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 8,000  UK-wide.

Carwash/Slavery (3/6/2018) -- BBC1 "Breakfast"

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