We at Driving2Save would like to send our best wishes to everyone impacted by the recent wildfires that have plagued Southern California, including our local communities on the South Coast.
As recovery begins, many of you may have questions regarding proper methods of cleaning up the ash and dust covering your homes. For information on home clean-up tips, check out city and county resources such as those posted by Santa Barbara and Ojai.
However, you can count on us for your vehicle related tips! If ash has not yet started falling in your community, but you expect it to, the best thing to do is keep your car in a garage if you have one. If you don’t – as is true for many of us – get a car cover to protect your car. But chances are you are going to have to drive, which means you will end up in the same boat as folks from Ventura to Santa Maria who have ash all over (and inside) their cars. So how do you clean it up?
There is no “how to” manual for cleaning ash off a car. So we put our scientific and research skills to work to help you figure it out. There are pros and cons to virtually every option. So, we’ve prioritized protecting your health and minimizing environmental damage. Our recommendations for cleaning ash off of, and out of a car are listed below:
Patience! Wait for the ash fall to finish before you start cleaning.
We absolutely understand the desire to regain normalcy in our lives, but washing your car before the ash is done falling means that it will have to be done again, wasting time and money.
The ash may contain harmful substances such as asbestos from burned homes and very fine particulate matter that can get into your lungs. Wear a properly fitted N95 mask and keep it on throughout the cleaning process.
Do not use a blower!
Using a leaf blower will spread the ash further, slowing the cleanup and spreading harmful particles around.
Gently brush off your car with a soft brush in an area away from doors and windows to your home when winds are calm.
- For the exterior of your car, use a soft brush to gently wipe the ash off your car. For ash on the ground, use a vacuum that contains a filter, a bag and hose (we recommend a HEPA vacuum if you have one) to vacuum up as much of the ash particles as possible.
- For the interior of your car, vacuum as much of the ash as possible using the same setup as above. Afterwards, clean up the interior with a warm, moist rag to collect as much particulate matter as possible. Once complete, dispose of the rag.
- Afterwards, carefully dispose of the vacuum bag of ash by placing it in a sealed trash bag and then putting it into a trash can outdoors to prevent spreading the particles into your home.
Unfortunately, ash has the ability to get everywhere. After the car wash, check the door jams, under the hood, trunk/tailgate and gas cap to make sure that no ash is left behind to eat your paint.
Wash your car – very thoroughly!
Dry ash on your car is not extremely harmful to the paint, but as soon as it encounters moisture such as dew or fog, it becomes very basic and therefore, will eat your car’s paint. While we normally advocate highly for waterless car wash, this is the exception.
Protect the environment!
Take your car to a commercial car wash that recycles its water – the reverse osmosis system will filter out the particles, meaning that it will not wash into our rivers and ocean. If you are local to Santa Barbara, try Prestige Car Wash as they advertise the use of an RO system.
After the wash, we would advocate a wax to help protect the pain – it has had a tough time enduring all the ash and dirt. This would be a great time to use Aero Cosmetics Wash/Wax to ensure a properly clean and protected car.
If you have any questions about this piece or cleaning ash off your car, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out these online resources:
Please be safe.