The History of the Car Wash Industry

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Fun glimpse of car wash history from AAA magazine!

By the 1960s, Hanna had become the premier manufacturer of car wash equipment. During this time, he made major strides in car wash history, patenting numerous revolutionary car wash inventions including the wraparound brush, soft cloth friction wash and recirculating water system.

The piece attributes much of car wash innovation to Dan Hanna Sr., who was nicknamed the “Henry Ford of the car wash industry.” He passed away in 2005 at the age of 70. The Auto Channel published an obituary honoring Hanna’s life and work, detailing his impact on the car washing world:

Hanna parlayed a youthful passion for cars and high-speed racing into a series of highly successful Oregon businesses, including Hanna Auto Wash, the state’s largest car wash chain. At the peak of its growth, the company had more than 50 facilities worldwide, including 31 in Portland. He also created Hanna Car Wash International, an innovative manufacturer of car wash equipment that provided products to his and other franchises around the world. He held more than 100 patents in the car wash equipment industry and was widely considered the father of the modern car wash.


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