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Wishing To Wash

on Sat, 06/18/2011 - 15:22

We’ve all been there—that messy, dusty, grimy car that sits in our driveway screaming for a wash. Oh what to do? A dirty car is without a doubt unpleasant to see. If you’re like most you’ll try not to notice just how bad it really is. But there’s no getting around it should you rub up against the car, taking a layer of grime away on your clothes. Done that several times. And what about the car interior? No better, right? The essence of Mother Earth has made her way to both the outside and inside of your ride. That once fresh clean look of a “new car” has driven off without you.

I love cars, especially a convertible, but regardless what car you may have our four wheels should never become an extra closet. As if by magic, clothing, shoes, tools, and books find a new home. Same for trash: discarded wrappers, bottles and papers all combine to give your car the look of a travelling land-fill. Does this sound at all familiar? Well, when that happens the time has come to wash, and clean your car!

Today’s busy lifestyles are always in high speed, so finding the time to wash the car (whether by hand of through a car wash) may just be like a car zipping along beside you—it will pass you by.

The task of washing our own car by hand is often a nostalgic memory because it can seem so daunting. So here are some fun and simple ways to reintroduce that legacy back into the reality of the modern day world.

First and foremost, try to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to washing your car. Treat yourself and your car by getting on a schedule. Avoid building a layer of crud, as even bird droppings leach acids that can strip away wax and even eat into your car’s paint. I recommend a once-a-week to once-a-month schedule depending on weather. Take Springtime for example; when the pollen is at it’s high, or if you live by the beach, once a week is best; if you have a garage you can get away with every other week.

Wash for hire:
Get someone to do it for you? That is always the question. Why not—great for maintenance, even if you like to do your own detailed work every once in a while. The key is to avoid the hassles. Carwashes are popping up all over the country focusing on the “express” carwash, but going on a Saturday afternoon will guarantee that there will be no express in your wash. I personally hate lines and when there is a long line I’ll quickly find something else to do and put it off for another day. So much for your car wash schedule! I always recommend that should you choose the “express” route then go early during the week for that get-in-get-out-fast experience. If possible, go before work and always avoid the Friday or Saturday before a long holidays.

Do it yourself:
There is nothing more rewarding than washing your own car. Not much is needed other than a bucket, some old towels and a nice large natural sponge or even a lamb’s-wool mitt. Make sure you have a car-wash product that is specifically made for automobiles. Try to avoid unnecessary work—read on: Always lather and rise in sections so suds don’t have a chance to dry; why scrub the same section more than once? If you can wash your car in the shade, do it; despite the nostalgic allure of a sunny wash-up, direct sun can dry the car too fast, leaving those awful water spots. After rinsing off the section, use a chamois or sponge to wipe down the section; the car will still be a little damp, which is fine. When it comes to drying here is my sMARt tip: Use a leaf blower! You’ll be surprised how effective, fast and easy this is and how it pushes the water from those tiny spaces that a towel can’t get in. Work from top down. Use it on rims and tires, too, making sure you blow the water away without picking up any ground surface. This little trick will cut your drying time by half. Done, done and done.

Smells like new:
There is nothing better than the smell of a new car. That said, have you ever been in a car that just smells wrong? Perhaps your gym bag, baby’s spit-up, a fast-food container or even your pet’s toy can be contributing factor to a foul odor. Keeping your car clean is one thing but keeping it smelling good is a whole other world. I personally use fabric softeners sheets under the seats for that wonderful fresh scent. Works like a charm.

A family affair:
Oh how I have wonderful memories of washing the family car, working away only to have my brothers soak me with the hose. Snoopy, our German Shepherd, would also get involved and when it was all done we had a clean car and wet clothes. Those were the days, as my parents did not ask us if we wanted to wash the car: it was expected. This simple task was part of the Saturday morning ritual and although at first we were not crazy about it we soon learned to find the fun in it, being together and getting wet on a warm summer day.

Growing up, we would go door to door asking neighbors what we can do to make some money. We had paper routes, grass-cutting jobs, leaf raking in the fall and snow shoveling in the winter. If you don’t have kids of your own—or ones old enough for chores—you can still outsource the job. Today no one is coming to the door so we need to ask. I found if you offer five to ten bucks to a neighborhood kid they are more than willing to jump in and wash your car. All you have to do is ask—a sMARt tip is to run it by the parents first.

Wax or no wax that is the question:
When I have the time I love washing my car but I would never, ever wax the car myself. I’m just not good at making that long commitment. That’s where I’ll splurge and hire the professionals to wash the car, wax it, and get it detailed in the process. Doing the added detailing step once a year gives your car an amazing new car feel. Your car dealership and even your local wash can offer this package service, just be prepared to leave your car for several hours. It’s worth the wait!

Now is what I like to call sumMAR time, so get on the road in a nice clean car. Going to work, play or even enjoying a well-deserved road trip always starts with a nice clean car, so stop “spinning your wheels” by wishing to wash your car and just do it. Your wheels will love you for it.

And there you have it.

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Comments

Jane Merrill's picture

I don't have a leaf blower but I'm going out with the towels, bucket and sponge and following Mar's instructions. This is a delightful prospect and so Mar!
John Burgeson's picture

If you want to keep the inside of your car looking and smelling showroom new, don't eat or drink in there. You'll invariably get your fingers greasy from French fries, burgers and chips, and over time, this grease will wipe off and build up on the seats, the instrument panel and other upholstered surfaces. And remember -- spilled coffee and milk shakes will not only make your car filthy, but it can play havoc with the electronics. I know this sounds like a tall order for families with children, but I think it's a good lesson for the kids. They should learn to wait until they get home before gorging themselves. Besides, meals in cars are almost always unhealthy. (I'd also like to add this suggestion: Wash your hands before entering your car. But that's probably a little extreme for most people.) Also, every week or so, wipe off the dust on the top of the dash, the steering column and other surfaces with a rag dampened with a little spray-on protectant, like Maguire's Interior Detailer.

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