Fleet wash consistency is one of the most important things in the fleet washing world. Think of it like ordering a Big Mac; you expect the same, quality product every time you order no matter where you are or what time of year it is. Having consistency allows you to make better decisions. No longer will you be guessing how much soap to use or what kind of water is right.

A double cheeseburger. Relates to how a Big Mac is a symbol of consistency, just like how your fleet washing should be a consistent clean.

In the industry of fleet washing, we hear several questions over and over that dramatically influence truck wash consistency. These relate to our all important Five Factors of Every Wash:

  1. Water Quality (hard vs. soft)
  2. Pressure of Application (high vs low)
  3. Water Temperature (hot vs cold)
  4. Dwell time (short vs long)
  5. Dilution (less vs more)

Understanding these Five Factors will go a long way in creating consistency with every wash. By no means does it have to be perfect, but the more control and measures you have over your wash means more time, money, and effort saved! You can learn more with our 2-Step Touchless Cleaning brochure here.

Factor #1: Water Quality

When it comes to water quality, what we’re really talking about is hard vs. soft water. Yes, water can in fact be hard, and we’re not talking about chunks of ice. Hard water is water high in minerals. This may be good for our health for drinking purposes, however, it’s not so good for washing. Here’s a common question we get that explains this well:

Can I blend the 2-step chemicals with hard water? 

We highly recommend soft water. However, if soft water isn’t an option, you could blend with hard water. The only problem you may run into is that you will have to use more soap for better effectiveness. The harder the water means there are minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which makes it harder for the soaps to wash your vehicles. If you have hard water, we recommend you invest in a water softener to get more fleet wash consistency.

Factor #2: Pressure of Soap Application & Rinsing

In terms of pressure for soaps, it’s very similar to how you typically want your hose to go full-blast if you’re power washing your garage. Higher pressure is going to yield better and cleaner results than lower pressure typically. For 2-Step Touchless Truck Washing, we recommend using between 1800-2500 PSI. Be wary of going too high though. Too high of pressure could result in paint stripping or damage to your vehicle.

Does soap work better with higher pressure water?

In most cases yes, it does. The perfect scenario for any fleet washing cleaning application is high pressure with warm water. That allows your 2-step soaps to work the best and provide the fastest and most profitable clean.

Factor #3: Water Temperature

In the realm of water, especially being used in the 2-Step Process, warm to hot water (around 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit) is going to clean a lot better than colder water (60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit). For instance, if you’re washing something in your sink, you typically use warmer water because it helps dissolve anything stuck to your plate better. The same applies for truck washing, but in this case it’s dirt and oils versus leftover pizza.

Can I wash with cold water? 

For fleet washing, you typically want warm water. Warm water makes it easier to remove road film that is stuck to your trucks, as well give you more fleet wash consistency. Using warm water can reduce the amount of soap to effectively clean the surface. However, depending on your location such as the South, it’s recommended that you use cold water on the aluminum of your trucks.

How hot should I run my burner? 

We recommend that you keep your burner between 100 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Pressure washers with adjustable thermostats allow for setting the temperature output in this range. Too high of temperatures can reduce dwell time by increasing evaporation, and can potentially cause damage to the surface of the vehicle.

A shower head spraying water. Relates to how fleet wash consistency relates to taking a shower every day.

Factor #4: Dwell Time

Imagine you’re taking a shower in the morning and you’re about to wash your hair with shampoo. The best and most effective way to use shampoo is apply it and let it sit and moisturize your hair prior to washing it out. That’s what dwell time is in the automated truck washing world.

One other consideration is dwell time

Dwell time is the contact time the soap has on the surface. Depending on the vehicle, you could have between 35 and 45 seconds between each step. This allows the chemical to really work on the surface of your truck and help remove road film that it picked up while traveling. Too much dwell time can lead to the soaps drying on the surface, which leads to spotting (due to the soap drying without applying a rinse). Knowing the perfect amount of time can really minimize the use of a brush and will result in less headaches and less time spent on cleaning your truck.

Factor #5: Dilution

Dilution is the process of making a soap less concentrated using a solvent, such as water. Diluting your soaps is important because it makes your soaps less harsh than they need to be. For instance, you’re trying to clean your tub with bleach. Bleach by itself is incredibly strong and might ruin your tub. However, if you mix it with water to dilute it to levels where it’s usable, you’re going to get great cleaning results. You can take a look at some of our amazing truck washing soaps here!

What dilution should I apply my soaps at? 

The answer varies based on the existence of the other factors listed in this blog. For example, applying soap with warm, soft water under high pressure allows for greater dilution than it does for applying soap with cold, hard water under low pressure. These factors can work in our favor or against us which determines the concentration. That’s where speaking with a knowledgeable and trained sales representative at Hydro-Chem Systems will help determine the right dilution for your soaps.

Putting It All Together

Keep these Five Factors in mind when you’re washing your fleet. Does it mean that everything has to be perfect in order for you to do washing? No, but you might have to pick up that brush more often. Knowing the Five Factors will not only give you bright and sparkling trucks, but also make your business MUCH more profitable in the long run. 

Hydro-Chem Systems has been an industry leader in truck washing for 50 years. Trust our expertise and please feel free to call us at (616) 531-6420 or email us at [email protected] with any questions. We’re here to help!