by Dave Anderson, Chemical Sales Manager, Howco Inc.
In the United States alone, there are thousands of species of flying insects, ranging from various bees and butterflies to moths, roaches, beetles, dragonflies, mosquitos, and more, including the notorious lovebugs if you live in certain Southern states. Many of these insects, or “bugs” as they’re all commonly called, meet their fate getting smashed on vehicle windshields, lodged in grilles, and splattered on headlights, bumpers, mirrors, and hoods. Yep, that’s bug season, and while it certainly means extra business for car washes, it also means extra effort to effectively remove insect residue from various areas of automobiles. It may sometimes seem there are as many solutions to bug carcass eradication as there are bug species.
Bug removal is one of our industry’s greatest challenges, because there really is no “one solution fits all.” It can be frustrating, complicated, and different for each car wash. Removing insect residue from vehicles as soon as possible should be a priority for car owners because the acidic nature of many bug carcasses can harm paint quickly and cause irreversible damage. Additionally, bugs that have accumulated on headlight lenses and windshields can significantly hinder the effectiveness of both.
Prompt removal of bug splatter is therefore quite important, and there are several different chemicals, brushes, sponges, techniques, and strategies specially formulated and available to address every scenario. The type and amount of chemicals, friction, and possible labor needed can be unique for each car wash and should be dictated by key factors such as the kind of bugs you are dealing with, your geographical climate, how long the bugs have been on the car, and the amount of time the vehicle spends in the car wash. Different insect carcasses react differently in warmer weather, and the correct chemical application (acidic or alkaline pH levels) and brush friction are vital to determining the best bug removal formula for each wash.
More bugs can also mean more labor to remove them, so calculating the best high-pH presoak and surfactant applications to minimize or omit labor is optimal. Labor can usually be reduced if three other components are working in conjunction -- proper, effective chemical application; strength of brush friction; and the amount of time the vehicle is exposed to each in the wash process.
To research and calculate the unique equation of effective bug removal at your wash, please contact your Howco representative for expert guidance and the ideal products.