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Free Car Wash

We often encounter car wash fundraisers, but we rarely see people holding up signs that say “Free Car Wash!” By offering free car wash services, you can brighten someone’s day and reach those who may not have set foot in a church otherwise.


  • Check with your local department of water conservation and city hall to see if you need a permit to hold a car wash. If so, apply for the permit as soon as you have set a date for the car wash.
  • Set the time and date for the car wash. Saturdays from 10am-2pm or 9am-3pm are typically good. Have a rain plan.
  • Pick a location to hold your car wash. It is not advisable to hold the car wash in a parking lot, as the detergent will enter storm drains that run to rivers, lakes, and streams. Instead, consider partnering with a professional car wash.
  • Recruit volunteers and organize them. You will need plenty of helpers to assist with the following:
    • Make and hold up signs/posters 
    • Wash cars
    • Fill up buckets
    • Dry towels
    • Get washing supplies
    • Direct traffic
    • Greet patrons
    • Clean up
  • Purchase supplies such as car shampoo, hoses, sponges, rags, buckets, brushes, and trash bags. Use non-toxic and biodegradable detergent.
  • Make flyers and posters. The posters should be bright, colorful and clear e.g. “No Strings Attached – Free Car Wash”.
  • Schedule shifts for volunteers with exact times they will be working. Confirm with volunteers a week before the event.
  • On the day of the wash, position volunteers on street corners with the posters. For safety reasons, make sure volunteers remain on the sidewalk or behind the curb.
  • Organize car wash volunteers into wash team and dry team. The wash team soaps, scrubs, and rinses the cars; the dry team dries off the windows, body, rims, etc. Multitask: wash two or more cars at once and use at least two lines.
  • Serve light refreshment for patrons. If the location allows, have some chairs ready to create a relaxing environment. Have church information ready to give out for those who are interested. 


  • Some restaurants have buckets to donate. For example, check with your local McDonald’s to see if you can have the pickle bucket.
  • Use a P.A system or megaphone to hype up the excitement.
  • This project can be combined with a free oil change project.
  • Traffic flow is important. Be ready to adapt according to traffic to make sure cars do not get too backed up.
  • Consider getting a sponsor for marquee tent to allow patrons to sit while they wait.
  • Make sure all openings in a car are closed (windows, sunroofs, etc.) before washing the car.
  • As this is a service project, make sure not to accept donations.