Washing your car may not be your favorite chore but it does offer extra movement. In turn, you burn a few calories when washing cars.
For many people, every once in a while there is the need to wash their car. One of the things that can make this task less unpleasant is knowing that you are burning a few extra calories.
The average person can expect to burn around 103 – 178+ calories per 30 minutes of washing cars at a moderate effort. This number will vary from individual to individual due to a variety of factors.
For example, a 125-pound (56 kg) individual will burn around 103 calories while washing cars for 30 minutes at a moderate effort.
On the other hand, a 215-pound (97 kg) individual will burn around 178 calories while washing cars for 30 minutes at the same intensity.
These amounts are a nice addition but not that impressive. You can see the numbers above as a nice bonus. To see a lot of weight loss progress you want to turn to other exercises and make changes in other lifestyle areas.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account, how to burn more calories while washing cars, and more.
Biggest influences on calories burned
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like washing cars is hard to predict and measure correctly.
This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game when you are trying to balance these numbers with the calories in food.
Even so, good estimations for the number of calories burned while washing a car can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn while washing cars include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to fuel its movements.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Intensity: If you’re looking at calories burned per minute of washing cars this can vary a lot by moving your body at a fast vs slow speed. There is a difference between leisurely cleaning your car in the sunshine and really trying to finish the task as fast as possible.
Estimations calories burned washing cars
The centers for disease control and prevention simplifies the number of calories burned while hand washing and waxing a car into between 3.5-7 calories per minute (1).
In reality, there are tools to make more precise estimations. To calculate calories burned during certain activities more specifically you can use a formula with MET values.
A MET value is an activity-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of movement is. This number represents how many times more intense the activity is compared to sitting still.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
An estimation for the MET while washing cars at a moderate effort is 3.5 (2). Below you can find a table with estimations for the calories burned when using this MET for different body weights and time intervals.
Again, keep in mind that these are estimations. This formula doesn’t take into account certain important factors that do influence the number of calories burned while washing a car.
To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (3).
Calories burned while washing cars
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned while washing cars is by looking at how much time you spent doing it.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||3 calories||52 calories||103 calories||155 calories||207 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||4 calories||64 calories||128 calories||192 calories||256 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||5 calories||76 calories||153 calories||229 calories||306 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||6 calories||89 calories||178 calories||267 calories||356 calories|
Ways to burn more calories while washing cars
The number of calories burned while washing cars is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per time interval.
The challenge for most people is fitting in activities in their busy schedules. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of washing cars.
If you do have more time, spending more time washing cars will generally burn more calories.
A more obvious way to burn more calories while washing cars is doing the task at higher speeds.
The second way to burn more calories with washing cars is by making the weight you have to carry around heavier.
In theory, you could do this by wearing a weighted vest or wrist weights. A more realistic method for an activity like washing cars is building some extra muscle mass outside of your work with other exercises.
Can you lose weight from washing cars?
Washing cars is an activity that can help you burn a few extra calories. In combination with good habits in other lifestyle areas, this can then lead to weight loss.
A pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000). How long it takes to see weight loss results from washing cars will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intensely to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
10 sessions of 30 minutes of washing cars can help you burn an extra 1280 calories which are about 0.37 pounds of body fat. 30 sessions 3840 calories (= +- 1.1 pounds of body fat) and so on…
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be suboptimal. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
Muscles used when washing cars
When washing cars, you mainly use muscles like your shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps, upper back, obliques, and abs. Additionally, you work glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves to a tiny extent.
That being said, even if you never do any resistance training, washing cars will likely not be enough to help you grow and strengthen these muscles.
If that is your goal, you want to turn to resistance training exercises where you use extra weights.
Should you wash cars to burn calories?
As you can see, washing cars can be described as a light cardio exercise that can burn a few extra calories. That being said, there are plenty of other activities that can help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
You should likely see the number of calories burned while washing cars as a nice benefit of this necessary task. Once you are done with this chore you can turn to other activities to really start seeing results.
If calorie burning is your main goal and you regularly wash cars, implementing some exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle can be helpful.
The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including during your car washing sessions.
Also keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what movement routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.