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Photo provided by Charlie’s Car Wash

Featured Article

Honoring a Legacy

Giving back one car wash at a time

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by Michelle Terry, Thomas Hall,

Originally published in Topeka City Lifestyle

In 1973, Charlie Walker founded his first vehicle cleaning company. In 1981, he added his first automated car wash, and to this day, his children and grandchildren carry on the tradition of excellence and giving back to the community.

“We are doing our best to continue growing the company, taking care of the people who work here as well as those who live in the community,” says Guy Walker, Charlie’s grandson and president of Charlie’s Car Wash. “My grandfather was very passionate about people and that definitely has carried through.”

With full-service car wash locations in Kansas, including one right here in Topeka, and in Missouri and Oklahoma, Charlie’s helps each community in which they’re located.  

Its philanthropic impact can be felt locally with the Tammy Walker Cancer Center, which was named after Charlie’s daughter who passed away at the age of 11, the Rolling Hills Zoo, and the Kansas Food Bank. The company is also very proud of its Excellence in Education program, which provides funding to schools and school programs. 

Its impact is felt around the world as well. Recently, the company started giving to World Central Kitchen, which helps feed displaced Ukrainian families. It’s also been instrumental in helping those affected by tornados and hurricanes in the Unites States and other countries. 

Of course, none of this would be possible without its customers, and Charlie’s  belief in treating those customers right so they keep coming back. “Because we're not franchised and we own all of our locations, we focus on keeping them in like-new condition,” he says. “We reinvest to keep our equipment up to date and well maintained so customers will always get a high quality wash.” 

Before a car even enters the car wash, it receives special attention. “Our employees prep the car before it goes through the automated tunnel to wash off bugs and hit the problem areas,” says Guy. “Once it goes through the tunnel, we then direct customers who want inside cleaning to another lane.” Here, the car is vacuumed, windows are cleaned and everything else is wiped down. This way, those who don’t want this service are free to leave and don’t have to wait behind the cars getting this additional service. 

High-level customer service is also one of its hallmarks. “Our customers often comment that one of the reasons they continue to come back is because of our employees,” he says. “We have a team of employees who are dedicated to checking quality and ensuring that our customers get what they pay for.” If a customer is not completely satisfied with some aspect, they will make it right before the customer drives away. 

Charlie’s Car Wash also offers different car wash programs. “We offer four exterior washes and the two top washes offer a clean-car guarantee,” says Guy. “One is the Ultimate, which offers a two-day clean car guarantee and the other is the Signature, which offers a five-day clean car guarantee, where you can come back and get a wash any time in those days with no questions asked. We also have the Unlimited program, where you pay a monthly fee and you can wash as often as you like.” Unlimited customers also gain access to Charlie’s QwikPass lane, so there’s no waiting in line. With QwikPass, fees are automatically charged to a credit card on file.

For more information about Charlie’s Car Wash, go to

  • Photo by Thomas Hall
  • Photo provided by Charlie’s Car Wash
  • Photo provided by Charlie’s Car Wash
  • Photo provided by Charlie’s Car Wash
  • Photo by Michelle Terry
  • Photo by Michelle Terry
  • Photo by Michelle Terry
  • Photo by Michelle Terry

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