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DIY Mobile Car Wash - or, How to wash your car in the city

  #1  
Old 02-22-2008, 11:02 AM
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DIY Mobile Car Wash - or, How to wash your car in the city

I developed a personal mobile car wash last year and thought I would share it here on this new enthusiast site.

I live in Boston in a condo building with a shared garage. Like most ‘city’ dwellings, there is no source of easily accessible outside water supply (i.e. a faucet and hose) likely because of the potential for the undomociled to become ‘regulars.’ Until now I had been washing my car periodically by going to a power spray wash and using my own MF towels to scrub the car. Needless to say, this is sort of a pain especially during ‘peak demand’ car wash hours. It is also not practical for when it’s really cold outside.

I do enjoy washing my car myself and have actually considered moving to the burbs solely to get a big garage of my own,…alas, we’re not ready for that move. Thus, I set out to develop a method to wash my car in my garage/parking lot where there is no running water.

The main ingredient I am using is one of the “rinseless” soaps known as Optimum No Rinse (ONR). HUGE THANKS TO DEANSKI who mentioned this product in a thread and subsequently told me of his own personal success with the product. Here’s how ONR works: mix 1 cap full per 1 gal water, wash car with this solution, then simply wipe off with a MF towel. This works fine, but I’ve made my own modifications detailed below. The product has also received accolades on Autopia.org.

The technique I use to wash with ONR is as follow: I have two large pails each with 4 gallons of water – one with ONR, the other to rinse. I use a Griot’s Sheepskin Mitt (has removable inner rubber glove with Velcro fasteners – fantastic) to apply and scrub one panel at a time with ONR. I rinse the mitt in the rinse pail, then reapply a second ONR with the mitt. i.e. lather, rinse, repeat. I then use the Griot’s soft Squeegee to VERY LIGHTLY swoosh away the macro quantities of water on the panel. I then go to work with a large collection of high-quality MF towels to dry the panel (thanks for MF tips Ben). You do one panel at a time with ONR because if the solution dries on the car, it leaves a film. You don’t need to use the squeegee if it freaks you out, but it helps in the drying process. The finished car is shown in the last few pics below. It was a bit of a gloomy day here today, but I can tell you, this is a great way to wash your car….and it uses very little water. When I’ve washed my car in my garage spot in this manner, there were only very small puddles near my car and no cross-contamination of other people’s property. If you happen to live in water conservation areas, then this is probably also a great technique. And, as long as your garage is heated (for those of us that live in the tundra areas), you can wash your car during the winter.

I purchased a large Rubbermaid utility cart to put all of my detailing goodies on. I’m actually going to replace the one shown in the pics because it does not squeeze through the old entrance to my unit (which is now a closet….LONG story). Here’s most of what’s on the cart:
  • Two giant Griot’s wash pails with lids. These are around 55 bucks each which sounds a bit nuts, but these suckers are incredibly sturdy and hold 6+ gallons each. The lids keep the water from sloshing out while I am transporting the utility cart down the elevator and into the garage – i.e. keeps the neighbors happy. The pails have a waffle shelf in them to help soak/rinse your mitt/MF towels.
  • One two-sided pail. I fill each side with water to use for cleaning the wheels as I do not want to contaminate my car wash pails with wheel cleaning agents. I use a Boars Hair brush to clean the wheels with Griots wheel cleaner.
  • One pesticide type sprayer (2 gallon shown) that serves as a source of fresh water. I use this to spray fresh rinse on the wheels/brakes/exhaust after cleaning these areas with wheels cleaner.
  • Cup Holder: speaks for itself, but very important.
  • iPod (shown with iWoofer – so I could listen to the Pats game today)
  • Griot’s Soft Squeegee
  • Griot’s Sheepskin Mitt
  • Shark portable vacuum
  • Paper Towels & Windex
  • MF Towels,…lots and lots of them
  • Clip on garbage can for utility cart

I am so pleased to be able to wash my own car in the comfort of my own garage now. Thanks to all of you who helped me with product selections.

ONR Product Site
Autopia ONR Thread










 
  #2  
Old 02-22-2008, 11:12 AM
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Excellent post; saw this on rennlist last year. Thanks for sharing.
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 03:19 PM
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you don't rinse the car first?

great post...

- chuck
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by carendt242 View Post
you don't rinse the car first?

great post...

- chuck
Thanks Chuck.
There's no need to rinse the car first. The stuff really works. I've cleaned my car with it in its parking space without getting a drop on my neighbor's car.
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 04:12 PM
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Great post...maybe one of the sponsors could put together a pkg with everything you listed. I'm sure many city regulars would be into picking something like that up.
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by eshaun View Post
Great post...maybe one of the sponsors could put together a pkg with everything you listed. I'm sure many city regulars would be into picking something like that up.
I think the foundation for this procedure is the Optimum No Rinse. I'll get some and do my own testing. I'm very skeptical in regards to the product not scratching the finish. I'll keep you guys posted.
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 04:53 PM
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Great, thanks Moe
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 05:09 PM
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Moe -
While I haven't seen any obvious damage to my paint with this technique, I'd be the first to admit that I'm not terribly obsessive about my car's finish. I usually don't notice flaws in people's paint until they point it out to me.
SORRY - don't mean to blaspheme !!!!!!!
Please keep us informed of your results.
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Coochas View Post
Moe -
While I haven't seen any obvious damage to my paint with this technique, I'd be the first to admit that I'm not terribly obsessive about my car's finish. I usually don't notice flaws in people's paint until they point it out to me.
SORRY - don't mean to blaspheme !!!!!!!
Please keep us informed of your results.
This is one of the perils of being OCD I just want to make sure the benefits outweigh the negative. I've heard a lot of great things about the ONR, but have never used it myself. I know just the guys to talk to about the technique. Will report back soon.
 
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Old 02-22-2008, 05:34 PM
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thanks Moe - i'd be very curious to see if it works as advertised. would make my life easier in some respects.

- chuck
 

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