De-ionized Water Strategies for Mobile Car Washes and Detailers

Many mobile auto detailers and car washes use filtrated or water conditioning systems to insure no water spots on the vehicles they clean. It improves the process and speed of cleaning and allows for superior results. Some go with simply a water softening unit, others opt for a de-ionization system. If you choose to go with de-ionizing tanks, you should also try to trade services. De-I is four times the cost but it brings hardness under 1.5 gpg.

Culligan Industrial Water Services is the largest on-site delivery water company in Southern California and the Western States. They offer both soft water tanks and de-ionized units. They can deliver to the mobile detailer or car wash operators home or can be picked up at the Culligan water treatment center if the tanks are truck mounted. Either way Culligan employees lift the tanks due to liability problems that are created with the customers. Two de-ionized tanks weigh about 180-250 lbs and a good water softener tank weighs 150 lbs.

If the tanks are truck mounted, you’ll have to go to the center because Culligan usually is not on any special schedule. If they deliver to the home, they will hook up the new tank for you and take the old tank back to their plant for recharging. Sometimes a Culligan route person from their Industrial Services Division will know the contact name for an industrial user of de-ionized or R.O. water. One that doesn’t need all the water they make. They will also know if that user has a storage tank and if the tank has a spigot.

It is very important to continually check to make sure your water purification vendor is giving you what you are paying for. Every once in a while you’ll get a bad tank. It happens more often with De-I than softeners but both should be monitored.

How Do You Monitor?

Well, any pool man will tell you that no two test kits read the same and price isn’t the only distinguishing factor. If you’re from Missouri, the ‘Show Me’ State, you may even wish to test your test kit. For our purposes, we just want to get close. If the water is bad it will show up on the cars you wash. But you should test the water before it goes in the tank. If the water going into the tank is good, but the cars are spotty or filmy, it could be your tank has crud in it, leaves, debris, etc. You should flush your tank and see if this solves the problem. Use this procedure when doing tank flushing.

Tank Flushing

There are two ways to clean out a tank. The first is easy. Drive over to a fellow mobile detailers house. Drain your tank and use his/her steam cleaner/pressure washer to blast it out. The second way is to go to a pool supply store and pick up some shock treatment chlorine tablets. This stuff works great. Fill up the tank one-half way with water and dump in one to two pellets. You should do this just before you go to a steam cleaning job, if you have a hot water unit. Cleaning concrete is the best because the acid in the shock treatment will also aid you in cleaning the concrete. Under no circumstances should you wash any cars until all the water is gone and another full tank full has been used. When we say no cars, we mean your car wash or mobile detailing rig also. If you forget and spray a car or windows in the shopping center, dry them immediately. Every thing should be okay. Then throw away the towels. Otherwise, these towels will disintegrate on the other towels and you will leave lint on every car you wash the next day.

If you just notice a little algae starting to form, take a regular sized cup from Burger King, fill it to one-third with Clorox and pour it in the full tank at the beginning of a work day and that should take care of it. Don’t worry, it won’t affect the quality of the car wash very much. It would especially be okay if you were washing fleets of trucks that day. You can then check the water in the tank by a method called titration or use little test strips you can dip in the tank. De-ionized water is far superior to water softener systems and a little better than lower end reverse osmosis systems that a mobile detailer might purchase to make water at their shop or home. Think on what might be the best water strategy for you.

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