A mobile car wash business gives entrepreneurs a chance to start their own company with minimal costs. Since these operations are mobile, they need little to no overhead and only a small number of employees, giving the owner a chance for a quick start. However, different states and cities in the United States have special requirements for mobile car washes, which must be adhered to before the business is up and running.

Applications and Permits

Most states require that the owner of a mobile car wash submit an application for a permit to run the business. These permits typically last for one year and carry a fee. For example, mobile car wash companies in California must submit an application informing the state of their legal status, ability to pay worker’s compensation claims and information on the address of their company and owners.

Tax Forms

The owner will need to complete forms for the Internal Revenue Service. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, the owner of the mobile car wash will need to complete the Tax Information Authorization form and submit the form to the IRS during the time he is submitting his permit application.

Wastewater Regulations

The water runoff from a mobile car wash contains dirt, soap oils and cleaning solvents that can harm the environment if this water contaminates local streams or rivers. The Environmental Protection Agency laid out a set of guidelines to help mobile car wash owners handle their wastewater under the Clean Water Act, and individual states typically have their own regulations for handling polluted water. In Ohio, mobile car wash owners must obtain a permit from the Division of Surface Water at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that allows them to distribute wastewater into the public sewer systems. Violations of the Clean Water Act can lead to fines or revoked operating licenses.


Some cities require regular inspections of equipment, facilities or employee conduct. For example, in the city of Calabasas, California, department inspectors have the authority to conduct random inspections of a mobile car wash business, including reviewing the records kept by business owners and managers.