Though it originally sold only two things—audio products and wireless phones—Car Toys has gradually expanded its repertoire. Today, with 50 locations spread across four states, electronics-certified technicians install everything from Alpine in-dash navigation units to phone-integration systems that sync iPhones, Androids, and tin cans to car stereos. Meanwhile, in the garage, detailing technicians meticulously spruce up cars inside and out, using deionized water, paint-friendly shampoos, and high-quality wash mitts to protect against scratches, swirls, and water spots. The team also sweeps through interiors with vacuums, hot-water extractors, and ozone deodorizing treatment, which kills airborne bacteria and nasty smells in one fell swoop.
On the corner of Washington Avenue and Heights Boulevard in the Heights, there’s a big blue building with a covered carport and a lot full of cars with all their doors open, this is Keep It Clean Carwash. Since 2004, Houstonians have been getting their cars hand-buffed by Keep It Clean team members. There are no big machines or drive-through sprayers here, it’s hand washing and detailing all the way. Customers can expect a wait on the weekends, when it seems like half of Houston is getting waxed and shampooed here, but they’re open every day except major holidays and during severe weather. Services range from a basic wash to show room detailing with leather treatments, rug shampooing and interior and exterior protectants.
The car crusaders at Barker Cypress Car Wash carefully scrub dirty roadsters, preparing them to grace highways with a clean presence and cleaner skid marks. During the Bronze wash, exteriors are marinated in a sudsy triple-foam wax, conditioner, and rust protector, and an underbody wash rids the buggy's belly of roadside residue and little white lies. The washers then towel dry the car’s chassis, and the interior is vacuumed and upgraded with an air freshener, which blocks unpleasant odors emanating from the auto’s musk tank and other naturally odiferous areas. After the pampering, your car will emerge glowing, refreshed, and ready to race down whichever proverbial road looks the most promising.
As a member of WaterSavers, a program that recognizes and celebrates car washes that follow eco-friendly practices, Quick Quack Car Wash upholds its pledge to the environment by using only 8 gallons of water, biodegradable shampoos, and acid-free, non-corrosive cleaning products for each wash. Cars can typically traverse the brushless wash in 5–15 minutes, leaving ample time to revel in the attention of soft cloths, undercarriage flushes, and Rain-X treatments that repel moisture accumulation and championship-worthy Gatorade bombings. Quick Quack's 48-hour rain check promises cars a free wash if it rains within 48 hours of their last visit. It also opens its services to community fundraising events.
There's a reason why owner Bill Lawrence decided to set Bubbles Hand Car Wash apart with upscale services and a pleasant ambiance. As Lawrence relayed to Allison Wollam of the Houston Business Journal, he was charmed by a clean, welcoming car wash he visited shortly after moving to Texas from New York, where car washes typically charged a convenience fee to any customer who smiled. Lawrence knew he could cater better to luxury car owners like himself with a conveyerized hand-wash system that combined the convenience of the tunnel model with the hands-on meticulousness of a traditional hand wash. His idea has caught on with some very high-profile customers. Houston Texans linebacker Mister Alexander trusts his ride to the skilled hands of Bubbles’ technicians, as do Houston Rockets players Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny Smith, not to mention former president George Bush.
Even patrons without a Porsche or a professional sports career appreciate Bubbles' gentle lamb's wool mitt washes and eco-friendly soaps, sealers, waxes, and conditioners, as proven by the business’s 2010 and 2012 Houston A-List awards for Best Car Wash. Customers seem to be as taken with the company’s facilities as they are with its services; each lobby invites relaxation with free WiFi, a bemusing gift shop, and shoe shines so effective that patrons need only stand beside their vehicle to check its undercarriage. The community-conscious car washes also use less than a quarter of the water typically expended during a home wash, and the locations offer free car washes for military personnel on Veterans Day.
The skilled staff members at Auto Concierge restore vehicular topcoats and tires to their original luster within a 1,200-square-foot detailing studio comfortably heated or cooled according to the season. Armed with top-notch waxes and wheel sealants from brands such as Swissvax and Nanolex Premium, employees make over cars from hubcap to roof rack, bathing exteriors before gently lifting entrenched debris and paring down uneven paint. Compressed air blasts grime from interiors, and dry vapor steam purifies carpets and upholstery while staffers wring out smoky scents and other lingering odors such as fast-food fries, frankincense, or myrrh. Auto Concierge also rights wrongs inflicted by auto dealerships by leveling and polishing flawed paint jobs. Roadsters that need to stay overnight at Auto Concierge are locked indoors and chaperoned by a 24-hour surveillance system.