Throwing in the dirt-caked chamois on car cleanliness |

Throwing in the dirt-caked chamois on car cleanliness

Linda Boyne
Linda Boyne

Next time you’re on the road, take a look at the cars around you. How many of them are clean? Is yours? We live in a difficult place to keep a car clean. This winter has been exceptionally tough. I’ve gone through more of the blue windshield washer stuff than gas.

Chances are the clean cars you see are white, or brand new with the dealer’s tags still on. I admire those car owners who go white. Their sheer dedication to the car wash is commendable, but something to which I am completely unable to commit. I chose the color of my car because it would hide the dirt. The car company called it Alpaca Beige; I call it Winter Road Grime. It’s the perfect shade until the windows get so dirty that I can’t see out any longer.

I have to use the drive-through wash. It would be so much more time- and cost-effective to use the self-service wash, but I find I’m physically incapable of getting out of there without being completely drenched. I don’t know if the problem is my height or the power of the hose and the fact that I’m prone to klutzy disasters. It’s just not pleasant.

I wish we had one of those carwashes where the guy takes over your car at the entrance and returns it to you at the end all pretty, inside and out. I’m not sure if I can even admit the disaster that is my car’s interior, or how infrequently it gets cleaned. I swore I was not going to be the kind of mom that made her car a mobile feeding station. I am. The fact of life is, how can I put this gently, children will distress the back seat of a car. Here’s an interesting tidbit, discovered quite by accident. A mixture of dried chocolate milk and crushed granola bar makes an excellent adhesive. It worked to glue my son’s booster seat to the leather seat. I’m thinking it could work on other things in a pinch.

People from the clean car states, like California and Florida, must come here and wonder why we have so much disrespect for our rides. It’s not disrespect; we’re merely exhausted from shoveling snow and don’t have the energy to get to the car wash. We’re a community very committed to the beauty of our surroundings and don’t want our cars to distract from the views; think of the dirt as automotive camouflage. And, yes, I’m going to play the water conservation card. That’s the real reason my car looks so bad. Yeah. That’s it.

I know people who actually keep their cars looking clean and fabulous all winter long. Most of them are real estate brokers who take people from clean car states to see properties. It’s professional suicide for them to have a dirty car. Falling in this category is my friend Scot, who is a certified Car Guy and drives the same car I do. He likes to share tips with me on how to get the stuff off the trim and where to get the best brush to clean the wheels. I think he’s subtly telling me I am not worthy of driving this kind of vehicle.

There once was a day when I really tried to keep my car clean. But the enormity of the task, the pressure to be spotless and the puddle-induced anxiety sent me over the edge. I have learned to embrace my magnesium chloride-encrusted car, figuratively, of course. It makes me appreciate a freshly washed car all the more. VT

Linda Boyne is an Edwards resident and a regular columnist for The Vail Trail. E-mail comments about this column to

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