There are some services that I’m very willing to pay for. De-cheerio-ing my car is one of them.

It’s not that I’m not able to do it myself. But have you ever tried to vacuum out your car in front of your Baltimore row-home with your toddler in tow? Or how about washing the car in front of said row home with said child? Quite frankly, it’s a recipe for frustration.

And I hate commuting in a messy/dirty car. Clutters my mind and my day.

Thus I am very happy to pay the fantastic folks at The Auto Spa in Cockeysville to rid my car of sticky apple juice remnants, pomegranate craisins, cheerio escapees and the every-so-often latte eruption that seem to take over my car’s interior every few weeks. They do a beautiful job every time. We’re usually in and out in under 20 minutes.

$24 gets a basic exterior/interior wash. If you’re only interested in an exterior wash, it’s a mere $12 (but, honestly, I’m in it for the interior cleaning. After all, that’s where I’m spending my car time!) Sitting in the car while the exterior wash happens delights Lila. Pat and I open the sunroof cover so she can see the water and multi-colored soap slosh against the car. She then watches the car proceed through the interior wash treadmill of workers from inside the building from huge windows. Whomever designed the building must have had small children in mind – – there is a 12″ or so ledge in front of the window that’s a perfect observation perch.

They do have a kids area with a leggo table and other toys. On the day we went last, the toys could have used a cleaning… I’m not really a germaphobe, but we found other ways to occupy Lila while the inside of the car was being cleaned.

Yes, getting the car cleaned qualifies as a family outing. And yes, we played the ‘can you guess who owns which car?’ game.

A word of caution. Do not leave anything in your car. The teams are in and out so quickly (and boy do they have an efficient method), that your valuables may be causalities of cleanliness. It’s not that they’ll be taken, but rather inadvertently altered. I had a beautifully wrapped gift in the backseat that got smushed beyond recognition and needed to be re-wrapped. Luckily, nothing breakable was inside. So it was more a nuisance than anything else. Just move everything to the trunk of your car between the exterior and interior wash.

Check out the The Auto Spa on Facebook to find fan deals and more. And be sure to note their clean car guarantee. If for any reason (rain, snow, sleet, birds with great aim, mud puddles, four-wheeling fun, dust, paintball mishap, you name it) that the exterior of your car or truck becomes dirty within 2 days of an Auto Spa “Wax Works Way” carwash ($38), they will wash the outside of your car again for free. Costs you nothing.

Ah. Sanity returning.

(cooL) tip: Trunk need a once-over? Ask for a trunk vacuum – – it’s free. Planning on visiting several times? Buy in bulk and save 15% from the Auto Spa website.

Photo from So no, the benz in the photo isn’t ours… sadly….