Workin’ At The Car Wash

The car wash in my own driveway, that is!

My teen son was allowed to take my Subaru to his long-weekend job an hour away at a Scout camp a few times this summer. Dirt roads, bugs, and fierce, direct sun baked on some loveliness. He was charged with refilling the tank, checking the tires, vacuuming the camp dirt and dispelling odors from two teen boys, and washing the exterior. Since he valued the $8 it would have cost for a commercial wash, he made use of the car products and tools we have on hand. I didn’t mind, as long as the Subs got clean.

It depends on what your definition of “clean” is, I suppose, but I am counting it a blessing that some of the dirt and some of the bugs were removed.  I was impressed with the vacuuming and de-stinkifying, though. And this morning, with him back at camp, I took to the driveway to do it “right.”  She is beautiful now, and didn’t cost me a thing. We have great products on-hand, and when we get the best, they last a really long time.  The effort is considered my workout for the day, so there’s that.

We use Meguiar’s products for our vehicles. Their purple car wash is excellent on all kinds of road stuff, and does a great job on quick-washing windshields. I did not wax on/wax off today, but the Meguiar’s products are the best we’ve found for that. We have a rotary buffer that comes in handy, but I haven’t used it in a very, very long time.

I used Rain-X Bug & Tar bug pre-treatment spray, which I highly recommend! The trick is to let it sit about four minutes, then use a sponge with a plastic net cover to get the guck off the windshield, headlights, front grill and anyplace there is crud. Rinse completely, then wash as usual. We didn’t have any regular Rain-X, but we find it does a great job on windshields for creating sheeting action, and improving safety. Better get more.

My favorite, versatile and on-hand tools for the job include a hose sprayer that cuts off automatically so that I don’t waste water. Microfiber cloths (a kiss for the genius who invented those) are a must, must, must. And my secret weapon is a telescoping stick with removable mop-type head, and a couple of clean mop heads.  This is essential for reaching the top, low sides, and low front of the vehicle without killing myself either by slipping or by all the blood rushing to my head when bending over. I also have a couple of very old beach towel rags that I use to wipe the vehicle down, because the only chamois we have is useless, imho, and these huge things are awesome. I used the stick without a mop head to move the giant towels along the top of the vehicle, and it was super easy.

More than the products, I think it’s technique that got the Subs so clean. Someone once taught me the “proper” way to rinse/wash/rinse right away, to change rags frequently, and to work in small sections at a time, for the best car care. Keep the wipers pulled away from the front and back windshields while cleaning, and clean them off before gently returning them (also a good time to check for wear). Take your time and do it right — it took me an hour, including cleanup.

I didn’t wash the wheels today, either, but they got a rinse and a quick check.

$8 and three minutes of my time with okay results, v. $0 and an hour workout with excellent results. I had more time than money this month, so I didn’t pay for convenience. I did not use $8 worth of products, and did not use all that much water.

I’m happy with this project, and I’ll do it again.



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