San Francisco knows technology and speed. With Silicon Valley and the tech world dominating the Bay Area, there’s no need to extol the advantages of computers over typewriters, or email over snail mail. But when it comes to delicate paint jobs and cherished bumper stickers, is faster always better? Automatic car washes are quick and convenient, but even in San Francisco, car-wash technology could suffer in comparison to its analog counterpart: the hand wash.
Customized Vs. Cookie-Cutter When it comes to a thorough car wash, automatic brushes can clean in too broad of strokes, and even touchless washes don't always get the job done. Hand washes draw a distinct advantage from a different sort of computer—the human brain. That’s because wash technicians can adapt their techniques to the car’s unique contours and crevices, thereby giving problem areas more attention and hard-to-reach spots a more thorough scrubbing.
A Matter of Time, Money, and BeautyMost hand washes are done with microfiber cloths that bring cosmetic, practical, and financial advantages. With more precision and flexibility, the cloth-wash can achieve a more thorough cleaning and, cosmetically, result in a nicer shine. That benefit also extends to practical concerns—the more precise a wash, the longer it can last and the less need for touchups. Finally, automatic brushes and one-size-fits-all machinery heighten the risk of scratches, which can lead to paint repairs or diminished resale values.
Put Down the BucketSo what about the classic hose, bucket, and driveway? Men's Health reported on a study from the University of Texas that suggested that "a single DIY wash can leave scratches as deep as a tenth of the paint's total thickness." To maximize the benefits of a hand wash, it’s best to employ professionals that understand the paint’s properties and its synergetic relationship with soaps, waxes, and chemicals.
Seek the Soft ClothSoft microfiber cloths—and the hands that operate them—are abundant in the Bay Area. On Mission Street in San Francisco, Tower Car Wash offers 100% hand-washing treatments, as well as waxing treatments that can protect and prolong the new-car shine. San Jose’s Premier Car Wash gives drivers the choice of tunnel or hand washes, along with additional treatments like rust inhibitors and tire conditioning.