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Safety first

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Wash operators demonstrate skill sets to clean and sanitize during the pandemic 

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We spend a lot of time in our cars. With COVID-19 so prevalent, motorists, as well as professionals such as first responders, taxi drivers, and police, need assurances their vehicles are places of safety in these uncertain times. Canada’s car wash community has stepped up to the challenge.

 

Valet Car Wash, the largest independent branded car wash chain in Ontario, is a leader in best practice with nine locations from Guelph to Mississauga. According to Valet owner Mike Black, they have a new service called Viro-Clean. This service is designed to kill 99.9% of all viruses and bacteria in a vehicle. This includes COVID-19.

 

“We started this service because we felt there was a need for people who might be concerned about the spread of the virus in their vehicle. This concern might come from where they work or perhaps from someone that had been in their vehicle. Because the service itself is rather new, it’s something that needs to be sold to customers and the benefits explained. I think in a lot of cases it just provides peace of mind knowing that their vehicle has been completely sanitized and disinfected. This is especially important if they have young children or elderly parents in the vehicle,” says Black. He points to a customer who called because of concerns after an airport pick-up in his car. “He wanted the service done just as a precaution and peace of mind. It’s an easy and quick service that doesn’t require very much labour and profit margins are very strong.”

 

At Valet teams use a disinfecting fog that mists into the car. This dry mist reaches into all the nooks and crannies to kill off harmful microbes. “Our new fogger machine penetrates all areas of the vehicle. This includes unreachable spaces that normally don’t get cleaned. The service provides total coverage and safety. The process is very effective. It disinfects every surface and every object it touches, including the entire ventilation system of the vehicle.

 

“The product we use has been certified in the U.S. by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centre for Disease Control for being effective in killing 99.9% of all viruses and bacteria. It is safe and will not harm any surfaces of the vehicle or bring discomfort to the passengers. It’s even safe for those who suffer from allergies. The only after-effect maybe a light peroxide odour that leaves the vehicle clean and fresh smelling.”

 

As an appreciation for the hard and dangerous work done by healthcare workers during this pandemic, Valet is offering its Viro-Clean service is free to any health care personnel with proper ID.  The service normally sells for $24.99 and takes about 15 minutes to complete. “We plug a fogging machine into the vehicle’s 12-volt system and leave it running with the AC on recirculation for 15 minutes. It’s quick, easy, and safe and provides total peace of mind.”

 

Jumbo Car Wash in Red Deer, Alta. is another operator that has jumped into action to meet this need for sanitizing. “We maintain a full safety protocol for our staff and have upgraded our in-wash disinfectant,” says Jumbo Car Wash co-owner and GM Terrill Cromie. He mentions that they were able to go to their chemical supplier for the product once the pandemic made itself known. “We saw that we required a cleaning product with more power to kill off a complete range of viruses. Guardian Chemicals came through for us.”

 

Winnipeg’s (Headingley), Blue Ocean Auto and Boat Detailing has been keeping cars virus-free for years. They noticed customers were concerned about things like rodent and deer feces that can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that came to light in the early 1990s.

 

Crews at Blue Ocean wear protective clothing as well as respirators, and air ionizer machines are brought into action to kill the virus. The units eliminate odours as well as nasty pathogens such as COVID-19. The devices use high voltage to ionize (electrically charge) air molecules and work by creating a static charge around the airborne contaminants that are floating inside a vehicle. Once charged with static, these particles stick to the nearest surface. Then the area is cleaned with an alcohol wipe or disinfectant spray.

 

In Vancouver, Amir Hashemi operates Majestic AutoSpa and Detailing. At his location in New Westminster, steam gets cars virus-free. He suggests that his experience tells him steam cleaning is an optimum method for both antiviral and general detailing. He offers a full COVID cleaning as an add-on to his menu of services. “If we know a car has exposure to COVID-19, we also add-on ozone as an increased level of assurance,” he says, mentioning that crews first sanitize the vehicle before heading into their standard detailing service. “This makes sure the staff is safe. We clean every surface with an alcohol wipe and then steam. After the steaming, no one touches any surface on the car, and that includes the keys.”

 

Hashemi uses a Dupray steamer that he saw in use at hospitals. This steamer has a spray temperature of 175ºC., a temperature high enough to kill most viruses. Hashimi mentions that he spent several thousand dollars on the portable unit. “The cost was high, but our success with our customers made the price worth it.”

Originally published in the November/December issue of OCTANE.