Operating a mobile unit is a bit like an adventure. Each day brings you different routes, different sights and a different routine. But the one thing that stays constant is the maintenance of your mobile unit.
Some days you have furry clients with coat that is blown into every crevice and some days you have pups that sprinkle a little pee, or, on those particularly lovely days, make you a special little gift requiring a bit more cleaning. But the more you stay on top of cleaning, the less of a big job it is overall. Keeping your unit running smoothly and functioning properly is also an important part of operating your mobile business to avoid costly breakdowns and replacements.
Obviously cleaning is a necessity, but why is daily maintenance such an important part of operating a mobile unit?
When it comes to maintaining your mobile unit there are daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks and yearly tasks. And each of those are a necessary part of keeping a clean and well–running mobile unit.
I have a van with an inverter and no generator so I’m going to base my tasks off of what is required for my unit, but most of the information applies to any type of unit. Because I’m working in an enclosed space, I like to keep my mobile van interior clean so I have a nice space to work in and I know that my environment is safe and sanitized for health and comfort. I prefer to do daily cleaning so the weekly and monthly tasks are less of a chore.
Throughout the day I vacuum and wipe down the grooming table and any major messes those furry little buggers might make. At the end of each grooming day I start my cleaning routine by opening all the doors and using the force dryer to blow out any hair that has accumulated in the van that is too small for the vacuum to get. I blow out under the tub area, around the grooming table and also around the water tanks in the rear because I have found that some flying hairs find their way to these places easily.
Next I like to clean my bathing system. I have a recirculating bathing system so I run vinegar water through the system to clean out the inside of the recirculating system and remove any dirt or odors and to prevent bacteria from growing inside.
Then I clean the tub using a mild dish soap and a scrub brush. The tub area accumulates dirt, dander, soap scum and general odors associated with pets, so daily cleaning keeps the tub and the van clean and smelling fresh. I scrub the no–slip rubber mat, the grate that elevates the pets and the entire tub itself. Once cleaned I stand everything up to dry so the next day it is all clean, dry and ready to be used again.
After the tub is clean, I move on to wiping down the surfaces with Windex. My unit has a laminate interior and bleach is a big no–no so I use Windex to do a quick wipe–down of the grooming table, the walls, the ceiling and any other surfaces in the unit.
Lastly, I empty the hair vacuum system for which I only use a vacuum and remove the used trash bag from my trash bin and replace with a fresh bag. And my cleaning for the day is done!
On a weekly basis, I do a bit more of a deeper cleaning. I remove and completely clean the AC filter, the dryer filters and I check my supply inventory to see if I need to replenish any products such as shampoos, sprays, cleaning supplies or bows and bandanas. I keep my extra supplies at home so I’m not carting too much around with me when I don’t need those things. Having too much in the van means more things to clean, and extra weight in the van uses more gas and puts more strain on the vehicle.
I also like to give the grooming table a good scrub weekly to completely sanitize and clean the grooves.
After I complete those tasks, I do the floors. Although they get vacuumed several times throughout the day, I like to wipe down the floors weekly to remove any built–up dirt and pet dander, and it keeps everything looking shiny and fresh.
The monthly tasks aren’t quite as tedious as the daily and weekly cleaning chores—they are more of a vehicle maintenance routine. Each month I check the water levels in my batteries that power the mobile unit’s electric source. In the van that I have, there are four large marine batteries which are located in the back in a separate compartment. These batteries supply power and the inverter system turns that power into a usable electric supply to the outlets. The batteries have distilled water in the cells, and every month I have to open the compartment and check the water levels inside of each battery cell. If the water is low in any of the cells due to natural evaporation, I add distilled water and then I replace the caps and close the compartment for another month.
My van has a diesel engine so each month I check my DEF level and add fluid as needed. DEF stands for “diesel exhaust fluid,” which is a necessary additive for proper function of a diesel engine.
I also like to wash the van exterior monthly to keep my van looking clean and shiny. I take my van to a self–wash car wash that has large bays that can accommodate the extra height of my van. The self–wash stations have a pressure washing system so I can get the wheel wells clean and I can power wash the entire exterior very well.
The next part of the maintenance of your van is cleaning the water tanks which can be done every three to six months, depending on how many dogs you service and how dirty the dogs usually are. I do mostly small breeds that are groomed frequently so I can stretch it to six months. For this task, I remove the water tanks and thoroughly rinse them out. I clean the insides of the tanks using a long–handled scrub brush and dish soap and completely scrub the insides of the tanks followed by a thorough rinse. If you find that your grey water tank starts to retain a foul odor between cleanings, you can use a chlorine tablet in the tank which will help to neutralize the odors that can build up.
I also like to check my tires around the three–month mark to make sure the air pressure is still good. I then do a visual inspection to check for wear or possible damage to the tires from the roads and objects in the roads such as nails or rocks that can become imbedded in the tires.
The final parts of my maintenance schedule are the yearly tasks. Each year you should remove the hair vacuum system and the dryers to completely clean the units. Remove the lids, the foam and filters, and clean thoroughly. Also check the brushes in the dryers and replace as necessary.
If applicable, clean out the AC drain line and check to make sure the AC is running well if it hasn’t been used during the winter months. I’m in Florida so I use my AC year round and check the function more frequently.
Depending on the vehicle you have, you should also make an appointment for the necessary routine vehicle maintenance with the dealer. For my van, the recommended maintenance is around every 15,000 miles for the dealer to perform an inspection and do the necessary oil changes, filter changes and whatever is recommended for your vehicle’s mileage.
If your van has roof–mounted equipment such as a vent, skylights or AC unit, check the seals around each one to prevent leaks and reapply fresh sealant as needed.
Your mobile unit is an investment in your career, and taking a little bit of extra time caring for it will help you to avoid costly repairs from neglect. You’ll be able to relax and feel relieved that you’ve done the right things to keep your unit on the road and to keep you working. And, good maintenance will keep the value of your van as high as possible, so if you decide to sell your unit, you’ll be able to get the best possible price. Happy grooming and keep on keeping on! ✂️