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Sonny's-Carwash College™ Tip of the Month

Cleaning the Equipment

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

January 30, 2009
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At CarWash College we teach preventive maintenance. This month we are going to talk about a fundamental maintenance procedure that can shave hours off repair times, improve customer satisfaction, and increase the life of your equipment – which is keeping your equipment clean. Even more important, we’ll cover some simple ways to make this tedious task easier and safer for you and your staff.

From a customer’s point of view, there is no way their car can come out clean, dry, and shiny when washed in a dirty tunnel. The customer can see the equipment through their windshield or from the lobby windows (at full serve locations) and what they see will greatly impact their satisfaction with your business. A well lit tunnel, free of debris and utilizing clean cloth offers as much to the customer experience as delivering a clean car. Depending on how heavily soiled the equipment is, there are various ways to maintain or restore its appearance.

If the equipment is lightly soiled, using a high pH soap applied with a foamer cannon or an applicator sprayer will help break down deposits that can then be easily removed with a high pressure washer. If the equipment is heavily soiled and restoration is required, other techniques will need to be utilized. Using a high pH soap, apply a generous amount to the equipment that is to be cleaned. Let the chemical stand for several minutes but do not let it dry. Using steel wool or similar material, scrub the areas that need the extra attention. With a prep brush or truck brush, scrub the remaining areas. Rinse the equipment with a high pressure washer. If the high pH soap does not penetrate and remove the heavy soiling, an alternative is to use a low pH cleaner. Always use extreme caution when using low pH products by covering your entire body, hands, eyes and face, and use a respirator to filter any gases. Apply the product to the surface of the equipment and rinse thoroughly. If the equipment is not rinsed properly, a chalky white film may be left behind when the equipment dries. In some cases of extreme neglect, the equipment may require the use of an angle grinder equipped with a bristle head. This will remove the toughest of buildup and stains but requires a tremendous amount of time. In the back room of the car wash there is usually not as much grime on the equipment, so a spray bottle and all-purpose cleaner can be used. Spray the cleaner on, allowing time to work and then remove with a rag. If the build-up is extreme, a scrub brush can be used to remove it.

As stated before, keeping the equipment clean can help you find problems quickly and cut the repair time in half. Let’s look at the facts. If a bearing on the wrap goes out, the equipment is dirty, and bolts are seized, it could take as much as three hours to fix. On the other hand, at a clean and well-kept car wash it takes as little as forty-five minutes to do the same repair. The benefits to you are huge in time savings. And since a clean car wash always makes for a better car washing experience, your customers are more likely to become repeat customers. So keep the equipment clean for you, and your customers.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.