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Health-conscious cleaning

October 11, 2010
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How clean is clean? For years, carwashers and detailers alike have mulled this concept over and, while this debate primarily pertains to the overall look of a vehicle, maybe the idea of a detailed cleaning is more than meets the eye.

In fact, when you consider the intricate, often overlooked, parts of any car or truck it becomes clear that, by focusing on these small details, carwash and detail shop owners can provide a more thorough service to customers — those being the more detail-oriented carwash customers.

Good health and a clean car
In the past, some carwash owners, and particularity professional detailers, have combined their vehicle care services with marketing efforts toward a health-conscience public.

Robert DiMassa, owner and founder of Superior Car Care, Venice, CA, has worked to promote the idea of a clean car, both inside and out, for customers who wish to stay healthy.

DiMassa, a former carwash owner who now operates five detailing shops in California, said that mold inside of a vehicle is probably the riskiest health hazard he’s seen in cars coming through his shop.

Carpets are the part that most people don’t really focus on, and they don’t clean as well as they should, according to DiMassa.

Naturally, detailers take a more precise hand at cleaning all interior fibers and areas where bacteria can proliferate, but these spots are often overlooked during express detailing jobs at carwash centers.

Car care owners should also take the time to somehow promote their extra efforts on advanced cleaning to let their customers know that a cleaner car equals better living conditions for everyone riding in the vehicle.

Getting the job done right
Bacteria can easily linger inside a car where darkness and moisture reside, which is why your workers should know that even though a surface seems clean and dry, the foam padding underneath carpeted areas may still be damp. In such a case, mold can creep back, and the customer will think your workers failed at their duties.

According to DiMassa, people can be more susceptible to illness when their cars are not maintained through rigorous cleaning procedures, and he’s worked to spread this idea throughout the southern California market in which he operates.

Even for the everyday community, time spend behind the wheel means exposure to the possibility of dust, dirt, food and grease build-up on the surface of anything a person normally touches and adjusts in the vehicle.

Dust mites, which are commonly found in contained areas like behind dash vents, are actually microscopic insects that can trigger respiratory allergies.

Some newer model vehicles can thwart dust allergies with the use of regularly-changed cabin air filters, but many vehicles manufactured before 2000 simply intake air that passes under the hood and force it through aging ventilation or A/C ducts.

Indoor air quality alone can become the focus of a good interior cleaning, because by assuring your customers their vehicle is free of all bacteria, you’ll be safeguarding them from:
  • Headaches, nasal congestion or other sinus problems;
  • Allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions; or
  • Recurring musty or stale odors.
Quality assurance
If you don’t have good work protocols in place, there are a lot of people out there that might seek compensation for an illness, and they can blame your work, according to Gina Budhai, managing partner for Car Pool Detail LLC, Richmond, VA.

Budhai oversees and maintains a rigorous detailing process, and said it’s best for car care workers to try to focus on the parts of a car where drivers typically place their hands.

Door handles, behind the steering wheel, seat tracks, and belt buckles usually are areas that are forgotten when cleaning inside a car, but should be remembered.

Budhai suggests that when confronted with a stain that might be biohazard from the owner, make sure to show the mess to the customer because it becomes a much more serious job that should enter into another pricing bracket.

Customers won’t want to hear that, but make sure to do the appropriate methodology for the spill and take all of that into consideration while cleaning to adhere to the proper federal safety standards for your workers.

Catering to the sensitive customer
Believe it or not, there is actually a customer base you may face that will refuse your detailing services because of their reservation against harsh chemicals, according to Jessica Levy, owner of Fun and Easy Learning LLC, Vinton, IA.

Levy, a veteran to the automotive industry, provides employee training safety instructions through her company, and is well-versed in what chemicals are considered safe for customers by federal standards.

According to Levy, car care workers need to read the labels for their safety and for the safety of their customers to determine what should be used on a car.

Promoting the fact that you use the safest chemicals will make your customers feel more comfortable with your work.

By doing so, your customers will appreciate your efforts to keep them from breathing potentially hazardous chemicals, thus generating good will within your customer base.

Chris Reach is a contributing writer to Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine.