I’ve been a Houstonian starting from when I was about 6 months old. Granted, I moved around the area a bunch - from down in Needville to River Oaks out to Memorial - but one thing I’m quite particular on is my car washes. So when I find a few spots I like I tend to stick with them till they go out of business. Keep in mind that car detailing prices differ based on vehicle size and level of dirtiness so if you go in after driving through a mud pond, you'll likely see higher numbers.
Hand Car Detailing >> Anything Machine
Personally, I’m still not a big fan of the machine washes. Anywhere. With any ‘added features’. That’s pretty unusual for me because I’m normally very tech-forward and welcoming in the newest machine or robot to do cool stuff. The problem is they really just don’t do as well yet and it’s pretty annoying to go through a machine and all the hoopla only to find it didn’t actually clean your car. So there it is, on the table. I’m prejudiced against automatic car washers and won’t be suggesting any of them below. If that’s your cup of tea, a quick google search should get you to one nearby.
For those of you who remain, let’s talk about something really exciting - car detailing in Houston. The good thing about the spots that do detailing is they typically don’t use machines. Detailing involves spending more time on some cars than others based on the service and that somewhat removes the value add of the machine. It’s goal is to do pretty much the same thing 1000 times a day. In fact these days with the mobile auto repair and mobile inspection services so popular, you're likely to be able to find a detailer that comes to you. Not exactly my cup of tea, though, because I don't want to have to schedule it.
Over the almost 30 (gasp, I turn 29 this week) years of me roaming Houston, I have become religiously focused on just 2 hand washes in Houston. Keep it Clean in the Washington Heights area, and Splash hand car wash on Sheppard. Yes they are relatively close to each other and sure there may be some good ones out west, but even when I lived out in Memorial I still came to these spots because I liked them and they were consistent.
My normal goal is a good solid clean inside and out, and am willing to pay extra for a full hand wash. I don’t, however, want to spend a fortune for no reason and both of these options landed right in the sweet spot for me at $18 for a regular hand wash. While not perfect, they always did a top notch job for the price and left me leaving pretty happy with the result. They're generally pretty quick and can get you in and out faster than the time it takes to get your oil changed.
Keep it Clean! Hand Car Wash and Detail
This car wash is located on Washington Avenue and Heights Blvd, so is easy to get to from most of the city. The one annoying thing about their location is that the driveways are just a tad too steep for my liking. My car rides pretty low and I’m always worried about scraping the bottom. The entrance on Washington allows for more angling than the one right off Heights Blvd.
I’ve been coming here for a while now and they always do a good job and move me out quickly. With the basic hand wash I’ve never waited more than 15-20 minutes and they have people working constantly. As mentioned above I typically go with the $18 standard wash, but they have lots of full detailing options as well.
How much is a car detail in Houston?
Keep it Clean starts at $80 and does a very solid job for the relatively low starting price. There are higher packages, but the basic alone is a great option to get a solid cleanup.
I took a quick shot of their pricing below.