1. Quick Summary
  2. What Is a Mobile Car Detailing Business?
  3. Why Start a Mobile Car Detailing Business?
  4. How to Start Your Car Detailing Business
  5. Part #1 - Setting up Your Business
  6. Part #2 - Getting Your First Clients
  7. Part #3 - Scaling Your Mobile Detailing Business
  8. 3 Tips for Running Your Detail Business
  9. FAQs
  10. Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to earn extra cash on the side and love cars, then there’s nothing better for you to start than a mobile detailing business.

With this, you get paid hundreds of dollars to wash somebody’s car. And the best part? The profit margins are high.

So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!

What Is a Mobile Car Detailing Business?

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Think of this as owning a car wash. But instead of owning a garage, you take all the tools and wash the cars at their home.

That makes it convenient for the customers as they can simply do their chores.

Why Start a Mobile Car Detailing Business?

There are many reasons to start with a mobile car detailing business. Here are just four of them:

#1 - It’s a Lucrative Business

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As said in the beginning, customers are willing to pay a high price.

With some upsells you could even be looking at jobs with $300 to $500 if you’ve got enough social proof and offer professional services.

And on top of that, cars get dirty all the time. So, if you play your cards right, you can turn your one-time customers into recurring ones, meaning you won’t always have to find new clients.

#2 - Make Money Out of Your Passion

While this might not be a cup of the for everybody, if you’re a petrolhead, then there isn’t anything better than to work around cars.

This way, you won’t have to go to a mind-numbing office job anymore. Instead, you get paid to do what you love.

#3 - Low Startup Costs

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Another great thing about this business opportunity is that you don’t need to save too much money. You don’t even need $1,000. All you need is essential equipment and a car; you’re good to go!

#4 - Flexibility

Since you’re your own boss, you won’t have to worry about sticking to a schedule that might not fit you.

You are in charge and can create your schedule to fit your lifestyle. That means you won’t have to quit your secure job and just earn extra cash on the weekends!

How to Start Your Car Detailing Business

Now that you know why starting a car detailing business is such a great and lucrative idea, it’s time to take action and start earning! You’ll need to do the following.

Part #1 - Setting up Your Business

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Before we go and buy our cleaning equipment, we should first have all the legal requirements done. That way, we won’t get any issues and can guarantee success.

Test Out Your Skills

First things first, if you haven’t done car detailing before, the first step to launching a mobile auto detailing business is to practice your skills.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of great information about detailing for free, including this ChrisFix video.

However, if you want to take it to the next level and look more professional, you could get a certification from IDA (short for International Detailing Association).

It costs around $400 to get or $200 if you have their annual membership.

Do Market Research

Before investing a single dollar in our new business, we should first understand what we are getting ourselves into and who our customer base is.

For this, I recommend you to research answers for the following:

  • Which neighborhoods do our customers live in? - It helps us find where we should promote our business.
  • Which social media channels do our customers use?
  • Why do people want their cars cleaned? - It helps us understand our customers’ desires, which helps us sell.
  • Who are our competitors?
  • How much are they charging for their services?
  • How will we differentiate ourselves from the competitors?

That is a start, but it should give you a great understanding of the market, which is critical for any successful business.

Registering Your Business

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Now that we have a better understanding of our customers and where we will promote our business, it’s time to register ourselves as a business.

Since it’s different for each company, we won’t go into detail and recommend you to find it out yourself or get some professional advice!

However, we’re not done yet! We must also ensure we have all the necessary permits and the mobile detailing business license to start the business.

Since we are dealing with chemicals, it’s best to be safe than sorry.

Purchase Business Insurance

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When it comes to washing cars, there could come a time when you accidentally damage your client’s car.

So instead of using your life savings to pay back to them for the damages, you should get yourself insurance.

Most car detailers go with general liability insurance. However, as you grow your business, you might need more insurance as time passes.

Getting Our Business Essentials

Furthermore, we must also ensure we have some essential business tools. These include a business email, a company phone number, and a business bank account. 

That way, we can separate our personal life from professional which is helpful for our social life and keeping track of expenses.

Buying Essential Equipment

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Now that the mobile car wash business/ mobile detailing business side is ready, we must invest in equipment to start offering our detailing services.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to start. All we need is about $500 to $600. You could go even lower.

Here’s the list of items needed:

  1. Power Washer – While it’s not necessary, it helps you out a lot. So, if you’re looking for one, make sure that you buy one with a battery, so you won’t have to rely on a power outlet.
  2. Microfiber Towels – Around 40 should be fine. You’ll clean up your microfiber towels every week.
  3. Vacuum Cleaner – For interior cleaning
  4. Cleaning Products – You need a car body wash, a spray wax, tire shine and a degreaser
  5. 2 Buckets – One is for rinsing your towels, and the other is for soap. That ensures you don’t scratch the car with dirt and residue.

You could buy more items, but this is an excellent start for now!

However, to keep managing your business simple, we also recommend a couple of other tools:

  1. Website – While not necessary, it helps you to build an online presence and an easy way to get appointments for your car wash.
  2. Quickbooks – This allows you to make bookkeeping simple. You could start with Excel sheets, which will be helpful as your business grows.
  3. Business Cards – These cards are a great way to keep in contact with your customers, which could lead to more orders.

CRM Software – This is a great database where you can keep tabs on all the customer information.

Part #2 - Getting Your First Clients

Now that all the prep work is done, we can start cleaning our cars. But that’s where the hard part starts – We need to find some clients.

Fortunately, if you stay consistent with your effort and do not give up, it will quickly begin to snowball, and you’ll be filled with appointments to complete.

Getting Your Social Media Channels Ready

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When starting a business, you should focus on building your social proof.

That helps build trust, which is critical for a purchasing decision. And a great way to start building social proof is to create your social media pages.

When it comes to a must-have, then this is Facebook.

With this, you get access to one of the largest ad audiences, plus a Facebook page where you can post pictures of your before and after, which is a great way to establish trust with potential customers.

You could also try out other channels, such as Instagram or TikTok, but make sure your customers use them daily.

Promote Your New Detailing Business to Your Friends and Family

When starting your business, it’s 99% likely that your first client will be someone from your friends or family! But that’s not a bad thing! 

Since they know you already, they trust and like you enough to give you a chance. Plus, this can be an excellent opportunity to start getting the word out.

Ask your friends & family to:

  • Share your business offers with others
  • Ask if you could post a before and after picture to your Facebook page. 
  • Ask them to write a review about your business.

All of this is a huge help to get strangers to trust you. So take advantage of it, and soon, you’ll get orders from people you don’t know! 

Run Facebook and Google Ads

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Did you know a person must see an ad seven times before making a purchasing decision?

Whether you know about it or not, this shows that you should consistently get your business into the eyes of your potential customers.

And what better way to do that than by running Facebook and Google Ads? With them, your audience will continue seeing your ads!

However, keep your expectations realistic. Since you’ve just started, don’t expect your Facebook ads to be profitable first try.

Instead, stay patient! As your brand gets around, people know it more; people will start considering your business.

Ask for Reviews

So you got a customer?

That’s great, but before you finish your job, make sure to ask for a review or a testimonial from your client! 

As I mentioned before, your first focus should be to build credibility. And one of the best ways to do that is by having many great reviews on your Facebook page or website.

So don’t be afraid to ask.

To have a higher chance of getting a review written, use incentives. You could offer a discount to the next detailing job or give a small gift like a box of chocolate or something else.

Part #3 - Scaling Your Mobile Detailing Business

By now, you should have some clients, and you’ve started earning some decent cash. That’s great, but if you want to quit your job, there are many ways to scale your mobile detailing service.

You should do the following:

Keep in Touch With Your Previous Clients

Getting new clients is excellent, but the real money is made from your previous clients. That is because you won’t have to convince them much to use your service.

That’s because they’ve already used it, and they trust you.

So, instead of letting them forget about you, give them some time and then ask them if they would like to schedule another detailing job.

And if their car is dirty, there’s a high chance that they’ll say yes!

P.S. To take this to the next level, why not ask your recurring customers if they want to go with the subscription model?

With this, you can offer them a discounted wash, bringing you recurring income.

Add More Services to Your Car Detailing Business

Source: Shutterstock

As you start out, you won’t have all the tools and equipment to give all the services available.

So, as your business grows, you can start offering more services, such as applying ceramic coating, polishing, or doing paint correction. 

All you need to do is invest in more equipment, and you can start offering.

Hire More Car Washers

There might come a time when you’re starting to get overbooked!

If that happens, instead of losing a potential customer, you could hire some employees to take some of the burden off you. That way, you could start earning more money.

However, pay your employees well if you want to keep your business growing. That way, the service will stay at a high standard.

3 Tips for Running Your Detail Business

Now, you have all the necessary information to start and run your successful mobile detailing business.

However, I still want to give you more tips to keep your business venture running smoothly.

Tip #1 - Maximize the Impact From Every Client

One of the most critical things you should do is maximize the impact of each client.

You should ask for reviews, before and after photos, and their referrals.

While you might feel you’ll be bothering them, you won’t get any reviews or referrals if you don’t do it.

If they say “no,” then that’s fine! You’ll find another one who is willing.

Tip #2 - Get Yourself a Card Reader

While most of your clients will pay you in cash, getting yourself a card reader is a great thing.

That way, you can offer more ways to pay, which makes it more convenient and gives a better experience for your clients. 

And if you give them a better experience, they are more likely to use your services again!

Tip #3 - Look Professional

One of the best ways to increase trust is to create your own branded t-shirts/polo shirts.

Many people judge based on your first impressions; if you look professional, they feel more secure about your services.

So get your t-shirts printed and see your mobile detailing business grow!


What Is Better for Mobile Detailing? Trailer or Minivan?

That depends on where you’ll be offering your services. For example, owning a minivan is better because it’s easier to drive if you work in big cities.

However, the trailer is a better option if you work in the countryside as it holds more equipment and supplies.

What Else Can I Do Besides Car Cleaning?

If you’re looking for ways to diversify, you could start offering steam cleaning for commercial customers.

However, if you want to stay with the theme of cars, you could also provide car maintenance services like oil changes, brake fluid changes, etc.

What Should I Do in Winter?

Winter months can be difficult for a mobile car detailing business! However, that doesn’t mean you should shut down your business for those months.

Instead, if you have the budget, you could invest in a garage where you can wash your cars!

But if that’s out of your budget, you could focus on cleaning interiors until the climate gets warmer.


Congratulations! Now you know everything there is to know about starting a mobile car detailing business.

Instead of wasting any more time, why start your journey today? Stay patient and consistent, and you’ll soon earn thousands of dollars.

Bob Haegele

About the Author

Bob Haegele Bob Haegele

Bob Haegele, your personal finance guru, draws on years of experience to simplify complex financial concepts and offer actionable advice.

Dedicated to helping you achieve financial success, Bob is here to guide you through every step of your journey to financial freedom with expertise in areas such as investing, student loans, and credit cards. His work has appeared on Business Insider,, and other nationally recognized outlets.

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