The First Car Wash Opened In 1914. Since Then, Things Have Changed.

What We Mean By “Detailing” And Not A “Car Wash”

“Frank McCormick and J.W. Hinkle opened “Automobile Laundry” in Detroit, Mich. in 1914 as the first production line car wash in the world. Prior to this, car cleaning was largely done individually by hand. What started as a niche business in the Motor City has become a global industry, with more than 150,000 retail car wash locations worldwide.” – Business Wire, 2014

Before everyone had a car, there was no need for car washes – people either relied on the rain or just washed it themselves. Over the years, as more and more (and more!) people have purchased cars, there grew a need for a quick way to get one’s car clean. Unfortunately, just as many other industries have seen, with growth there sometimes comes a lack of quality. Automatic car washes became the norm, and people sacrificed a thorough and paint-safe cleaning for a quick job. A car is one of the top purchases people make in their lifetime – shouldn’t there be a way to retain a vehicle’s value over time?

THIS is where auto detailing comes in.

“What does detailing mean anyways? Isn’t is just a car wash?”

Washing the car is certainly part of the process. However, detailing goes beyond a quick wash and is the process of performing a thorough cleaning and finishing of a car, truck, van or SUV, both inside and out, to produce a show-quality level of detail.

Detailing also requires some skills and attention to detail (hence the name) rather than just simply spraying water. All of our detailers are trained to the highest caliber on how to take care of a vehicle. Proper procedures along with the right formulas mean your vehicle receives only the best treatment. The goal is to have your car, truck, van or SUV looking as great as it did when you first bought it. This is why we do everything by a hand wash instead of using an automatic car wash (also because of those scratch marks brushes can create – read THIS).

Cars that have only been washed by automatic car washes can have buildup, this is why we encourage all first-time Capitol Shine visits to receive our Full Detail prior to our maintenance packages.

Maintenance Packages?

A quicker detailing service, such as our Quick Shine or Wash + Vac package, serves to maintain a vehicle AFTER it has received what Capitol Shine refers to as a “Full Detail.” Most of the time, if a vehicle has never received a really detailed cleaning inside and out, a quicker wash will not help as much as it should.

We have seen countless vehicles come through our locations with damaged paint as a result of the brushes from an automatic car wash. First of all, the brushes used to scrub your vehicle are generally not cleaned. If the car that went in before you just got back from a sandy beach vacation, or has salt left from an icy road, there will be some sand or salt left in the brushes that can scratch your paint. In addition, many times the workers at the end usually use the same towel as the car before to dry your car by hand which can leave a residue. Automatic car washes focus on efficiency over quality – meaning, how fast can they get your car out so that the next one can get through.

sand under microscope

This is sand under a microscope. Do you think this is good for your paint? Please, avoid the automatic car washes! Source:

Where Capitol Shine Comes In

Many times we are able to fix those scratches before they get worse through a process called Paint Correction. In addition, we have a variety of detailing and maintenance packages to suit your individual needs. Does your vehicle have an odor such as cigarette smoke or mold? Try our interior shampoo and Ventilation Decontamination to restore your vehicle back to its former glory. Worried about fading from the sun and UV rays? Bring your vehicle in for a hand wash and sealant. Our Sealant will help prevent the weather from damaging your paint along with adding a glossy shine. If your vehicle has recently had a Full Detail, you may just be searching for some upkeep. Try our Quick Shine package where we detail your vehicle inside and out before your lunch break ends.

Bottom line: Maintenance washing (such as our Quick Shine, Wash + Vac or Hand Wash) is designed to help maintain the cleanliness of a vehicle AFTER it has received a Full Detail, or a thorough cleaning and finishing both inside and out.

Start With The Full Detail:

This is our best packages combined for our most premium detail experience. The process takes 4-5 hours depending on the size and condition of the vehicle.

    • Paint-Safe Hand Wash and Dry
    • Wipe Trunk and Door Jambs
    • Clean Wheels and Dress Tires
    • Clean Windows and Mirrors Inside and Out
    • Wipe Dashboard and Console
    • Vacuum Inside and Trunk
    • Apply Air Freshener
    • Clean and Dress Leather, Vinyl and Rubber
    • Shampoo Seats, Mats, Carpets & Door Panels
    • Spot Clean Interior Roof
    • Fine Clean Dash and All Components
    • Bug and Tar Removal
    • Nano Mitt (Advanced Clay Bar Surface)
    • Dress Outside Plastics and Rubber
    • Hand Wax/Sealant Exterior
    • Light Hand Buff


For even more protection beyond sealant, ask about our ceramic coatings or Paint Protection Film! Explore all of these options and answers to FAQs on our sister website,

Call us with questions 202-380-7100!