SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Car wash businesses in San Francisco are gearing up to handle a barrage of Burning Man cars baked in Nevada dust. Although it justifies jacking up prices, not everyone is happy about the extra business.
“To be frank, we actually would rather not wash cars that have been to Burning Man,” Divisadero Brushless Car Wash co-owner Patty Shimek told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The harsh, constantly blowing playa dust can be unforgiving to anything it touches.
“It’s like a ghost car,” Shimek says. “The sand just bakes on, and it takes about two or three run-throughs to clean. And then it leaves serious residue on our equipment.”
The official Burning Man website suggests “Post-Playa” tips for Burners to deal with the dust after they come home early next week.
“If you drove your car to the playa, wash it as soon as you can after returning home, because the alkaline dust can corrode your electronics, and do damage to your upholstery, plastics, etc.”
Organizers recommend just taking Burning Man cars to a professional car wash place. “In San Francisco, they recognize playafied cars, and take extra steps — and charge you for them — to wash your car thoroughly, usually running it through the machine twice, and applying extra elbow grease to your playafied bits. It’s worth the money.”
Many Burners posting car wash reviews on Yelp agree.
“If you went to Burning Man, this is THE place to take your car!” Michael M. wrote about Keatley Detail. “I brought my nasty Playa-encrusted car in yesterday and got the ‘Stage 2’ cleaning (only $100 with the September deal). The cleaning took about 2 hours, which went by easily, and my car has been turned into a shining black gem again, inside and out.”
“They got the Burning Man off of my car,” Logan B. San Francisco said about Apex Hand Car Wash.
While not all Burners may be pleased to pay “extra” for their dirty car, it’s a relief for tourists driving rental cars who promised to not drive to the desert and now need the evidence washed away.
“We say it is $100 and they say, ‘I don’t care; it’s a $500 damage deposit if it isn’t cleaned,’” Shimek said.
She added that it’s wise for non-Burners who need their car washed next week to wait a couple days.