Getting the right car wash soap is a challenge and you need to make sure it’s right as if your soap doesn’t work, your customers cars won’t come out clean. In addition to picking the right soap you have to decide on powder vs. liquid. With the powder you have lower costs but incur the hassle of mixing and clogging. Over the long run liquids should save you time, money, and provide overall less aggravation.
There are several good manufacturers of soap and some of the best in the business are Blendco and Klean Rite. A lot of variables go into what makes a soap good and your water quality and chemical make-up makes in almost impossible to recommend one over another. But, just like many other things in life- price often reflects the quality of a product. The prime factor in the overall cleaning ability of soaps is the level of alkalinity. After boosting other products to the same level of alkalinity the performance gap between many manufacturer’s products really narrowed.
Don’t be afraid to try products from all of the manufacturers. They are more than happy to give you samples to try. Also while some people like to buy all of their product from one supplier do what’s best for your business and mix products from different suppliers that give the best performance for the dollar.
Remember that the best purpose of the foam brush is to help emulsify the presoak, (keeping the presoak in contact with the car), and to provide friction to assist in the cleaning of the car. The foam brush should be neutral, as close to 7 PH as possible. More cleaning power in the foam brush soap can be a bad thing as there’s less chance of damage to a finish if the soap dries.
Keep in mind in areas that experience cold weather that you need to pay attention to the soap you use to keep your equipment and customers cars from becoming damaged. Two soap options include.
- Winter Formula Soap – Winter formula blends are available on the market pre-mixed. Sometimes the viscosity of the winter formula was so different from the normal soap that you will spend a lot of time getting everything recalibrated to flow correctly.
- Methanol added to your current soap – I’ve since learned to buy straight methanol from a chemical supply house, and add it to my regular soap. That way, I don’t have to change buckets, soap products, etc. And I can control how much methanol I add compared to the amount of soap. Doing this made it much easier on me when migrating from Fall to Winter. You can get methanol from most suppliers or you can get some from where the local midget racer (not the vertically challenged people) get theirs from. This way you can buy in small quantities as needed instead to buying a 55 gallon drum.
The jury is out whether people really care enough about colors and smell to make the investment in equipment. There are products out there that can produce lots of foam, color and fragrance and have no cleaning power at all. While some markets seem to really like the colors (higher-end families with kids) don’t sacrifice cleaning for an illusion of quality.
Be careful with the additives. It is best if you can inject it in line rather than simply adding it to the mixed solution. Some scents might cause problems of separation, reduce foaming or even affect the color of the foam. Be sure to test first before letting your customers try it out.
You need a small amount of alkalinity in your foam brush tank which will help cleaning and prevent scum build-up in the tank.