DIY Truck Washing for
Money Saving Professional Truck Drivers

Do it yourself truck washing is a little more complicated than DIY car washing. That's because you have to have a suitable place and suitable tools.

Mike has washed commercial motor vehicles many times. So, we'll share some tips to help you save money.

Disclaimer: this page does not cover wash outs that are typically used by tankers or animal haulers. We leave those types of jobs to professionals. Also, we cover commercial truck washes separately.

The Place

In case you haven't noticed, not all car washes are tall enough for commercial motor vehicles. Try to pull your 13'6" high truck in here and you're going to have problems. So, if you use a commercial place, make sure that it can accommodate your truck.

The Tools

Next, you need the right tools. Here's where some drivers get fancy with special towels or buffers. If that is what you like, go for it.

But for starters, you need 

  • a fresh water source with a hose attached;
  • a drainage system that can handle the soap and water you'll use and the dirt that will come off your truck;
  • a good grade of soap that is going to let you get your truck clean without stripping the paint or doing other damage (our favorite is ArmorAll 10346 Ultra Shine Wash and Wax - 64 oz.);
  • a very long-handled brush (preferably one that with an extendable handle that will let you clean WAY up to the farthest height of your truck);
  • a large sponge or hand mitt to let you clean low areas that you can't reach with the bristles of your brush;
  • a bucket, washtub, or trash can into which to put the soap and water, but large enough to accommodate the brush head; and
  • clothes and shoes you don't mind getting wet or dirty (at least for a little while).

Setting Up Your Own Operation

In the photos below, professional driver Mike Simons is doing a DIY truck washing on a truck that he once drove for his trucking company at home using his own water, soap and equipment.

Professional driver Mike Simons washes his company's tractor at home with his own soap, water and equipment. Washing the truck by hand is professional driver Mike Simons. A DIY truck wash performed by Mike Simons on the truck he drives for his trucking company.

The drawback to do-it-yourself truck washing is that you may not have the high-pressure hoses or wands (especially the long ones to reach the higher vertical areas of your vehicle).

If you are homeless like we have been while living full-time in a truck, you don't even have a home water service. And you may not have the room on or in your truck to carry the tools for vehicle cleaning.

Extra Helps

If it is possible for you to create water pressure (to "pressure wash" your truck), that could be advantageous for getting bug guts or road salt off your tractor.

Some brushes may have a place to connect a hose. When you're shopping for such a brush, look to see if there is a way to turn off the water temporarily so that you can suds up the truck.

Some drivers also like to use "aluminum brighteners" on their tire rims. The times we have added the brightener onto the order for a commercial truck wash, it gave that extra sparkle to the clean truck.

Few Tools? No Problem?

What if you want DIY truck washing, but don't have access to some or most of the equipment outlined above? Are you stuck? No!

We once parked in a truck stop parking lot where a driver was busy cleaning his truck out of a bucket. Vicki was so curious that she asked him what he was using. Just water and a rag, he said. That's all. Vicki was amazed because even though his truck didn't look particularly dirty, one could tell where he had wiped it. It was obvious that this driver took pride in his "red" ride. Wow! Just water and a rag for DIY truck washing. You can get water at just about any truck stop fuel bay.

truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: There is a trade-off between using name brand versus generic products. A name brand vehicle washing soap may be best while a generic sponge and bucket might work very well.

Never use a product that is not specifically made for washing vehicles as it may strip the paint or do other damage to your truck's finish. For example, soaps designed to clean clothes or wash dishes are not formulated for car or truck washing. Once your paint job is ruined, you'll be forced to make a decision regarding repainting.

Be careful about climbing ladders -- or onto your tractor -- to access high places with shorter handled brushes. You don't want to slip and fall. (Imaginary headlines like this might flash through your mind: "Man Washing Truck Falls, Breaks Leg.")

Think twice about a do it yourself truck washing if you are in a windy and dusty area as the truck may pick up as much dirt (or more) than you washed off.

If possible, wipe down or dry the wet surfaces of your truck before you get out on the road again. You can use a clean, dry, cloth towel for wiping; we recommend staying away from using paper towels for this purpose as they might leave lint.

Also, don't attempt to clean your truck in the fuel bay at a truck stop. Some truck stops actually post signs to this effect, but it should be a matter of common courtesy not to block a place where other drivers may be waiting for fuel. Cleaning your truck's headlights, windshield and mirrors while in a bay is one thing; washing your whole tractor is another. Be kind. One day, someone may return the favor to you.

Return from DIY Truck Washing for Money Saving Professional Truck Drivers to our Truck Operations page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.

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