Winter washing

This time of year is a tricky one for a detailing fan.

Salt, grit, snow, dead leaves and mud cover the road; more often than not, it’s a road submerged in water or ice. Where’s the motivation to clean your car?

In the better months, I usually give my car a clean every week and a half or two weeks. My ‘loon is bathed with the two-bucket method and protected by a range of weird-smelling polishes, waxes and sealants. For me, a routine wash in summer sunshine will take around two or three hours once I’ve got the interior, engine, exterior and wheels sparkling. With the sun out, Jay-Z on and shades on my face, cleaning off the bug-splattered bodywork after a hoon is blissfully relaxing.

As the temperatures drop, however, so does my motivation to keep my car looking fresh. First off, in winter you’ve got to put on about 17 more layers to keep warm whilst you’re outside struggling with the cold. This restricts your ability to move and, whilst it’s no doubt warmer, you will find out eventually that you cannot bend down to pick up the buckets. To any passers-by, it looks like a geriatric has attempted to breakdance and just seized in place instead.

Nevertheless, you carry on, thinking that it will be over in a jiffy. As you unravel the pressure hose and begin to rinse the car, you realise that that frozen, icy ground your car is on is getting much slippier as you occasionally catch the backspray from the changing wind direction. One quick fall to test your traction, naturally, results in a cricked back or bucket which has now lost two-thirds of its contents. Dipping your washing glove into said bucket demonstrates a simple, yet brutally effective lesson in convection, as your previously iceberg’d hands are suddenly defrosted by the liquefied industrial smelter at your feet.

Still, you’re nearly there; it’s drying time. Your nose may be red, one of your feet may be sodden from a drippy sponge, but hey, drying will keep your warm. Too warm, in fact. As the light dims and the temperature goes into the minus, you begin to give off steam from the forty zillion jumpers that you put on earlier. At least your hands get a chance to freeze over again from the damp drying microfibres you’re using. (Nice streak lines you’re leaving on the bonnet, by the way. Those would dry up pretty well had you been cleaning it during the 15 seconds of sunlight you had earlier on.)

Still, you’re done. Everything’s packed away and the car is spotless; well, if you can still see it in the inky blackness. Why don’t you take it for a drive?

Oh wait, a gritter has just salted my street. And it’s started raining again.

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