As I mentioned earlier, we mixed the Lunachicks with water for a carwash recently to raise some funds for the team to attend some tournaments. I figured I’d share our experiences in case any of you were thinking about doing a carwash in the near future – down where it’s warm anyway!

The first thing to do is find a place to hold it. We have a number of banks that donate the use of their parking lot and some water for civic groups to hold car washes and are located near heavy traffic points. Many require proof of liability insurance, which if you’re team is registered through a USYSA state affiliate or US Club soccer, you have. Just download a copy of the insurance policy off their website. Because they tend to be in high traffic areas and are closed on Saturdays, banks are ideal. But all you really need is a parking lot and access to water.

We made up a couple of signs to put up at the soccer complex for a week and put together a flier that some businesses posted in their windows or placed on their counters. We made sure to thank the bank prominently on the fliers. We got the league to email our coaches as well to spread the word.

Next, get some supplies together – we purchased most of our stuff, knowing we’d likely do one again. Our parents chipped in some soap, buckets, and sponges as well. But you probably can get everything you need from your parents with some advance planning, and then just buy some soap and sponges. Here’s what our checklist looked like:

  • Hoses
  • Buckets
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • Soap
  • Small scrub brushes (for tires)
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • Gatorade/Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Hose Splitter (we used a 4 way splitter)
  • Spray Nozzles
  • Canopy
  • Radio
  • Folding Tables
  • Trash Bags
  • Cooler for drinks
  • Ice for cooler
  • Money Bag
  • Couple sheets of poster board/stock
  • Large black markers
  • Staple gun, stakes, hammer
  • Sunscreen
  • Extension Cords
  • Camera
  • Cash for change (1/5/10)
  • Traffic Cones
  • Towels

Obviously there are things on here that go beyond your basic carwash. But we were going to be there for six hours, so we needed to make sure we had plenty of sunscreen and cold drinks. The radio kept things moving. The markers and poster board let the girls make up posters to hold up (or permanently place on a roadside with stakes) to attract customers. The traffic cones allowed us to setup four washing areas, letting us handle four cars at once with 3-4 players and 1-2 adults at each station.

I got there about an hour early to set everything up with the help of team parents as they arrived. The folding tables helped us keep everything off the ground – we had one for snacks and drinks and another for car wash supplies. We had four hoses connected to a main supply hose and two buckets per station. A few girls went to the road and within 15 minutes we had our first car, then the next, and the next…

Here’s what we discovered. First, you need willing adults. The players will wash the cars, but won’t cover all the surfaces. When new cars arrive, they want to jump to the new car. So having an adult with each team helps keep the focused and the adult can make sure the car actually gets clean. So yes, the adults work, a lot. But the players do as well. One thing we needed to bring were small 4ft ladders to get that extra boost to reach the center of each roof. I’m tall and standing on the tires of a car or van, I was able to do it, but a small ladder would have been nice and I’d limit that to adults. We had a few players who preferred drying to washing and knowing if they did a good job they could stay fairly dry, they dried cars ALL day and did a great job.

We had four hoses going off of one main hose, which was about the most you could do. Two hoses per faucet would have been better, but we only had one faucet and we did OK with the nozzles on the shower setting.

After the first hour, the girls all wanted to go hold up signs, so we had to stagger that to give girls a short rest, but then they had to come back so we still had enough players washing cars. Lunch was kind of comical as one of the players asked if she could get lunch. I said yes and they ALL ran to buy lunch. Ooops. Next time we stagger lunch across a couple of hours and groups.

One surprising thing was the rims. I had purchased a couple scrub brushes and had an adult running around with the ‘wheel bucket’ cleaning off the rims. But they never got really clean in the crevices. A few girls noticed this and asked if someone would go buy toothbrushes. No joke, and those girls scrubbed the crevices behind the adult on every car with toothbrushes – making sure the front rims sparkled. I was surprised by this, but it sure made the people happy when we were done!

I was impressed with how the girls behaved. They worked hard for the most part. The only time we had to put our foot down was when they decided to start washing each other and thought it would be fun to hold up signs covered in soap suds. Um – not in a million years. But the inevitable water fights didn’t happen until things were winding down. We had about 30 minutes left, and being the mean coach I am, they got to wash my truck last. That was like their cue to start water fights while trying to wash. Well deserved mayhem ensued, but at that moment three cars pulled up to get washed. So we had to regroup, fill up the buckets again, and get back down to business. Karma!

In the end things went very well. We ran out of soap – I’d suggest bringing two gallons of it. Make sure the girls (and adults) put sunscreen on AFTER taking their shoes off (ouch!). Keep the soap away from the players as they’ll use too much. We had one adult in charge of all buckets. After each car the girls brought their buckets to one spot and an adult topped them off, refilled them fresh if necessary, and checked the sponges for any gravel or other stuff that might scratch a car. This helped ensure the buckets were ready to go every time a new car pulled up.

I think after expenses we made $400 for the team, which wasn’t too bad – just about pays the registration fee of a tournament. Since we have lots of supplies now, we’ll probably net closer to $500 next time. Some other youth groups that have done car washes here have gotten close to $1000. However, you will find that a moderate part of your money comes from team families. We had one player who must have had four different parts of her extended family come out to get a car washed, for which we were very grateful. But we had plenty of coaches and random folks come as well. Looking back, I probably would have gotten an easy to read sign made up and asked the bank if I could put it up Thursday or Friday. The hand made signs were fun, but never all that easy to read. We had steady traffic, but a good sign probably would have gotten us more.

So overall a success. We learned a few things and I’m sure we’ll do another one in the Spring.