For people who love their cars, making sure they sparkle is just part of the fun. For everyone else, washing that commuter car, daily driver or work truck is, well, just work. It's kind of like washing the beloved family pet. It needs to be done, but those who do it themselves are likely to end up all wet, and hairy -- taking some of the joy out of a pet lover's chore.
But now there's a place where folks not only can put the sparkle back in the finish of their vehicles, but in the coats of their pets. That's right, a combo car-and-pet wash. Don't jump ahead. This isn't some automated system that runs a vehicle and dog through the wash, rinse and dry cycles at the same time. At Sparkles Auto & Pet Wash in Modesto, auto and pet owners use the latest in do-it-yourself cleaning equipment to get the dirt, grime, hair and fleas off.
Sparkles is at 3941 Coffee Road, at the intersection with Mable Avenue. It features seven vehicle washing bays, including one that's large enough to accommodate recreational vehicles. Each bay offers customers a variety of car-cleaning options, from a spotless rinse to clear-coat protection. For those who don't want to do it themselves, there's a fully automated drive-through unit in one bay. It provides a touchless wash -- no brushes rubbing against the vehicle.
There are vacuum stations in front of the wash bays, which also have a device for dispensing interior fragrances -- that new-car scent, please. The complex also has machines for changing $5, $10 and $20 bills into singles, as well as changing those $1 bills into quarters.
But each piece of equipment also can take greenbacks or credit cards to purchase the desired service. Customers also can buy Sparkles debit cards at a kiosk for use throughout the complex. The minimum for a wash is $2.25.
And, yes, even the pet cleaning bay is coin, bill, credit and debit friendly, so to speak. This stall features a metal gate so pets can be off leash once inside, a ramp for ease of loading into the large metal tub, a tether to hold pets in place in the tub and plenty of cleaning choices: shampoo, flea and tick treatment, de-skunking, oatmeal wash, coat conditioner and such.
Use the disinfectant that's provided to clean the tub before starting and then let the fun begin. When finished, there's a warm-air blow-dryer. It's for pets, but soaked handlers could use it, too. If all that isn't pet-friendly enough, this stall even has pet-treat vending machines -- rewards for good behavior, I guess.
Owner Renee Ellis built Sparkles and the adjacent 2,400-square-foot commercial building, which can be reconfigured to suit one or more businesses -- I'm thinking auto parts and pet supplies. Ellis, daughter of late Modesto builder Lance Ellis, said there are plans to renovate two other buildings on the property that date back to the 1970s. An RV and boat storage site as well as the mobile home park to the west of Sparkles are also part of the Ellis property.
So what prompted the auto-pet wash combo? Ellis just thought it was a niche she could fill, so why not clean up. Works for me, now if I just can find a way to keep my sparkling clean dog, Toby, off the bed -- just kidding, honey, I'll sleep in the other room.
Sparkles is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An attendant is on duty for part of each day. For more information, call 524-9099.
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