Each of the boys received a new Hot Wheels car in their stockings this year, and Gresham had the idea to use a cardboard box to make a car wash to go with the cars. He thought that felt would make great brushes. My husband created this design to easily transform a shoe box into a car wash for Hot Wheels cars!

Shoebox Car Wash for Hot Wheels Cars

Building the car wash is mostly an adult job, but kids will love playing with it!

Turn a cardboard box into a car wash for Hot Wheels

The car wash has brushes that turn vertically and horizontally.

Turn a cardboard box into a car wash for Hot Wheels

To make one, you will need:

  • A shoe box or other cardboard box
  • Felt
  • Dowel rods – ours were leftover from our dowel rod catapult
  • A hand saw – for cutting the dowel rods to the right length
  • Hot glue
  • A utility knife
  • A 3 ring binder page protector (for the window)
  • Clear mailing tape

Turn a cardboard box into a car wash for Hot Wheels

Step 1: Cut the dowel rods to the right length. Two of them will sit vertically in the car wash, and one of them will lie horizontally. They need to be long enough for a comfortable amount of handle to stick out of the box.

Step 2: Cut the felt into strips and glue it onto the dowel rods to make the brushes for the car wash. We also added a small circle of felt to the bottom of the dowel so that the brushes would turn more easily on a surface like a table.

Turn a cardboard box into a car wash for Hot Wheels

Step 3: Use a utility knife to cut an opening in both ends of the shoe box.

Turn a Cardboard box into a car wash for Hot Wheels

Step 4: Cut holes for the dowel rods and insert. Cut a window on the side of the car wash, and cover it with a piece of the plastic page protector. Use clear tape to attach it to the inside of the box.

Then you’re ready to play!

Turn a cardboard box into a car wash for Hot Wheels

We extended the play by adding blocks for making garages and buildings and masking tape for making roads on the floor. Owen built a McDonald’s with a drive-thru, and Aidan used the tape to make a dirt track for his cars to race on. Gresham transformed some leftover boxes from Christmas into another building. It’s great when everyone is busy!

Turn a cardboard box into a car wash for Hot Wheels

Note: Jonathan (turning 2 next week) kept putting one hand on top of the car wash and leaning on it to stabilize himself while he turned the brushes with his other hand, which ended up crushing the car wash. We were able to fix it, but I would recommend this project for ages 3+. Even age 2.5 would probably be more coordinated and better able to handle this toy!

More fun for Hot Wheels:


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  1. Christina Dec 31, 2013

    How cool is that! It would take my kids two days to wash all the hot wheels cars they have:) Thanks for this great idea!

  2. Kyle Jan 12, 2014

    Awesome idea! Got all the stuff to make one today :)

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  4. Cathryn Aug 18, 2015

    Just made one! Thanks for the awesome idea! My daughter thought of using an old makeup brush for one of the brushes and we used rubber bands to prevent them from coming out. Love your website!!


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