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Best Practices of Packaging Car Wash Chemicals

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Car washes and specialty shops that offer waxes and other maintenance services all require a hefty supply of vehicle care chemicals. Like other chemicals, car wash chemicals need to be handled with care from the moment they are manufactured to the moment they are dispensed. This means choosing the right packaging is essential for reducing costs, protecting the product in shipping, and making things easier for your end customers.

If you’re curious about the types of packaging options available for car wash chemicals, along with the things that should factor into your decision, keep reading.

Methods of Packaging Car Wash Chemicals

There are a number of methods you may choose to use when packaging car wash chemicals. Some aim for absolute efficiency in shipping and storage, while others take a more eco-conscious approach, but may result in added packaging costs.

The most popular ways to package car wash chemicals include:

Drums and Barrels

For large-scale packaging of car wash chemicals, there is no solution superior to the classic drum or barrel. Capable of holding about 218 liters/57 gallons on average, this is the ideal packaging solution when your customers need a high volume of product. Great examples include for the supply side of an automatic car wash where the pumps need to have a steady supply of soaps and cleansers.

Obviously, due to the size of drums and barrels, they can be cumbersome to ship and store. However, there is no better solution when bulk products are needed. 

Jugs and Large Bottles

The most common way to package car wash chemicals is in a jug or large bottle. These containers are generally plastic and they can range in size from a few concentrated ounces to a gallon or more. Bottles are best used for concentrated fluids since they hold a relatively small amount compared to high-volume packaging solutions like barrels. 

The great thing about jugs and bottles is that they are durable and easy to use, so your customers don’t have to relocate the fluid into a permanent dispenser or container. However, larger jugs can be cumbersome to use. Plus, this packaging solution produces excess plastic waste. Additionally, the odd shape of most jugs takes up excess space in the store room. 

Aerosols and Spray Bottles

Especially if you’re selling products direct-to-consumer (D2C), you’ll likely consider using aerosols and spray bottles for ease of dispensing. The key thing to note about these packaging solutions is that they require specialty equipment. For instance, you’ll need a special machine to twice the spray bottle top onto a bottle after it has been filled.

Despite the fact that you’ll need to specialize your production line for aerosols and spray bottles, they remain the most familiar and convenient way for consumers to buy and use cleaning products, especially when it comes to things like glass cleaners, leather protectants, and car sealants. 

Refill Bags

Bags can range from small, consumer-sized amounts to large refill sizes for business and industrial use. The great thing about using bags is that they collapse and take up very little space when empty. Bags typically come with a pour spout, so they can be used directly, but they are usually intended as a means of refilling on-site bottles and dispensers.

The great thing about bags is that they keep costs low and they tend to be more eco-conscious than bottles. However, bags can be damaged in transit or storage. You will need to package bags (hopefully multiple bags) into a sturdy box to get them to your customer. 


Another popular packaging format for business use is the bag-in-a-box method. With this type of packaging, your customers will receive a sturdy box with a spigot or other dispensing apparatus installed in one side. Inside the box sits a bag filled with the chemical. This is preferable over just a bag because the box is easier to stack and store, and it protects the bag from damage.

When the product is empty, your customers can buy a refill bag to put in the box or, in most cases, they can simply break down the box and throw the bag away. For that reason, this packaging system is one of the most space conscious for when your customers need a small to medium volume of product in a stationary dispenser. 

Best Practices in Choosing a Packaging System

Now that you understand some of the most common ways that businesses package car wash chemicals, let’s discuss some best practices for choosing the right packaging system.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that a packaging system encompasses every part of the process from filling your bottles of choice to adding tops/lids and labels, and putting them into a box for shipping. For this reason, designing a packaging system requires you to know the type of container you wish to use as that will impact every piece of equipment you select.

With that in mind, here are some tips:

  • If you’re going to use more than one type of container, determine if you need separate assembly lines or if the same machinery can adjust to work with different shapes and sizes.
  • Think about how much manual labor is going to be involved in your packaging system. The more human hands you have, the less you’ll have to spend on equipment, but the higher your overall production costs will be.
  • Determine which part of the process is going to be manual or if you’d like to automate all of it. For instance, you might have people placing bottles into boxes at the end of the production line. 
  • Factor in the chemicals you’re working with and what precautions must be taken. Do they foam up if not handled properly? Do they need to stay under or over a certain temperature? 

Our Recommended Equipment

When it comes to car wash chemicals, we often recommend the following equipment:

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