Dated: 23-12-2019
Car Washing Services: Upgrading to better cleaning solutions

Automobile washing services across the world are gaining popularity. More and more consumers are opting for professional car wash services rather than laboriously clean their cars by themselves. The reasons for this are many. Richard Rahman, General Manager, Kenzie's Car Wash lists some of them out. He says, “Car washing without professional help has some drawbacks. The hose simply doesn't generate enough water pressure to remove tough dirt. Also, towels, rags and sponges used can spread particles that scratch the car's paint. Having professionals wash cars grants diverse washing options from in-bay automatic machines, tunnel wash systems and waterless car washing. In fact, modern improvements to commercial car wash equipment reduce the likelihood of car damage. Car washing services today use softer brushes and devices that spray water rather than directly touching the car.”

Another aspect of personal car washing is the water that runs down the drain collecting metals and sediments from the car. These pollute the water and endanger life. “In a professional car wash,” says Rahman, “These contaminants are trapped in a drain and then removed using a water treatment system. Thus, commercial car washes are safer for the environment than self car washes.” The hazards of traditional chemicals

For years, car washing has employed traditional chemicals and cleaning solutions, which exude harmful fumes and are rather inconsiderate about worker safety. Burned skin and even fatalities due to prolonged exposure are constant threats. Moreover, a new hazard alert warns of handling hydrofluoric acid used to wash cars and trucks in a fleet. As people start to emphasise on worker safety, the recent years have seen significant changes in the evolution of cleaning solutions. New modern cleaning fluids are not just safe for workers but also for the environment. They overhaul the way automobiles (metal parts in particular) are cleaned.

Rahman reiterates, “These days our society demands better performance from car cleaning solutions without the use of harsh chemicals. Eco Products have been the answer, and the market has adapted over the last few years, especially in delivering plant-based and ecobased products to the cleaning and automotive market."

Most car wash products from brands like Meguiars or Chemical Guys now are skin safe and pH neutral. At Kenzie's Car Wash - known for its premium waterless car wash and detailing services - Rahman chooses products that are skin safe and pH-balanced to ensure that worker health is not compromised. These products are mild but powerful biodegradable compounds, acid-free and non-toxic shampoo and wax. However, for cases where the use of toxic chemicals is inevitable, employees ensure that they take necessary precautions.

In fact, Kenzie's Car Wash is not the only brand changing its products for worker and environment safety. Rayyan Hassan, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Keno - an app that brings car wash services to the customers’ home - has similar thoughts. “Manufacturing has improved rapidly. Environmentally friendly and worker friendly solutions are easily available. Yes, there are some rather corrosive chemicals - but most others are safe to use.” At Keno, Hassan sources the chemicals from Orange County - a location that has the highest global standards for preserving the environment. The chemicals used in Keno’s basic car wash are tailormade.

These chemicals are approved by Dubai Municipality and RTA since Keno washes cars at the doorstep of the customer. “I care for my workers (we like to call them Ninjas), and we at Keno always ensure that the chemicals we source are SAFE for humans who help save the environment.” Keno’s process is fairly simple and super efficient. Hassan says, “Once a customer books a service, our Ninja arrives and sprays the car with our specialised chemicals, waits a few seconds till the dirt, dust and chemicals collected on the body of the car break down and finally swipes it with a microfibre cloth in one direction (we have six different microfibre towel grades involved) to ensure that there are no swirl marks on the car. All the dirt is collected in the microfibre towel (washed by us at the facility because we want to ensure that the water is discarded the right way). Nothing seeps on the floor - which is why the government has approved of our methods in residences. We then use brushes for AC vents, rims and wherever it is hard for the microfibre towel to collect the dirt. Then, finally, we add apply a silicone-free polish making the entire process as eco-friendly as possible.”

Through this entire approach, Keno consumes only 500 milliliters of water to wash a single car vs traditional car washing solutions that consume 120 to 160 litres of water in that much time! The company has saved 9,711,360 litres of water since March 2017!

We also have Waleed Affani, Managing Partner of Camel Car Detailing, who uses steam cleaning to clean most metalic parts in the cars thereby not only reducing the dependency on chemicals but also being completely environmentally friendly. Worker safety, of course, is ensured during the process.

Is the switch worth it?

The answer is a resounding YES. Switching to modern cleaning fluids for the car wash business (and their metallic parts in particular) will have a positive impact on the cleaning process, reduce waste and improve overall performance. In fact, all car cleaning methods, equipment and solutions should be reviewed and monitored regularly because the parts that require cleaning are often being upgraded. An automobile from 2014 will have different materials and parts than one manufactured in 2019. For best results, the cleaning solutions have to be different too! When car manufacturers factor in global competition to make parts smaller, faster and more cost-effective, together with changing environmental regulations and requirements - the car cleaning industry has to adjust to stay at par with them.

One of the biggest changes that has impacted metal part cleaning in automobiles are new environmental restrictions and workplace safety rules. Traditionally, fluids containing high concentrations of nPB (n-propyl bromide), TCE (trichlorethylene) and PERC (perchloroethylene) were considered to be an effective and economical method of cleaning. However, they do not adhere to the toxicity standards applicable in the modern world, and hence their use has become problematic. As a result, car washing companies are seeking more efficient, easier to maintain and less hazardous alternatives.

One of the biggest concerns car cleaners have while migrating to new cleaning fluids is the business impact. Will switching to new cleaning fluids increase the cleaning time? Will it require capital investment in new equipment? Will they deliver results as good as the old solutions? Thanks to several solvent alternatives spanning the global markets, we can reassure those concerned that modern cleaning fluids will clean metallic parts better than their traditional counterparts.

Switching to modern cleaning fluids for automobile care has many advantages. Here are a few:

Effective cleaning

Modern cleaning fluids are fluorinated and have been lab tested and analyzed to ensure optimum, consistent and effective cleaning results.

Greener cleaning

Modern car washing fluids conform to green initiatives. This means they are not accompanied by regulatory problems.

Low upgradation costs

Most of the modern automobile cleaning fluids can be used in existing equipment, applying the same methods. Therefore, no capital investment is not required.

Increased productivity

Modern cleaning fluids are made in accordance with the needs of a modern automobile. Therefore, they result in better overall throughput and productivity.

Better safety for workers

Due to stringent regulations revolving around worker safety, cleaning solution manufacturers ensure that their products are safe to use. Their nonflammable properties improve safety in the workplace. They are also much better for workers as well as for the environment.

Maintenance procedures are less complicated

New cleaning fluids do not require additives as opposed to traditional solvents.

What is the best way to clean metallic parts inside an automobile?

Cleaning metallic parts inside an automobile is challenging for everyone alike. A car has various areas types of metallic parts in different areas. Most parts are not visible but required attention to increase their longevity. Chrome metal (door handles, badges, grills) that is usually visible can't get dustry and greasy and is prone to scratches and chips. At Kenzie's Car Wash, Rahman chooses a metal polish specifically designed to cater to these areas. “But,” he comments, “other areas like brakes and rims require harder cleaning. They become very greasy and covered in brake dust. To combat this, we use a degreaser to keep everything in working order. And we finish the rims rims with the metal polish for extra sparkle.” The biggest challenge in metal cleaning, especially engines, is ensuring that nothing is moved out of place to prevent mechanical issues with the car.

Keno stopped cleaning car engines (which has several metallic parts) altogether because the materials that are used to de-grease the waste collected on the engine have an acidic base, which doesn’t make them very eco friendly making it a hazardous process at the doorstep of the customer. In such processes, a wastewater tank should be on standby to be treated rather than mixed with household sewage, believes Hassan. For other metal parts in the car, Keno uses a gel-based polish spread on a microfibre towel directly before cleaning. Immediately after, the metal is buffed,” concludes Hassan.

Affani from Camel Car Wash does not face any major challenges in cleaning metallic cars of cars. He says, “For us, each car has a different process; some cars are equipped with PPF (paint protection films), others are covered with a wrap and some have ceramic protection, but it's mainly about the decontamination process. The type/ quality of the shampoo plays a major role here. We also use steam to clean our engines and different towels for different surfaces for drying. While we don't face any major challenges, we need to continuously educate car owners about how to take care of their cars,” he humbly comments.

While it is difficult to change to a new cleaning fluid, all the car wash service companies today are adopting such techniques due to product, environment and worker safety. Being flexible in cleaning choices will in the long run positively impact productivity and prolong the life of the car and the brand!