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Angie Wieck, Published April 21 2013

It's My Job: Car cleaning pro enjoys her work, got start in car wash industry

FARGO – Sarah English likens cleaning and detailing cars to a form of feng shui. To her, it’s all about cleansing and renewal.

English started Sarah’s Car Cleaning Service last summer at Interstate Motor Car in Fargo. She recently talked about the services she provides and her love for the work.

Q. How did you get into the business?

I worked in the car wash industry for a long time as a cashier. I often saw the disappointment of people who would come through. They expected to get a full detail, but most places only have like five minutes. You’re not going to get much for that. I always wished I could clean their cars more myself.

When I wasn’t working, I was able to bring in my car and my friends’ cars into the car wash and go to town on them. That was really fun. People started offering to pay me to do their cars.

It was just kind of a way to find a little bit of (work) freedom, and I thought this was a good fit.

How long have you been in business?

I started getting serious the end of 2011. I was working at Corwin’s and noticed Dave (Retzlaff) had some space available here (Interstate Motor Car). I told him I couldn’t pay for a full shop, so he offered to work with me. I split my time between detailing used cars for him and working on my own. Dave is the only reason that Sarah’s Car Cleaning exists.

What services do you provide?

I concentrate on the interior. … I blow out everything with the air hose. It’s so fun seeing what is in the tracks. There’s always one French fry. Then, I vacuum everything and clean the carpets. I wipe everything down and get into all the cracks with my brushes. And then I do the windows. Stuff like that.

I also give the outside a good wash and dry. It’s a more thorough wash than a car wash because I do the tires and wheel wells and stuff, but I feel like my kind of customer is most concerned with the inside.

I will also pick up a customer’s car, detail it, and drop it back off.

Have you ever declined a customer because the vehicle was in such poor shape?

No, I think that it’s one of the nice things about having lots of tools, chemicals and a set process. Really, no car is undoable unless it’s a farmer’s car that just has dirt down to the core. I try to avoid jobs that aren’t accomplishable in a day. I’m upfront about my limitations.

What do you like about your job?

Above anything else, I love making customers happy. That’s actually what this all stems out of. When I was working for other companies, I was doing the same work, but it was not nearly as satisfying. Now, when I deliver a car, I love seeing their reaction. It’s about making someone happy by doing something they felt was really overwhelming. Solving other people’s problems is really fun.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501