Professional Carwashing & Detailing

What goes up … must come down

How to make sure your carwash doors are clean, maintained and always working.

April 28, 2014

Your carwash door might not be the first thing a customer sees, but it will definitely be a focal point at some point whether a customer is waiting in line or driving past the carwash. At night, a door will be easier to survey, and a unkempt door can be a turn-off to potential customers. Therefore, along with the entire carwash property, the door also has to be neat and presentable. If your door isn’t clean, customers will question whether or not cleanliness is important to you. The good news here is that cleaning and maintaining a door is easy to do, if the proper precautionary steps are taken.

The image factor

In the book, “Marketing Without Advertising” by Michael Phillips and Salli Rasberry, they write: "Cleanliness is crucially important in all businesses, and is perceived by the public as a measure of management competence. … Part of the phenomenal growth of several national franchises, including SuperCuts and Midas Mufflers, is directly connected to their reputation for cleanliness … in each of these instances, the commitment to be extremely clean was powerful enough to transform the industry."

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If you visit the customer review site, Yelp.com, and look up a certain carwash in Los Angeles, you will notice it has an average rating of 1.5 stars out of 5. Looking at the comments, people wrote that the place was dirty, it could use a facelift, etc. Another carwash outside of Houston received an average Yelp rating of 2.5 stars. One commenter even went so far as to post a picture of what he described as, “old, dirty, un-maintained equipment.” Your carwash cannot afford to suffer from negative reviews. So, if you have been slacking in the cleanliness department, start today with making sure your door isn’t turning people away.

Along with making sure your door is clean, you also want to make sure they are working so that people do not get stuck inside, or is left open. Today’s controllers can alert you to door problems, but you should also follow the proper maintenance procedures to make sure a breakdown isn’t on the horizon.

How to clean a door

Since the overhead doors are the first functioning piece of equipment that your customers see, it is vital to keep the doors clean and well maintained, advised William Stokes of Ultimate Supplies, LLC. “To keep these doors clean a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule is recommended.” 

With both the polycarbonate overhead and the vinyl rollup doors, you will need special cleaners to not only clean the doors, but to also make sure the doors are not damaged.

Stokes said he recommends using:

  • Mirachem® OPTIX Screen, Display & Lens Cleaner, or
  • Plexus® Plastic Cleaner Protectant & Polish

Stokes said any sort of similar plastic cleaner will also work, as long as it does not contain ammonia. A product containing ammonia, warned Stokes, will damage the door panels.  

Use the cleaners with a soft and non-abrasive cloth that will not scratch to clean the polycarbonate and the vinyl.

What about a door’s hardware?

Because the hardware of a door is constantly and consistently exposed to water and chemicals, galvanized steel hardware can corrode in as little as one year. Owners will want to consider using plastic or stainless steel hardware instead. If you do purchase plastic hardware, try if you can to purchase hardware that is corrosion-resistant.

Also, note that door hinges can easily be replaced, so if they look worn, replace them immediately.

What kind of schedule is necessary?

A regular cleaning of the doors should be done to keep any dirt, soap and chemicals from building on the doors weekly, suggested Stokes. He recommends using pressure washers to clean the panels.

“A more thorough cleaning should be performed bi-weekly or as needed using the poly cleaner and a soft cloth,” said Stokes.

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Walk inside the bay and look closely at it during the day. Close the door while inside and look to make sure it is diaphanous enough to let light in. Also, stand outside the door and check its cleanliness. At night, stand on the outside and check to see how it looks in artificial light. Can you see through it into a lit-up bay? Do the lights around the carwash cause other streaks and build-up to appear?

Biggest mistakes

According to Stokes, the following are the biggest mistakes an owner makes when it comes to doors:

Are you paying proper attention to maintenance?: In terms of maintenance, the biggest mistake is not having a regular maintenance schedule in place. Owners, Stokes said, should not wait for there to be a problem before addressing the overhead doors.  

Summertime neglect: During the summer months, most carwashes leave their overhead doors in the open position for weeks or months on end, said Stokes, but even when things are slower, it is recommended to still operate, inspect and maintain your overhead doors. You need to keep them running in order to prepare them for heavier use prior to the fall or winter seasons when business is busier and the doors will be going up and down more often, he said.

Check one, check two: Doors cannot get stuck. It’s that simple. According to Stokes, you should operate your doors weekly and check for any problems you may have with:

  • The lifting cables;
  • The springs;
  • The counterweights; and
  • Hinges; and or rollers.  

Lubricate accordingly: If you have the air operator pistons that require lubricants you must cycle the air operator pistons to keep the lubricant thoroughly distributed through the cylinders. 

Check your calendar: In the fall, advised Stokes, you should do a thorough cleaning and inspection of the doors and replace any hardware that is broken or corroded.  The reason you should do this during the fall is because during the winter months — when most carwashes are busiest with customers, and the doors are going up and down to retain heat and keep out the cold — you have to make sure you’re your overhead doors are in top working order.



Your doors maintenance checklist

  • Daily: Check to make sure the door is down before the end of the day.
  • Weekly: Regularly clean the doors using pressure washers.
  • Weekly: Check for any problems you may have with:

·         The lifting cables;

·         The springs;

·         The counterweights; and

·         Hinges; and or rollers.

  • Bi-weekly: Perform a more thorough cleaning using a poly cleaner and a soft cloth.