Clear as crystal - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Clear as crystal

Cleaning windows can be a challenge for many carwashes.

Welcome to spring 2015! I hope all of you had a pleasant winter and took in record profits. I know that many of you on the East Coast have done well after the storms and blizzards have passed and now are moving on to great new seasons. Here on the West Coast we have seen some torrential rains, and to tell you the truth, it has been a difficult winter with many days being closed. When the weather service announces rain or wet weather storms, it is not just those days we are closed that we lose revenue, but also the two or three days before and the first two days after. Even if it does not rain and the forecast is wrong (as is often the case here in Los Angeles), the threat of rain will keep customers away.

Well now that we have addressed that gloomy subject, let’s move on to this month’s topic: Windows!

In all my years of washing cars, I have never really been able to perfect the windows. I have a 99-percent-spotless, almost perfect method here at my wash in Hermosa Beach, but sometimes those elusive streaks still surface, and it is one of the most frustrating things in this entire business. Almost every owner and manager will tell you the same thing.

Window cleaning at a full-serve carwash is a fickle beast. It’s like hitting the mole with a mallet — he just pops up at a different hole.

Find the right system

Some methods I have employed here at my Hermosa location are truly revolutionary, but as I said, once you fix one aspect, another challenge shows up in its place.

I think a lot of it has to do with the machines themselves, the towels, of course, and also separation.

I have always been a firm believer in production line discipline by keeping towels color coded, separated at all times and by not using too much soap and/or chemicals. By chemicals I mean silicon strippers and other compounds that help remove excess cleaning agents.

Two of the most important parts in the pursuit of perfect windows is water quality and frequency of cleaning. The best ways are sometimes unconventional, but I assure you they are well worth the extra effort. To be honest with you, at one time I even thought of good ol’ newspaper and vinegar, but then thought better of it.

Train employees

In other aspects of the entire process, we operators will focus much on the individual cleaning methods used by the workers and will send our managers and front-line supervisors to oversee and ensure proper procedures are always followed without exception.

I suppose many ways to clean exist, and I’m sure there are many opinions. But in my experience the best way is practicing the simple square framing method and using many towel sides. I’m not convinced yet of exactly which towel works best, but I am using a standard waffle pattern, and that seems to be the front-runner so far.

The other hard part to discern seems to be how long the towels should be in service before they are thrown into the “old rag” pile and demoted to being a wheel cleaner or other such unsavory duty in the service of being a carwash towel.

In conclusion, there are many different types of window cleaning methods and various types of products ranging from machinery to towels and from silicon strippers to actual pre-soap injectors. I encourage you to experiment with all of these different methods and mix and match different combinations to see what works best for you. The two rules any operator cannot waiver from are the two I spelled out earlier.

If you find some unique methods that seem to work, please write me and let me know. I would love to be able to pass along this information to the thousands of readers we have here at PC&D. Also if you have any questions, please contact me at the number or email address listed at the end of each of my articles, and feel free to visit my websites for more info and helpful tips.

Until next time,

Keep the towels moving!


Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, California., can be reached at 310-947-9711 or via email at [email protected]. You can also visit his website at For more information on this subject and other carwash equipment, products and services, please visit

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