As a car wash operator, you know how important add-on services and impulse buys are to your profit margin.
If you currently own or thinking about purchasing a vending machine at your car wash, I’ve assembled a list of 10 top-selling car wash vending products to be on the lookout for.
To determine popularity, I compiled sales rank data for products in this category on Amazon, as well as best sellers recommended by distributors like Kleen-rite and car wash owners.
Keep in mind, that it may depend on the area you operate and your target demographic as to what products may be more popular.
I found that most products have similar margins, but there are a few higher-end products worth keeping in stock like sprays and waxes.
1. Wash towels
From what I’ve seen online, these towels cost about 50 cents to the customer, and come in a few different varieties – you have a few options, from paper wash towels to microfiber towels.
Kleen-rite makes a variety of these types of wash towels and is a top-selling vending item.
You have a few options to choose from – Paper, terry, and microfiber towels. They range in price but are usually the cheapest if you choose paper.
The super truck towel is a popular option, since it is much larger than your standard microfiber towel, and costs about 16 cents wholesale.
2. Auto glass cleaners
These are relatively hot selling items for vending machines, and you’ve got a couple of different brands to choose from.
Most of these I’ve seen come in packs, like the brand Blue Magic and QuiclDry GCT. You may also want to go with a small bottle of QuickDry glass cleaner that comes in 2 oz. bottle with a microfiber towel. This is a great addition to mini bottles of leather cleaner you can also offer.
Armor All also makes these glass cleaners in packs, and definitely makes sense if you are stocking other Armor All products like their leather wipes, tire sprays, or the sponge pack.
The name recognition of Armor All is second to none, and have I’ve used just about all of these products at least once.
3. ArmorAll Protectant Sponge Pack
Yes, the protectant sponge pack. This is actually a great item to stock, because, unlike the protectant sprays, they can’t be used more than one time, unlike sprays that might last 2 to 4 applications.
It is basically a sponge that contains the Armor All protectant liquid so the end-user doesn’t have to purchase a 4 oz. bottle and cleaning cloth. Maybe stock this item in addition to mini bottles, and compare what option most people prefer.
To me, I would want the bottle/towel combo to ensure coverage of my entire interior, but the convenience is nice.
4. Little Trees air fresheners
These are a must-have for your vending machine and come in several different scents you can pick up in variety packs on Amazon. The cost to the customer is minimal and is Kleen-rite’s top-selling vending machine product according to their site.
Based on my research, Black Ice, New Car, Strawberry, Vanillarama, and are all popular options, but some have said Wild Cherry is the top performer and must have.
5. Leather wipes
This is another top-selling item and one of the more expensive to purchase vs other cloths. Armor All makes this one, with 2 wipes per package.
Makes a great companion to their glass wipes as well. This one didn’t make the list, but you may want to try stocking a leather lotion in the 4 oz. bottle.
6. ArmorAll Blue Huck
This is a great lint-free and absorbent dry towel that is perfect for detailing. It is a top seller on multiple lists from what I have seen, and is great if you also sell anything in a 2 or 4 ounce bottle.
Keep in mind that these are for detailing, and not drying because they are pretty thin and meant for polishing and dusting.
7. Microfiber towels and shammies
As for microfiber towels, there are dozens to choose from, and make a great compliment to any polish or wax that you may stock in small 2 or 4 ounce sizes.
For moisture-wicking shammy’s you can’t go wrong with The Original Shammy. While most shammies come in a tube, these are available from Kleen-rite by the case and come individually wrapped, perfect for a vending machine.
These are also machine washable and reusable.
8. ArmorAll tire foam in 4-ounce spray can
This is a pretty cool product to stock and one of the few products related to tire dressing that you can stock.
While most fire foam products come in large 20 oz cans, you can find them in bulk on Amazon or through Kleen-Rite. Makes a great add-on item.
9. ArmorAll 4-ounce protectant spray pump
This is one of the higher-margin items you can stock and is a great addition to any dry towels like the Armor All Blue Huck, paper wash towels, or microfiber towels you sell.
If you go the route of stocking a lot of towels, this is a must-have item.
10. ArmorAll Ultra Shine Wash Wipes
From using these personally, I have to say these are a great option for people on the go. Depending on your clientele, these are a great option for users that want to remove a top layer of dirt, and aren’t concerned with any potential damage caused by scratching.
One wipe can clean most of my truck, and while it’s not for everyone, it definitely makes things look better in between washes.
A quick tip for marketing car wash vending products
Many manufacturers like Kleen-rite provide stickers and other decals that you can usually receive for free to make each vending machine as attractive as possible.
I would argue that these vending products are all impulse buys for most people, so your machine needs to stand out with a good mix of products to draw them in.
Be sure to check out my post on car wash advertising basics if you’re looking for a few creative ideas.
As you may know, the drop-style machines contain only one type of product, and come with stickers or decals as pictured below, while spiral-style machines do not contain any external branding, and look similar to a candy machine.
Hopefully, you have a good idea of what products work best for your car wash. Having a good mix of companion products is also a great idea, to force customers to purchase applicator towels or pads in addition to formulas, etc.
Every dollar counts!