Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Clean Walls

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

April 30, 2009


At CarWash College™ we teach preventive maintenance. This month we are going to talk about maintaining the walls of the car wash tunnel. The more you can do to keep the tunnel walls clean, the better. One of the most innovative ways to accomplish a clean tunnel is with PVC wall liners.

These require minimal maintenance and can usually be cleaned with ease. The PVC is a glossy, white material that brightens the tunnel by reflecting the light source, offering a clean, wide open feel for the customer. If installing PVC wall liners is something that can not be done at your facility, a new coat of high gloss paint can add that feeling of freshness and cleanliness. Using high gloss paint not only helps brighten the tunnel but also inhibits the growth of mildew and is more chemical resistant. How often the walls need cleaning depends on how wide the tunnel is. If the tunnel is 18 feet wide, it will require more frequent cleaning than a tunnel that is 25 feet in width. Some helpful hints to clean both painted and PVC surfaces are:

a) PVC Surfaces

(1) Using a diluted mixture of the high pH wheel cleaner applied to the walls will help break down soils.

(2) For tougher soils, lacquer thinner will remove the toughest of stains. Rinse well after use.

(3) There are PVC cleaners that can be bought in bulk or concentrated that will clean various soils.

(4) Allow the cleaners to do the work. Start at one end of the tunnel by applying the chemical cleaner. Apply to only one side of the tunnel at a time. Return to where you started and either scrub or high pressure rinse. This process allows the chemical to break down the soils, minimizing the amount of elbow grease required.

b) Painted Surfaces

(1) Using a diluted mixture of the high pH wheel cleaner applied to the walls will help break down soils.

(2) Using household detergents is recommended because they are multi- surface friendly which will prolong the life of the paint.

(3) Using 3:1 water and bleach will clean mildew.

(4) Allow chemicals to do the work. Scrub brushes and high pressure rinsing can damage the painted surfaces.

Chemicals from the car wash and cleaning process can cause the paint to breakdown over time. This may require regular repainting. Paint typically has a two year lifespan under normal conditions. With the extreme conditions in the tunnel, paint life will be greatly reduced. By keeping the car wash clean it will help make customers feel more comfortable at your location and you can't begin to put a price on that.

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.