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Salt appeared to be the new black in car color last week, and lucky for local car washes, it wasn’t a welcome trend.

“It’s supposed to be candy apple red,” Katrina Frink said of her car that was covered in salt and chemical residue.

Frink was waiting in line Saturday at Mr. Clean Car Wash in Waldorf along with many other cars, mostly salt-covered from recent snow and ice events.

The line at Mr. Clean was backed up Saturday afternoon onto Crain Highway.

Many car washes in the area noticed an increase in business after the snow.

Trevia Culpepper of Fort Washington said she didn’t mind waiting in line to get the salt and chemicals off her car. Culpepper said she would much rather stay in line for 30 or more minutes as she did Saturday to deal with a salty car than have the roads not be treated.

A few miles away, Spirit of America car wash also experienced long lines of cars coming in to get washed.

Owner Steve Roof said cars were lined up an hour before the shop opened.

He said he noticed that customers didn’t seem to mind waiting in line “as long as the line was moving.” Lines at Spirit of America and Mr. Clean were moving at a steady pace during the weekend.

Roof said he knew his business would be busy Saturday because of the snow and ice events, but he didn’t realize cars would be waiting for the store to open.

He said the salt on vehicles was what brought most of his customers in Saturday.

“Salt is not a car color,” Roof said.

Mr. Clean sales associate Darrell Mason said business typically is good at the car wash, but Saturday was the busiest he had seen it in three years attributing the long lines to customers wanting to get the salt and chemicals off their vehicles.

To keep the line moving as quickly as possible, Mason stood by the entrance of the store talking with customers about what type of wash they wanted.

Michelle Bobb of Accokeek said she wanted to get the salt off her black SUV not just because of the appearance of the salt on the car but because the salt and chemicals rubbed off on her and her daughter’s clothes when they entered and exited their vehicle.

Dave Miller of Dave’s Autobody in Waldorf said anything like the salt from treated roads that sits on the paint for a while will begin to eat away at the paint. He said it’s difficult to determine just how long it takes for the salt to become a problem.

He did advise that cars get rinsed before going through a wash so the salt isn’t rubbing into the car as it’s being washed.

More snow is predicted for this weekend and in the middle of next week.

gphillips@somdnews.com