How Much Do Car Detailers Make? Average Earnings in the USA

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I see hundreds of young people wanting to start their own car detailing business. One common question everyone asks is how much car detailers make per hour (in the USA). I decided to dig deeper and answer that question.

To get the best answer possible, I asked 100 self-employed USA-based car detailers how much money they earn per hour.

Key Takeaways:

  • 1% of car detailers earn less than $10 per hour
  • 3% of car detailers earn between $10 and $20 per hour
  • 48% of car detailers earn between $20 and $50 per hour
  • 40% of car detailers earn between $50 and $100 per hour
  • 7% of car detailers earn more than $100 per hour

Earnings of Self-Employed Car Detailers

how much do car detailers make

I asked more than 100 USA-based car detailers how much they make, and here’s what I’ve found out. The question was how much they earn per hour.

average earnings of car detailers, how much do car detailers make, USA, infographic
Poll Results

As you can see, the majority of self-employed auto detailers earn anywhere between $20 and $50 per hour.

When we look at the average hourly earnings of all employed people in the USA, which is $10.95 (data from Statista), it seems that auto detailers can make a pretty good amount of money.

Let’s convert those hours into yearly earnings. The average yearly working hours in the USA is 1801 hours, according to Clockify.

How much do self-employed car detailers earn per year (before taxes):

  • 1% of car detailers earn less than $18,000 per year
  • 3% of them earn between $18,000 and $36,000 per year
  • 48% of them earn between $36,000 and $90,000 per year
  • 40% of car detailers earn between $90,000 and $180,000 per year
  • 7% of car detailers earn more than $180,000 per year

Of course, these are the results of earnings before taxes and before spending on tools, products, etc. So, you can’t expect these exact numbers, but that’s what the poll says.

Things That Affect Earnings

Some things affect the average car detailer’s earnings, and here they are:

  • Place of living: some states are more expensive than others, and so are the detailing prices and earnings
  • The quality of auto detailing business: there are some cheap car detailers that will never earn a lot of money since they don’t provide their clients with high-quality auto detailing services
  • Car detailing packages: You can’t expect to earn a lot if you offer only basic packages similar to car wash services. That 7% of car detailers who earn more than $100 an hour provide premium car detailing services, and they can charge people a lot for those
  • Typical business expenses: if you can do all the bookkeeping jobs by yourself, you’ll save a bunch of money.
  • Insurances: many car detailers pay insurance that’ll cover any damage caused by the car detailer. If you’re serious about the business, you’ll always pay insurance.

Don’t Forget To Deduct Taxes and Expenses

tax papers

Since I’m not competent to talk about taxes, I won’t bother you too much with the exact details. However, roughly 30% of your income goes to taxes and benefits in the United States of America. If you have an LLC or other type of business, there are always ways to reduce tax paying, but I’m not going to go into that now.

Another thing you should know is that auto detailers have plenty of expenses when it comes to products and tools. High-quality tools and products cost money, and they’ll reduce your overall earnings.

Of course, if you’re using high-quality products and tools, you’ll be able to get better cleaning results and do all the tasks quicker – which again increases your average hourly rate.

Aside from taxes and product expenses, there are also insurance, bookkeepers, payment services, and other typical business expenses. You should know about them before deciding whether you want to start a car detailing business or not.

Car Detailers Must Find a Golden Ratio To Increase Their Earnings

I’m the first one to recommend tons of high-quality products, and I only recommend them if I think they’ll help you. However, if you’re a self-employed car detailer, you won’t always buy the best product possible, especially if it’s pricey.

In my opinion, around 20% of all earnings go on auto detailing products and equipment.

Self-employed car detailers must find a golden ratio between the products’ quality and their price. That’s the only way to keep their business healthy and running.

From my experience, all car detailers won’t hesitate to spend more money on high-quality tools since these tools should last for years, and they’re extremely important to get the best car detailing results. That’s especially true when talking about professional car polishers, extractors, lightning, and similar.

When it comes to detailing products, there are always ways to save some money and still get fantastic results. To save some money, most car detailers buy products in bulk, which helps them a lot.

Another thing that high-end auto detailers do is start their own product lineup. That way, they can reduce costs and earn additional money by selling those products to people. Here are some of them:


I hope that now you have a better picture of how much car detailers earn and what expenses should also be counted. Roughly, after taxes and basic expenses, you’re left with 50% of your earnings. I think that’s still a fantastic ROI, and I’m happy to see more and more detailers out there. With the poll above, you at least know what to expect.

In the end, I want to share with you a fantastic video by Chicago Auto Pros that covers this topic in detail:

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