Guest blog: Confessions of a female valeter

Time 7:03 pm, October 14, 2011

100807manhDirt. I believe that dirt belongs in the garden. I also believe that biscuits and sweets are to be eaten (and swallowed), crayons are for drawing on paper and that McDonalds containers and chocolate wrappers belong in the bin.

Why? Because everything has its place (I’m a tidy kind of gal). My prized Audi S3 and 650cc Suzuki motorcycle might both be more than 10 years old now but, apart from age related wear and tear, they are spotless.

My female friends think my obsession with clean vehicles extremely OTT, but they don’t let their children go out with unwashed faces, in dirty clothes, do they?

My partner has turned my obsession to his advantage. When I complained about the amount of money he was paying out to have cars valeted before putting them out on his forecourt, his response was to say that if I wanted to save some money then I could clean them myself!

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I put on my scruffiest jeans and t-shirt and with a box full of cloths, brushes, tins and bottles full of pink and yellow liquids, I began. I started on the smaller cars, which were just a little grubby, and after a few weeks I could wash, dress, ‘Henry’ and polish, both interior and exterior of a Fiesta, Polo, 206, MX-5 and the like in a couple of hours.

But the likes of a family Focus C-Max, or a landscape gardener’s Discovery have taken all day and had me alternately seething and weeping into my mutton cloth at the pure horror of what I have found, not to mention my aching hands and back.

Why do manufacturers place side pockets, under-seat trays, drinks holders, ashtrays etc in the most awkward reaching places, so that the collected dust, congealed boiled sweets, paper clips, small coins and melted crayons are a nightmare to remove? In some models (which I won’t name) the carpet material is so cheap that it is virtually impossible to extract hairs and dirt from them – instead a little carpet coloured paint does the trick of covering them up.


‘Recently I spent an hour trying to remove caked-on sweat, dead skin cells and mud from the steering wheel of a Pajero’

In addition to the sticky leftovers and dubious stains, I have been amazed at what people leave behind; old towels and underwear wedged around spare tyres, CDs – strangely always 80s Rock; broken pens and sunglasses and in a Picasso, hidden under the seats – most of Worthing beach, which must have done wonders for its mpg.

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Unfortunately, I have yet to come across a suitcase full of £50 notes, or precious stones. The most has been a few, very dirty coins, which are easily returned to new with a dip in a container full of Coke (which is also great for cleaning the loo too!). Recently I spent an hour trying to remove caked-on sweat, dead skin cells and mud from the steering wheel of a Pajero, only for it to be stolen the following day – sometimes it is a thankless task.

And after displaying these now gleaming cars on the forecourt, how is it is that customers drive in with their car to part-exchange, (expecting retail money for it of course) and proudly show you their dented, scratched, stained and dog and tobacco scented vehicle without any hint of embarrassment. They then take a cursory glance at their choice of your cars, before trying to haggle down the price from an already slim margin – in addition to receiving a full service, MOT, 6 months warranty AND (because it’s what they do on the telly) new mats.

Now that the colder weather is approaching, I may just leave this kind of cleaning to the boys!

Who is Jackie Bond?

Jackie is a full time car and bike enthusiast and part time valeter at Dever Cars in Sutton Scotney (Hants).
David Smith, the owner of the business is her partner.
James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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