User Reviewed

How to Organize a Charity Car Wash

A charity car wash is a great way to raise funds and awareness for any school, charity, or organization. It's a great project for a church youth group, school class, a pep squad, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts.


  1. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 1
    Determine how many people from your group are willing to participate. A minimum of five people is best.
  2. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 2
    Choose a date and time. Good weather is always best, because people won't want to get their cars washed on wet days. Weekends -- especially Saturdays -- are good, because most people have time off from work and school.
    • Make sure this day will work for everyone in your group, because you're going to need all the help you can get.
    • You can also have people sign up to work in shifts.
  3. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 3
    Find a location for the car wash. Parking lots work best.
    • Let the property owners know you'll be working for charity or school, and they'll be more likely to let you have the space.
    • Make sure that the date and time you've chosen is good for them, too.
    • Choose a location on a busy road or near a busy intersection. More people will see you and your signs. Try to be near your own neighborhood, however, for the sake of convenience and safety.
  4. 4
    Determine a price for your car wash. Usually $5 is a fair amount, but be sure to adjust the price for special considerations, such as waxing, or for washing large SUVs or vans.
    • Some car washes simply ask for donations. This can sometimes result in more revenue than if you sell tickets.
      Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 4
  5. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 5
    Pre-sell tickets to friends and family. You get the money up-front. Many of them will just buy a ticket as a donation, and not even show-up for the car wash.
  6. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 6
    Create signs and posters. Include your price, and make sure to say why you're raising money. People may be more willing to get their car washed if they know that the money is going to a good cause.
  7. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 7
    Greet passersby with signs. Have people stand on street corners with their signs, so everyone can see what you are doing.
  8. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 8
    Wash some cars! Try to keep the washing under 15 minutes for the convenience of the driver.
    1. Rinse the car using your hose.
    2. Soap up your sponges and wash the entire car, including wheels, windshields, and license plates.
    3. Rinse the car again.
    4. (Optional) Wax and buff the car.
  9. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 9
    Make your car wash eco-friendly. Cleaning agents that wash off into storm drains are not filtered out and go on to pollute lakes and rivers. There are steps you can take to conserve water and protect our natural wetlands.
    • Wash with just water. Most cars are just dusty and need a good rinse. You can use a sponge or towel if it needs a little scrub.
    • If you must use soap, wash in a grassy area instead of on pavement. The grass will help to filter out detergents before they mix with groundwater.
    • Fit your hose with a spray nozzle. These are inexpensive and allow you to wash more cars with less water.
  10. Image titled Organize a Charity Car Wash Step 10
    Thank your patrons. Remind them that all proceeds go to the charity or school.


  • Make your posters bright and colorful.
  • Hand out flyers to your neighbors, and invite them to get their cars washed.
  • If customers trust you with their keys, don't get them mixed up at busy times. You could use a pin board and tags to write license-plate numbers.
  • Look into selling snacks and beverages while your customers wait. Get some chairs and create a relaxed atmosphere. If there are no trees nearby, see if you can rent a large tent or sun shade.
  • Gas stations on busy roads are ideal locations. People can get their car washed and a fill up at the same time.
  • Practice washing cars ahead of time and see how quickly you can do it well.


  • Don't stand in the road to advertise. Remain on the sidewalk or behind the curb.
  • Make sure that all windows, sunroofs, and other openings are closed before washing a car.
  • In the event your municipality does not allow charity car washes, contact your local car wash to see if they offer an eco-friendly (and usually more profitable with less effort) charity car wash program.
  • Check with your local municipality to make sure that charity car washes are legal. Some states, counties, and cities discourage charity car washes, because untreated run-off can enter storm drains, discharging into local streams, rivers, and lakes, polluting the water and endangering local marine wildlife.

Things You'll Need

  • About ten people.
  • A willing gas station or parking lot owner.
  • Buckets
  • Hoses
  • Money tins
  • Signs, posters, banners, and flyers
  • Sponges
  • Soap
  • Wax and rags (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Fundraising and Charity | Money Management for Young People