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York Co. carwashes see spike in business as drivers fight pollen

The yellow glow of pollen-stained vehicles has local carwash businesses seeing green.

Carwashes in and around York County say business has spiked in recent weeks as pollen has brought an aerial assault unlike any in recent memory.

Yes, it does seem a bit pointless to wash a car given the extreme nature of the pollen count. But that's what it's come to, businesses say. And though rain provided some relief Thursday, it won't be long before the nuisance returns in force.

"They're just getting so bad, it's almost hard to see out the windows," Scott Crouch, general manager at Express Car Wash in Rock Hill, said of the cars rolling through his now-yellow parking lot. "It gets to the point where it's so bad they've just got to get it off."

The most popular deal: The $5 express ride through.

"Those have increased substantially," Crouch said, noting he might see 25 cars on a normal day, but recently it's been closer to 50 a day.

Crouch said he's never seen the pollen this bad.

"It's good for me; it's bad for people with allergies," he said.

At Auto Bell in Indian Land, customers from nearby Sun City Carolina Lakes are taking advantage of the company's unlimited exterior wash plan, which allows unlimited washes for around $25 a month.

"We're seeing a lot of them every single day," said district manager David Reep.

Other customers are coming by for washes at least twice a week, he said. Some customers also are buying interior washes because the tenacious pollen has made its way inside and onto the dashboard, Reep said.

Most customers know they're fighting a losing battle.

"But they get to the point it's so disgusting, they're going to wash their car no matter what," Reep said.

But pollen always seems to get the last laugh.

"As soon as the car's washed," Reep said, "it's starting to accumulate again."

Business also is good at Quick C Car Wash in Rock Hill, manager Danny Earle said.

Thursday was a relatively light day early on, Earle said, probably because people expected rain to clean away the pollen for them.

"It's so bad right now, I think they're waiting for some of it to go away (before washing)," he said.

Only problem is, that's probably not going to happen.

Any pollen reprieve brought by Thursday's rain will be quickly forgotten by the weekend, said Pat Tanner, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

"We're going right back into a string of dry days again," Tanner said. "I don't think it's going to go away."

In fact, Pollen.com, a Web site that tracks pollen forecasts around the country, says York County can expect high-level counts for the weekend, with the highest count coming Sunday.

There's more: The Charlotte area is the fourth-worst area in the country for pollen counts right now, according to The Weather Channel.

Translation: Should be a busy weekend at the carwash.

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