Non Compliant Hand Car Washes

Non Compliant Hand Car Washes

Non-compliant hand car wash (HCW) operators are estimated by the police to account for 80% of all HCWs in the UK. Non-compliance can take many forms, from breaches of environmental regulations to non-payment of tax, to labour abuse including failure to pay the minimum wage and forcing workers to endure dangerous working conditions.


Here are some common warning signs that non-compliancy may be taking place at a car wash:

  • Location: Mostly out in the open on porous tarmac or broken unmade surfaces with unsuitable or non-existent drainage in garden centres, sheds, pub car parks, disused automated roll-over wash bays in petrol filling stations and supermarket car parks.
  • Staff: Various external wash and interior valeting offers. Usually manned by 2 - 5 (more at peak times e.g. Saturday mornings) operatives with supervisor/gangmaster standing in the background who takes payment. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and proper uniforms are usually non-existent. Females often do the valeting.
  • Equipment: High-pressure lance pre-wash followed by manual sponge washing, manual spray application of a waxing agent and manual spray application of hydrochloric acid to wheels with chamois leather drying followed by optional interior valeting. No water recycling.
  • Cost: Most operate the pricing system according to car size and whether interior clean/valeting option selected. Ranging from £7.00 - £15.00 for basic exterior only wash.
  • Payment method: Amongst non-compliant rogue HCWs almost uniformly cash with no receipt. In contrast to the above, multiple HCWs such as Waves, Car Park Valeting operate in compliance with fiscal, employment, environmental and H&S regulations with remote non-cash payment options.
  • Numbers: Estimated around 8 nd the anti-slavery strategies of frontline organisations such as the NHS.,000  UK-wide.

Car Wash - Time To Stop Slavery

This video has been produced by the “Coalition to Stop Slavery” and illustrates the scourge of modern-day slavery in non – compliant hand car washes.   The Coalition to Stop Slavery are a coalition of UK-based voluntary, community and statutory groups whose goal is to end modern slavery and human trafficking for good. They do this through working together to raise awareness of this under-reported issue and influence public behaviour, business practice, government policy and the anti-slavery strategies of frontline organisations such as the NHS.

For more information relating to this topic and what you can do to report it please visit these links to stay informed: