What is the Difference of Cost-Per-Wash and Cost-Per-Gallon?

When you go to purchase something, what’s the first thing you look at? It’s probably the price tag. That’s why when we discuss chemical pricing, whether it’s an automated wash system or a pressure washer, we like to focus on Cost-Per-Wash. By tracking your cost-per-wash, you’ll be able to compare different truck wash soaps more accurately and get the most bang for your buck.

Let’s go through a example:

Let’s break it down on a smaller scale. After the past year, we’ve probably all used hand sanitizer more than usual. However, not all hand sanitizers are made equal. Imagine you’re at the cash register and there are two options to choose from.

The first is a 2oz bottle that is 90% alcohol, and the second is a much bigger 4oz bottle that is 40% alcohol. Here’s the kicker, they cost the same price. Without looking closely at the label, most of us would probably grab the bigger bottle. Upon closer inspection however, you aren’t getting your money’s worth if you do that. 

Since the smaller bottle of hand sanitizer is much more potent because of its alcohol content, you could actually add an additional 2oz to bump the volume up to match the other 4oz bottle, and you would still have more alcohol than the bigger option at 45% alcohol. Simply put, you would be paying twice as much for less potent hand sanitizer if you chose the bigger bottle!

This might not seem like such a big deal when it comes to a couple dollar difference for hand sanitizer, but when you are spending thousands on an annual basis to wash fleets with premium soaps, it matters drastically.


So What’s The Difference Between Cost-Per-Gallon and Cost-Per-Wash?

Cost-Per-Gallon is just as it says: how much your chemical costs per gallon of product. So what’s cost-per-wash? Cost-Per-Wash depends on what kind of wash you need and therefore the strength of product needed. Most cost-per-wash comparisons are made by figuring out the cost of a product at its most diluted level while still providing an effective wash.

Why are these two different numbers? Because the amount of chemical you use per wash can vary greatly on a variety of factors, the most obvious being how concentrated the product is (see our hand sanitizer example). 

We can’t emphasize enough that the Cost-Per-Gallon of a detergent does not always translate directly into Cost-Per-Wash. Soaps that are a little more expensive are often more concentrated and more effective, allowing them to be stretched further for more washes per container. This means they can do the same or even better work than the less expensive soaps that are often unable to be diluted any further. Don’t let sticker shock scare you; do the math when looking at a new detergent and remember that you get what you pay for!


Breaking Down Cost-Per-Wash

For example, two soaps are being evaluated. Widget Wash Pro costs $6.00 per gallon and can be diluted 100:1 and still effectively clean. Widget Wash Standard on the other hand is $2.00 per gallon, but cannot be diluted more than 20:1 and still effectively wash.

Widget Wash Pro at $6.00 per gallon, diluted to 99:1 would have a cost-per-wash of $0.06 ($6.00 ÷ 100).

Widget Wash Standard at $2.00 per gallon, diluted to 19:1 would have a cost-per-wash of $0.10 ($2.00 ÷ 20).

In this case, the more expensive detergent is the better value! In addition, Widget Wash Pro can still easily be used at a stronger concentration – meaning it can be used at a higher strength for tougher jobs where Widget Wash Standard doesn’t have the capability of getting any stronger.

To be fair, this example does ignore other factors that determine cost-per-wash, but this is an easy way to boil down two options to compare them head to head.  

Is Cost-Per-Wash The Only Thing That Matters?

There are other elements that come into play like ‘The Five Factors’ as well as what type of vehicle you’re washing, and in what conditions.

Do you know what your draw rate for soap is? Do you know how many minutes it takes to wash a truck? These are questions we ask our customers every day. 

We can help you find the cost-per-wash that you are spending right now, and help you lower that cost-per-wash by using our products. Give us a call at 616-531-6420 or email info@hcsclean.com to speak with our friendly sales team today!