It took a Mother’s Day gift to Washhpodd and 10 hours of labor to bring her car back to pre-kid condition. (Jennifer Bardsley)

It took a Mother’s Day gift to Washhpodd and 10 hours of labor to bring her car back to pre-kid condition. (Jennifer Bardsley)

The trusty Mom-mobile deserves a fresh start

Hard work by the crew at the auto detailer makes her a rarity: a mom with a clean car.

When my kids were little, my car was a pit. There were always half a dozen little white socks floating around the back seat, along with the diaper bag, sippy cups and a random selection of toys. The CD player was loaded with a playlist designed to dull the senses and the heating vents recycled the vague scent of Desitin.

As my kids grew older, the status of my car improved. The sweet spot was when my kids were 11 and 15. They were old enough to unload groceries and clean up after themselves, and my car was pristine. Of course, that was also in the middle of 2020 when we didn’t drive anywhere for weeks at a time. Apparently it took an international pandemic for me to maintain a clean car.

Fast forward to now. My son is 17 and a good driver who occasionally borrows my car. Sometimes he takes my daughter out on fun adventures. They go thrifting at Goodwill, stop for bubble tea on the way home and have a grand time enjoying a little bit of well-deserved freedom. They clean up after themselves too, usually. Just like I bring all of my things out of the car, usually. OK, so the apples don’t fall very far from the tree on this one.

For Mother’s Day this year, my family treated me to Washpodd, the car detailing service at the Alderwood mall. You might have driven past it the last time you visited. It’s in the parking lot next to AMC and JCPenny. We booked the 3 hour “detail boost” package for small SUVs, which cost $245, not including the tip. My reservations were for 9 a.m. Monday.

In retrospect, that 9 a.m. booking was a mistake because the mall wasn’t open yet. I bought myself a coffee at 85°C Bakery Cafe across the street and took out my computer so I could write. Once the mall opened, I walked over to the food court and kept working in a cozy chair in front of the fire.

Here’s the truly embarrassing part. The detailing appointment was supposed to take three hours. But my car was so dirty that it wasn’t finished until 2 p.m. That’s right, it took two men working a grand total of 10 hours to clean my car. They weren’t goofing off either. Every time I walked out to the parking lot for a status check, they were hard at work steam cleaning 11 years of gunk from the inside. They removed stains from the upholstery that had been there since toddlerhood. I was so impressed that I doubled their tip.

It shouldn’t take an international pandemic, or 10 hours of manpower to de-Mom my car, but so be it. My car is so clean now that I have a new lease on life. Is this for real? Am I finally the mom with the clean car? Yes, that’s me with the shiny wheels and spotless interior … at least for now.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at

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