Elly johnson G1 WBN Nhsn20 unsplash

‘Driving’ out exploitation from the hand car wash sector

6th April 2022 | Hand Car Wash

The Clewer Initiative

As we head into the Easter school holidays, The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday and the hope of a “normal” summer holiday season, many people may be thinking about preparing their cars for a bit more activity than usual!

While some may enlist their kids to clean the car, 26 per cent of adults say they usually pay to have their car cleaned by others (Source: Asda Money.)

The UK car wash industry is worth an estimated £1 billion a year and covers a diverse set of businesses from luxury car wash franchises, to start-ups offering eco-conscious valet services to automatic car washes at petrol stations and hand car washes in car parks.

Not much is known about the scale of the hand car wash sector. It is notoriously hard to keep track of because hand car washes can pop up without much notice in disused forecourts and car parks. That was one of the main reasons why The Clewer Initiative pioneered the Safe Car Wash App four years ago - we wanted to help statutory authorities build a clearer picture of the sector.

£5 for a car wash - a cause for alarm not celebration

Obviously many hand car washes are legitimate businesses, but some are not. It is not uncommon to see workers with inappropriate protective clothing and equipment, operating from unsuitable premises. If a consumer is paying £5 or £10 for a hand car wash and there is a team of young men working on the car, it is usually fair to conclude that these workers are not receiving a fair wage. A super cheap hand car wash should be a sign of warning, not a bargain to be celebrated.

It is these sorts of clues that we encourage drivers to look out for when using hand car washes. The Safe Car Wash app asks a series of questions related to the indicators of modern slavery and if there is a high likelihood that modern slavery is occurring in the hand car wash, the user is encouraged to report concerns, at the press of a button, to the Modern Slavery Helpline.

Since 2018 when the Safe Car Wash App was first launched, it has been downloaded 30,000 times, resulting in 7,800 reports. This intelligence has been vital in building a clear picture of the hand car wash sector and has enabled statutory authorities to follow up on numerous businesses that may be exploiting their workers

Enlisting others to download the app today

We are delighted with the direct impact we have had on tackling modern slavery in hand car washes but there is still so much more to do. Millions of car owners do not currently have the app on their phones. Will you help us enlist and mobilise a new wave of consumers to “drive” out exploitation and modern slavery in our nation’s hand car washes? Who can you tell today about the Safe Car Wash App?

Download today - https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/safe-car-wash/id1391799915


Safe Car Wash

Safe Car Wash

Help end modern slavery in hand car washes. Following the simple steps in the app when you take your car to a hand car wash will help us identify where exploitation may be happening.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get regular news and updates straight to your inbox

Sign up now