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The Most Surprising Things You Can Clean At A Car Wash

You can clean outdoor chairs, kitchen vent filters, and storage bins at the car wash.

You Won’t Believe What You Can Clean At A Car Wash

The stroke of inspiration that led me to see if I could clean a rug at a car wash hit me as I was driving. I’d been considering how to go about cleaning the dirty rug in front of my kitchen sink, especially since it was too big to put in the washer.

Related: This Is The Single Best Way To Clean Your Area Rugs

As I drove past by the self-serve car wash at the end of our street, an out-of-the-box idea occurred to me: what if I could clean my rug at a car wash the same way I clean my car’s floor mats? I wasn’t totally confident that it would work, but I was willing to give it a try due to the sorry state the rug was in.

The floor mat clips at the car wash make it easy to hang up rugs and other things to clean them.

How To Clean A Rug At A Car Wash

I headed to the car wash with my rug, clipped it up on the wall, and started spraying it down. I couldn’t BELIEVE how grimy the water was that was coming off of the rug, but I found it oddly satisfying too!

After cleaning a rug at the car wash, lay it flat to dry.

After my successful car wash rug cleaning, I just set the rug in the bed of my husband’s truck and headed home. (If you don’t have a truck, you could squeeze out enough water to stop it from dripping and set it on a few spare bath towels to help keep your trunk or seats dry.)

Once I got home, I put the rug out in the sun to dry, and soon I had it back in my kitchen looking good as new!

Related: 17 Brilliant Hacks That Will Make Cleaning Your Car A Breeze

And once I know something works, I want to try it on everything, so I set myself to brainstorming other items you could clean at a car wash. Here’s what I came up with!

More Surprising Things You Can Clean At A Car Wash

Hang up the cushions from your outdoor furniture and clean them at the car wash.

1. Patio Equipment

Not sure where or how to clean your patio umbrella? Take it to a self-serve car wash and give it a thorough cleaning! Consider cleaning these other patio items there while you’re at it:

  • Umbrellas and sun shades
  • Patio furniture
  • Charcoal grills
  • Storage bins
  • Window screens

Related: How To Put Away Your Outdoor Furniture The Right Way

2. Toys & Baby Gear

Not sure how to clean up bulky outdoor toys or other baby/kid gear? Take it down to the car wash! It’s a good option for cleaning things like:

  • Wading pools
  • Outdoor toys
  • Bikes/trikes
  • Baby gates
  • High chairs
  • Strollers
The car wash is the perfect place to clean grimy storage containers.

3. Yard & Garden Equipment

Giving your yard and garden equipment a good cleaning at the beginning or end of the season is a good way to keep it looking great! Spray down these and other outdoor items at a nearby car wash:

  • Bird baths
  • Planters and pots
  • Compost bins
  • Wood items you’re planning to refinish
When you clean your camping chairs at the car wash, you can use the soapy brush to scrub them so they're spotless.

4. Camping Gear

It’s dirty out there in the great outdoors, but camping gear and equipment isn’t always easy to clean at home! Head to a nearby car wash bay to clean camping gear like:

  • Ice chests
  • Cots
  • Fire grates
  • Tarps
  • Camping chairs
  • Boots and shoes
The high pressure washer at the car wash makes short work of cleaning stove vent filters.

5. Miscellaneous (Bulky, Grimy & Hard-To-Clean Items)

  • Ladders
  • Doormats
  • Pet crates
  • Garbage cans and recycling bins
  • Greasy range hood filters

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Bright Ideas

  • I wouldn’t do this in my town. We have permanent water restrictions and the car washes here reuse their water so you are using water which has previously washed off bird poop off vehicles and who knows what off tires. It is a good thing they do that though because in the years we had extreme drought and when we were under level 5 water restrictions when we couldn’t do any outside watering or home car washing, the car washes were allowed to stay open certain days of the week

  • Oh my gosh! This is too funny. I have this picture in my head of you having a big truck full of stuff going to the car wash. lol. People will have to go to the next line behind you. lol. This is great information. I’m thinking of things to go now. lol thanks! Hugs, treen

    • LOL, treen, that’s exactly what I was picturing! Well, that, and curious folks who went to wash their trucks sticking their heads around the corner of the bay she was in, wondering why there was a lady in there with a bunch of lawn furniture until they saw her gorgeous telltale blonde hair tied up under her kerchief. Then they realize it’s their famous Jillee; the lady who does things differently…whose ideas may be unconventional, but they get the job done with less effort and expense, and she willingly shares them with everyone; neighbors in town and neighbors online for free and all for the simple joy of helping others. They all know she has a heart of gold and is the sweetest lady who always smiles and is the first to help anyone in need, and soon the car wash lot turns into an impromptu party with everyone sharing ideas and eating (not sure where the food materializes from, but it’s certainly not the car wash’s vending machine!) and talking and laughing and somehow the local little league is saved and gets new uniforms (“Jillee’s Juniors”/”One Good Team”, anyone?) or they are able to build a badly needed new wing for the school’s growing student body (due to all of the young new families moving to the area because of how safe and strong the community is.)

      Yeah, my Dad says that I’ve ALWAYS had a huge imagination…
      I can’t help my Jillee-hero-worship thing, though. I read the OGT emails every morning and when I’ve got something that I’m not sure how to do, or I don’t know the best way of going about it, I check the website for tips, and often she has the answer!

    • I haven’t ever used one before, but I imagine it’s pretty greasy! I would use Dawn dish soap and then sprinkle baking soda over the top. Scrubbing with this mixture should remove all the grease! :-)

  • I started doing this a few years ago! I’ve also taken a portable crib to deep clean vomit out of the mesh. Because they recycle water, sometimes you want to give your items a rinse at home, like the crib, or plant pots. Most on this (GREAT!) list though, I wouldn’t bother.
    Also, I wouldn’t use those vacuums for water, but I WOULD bring a storage bin to cart my wet stuff home in.

    • ..car washes recycle water, so you are getting water that has been dirtied up by the past 100,000 cars…the filters are filthy and you get lots of grit scratching your car….filthy recycled water is what they use

  • A polite caution and request from a car wash owner.
    While we are happy for you to wash any item with simple dirt, please do not wash BBQ grates or other greasy items. It mucks up our water and creates a very expensive environmental hazard for us. And for God’s sake ease do not change gears your oil or dump oils and greases in our reclaim systems. Also, the person behind you has to wash their car with the same greasy brush you just used on your BBQ grates. Please be mindful of our environment, costs to operators and your fellow human in general.

    • I completely agree and completely understand, great reminders. My life has been spent in the restaurant business and I understand the grease issue like no other…Animal fat and oils are a nasty business and so difficult to eliminate. And when you use chemicals to eliminate the grease, that’s one more not so nice addition to the car wash’s recycling system that provides the clean water for Jillee to clean her carpet! Great advice, tip, suggestion and reminder.

  • Love this idea! I’m currently doing inventory in my house for what I can spray the hell out of….at the car wash. *yes I did sing that part…” its gonna be epic. Stay tuned.

  • You can also clean pack n plays at the car wash and it does a much better job than trying to scrub out all that yuck with a brush at home! Then once you get it all clean and back home, just set it on your patio, porch or in your yard for drying. I always spritz them with a bleach and water solution as well so then it all dries at the same time. After this treatment they are good as new, clean, sanitized and ready for use again.

    • make sure you check the material that the pack and play is made of. Some are made of a cardboard type material so they will warp if using too much water. I found out the hard way, when I left the “mattress” part to soak in the tub. When I checked on it I found a soggy mess. Even tho I believe alot of these are made with a Plastic piece in the mattress, some are not. And for someone who’s name is MotherEarth,,Bleach, really?!?!?! Bleach is horrible for our true Mother.

  • The wet and soapy floor of the car wash where a friend recently went to wash outdoor furniture caused her to slip and fall and break her wrist. Be careful!

  • This interesting. We rarely use the car wash ,except for occasionally vacuuming the carpets. Great ideas. I know what my folks would do. They would probably rinse a lot of stuff with the hose. I got a kick out of the taking the dog thru the car wash.

  • hahahaha, done this for years, including taking my smelly dog and giving him a good bath, he hated it but left with a squeaky clean car and dog, hahahhaa

  • A WHITE rug! Seriously! That would need to go to the carwash every day in my home! Some clever ideas here though. Unfortunately we don’t have self-serve car wash facilities in South Africa, and due to the severe drought, we are only allowed by law to use a bucket to wash our cars. :(

  • I basically did the same thing in my backyard with the power washer my husband uses to clean the deck around the pool with. I hung a rug over the railing on my wooden deck and used the power washer with just water to clean the rug with and it came out perfect!!! We also use it on the patio furniture, the grill, to clean pet houses along with everything you have mentioned above. I know if I asked the Hub to take these things to the car wash it would never get done because he would never schlep it but having the power washing at home he is willing to clean just about anything I ask him too. Great idea!!!!!!

  • Due to the fact that I had a stroke when I was 28 and another one when I was 29 I know from personal experience that my wheelchair got pretty bad at times (when I tried feeding myself. Lol) So I will add wheelchairs to the list.

  • I am cracking up thinking about you at the car wash – your stuff piled high in the back of your truck : ) I bet you got a few looks – and then those people rushed home to get their stuff!

  • Wow, I love these ideas!! I wouldn’t do my blinds though–I do them in the tub–1/2 gallon vinegar and a capful of dish soap, and swish a little. Then take them out and hang from the clothes line and hose them off. Clean as new!!

  • Your post has given me some amazing inspiration for things I can use our pressure washer for! They can be bought relatively inexpensive (especially at the end of summer!) and often have a soap reservoir.

  • Hello! I shampoo my area carpets on my (clean) driveway on a nice day. Then prop them up on patio furniture to throughly dry. Really saves my old wood floors and don’t have to worry about cleaning up excess water along the edges.

  • If you will put your kitchen vent filter in the dishwasher about once a month along with a load of dishes it will clean it. My dishwasher does a great job on my filter.

  • I’ve been cleaning some smaller oriental and misc rugs this way for years now. It was after I took them to a rug cleaner and saw what they were doing-bout the same thing & charging a lot more for it!

  • I have a large playpen I have opened up around my patio for the dogs. I was thinking of taking it with me as my sister has cats, but being outside it is filthy. I’ll fold it up and take it to the car wash. Thank you so much ! I live in a condo so I don’t have access to a hose.

  • Interesting post. It gave me the giggles big time. We do have a self serve car wash not far from our house. But, with my parents being thrifty , we usually wash the car and other stuff at home. The only time I can recall my Dad even using the car wash, was if there was a
    coupon on the back of the receipt. We do sometimes will use their big vacuum hoses occasionally to clean the car mats.

  • It is so funny that you made a post about this and it is a great way to clean so many things. My husband loves the car wash. He washes just about everything there. I am not kidding. He will take anything down there and clean it off. It really is a good idea. Our car wash is 1/2 mile from the house in this little town so nothing gets so wet that we can’t get it dried off quickly. Everyone should give this a try if possible. It is a great time saver, and time is money.

  • This was an OMG moment post for me! I have been to the car wash many, many, many times for the car, never did I take a moment to think outside the box. Now I can’t stop thinking about all the things I want to clean there. All outside summer items are hitting the car wash this weekend to get ready to put away for the season. No more opening up yucky chairs and cushions in the spring. Plus those kitchen rugs and door mats! Thanks for turning on the light bulb over my head! (:

  • LOVE THIS POST!!! People looked at me crazy years ago when I fist did my area rugs in one. They come out great. Did try a pressure washer but I pay for water at home and it’s expensive. The pressure washer on large rugs don’t have the greater pressure ore wide span of a car wash so you’re done in no time! Great ideas of other things. I’ll just have to load up! :0)

  • Things I’ve had success with are picnic coolers, all sizes, washable furnace filters, child cars seats (the covers are extremely hard to reattach so it’s much easier to clean the whole seat rather than take the cover off to wash) and floor registers.

  • If one has patio furniture, pool and a garage etc, why not invest in a pressure washer than you wouldn’t have to run to the car wash? Two years ago as I was beginning to move, I noted the back deck was yucky and slick. Asked a friend to come over and clean it. It was remarkable. Looked like new!
    Since then, I’ve seen my daughter clean pool decks and many other items using that kind of device.

  • 1. I’ve seen people washing their cows and horses at a car wash
    2. My friends and I have washed each other at the car wash after a day at the beach… No soap, stand way back! Ha!

    • Washing horses and cows at the car wash is very dangerous for the animals. The pressure of those wands can literally cut skin. I certainly wouldn’t want my poor horse cut by a high pressure hose.

      • I would not recommend washing any living thing at a high pressure car wash. As a teen I sprayed my sister’s leg with one of those things and her poor thigh was bruised for weeks!

  • This post made me LOL picturing the guy next to you at the car wash cleaning his car and watching the clown car of items you brought to wash!! I think the Chuck Taylor shoes may have been my favorite hanging in the bay. Thanks for a humorous start to my day! Absolutely ingenious!

  • You’ve just inspired me! Now I know how to get my son’s older, outgrown wheelchair sparkling clean before taking photos & putting it up for sale!

  • When my daughter’s softball uniform had white pants, they’d be a horrible grimy mess from all her base stealing and sliding. Goop couldn’t get the dirt out. A baseball mom suggested I take them to the car wash and spray them down. Worked every time.

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