How Car Washes Work

By: Jeff Tyson


The rinse arch removes almost all of the residue left from the cleaning systems.

­ N­ext, the car goes through a rinse arch. This is a series of nozzles arranged on an arch that use clean water to remove whatever residue is left after the high-pressure washer, scrubbers and mitter curtain have done their respective jobs.

In an average car wash, there are multiple rinse arches, usually after each major cleaning station. A typical car wash may have the following stations:


  1. Pre-soak
  2. Mitter curtain
  3. Rinse arch
  4. Foam applicator
  5. Scrubbers
  6. High-pressure washer
  7. Undercarriage wash applicator
  8. Rinse arch
  9. Wax applicator
  10. Mitter curtain
  11. Scrubbers
  12. Rinse arch
  13. Dryer

As you can see, the example above has three rinse arches. It also has two mitter curtains and two sets of scrubbers, which is also common in most installations. In fact, some car washes have even more of each type of station!

Most car washes have two or more mitter curtains along the tunnel.

The last rinse arch in the tunnel, aptly called the final rinse, should always use clean, non-recycled water to ensure that all residue is removed from the surface of the car.

Going through the final rinse

The majority of car washes also provide some type of protectant that can be applied to the car.