My usual method of washing a car is to drive it through the cheapest automatic carwash I can find. In fact, I don’t believe I have ever personally hand-washed a car.
Perhaps if I had a hip late-model car I’d take more pride in its cleanliness, but with my outdated dinged-up minivan, whether or not it is clean is frankly beside the point. The improvement washing makes is minimal. And besides all that, car care is simply not high on my list of priorities — much to my father’s
disappointment and disgust. His car is practically a museum.
Me? I generally vacuum out my car once every month or four, and if I get a chance to run it through a carwash at the end of the winter to rid it of the season’s accumulation of salt and muck, that’s a bonus. I consider a heavy rain almost as effective, and fortunately I live in a part of the country where it rains often enough to keep the car looking moderately respectable. As long as your standards of cleanliness aren’t too high. Which mine clearly are not.
But since our trip to Maine, our car has looked like we drove it through a wind storm in the Sahara Desert. And for some unknown reason, it’s driving me CUH-RAZY. I’ve been meaning to run it through a carwash, but there really isn’t one that’s convenient. And with three kids in tow, I’m not likely to go out of my way for anything that I can’t wear or drink.
Yesterday an alien seemingly overtook my body, and I decided to hand-wash my car in the driveway. I’ve seen my dad do it. How hard can it be?
I located an old washcloth and a bucket in the laundry room and squirted some dishwashing detergent inside. Then I hauled the hose up from the side of the house to fill it. But I was disheartened to find out that the hose barely reaches the driveway. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to rinse my car. Hopefully the hose on the other side of the house would reach. But since I already had this one unraveled and turned on, I decided to at least fill the bucket and start the washing process. I would unroll the other one when it was time to rinse.
For some reason the water pressure coming out of the hose was performing at some warp speed. When I started to fill the bucket, the force of the water blew over the bucket and sprayed back in my face. Nice.
I let go of the hose for a moment to retrieve the bucket, and it immediately began writhing on the driveway like a possessed snake. Have you seen that commercial where the guy is at the car wash and the hose starts flipping and flopping and spraying everyone in vicinity? That is exactly what happened to me. Except there was no one but me unfortunate enough to be in vicinity.
The hilarity of it all got me to giggling as I grappled with the hose until I finally had it under control, but not until I was soaking wet. Good thing I was still wearing my bathing suit from our afternoon jaunt to the pool.
I managed to fill the bucket and commenced with the washing. I’m sure there is some sort of method to the madness, but I’m not sure what it is. I just started washing like I would one of my kids, top to bottom. Of course I couldn’t reach the tippy-top, but I figured if I can’t really see it, no one else can either so it probably doesn’t matter if it’s clean.
I moved my way around the side to the back and then around to the other side and back to the front. Now here’s something you probably didn’t know. Newsflash! Minivans are big. The washing process took much longer than I expected, and by the time I made it around to the front and decided it was time to rinse, I noticed that the side I washed first had already completely dried in the hot sun. Not only was it dry, but it had dried in an artsy mural of soap and road dirt.
I guess you’re supposed to wash and rinse in smaller increments?
So I started again on the first side with the soapy rag, trying to dislodge the dried-on soap and dirt so that it would rinse off easily. I made quick work of that, knowing the other side would dry if I didn’t make it snappy. Then I went to the other side of the house, pulled out the longer hose, and started to stretch it across the yard. But, you see, that side of the yard is bigger than the other, so the second hose didn’t quite reach the driveway either.
With my car rapidly drying in a soapy-dirty mess, I did the only thing I knew to do, aimed the hose at the side of the car, put a thumb over the opening to create a spray effect, and waved it wildly, hoping to dislodge at least part of the soap and dirt from the car.
When I had done all I could do with that hose, I went back to the possessed hose, turned it on, drug it back up to the driveway, and sprayed it at the other side of the car.
I think I managed to rinse all but the very back of the minivan. And even the carwash places never really get the back clean. I figured I’d done at least as good a job as they do, and it didn’t cost me anything. Except my dignity.