Washing systems: cloths or brushes? Oh, sponge over it

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Rags or brushes? Oh, sponge over it

Washing systems: cloths or brushes? Oh, sponge over it-sponge

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The first automatic car wash in 1962 saw two brushes go around the car.

Source: dpa-tmn / pla sir

Washing systems: cloths or brushes? Oh, sponge over it-brushes

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In 1963 the Kleindienst company developed its first three-brush system, the basic design of which has been retained to this day.

Source: dpa-tmn / pla sir

Washing systems: cloths or brushes? Oh, sponge over it-sponge

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The first washing system for commercial vehicles from Kleindienst had a room height of three meters in 1967 and was operated manually.

Source: dpa-tmn / pla sir

Washing systems: cloths or brushes? Oh, sponge over it-washing

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In the meantime, high-tech has found its way: today, almost only foamed polyethylene is used for the brushes in the washing systems.

Source: dpa-tmn / pla sir

Dad used to lovingly drive the sponge over the hood at the weekend, but today modern technology does the car wash. It all started 50 years ago with two brushes and rails.

D.he says that the car is the Germans’ favorite child. It makes sense that it has to be cleaned spick and span on a regular basis. Washing cars by hand has always been a sign of the close relationship between driver and car.

On August 8, 1962, the relationship was tarnished by automation. But it was also a blessing because it made car care more convenient. The first “automatic washing system for motor vehicles” was registered as a patent: two brushes went around the car on rails. Machine cleaning was born. This year the car wash celebrates its 50th birthday.

The mechanization of car washing was not as well received by everyone “as the invention of the wheel,” recalls Joachim Jackel, Chairman of the Federal Association of Petrol Stations and Commercial Car Wash Germany (BTG) in Minden and in the business for 45 years. “At that time there was no environmental awareness, the car was washed in the yard.” Back then, people thought hand washing was a good thing – then technology came along. "She had to perform very well, otherwise the audience would not have been satisfied."

Leather was still used in the first car wash

The first washing system only had one program – and that was called “washing”. The staff redesigned the car: it peeled off the paint like a wiper from a window cleaner. The first three-brush system with the “washing and drying” program came in 1963, followed a year later by the first fully automatic washing line.

“Conservation was the next big step, an epoch-making one for the industry,” says Jackel. Specialized car washes came on the market. "In contrast to hand washing, the agents were not lipid-replenishing, which is how the drying aid was developed."

In the mid-1970s, hot waxes caught on. The effect: the water ran off and the paint was protected for longer. “Today you can easily recognize older vehicles that are not maintained. You don’t have any pearls on the paint when it rains. "

In the car wash, textiles replaced the old bristles at the end of the 1970s. At the turn of the millennium, foam prevailed in portal systems. "That was a small revolution," says Wolfgang Dietsch from Washtec, which manufactures washing systems. The basic material is the same today as it was then, namely polyethylene.

Brushes leave no scratches

"It used to be threads made of solid material, today it is strips of foamed PE, which have the advantage that they do not leave any traces of abrasion on the vehicle." Contrary to many prejudices, the brushes of the past would not have left any scratches, adds Jackel. "But the customers wanted a car wash that was gentle on the paintwork."

There are no typical customers today, says Dietsch. “There are the fussy people who wash often and look closely. Then the people who say that the car just needs cleaning every now and then. ”The third type believes that washing the car is not necessary at all. "The main thing is that it drives."

According to Jackel, many motorists value proper maintenance: “You buy a new car that has a great shine thanks to the original preservation. But when this layer is gone due to the changing sun and rain, this skin suffers. ”Many people care for their car several times a year, each treatment costs between 12 and 20 euros.

Modern systems have water recycling

"In many municipalities it is no longer allowed to wash the car yourself on the street, in the yard or on your own property," explains Thomas Achelis from the Automobile Club Kraftfahrer-Schutz (KS) in Munich. Oils and lubricants could get into the groundwater. Modern washing systems also have water recycling: As a rule, no more than 15 liters of fresh water are used to wash a car. In addition, oil separators took care of filtering the wastewater and captured environmentally harmful toxins. "This also gives the laundry in the washing facility environmental advantages over washing by hand."

What does the future of the car wash look like? "The demands on us as a manufacturer have increased," says Wolfgang Dietsch. “In the past there were more tinkerers who had their own thoughts. Now we are more asked to bring new products to market. ”There is still a need for rims and insects. "The car wash customer wishes that it got better."

Some may find that the mechanization of laundry has alienated the car and driver. Not only has the interior of the vehicle become intricately complicated for laypeople, it is also better to leave the cleaning to the machine.

This is even true in the washing operations: "For some years now, there has been a trend towards fewer staff in the washing facilities, but more technology," says Jackel. However, washing by hand is by no means extinct: According to BTG, just under a third (31.6 percent) of the estimated 480 million car washes per year are still done in this way in the car washes.

Car wash with drag chain

According to BTG figures, there are 15,200 portal systems in Germany that handle around a third of all car washes (31.7 percent). The car stands firmly in the system while it is being cleaned. In the 1850 car washes, however, the car is pulled with a drag chain. Every sixth car wash (16.5 percent) is done there. There are also around 19,400 self-service washing bays where the driver only has to insert a coin or chip.

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