Questions still continue in the industry on what is the best method to wash a bus.

Two thoughts prevail: brushes scratch and a touchless wash doesn’t clean the film off the vehicle. Both are somewhat true when you are not optimizing the equipment or using the proper methods to maximize the results. It is the continuous neglect by owners of the machinery that keep these thoughts alive.

Let’s discuss brushes first. Soft touch brushing of vehicles through the proper method in today’s world is not an issue. Brushes have come a long way from the old days. Lamb skin, foam and cruciform polyethylene are a few of the materials today that have taken the old myth out of washing vehicles with brushes.

Utilizing a proper brush on an automatic spinning or jigging cylinder will reduce the amount of chemicals required to wash a vehicle. Most people don’t realize the importance of the proper soap to ensure maximum performance. Not only does it assist in the removal of dirt from vehicles, but it actually keeps the brushes clean as well.

Also, most machine brushes must be replaced regularly to ensure the structure and length are correct for the maximum cleaning. Another typical oversight by most operators is allowing worn-out brushes to clean vehicles. Once the structure or length of the brush is compromised, there can be issues in cleaning by the brushes. It’s the same as trying to sweep with a worn-out broom — there will be streaks and lines of dirt left behind.

We have been selling brush machines for 20 years and have heard of every issue there could be in brush problems. It always comes down to the same two issues: worn-out brushes and improper use of chemicals/soap.

We have been selling both polyethylene and foam brushes for 20 years. To give you an example, our polyethylene brushes will last 20,000 washes, and our foam brushes will last 40,000 washes. It is also dependent on what you are washing. If you wash flat surfaces, your brushes can last even longer. Using the proper soap will add time to your brushes by increasing the lubricity and removing the grime.

Touchless washing of vehicles is much more complicated. There is a reliance on proper spraying of water, temperature, positioning of vehicle, positioning of water nozzles, chemical composition and dwell time to achieve optimum results. Negligence of one of these, in whole or part, will result in poor quality washing.

Many don’t pay attention to the maintenance of the machinery, or they use the least amount of chemical or a less expensive chemical to achieve results that are believed to be as good as the original setup from the manufacturer. Many times the wash bay is out of sight, out of mind, and it gets little attention until it breaks. That is most unfortunate, because these breakdowns are costly on both fronts: the emergency call to fix the machine and the loss of washing vehicles for the downtime period.

Visit your wash bay periodically to see what is happening with the machinery. You will be surprised at the results when you ensure that there is proper setup, maintenance and chemicals.

Until the day that all vehicles are “flat only” and “exact same size,” it will be impossible to provide the perfect clean in every nook and cranny of the vehicles. To compromise on minor cleaning is acceptable, but to pay for excessive dirt residue left on the vehicle with streaks due to neglect is not. And it is not the way to run a business.

Jack Jackson is president of vehicle wash solutions supplier Awash Systems Corp. For more information, e-mail, call (800) 265-7405 or go to