Jim's Guide - Washing a car in Spain

Published: 16 September 2020

Jim's Guide - Washing a car in Spain

This is perhaps a bit of a daft topic to write about, but may be of interest to someone new to Spain. In addition, writing something like this makes a nice change from most of the guides I write; and reading it might save you a euro every time you wash your car.

You cannot wash your car on the roadside, irrespective of whether or not you use a hosepipe, pressure washer, or bucket and sponge. The reason is that you would be discharging something onto the public highway which could affect road safety.

Washing a car isn't specifically covered by the legislation. Instead, the scope is wider and refers to the possible deposit of contaminants or otherwise affecting the safety of the road. Even clean water on a street that has been dry for some time can make the surface extremely slippery, as any cyclist will know. In some ways it's analogous to running out of petrol, which is not specifically mentioned in the legislation, but is covered by the category of driving without due care and attention.

Many town halls also have their own ordinances which cover the topic; for example, for Orihuela it is Article 12 of:

It is legal to wash your car in your driveway or elsewhere on your property, provided there isn't any run off to the public highway. However, given the low cost of using a proper car wash, DIY isn't really worth spending time on.

You then have the choice of using one of the two types of commercial car washes, usually found at petrol stations. The more expensive of these is the automatic car wash, the most common of which have whirling mops which mimic the bucket and sponge method. I'm not a fan of such car washes - you normally have to remove aerials and, if you have a blind-spot mirror attached to your door mirror, this may be forced out of alignment and possibly ripped off. Even though such car washes do wet the car before the mops touch it, there is still the possibility that mud and Sahara sand that haven't first been washed off will form a nice grinding paste, leading to fine scratches on your bodywork.

The other option is the manually operated pressure wash. The coin meters for these typically have four buttons, and working down from the top these are:

· Stop

· Lavado - Wash

· Aclarado - Rinse

· Brillo - Polish

Obviously start with the wash option, which gives you a hot water wash with detergent. Make sure that you've got a firm grip of the jet wash wand before you press the wash button, and that the wand is not pointing at your partner!

Having worked your way round the car washing the muck off, it's time to press the next button. Most people I know used to just press the rinse button, simply because that is the logical thing to do. Forget it! Skip the rinse button and press the polish button, normally labelled brillo. That means you rinse off the detergent and apply polish at the same time. In addition, the polish that is applied will help the water run off the car easily, so you don't end up with streak marks. I don't know what type of polish is used, but you won't end up with streaks on the glass.

If you've only got a small car and work quickly, you can do the whole job for €1. I splash out and spend a whole €2 on washing my car. It does help if you've got someone with you, so you can 'assume the position' and just tell the other person when and what button to press.