LazrTek suggests the best way to keep your equipment in tip-top shape to take pride in your ride. Whether you’re a company driver, owner-operator or fleet owner, the cleanliness of your tractor and trailer will showcase your professionalism to other motorists, law enforcement and customers. It is proven that keeping your equipment clean is part and parcel to keeping up the value an lifetime utility.
Here’s how to wash a semi-truck exterior, utilizing all primary methods: by hand, touchless, or with brushes and at a professional truck wash facility.
How to wash a semi-truck by hand
Depending on your role as a company driver and any company policies, or as an owner operator you can use a self-service truck wash, an automated touchless wash or wash your truck at home. Regardless of chosen method, the procedure is similar:
1. Pre-soak your semi-truck.
Layers of road dirt can build up over time. By quickly spraying your truck with non-toxic, non-corrosive chemical, you can save scrubbing time later and get a better feel for which areas you’ll need to focus on. Chemicals that reduce frictions and allow the dirt to loosen are far superior today than they once were. This step and knowing the hardness of the water are key to a top-notch clean result. Bad water= a bad wash. So beginning with the right water softness is a key element to a great wash.
2. Lather your semi-truck in soap.
Use good water and a professional truck soap rather than detergent or dish soap to make sure it doesn’t damage the paint. Depending on how dirty the truck is, you may want to do one side or area of the truck at a time if washing by hand. By Hand—-Here is a great debate- Some feel washing by hand means with a wash mitt and elbow grease. This can be done at home and is very time consuming.
In the commercial truck wash industry “hand wash” really means by hand wand power washer. Many hand wash companies utilize something called a “two-step” which is a pressure wand with a button that can toggle between chemical and water.
3. Scrub and brush your semi-truck.
Use a soft wash mitt and/or foam brush to scrub in harder-to-reach areas. You may also want to use an extended brush to avoid having to use a ladder. Great Debate—- Do brushes damage the paint and finish? Ask several and get several opinions. In the commercial wash industry, brushes are built in a gantry where the brush spins at high speed and travels back and forth on a floor or overhead track to reach as much truck and trailer surface area as is possible.
Some wash aficionados feel commercial brushes are damaging and prefer touchless drive-thru washes. The trouble with the 2 step wand process is it takes a long time to get washed and often leaves streaks and damages equipment. (hence the nickname Streakin-Beacon) .
4. Rinse your semi-truck.
Spray the soap and dirt clean with good water. Again, you may want to do one area of the truck at a time to avoid the wet soap dripping off the area you’re cleaning or starting to dry too soon.
5. Dry your semi-truck.
You can either let it air dry if the weather will be decent or dry the truck by hand with a soft cloth, being sure not to scratch the surface.
6. Wax your semi-truck.
Once the truck is washed and dried, applying a coat of wax can both protect the paint and help your truck stand out.
How to wash a semi-truck at a truck wash
Automated truck washes or mobile truck wash services that come to you are faster and easier than washing by hand, but you may pay a little more than you think you spend washing yourself. The real calculation is what is your time worth.
You should expect to:
1. Check your company policies and their truck wash partnerships.
Many large trucking companies, offer truck wash services at major facilities, including either free washes for company drivers at regular maintenance intervals or authorization for pre-paid washes at truck wash vendors, like LazrTek. Search for and visit the most convenient truck wash that fits your company’s policies and partnerships in your travel region.
2. Choose which truck wash services you want.
Conventional tractor-only washes will be less expensive than tractor-and-trailer washes with an advanced under-carriage rinse, for example. Do you want to add a protectant? Will you be doing an exterior trailer wash or full interior trailer washout? Will you pay extra for a tire dressing or add polish? Verify your company policies, or your individual desires if an owner-operator, but it’s your call.
Frequently asked questions about how to wash a semi-truck
How long does it take to wash a semi-truck?
An automated service could take 6-20 minutes, depending on which package you choose, and of course not factoring in how long the line of trucks is in front of you. Washing by hand is highly variable on how thorough you are, but it could easily take a few hours.
How much does it cost to wash a semi-truck?
A typical automated truck wash costs $35 – $70, depending on the package you choose. Your company may provide free truck washes at regular intervals or discounts to large national. Of course, if you’re washing by hand, it’s the cost of your time, supplies and the amount of water you use.
How many gallons of water does it take to wash a semi-truck?
It’s highly variable, from a few gallons if you’re doing a quick wash by hand to hundreds of gallons with high-pressure nozzles at automated truck washes, especially if cleaning out tanks hauling chemicals.
How do tank washes work?
Since tanker trailers often haul hazardous materials or food grade loads, tank washes perform an important role in avoiding dangerous chemical mixes or food contamination. Tank washes may take longer, cost more and use more water than described above, and each tanker company will have their own processes.
Start a Semi-Truck Wash Business
Let LazrTek help you choose your location, conduct the feasibility study, obtain financing and develop the business plan for your truck wash business, whether mobile or fixed. LazrTek is a turnkey solution to developing a profitable truck wash business.