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Cleaning the Israeli Car

Cleaning the Israeli car

Welcome to the Middle East. Two days after a wash – my back window. 

Cleaning the Israeli Car


As long as I owned second or third-hand cars, cleaning the Israeli car was a low-energy, low-time input, haphazard affair. The game changed with my first-ever new car. Small, not fancy, but agile and fits very well into the Israeli street scene. Fast maneuvering is an important asset in this landscape.

The Israeli car buyer, like any other car owner, feels proud of his acquisition and naturally wants to keep her clean. Considering the prices here, this wish is even more understandable. Achieving that goal, though, can pose a significant challenge.

The Israeli summer lasts 7-8 months and is dust rich. An especially bad contribution to the dust load are the Hamsins, eastern desert storms that carry their sandy load all the way from the vast eastern deserts (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan) and deposit it on top of our cars and inside our lungs. Shootings, bombings and driving military vehicles in deserts do not help, of course, re the wars in Syria, Iraq, etc.

This coat of fine dust starts to build even when the new car is in diapers. If originating in the Far East, it will arrive at Eilat port. Then it will sit in a desert parking waiting to be transported.  In “The North”, meanwhile, anxious buyers are awaiting their Japanese or Korean marvels to get through the red tape and shipping quotas. By the time they reach the agency, the cars must be washed, despite the cloth coverings that were used to protect them in their desert habitations. 

The minute the car gets out of the shop, it is already prey to the elements. Considering that most cars are homeless, as described in “The miserable lot of the Israeli car”, the dust coat starts building immediately.

Why Not?

Cleaning the car on Friday afternoons is a traditional all-Israeli male ritual, but even that can be futile if the water and sewage company starts digging nearby, or if a new construction project is lumbering its bulldozers down the road. On my street, for example, construction and city projects have been going on continuously for the last two years. Dust flies.

Before going into the details about how to clean the Israeli car, it must be stated that there is a great advantage to NOT cleaning the car. As described in the above-mentioned post, Israeli cars are highly prone to being stolen. Once stolen, they are quickly dismantled in car slaughterhouses at the Palestinian Authority and sold for parts. Keeping the car dirty and perhaps slightly bumped and scratched could save it from attracting these mafias.


Once you do have a new car, there is that natural, human urge to keep it looking nice. Here I will try to explain the complexities of fulfilling that ambition. 

First, the minute you innocently hose water on your car, dust starts sticking back on the wet surfaces within seconds. The air dries the car real fast in our climate, so the net result can be even worse than before the spraying. This is precisely why the little “fake rains” that occur from time to time actually mess up the cars. It takes a massive rainstorm to wake up seedlings, fill up reservoirs and wash our cars.

After hosing, it is necessary to soap the car. I originally went to a car accessory store, spent the money and bought the rag they use at car washes. I gave it up very soon, though, as it scratched the car… After one wash it already “caught” particles. Washing it did not succeed to get it particle-free for the second cleanup. So now I use simple and cheap, but brand new, clean and soft rags every time. I then reuse them for other purposes around the house, but never again on the car.

After hosing the car again with water to get the soap off, comes the last step: drying. At this point the guys at the car wash throw these rags in the air and against the car surfaces, like Italian chefs flipping omelettes.  Oh, well…. I, of course, just wipe the surfaces. I succeed to do a reasonable job the majority of the times, and the rest of the times I go and pay to have the car washed by the pros…

That much for cleaning the Israeli car, and there’s never a guaranetee the shine will hold for more than a day… A (wo)man’s work is never done??? 

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