations.

The hot/cold water debate prevails in the power washing industry, as well. Portability, unlike in the car washing industry, is a factor for choosing a high-powered cold water system versus one with a water heating feature. Cold water power washing uses brute force to chisel dirt off concrete; not an option for car wash operators who want to avoid damaging paint surfaces.

Cold water car wash operators turn to chemicals to do hot water’s job. But to swiftly cut through grease and oil, there’s no substitute for good old hot water.

The Secret is Science: Surface Tension

Water is the universal solvent. When its temperature increases surface tension decreases, enabling it to dissolve more dirt more quickly.

Without getting too technical, here’s an analogy by Jamey Kramar, a mechanical engineer who designs high pressure water cleaning equipment:

Consider cleaning a surface as a boxing match. Mr Hot for hot water, Mr Cold for cold water and Mr Dirt for the dirt.

Mr Hot is a faster moving, more nimble boxer than Mr Cold. Put Mr Hot against Mr Dirt and he easily wins because he can land punches easily by getting past Mr Dirt’s defenses. Mr Cold might win sometimes but the better Mr Dirt (more caked on the dirt is) is the worse he fares.

Add soap to the equation and you have a boxer with a lasso rope. Soap allows the already fast and quick Mr Hot boxer to rope in Mr.Dirt and knock him out.

The effect of Mr Hot’s speed far outweigh the use of the lasso rope. That is why hot water cleans better than cold water combined with soap.

Putting numbers to it you could say hot water is 5x more important than soap in the cleaning a surface equation.

The Secret is Science: Faster, Increased Chemical Reactivity

In the boxer analogy, above, soap (lasso) binds Mr Dirt so he is easily rinsed away. While Mr Hot is the strongest combatant in the scenario, teamed with soap, he clobbers Mr Dirt faster.

To give an example of how heat increases chemical reaction, a research firm for laundry companies found that between 86-degreesF – 140-degreesF, an 18-degree increase in temperature roughly doubles the rate of reaction. For those stains that the detergents affected, washing for 1 hour at 104-degrees was the equivalent of washing for 2 hours at 86-degrees.

3 Ways Hot Water Heats Up Profits

  1. Speed Cleaning. Save on Water Costs. Hot water cleans better faster, so you can clean more cars better faster. Bottom line: clean more cars with less water.
  2. Boost Performance. Save on Chemical Costs. At higher temperatures, chemical reactions activate faster, to rapidly achieve the desired results using less soak, detergent, protectant. Hot water, then, boosts chemical performance to amplify returns on chemical costs.
  3. Self-Serve, In Bay, Tunnel. High efficiency hot water systems can be designed to cost-effectively service multiple car washing systems in one location.

Investing in Hot Water

How long before the investment in water heating equipment and fuel costs pay off? First, the boost to cleaning and chemical performance provide immediate savings that help pay you back. After that, the answer is: it depends.

It depends on the size of your operation and the age of the current system. If updates are due, it is the ideal time to consider a hot water upgrade. Or if air fresheners and other upsell incidentals are not increasing profit potential, a high efficiency hot water system might be the ticket to long term profit.

Or if you’re just curious. Carwash Boilers has the expertise and tested solutions to help upgrade or transition car wash operating systems. Working from your specs and goals, we can help determine costs and complete turnkey solutions.

Carwash Boilers. High efficiency products and services to help make car wash operators become more profitable.