Car Wash in the City

Getting my car washed is like pulling teeth. I used to be able to hose down the car and give it a good rub-a-dub, but no more. My car now gets its rest in an underground garage, where a garden hose is not readily available. Even if a garden hose is available, I could not use it liberally--with an ongoing drought in California comes water use restrictions and/or higher rates for high water use.

For weeks, my car had been coated with dust and dirt from ordinary use. With the recent fires going on in the surrounding mountains, the buildup got even worse. I was finally forced to confront the problem last weekend, since I was expecting family visiting from out of town in the coming days.

Shame spurred surprisingly good solutions. I went to Target to pick up some car washing supplies. I already had a 16 quart (15L) bucket at home, so that was one less thing on my shopping list. I figured that I'd get a sponge, some detergent, and that would be it. A bottle of Armor All was on sale for $3, so that was a no brainer. As for the sponges, I did not walk out with what I had expected to buy. I thought that a nice big sponge would work, but there was an entire wall of microfiber and chenile towels, mitts, and mops of different shapes and sizes. I ended up spending a little bit more on the sponge--$12 for a Vroom chenile wash mop with a detachable extension pole. The mop had soft, fuzzy tubes of gray fibers sticking out of it.

Just my luck, the elevator in my apartment building decided to take an unscheduled break on the only day I had to wash my car; I had to try to complete the job with as little water as possible. The first trip down 4 flights of stairs did not go smoothly--about a quarter of the bucket sloshed on my clothes on my way down. Good thing enough of the water made it down stairs for the initial rinse. In that regard, the wash mop turned out to be well worth it. Since the sponge absorbed a lot of water, I did not have to constantly dip it back into the bucket or worry that I would not have a big enough stream of water to wash off the dirt. Also, one of my biggest concerns was being able to reach the roof of the car, especially now that I do not have the benefit of a spraying garden hose. The extension pole made that fear a non-issue, and I was thrilled with the way the mop swiveled to the contours of the car. I was starting to get a little too excited about the prospect of being able to wash my car to a sleek shine. Fortunately, there was a drain in the garage, so my enthusiasm wasn't dampened by a trek back upstairs with the initial dirty rinse.

The second bucket of water was the soap rinse. This time, I was a little wiser and filled the bucket with less water, leaving enough room for potential sloshage. It worked. The mop again performed wonders in terms of slathering the car with enough of the soapy solution such that it could actually be deemed "washed." The little fibers also did quite well in reaching the nooks and crannies, including the holes in the hubcap.

The third bucket of water was enough to rinse off all the soap. I used a standard squeegee to dry off the windows, and a soft old t-shirt to dab off whatever water still stuck to the car. The whole process took an hour (probably would have been quicker if the elevator was working), and I was quite proud of the wash job. Having done this once, the next time won't be so intimidating. I think I should go back to Target to pick up some microfiber towels for drying, since I only have so many old soft t-shirts that no longer want to wear, and I should get another mop for my parents so that they'll have an easier time washing their cars.


ThatBeeGirl said...

i lack the patience to wash my own car, and sometimes feel like i'd waste more water than i'd otherwise use at the car wash.
but i applaud your hard work. :)

Eli said...

We have an extremely similar problem in Las Vegas but I've discovered a safe solution that works. When you wash your own car, you wash away oils and gunk that runs down your driveway and such, goes into storm drains that can mix with water that goes into oceans or rivers and such. So as to not contaminate, its better to go through one of those drive through car washes like at the gasoline stations, theyre usually like five bucks. Just take some towels with you and extras if you need them. do your carwash thing but pull off to the side and dry it there. The water from all car washes has to be treated and sent off before it can be mixed with other water, as to not contaminate anything. voila!

Sales Rack Raider said...

Bee--it wasn't fun, but at least I got a good workout and a clean car out of it, so I guess that's good enough of an incentive.

Eli--Hmm...I've never thought about the environmental factor before until you brought it up. Shame on me. I went through one of those car washes once it it took out my car antenna, so I decided not to go back again, but now that my car no longer has an antenna, I won't have to worry about that again, right? ;-)

continuum said...

I hope that was Armor-All Carwash and not for your interior, 'cause Armor-All for your interior belongs only one place: the trash can. It's shiny greasy nasty stuff.