In the CWC Maintenance Class, we show slides of washes that are, shall we say, less than clean.

The reason for this is not to embarrass the owners of these facilities (the facilities shown are not identified), but to show new entrants to the industry how NOT to care for their own.

One of the slides shown was taken on an association Road Show bus tour, and it’s a picture of a dryer. The housings look as if they haven’t been cleaned since the day they were installed. Here’s an owner that knows that there will be 200+ industry professionals walking through his tunnel and did absolutely nothing to prepare! Why? Because he obviously doesn’t see his lack of cleanliness as a problem. Yikes!

Another slide shows the name of the car wash carefully scripted on the tunnel wall. The problem with this one is that the script was done by the pressure washer on the background of dirt! That’s right, some enterprising young car wash employee, rather than cleaning up the entire wall, decided it would look better to write the wash name in the dirt. Awesome!

The last one I’ll mention (unfortunately, there are so many to choose from) is of a power pack, the top covered in oil, dirt clinging to it, with jugs of oil sitting nearby to replenish the starving pump. Although not in view of the customer, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume the tunnel looks as bad, if not worse. Wow!

Research shows that our customer base is more than 50% women. And while most males might think something looks clean, clean has a different connotation to women. Case in point, my wife Carrie has a very keen eye for this kind of thing. If we walk into a restaurant we’ve never been to before, she can tell within the first 5 feet from the door whether or not we will be staying for dinner. If it’s not up to her cleanliness standards, we’re out of there. I can’t tell you how many places we’ve walked into, only to turn around and head back out with her telling me it was “disgusting” when I thought it didn’t look like new, but that it looked ok.

This is where the title of the article comes in—“Maintaining the Standard”. What does it mean? It means you should maintain your building, equipment, and site in “like new” condition at all times. And the best and easiest way to maintain something in “like new” fashion is to never let it get old and dirty looking to begin with.

When spending $2-$5 million building these new facilities, make sure you get the point across to your employees that the way your wash looks on opening day is the way it should look 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years from that day.

So, how do you go about keeping your tunnel looking new for years to come? The same way you eat an elephant, a bite at a time. Do something every day so you don’t fall behind. That will also make your weekly cleaning that much easier. Weekly cleaning? I’m supposed to be doing weekly cleaning?? Yes, and not weakly cleaning either! (See what I did there?)

If your wash is older and you’ve let it get away from you somewhat, clean it from top to bottom as best you can. That level of cleanliness will then become your new standard to maintain.

In the business of cleaning, can you afford to be dirty? They say to never eat at a restaurant where the chef is skinny. What does that mean for a car wash?

Our industry has come a long way in cleaning up our image. Maintain your standard and watch what it does for your bottom line.

Bob Fox has over 30 years industry experience and is an instructor at CarWash College™. Bob can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.