Walter White Was Wrong: Look At A1 Carwash’s Revenue And Profit Numbers

by Kavita Pillai
Fictional Companies - 1 year ago

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Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time. Walter White and Skyler are household names, and there are people who are still divided when it comes to whose camp they are in — Skyler or Walt.

One of the biggest twists in the show comes when Skyler figures out that Walt is in the Meth business, and that sets their series long struggle to figure out if they can launder the drug money in some way.

Skyler comes up with a solution: A1 Carwash.

Yeah, the same car wash where Walt worked after school.

Remember the first episode when Walt goes berserk and yells “F**k you and your eyebrows” at Bogdan?

Best pilot episode ever.

Well, Skyler wrestles both Bogdan and his eyebrows into submission with her neat inspector stunt.


Skyler pays $800,000 for the car wash instead of the asking price of $20 million.

Sorry Bogdan!

Now, the obvious questions are:

  • Could A1 Carwash really generate enough revenue to not just help launder all the illegal money that Walt is bringing home?
  • Could the car wash help Walter White quit the meth business altogether and live comfortably?

We at Zippia nerded out on this question and came up with a real financial statement for A1 Carwash.

These are the numbers:

Monthly Revenue. A1 Carwash’s monthly revenue would’ve been $62,700.
Monthly Expenses. Monthly expenses came to roughly $31,297.22.
Profit. Hence, A1 Carwash made around $31,402.78 in profit each month.

So the answer to both questions we started with is yes.

A1 Carwash would’ve easily made enough money for the White family to live comfortably for the rest of their lives, without Walter White’s shady meth dealings.

The White family’s annual income would’ve been…wait for it…$376,830.

Below is a more detailed look into how we got to the above number.

First off, you’ll probably be shocked to learn how much revenue car washes generate each year, within the United States. The United States Census Bureau reports that consumers spend an estimated $5.8 billion at car wash businesses annually and that, on average, nearly 20,000 cars get washed at any given car wash annually.

And if you live in a desert city like Albuquerque, you probably feel like your car always needs to be washed all the time. Cars get dirty really fast when you live in the desert, because there is more dirt in the dry air, which explains the high number of cars A1 Carwash serviced.

A1 Carwash sees “an average of 19 cars an hour.”- Skyler White (Season 4 Episode 2: “Thirty Eight Snubs”)

Believe it or not, A1 Carwash owned by the White family is on Yelp, and you can check out the customer reviews and services they offered on there. If you don’t want to spend time finding it, here is a nifty little box that tell you:


  • Platinum: $15
  • HotShine® Carnauba Wax • N1 Protectant• Wheel Polish • Repel Shield • Underbody Wash • Tire Shine

  • Service#1: $12
  • This wash package includes:
    HotShine® Carnauba Wax • Repel Shield • Underbody Wash • Tire Shine • Wheel Polish

  • Service#2: $9
  • This wash package includes:
    Repel Shield • Underbody Wash • Tire Shine

  • Simple Wash: $6
  • This wash package includes:
    T3 Conditioner

Monthly Revenue

First, we looked at car washes in Albuquerque to determine if there was a season when car washes did especially well, and it seems people love washing their cars, when they live in the desert.

Now, remember Walt, in Season 1, Episode 1, begrudgingly wipe down his student’s car?

Turns out Bogdan wasn’t being a jerk. He was short-staffed, and most people in Albuquerque choose to get their cars dried after a wash, because of all the dirt in the air – don’t want the wet car to attract all that dirt.

There are also on average more people that request their cars be detailed, because the insides get dirty as well in a desert landscape.

Now remember, Skyler gave us the 19 cars an hour number to work with.

Multiply the number of cars an hour with the number of hours the car wash is open each day (11 hours), and we get 209 cars per day that adds up to 6270 cars per month.

Based on the services offered at the A1 Carwash, that range from $6 washes to $15 washes, we averaged the amount spent by each customer to $10 per car.


Monthly Revenue

(Amount per car) $10 x (Number of cars per month) 6270
= $62,700 monthly revenue

Monthly Expenses

In order to calculate the monthly expenses, we looked at the amount car washes that are similar to A1 Carwash spend on:

  1. Labor
  2. Material
  3. Other Expenses (Insurance and Maintenance, and Taxes)

We looked at the cost per car incurred for each of the above categories, and then we multiplied that with the number of cars serviced every month.

This gave us the total amount A1 Carwash would’ve spent on all of the three categories each month, which would give their total monthly expenses.

1. Labor. In order to calculate the labor costs, we looked at the Department of Labor statistics, and we found that car washes like A1 spend about $1.24 per car.

Multiply that by the number of cars serviced per month = $7,774.80.


Cost per Car = $1.24
No. of Cars = 6270
Total Labor Cost per Month = $7,774.80.

2. Material. We looked at car wash franchise sellers and financial statements of car washes that are like A1, and this helped us determine the average amount a car wash spends on materials. This again was first calculated per car.

Material (chemicals, towels, etc) cost per car = $0.64.


Cost per Car = $0.64
No. of Cars = 6270
Total Materials Cost for Month = $4,012.80

3. Other Expenses. Let’s not forget the other operational costs that car washes incur, just to keep the doors open; these include, water bill, gas bill, insurance, property taxes, landscaping, office supplies, accessories, etc.

We found, again from franchise sellers, financial statements of car washes roughly the size of A1, and also the US State Tax Calculator that Walt and Skyler had to have spent about $2.25 per car.

Again, by the same formula,

Other Expenses

Cost per Car = $2.25
No. of Cars = 6270
Total Other Expenses per Month = $14,108.

We added up all these costs, and this brought the total monthly expenses:

Total Monthly Expenses

Labor + Materials + Other
= $31,297.22.


Calculating the profit per month was simple after this.


Monthly Revenue – Monthly Expenses = Profit
$62,700 – $31,297 = $31,402.78

A1 Carwash made $31,402.78 in profit every month!

This means that the Whites made about $376,830 in profits each year they owned the car wash.

Annual Profit = $376,830


There you have it!

The White family could have lived very comfortably with just the car wash, but no, Walter wasn’t going to listen to Skyler.

After all, remember what Walter White said:

“I’m not in the meth business. I’m in the empire business.”

Plus, don’t forget–the car wash was Skyler’s idea. Go on, say it.

Skyler was right. Walter could’ve quit his illicit drug activities.

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