With the summer heat in full force here in Utah, I was trying to think of some creative, easy, and fun ways for our family to be able to tolerate just being outside (we can get 100+ degrees). I love starting with Pinterest whenever I have an idea because the visual images help me gain momentum.
That’s where I stumbled upon a template for a bike wash. We came up with the rest after that. Let me start by saying, this was super easy to make, not to mention, inexpensive. If you’re up for a kid project, this one is a great start!
1- Choose or Create a Design
Start by deciding how elaborate you want your bike wash to be. Is it for the inside, outside, or both? There are templates online for incredibly simple ones (and some even made out of pallets), or you can alter ones you find (such as doubling the length of the one we ended up making). The image below is the template we used from the Mom Endeavors blog:
And here are some examples of the more simple designs I mentioned above:
2. Go Shopping!
We got everything we needed at Lowe’s Home Improvement and our local dollar & store! You can spend as little or as much as you want with this. Here is what you need to build the bike wash we made:
: : : Home Improvement Store : : :
- 8- 10 foot pieces of 3/4″ PVC pipe
- 11 PVC Tee joints
- 7 PVC elbow-joints
- 4 PVC cross joints
- 4 PVC caps
- 1 hose connector
- PVC pipe cement
- Drill & 1/16″ drill bit
- PVC cutters (or a hacksaw)
- Colored or white nylon twine
- Rust-Oleum’s flat white spray paint primer
- Rust-Oleum’s spray paint (we used neon colors)
- Rust-Oleum’s gloss
- 4 Sand bags
- 10 pool noodles
- 6 sponges
: : : Dollar Store : : :
- 8 micro fiber wash mitts
: : : Additional Items We Used : : :
- Strider (our favorite balance bikes) to ride through the bike wash
- 10 lime green safety cones from the Traffic Safety Store found here
- Play money used to pay for entries to the bike wash from Prop Money
- Rainbow colored balloons
- Banner for above the car wash from Mister Car Wash
3. Start Painting!
Confession: we drilled too many holes with the first bike wash, so used that frame as a support to paint our second attempt! But here are some other options to paint it: Spray paint with them on top of a ground protector like a flattened cardboard box or tapped down plastic mat; thread string through them and tie the two ends, suspending them in the air; or prop them on saw horses.
Start by applying even coats of primer, followed by the spray paint color you want once the primer dries (which is pretty quick). And lastly, you can apply a spray paint gloss/clear coat to help protect it from getting scratched up.
Other alternatives to painting are simply leave the PVC white, unpainted. That still looks just as great and will save you A LOT of time and some money! If you want color, but don’t want to paint, you can slip pool noodles over the pipes, wrap dollar store colored shower curtains or tape over the PVC, or just add your own creative flair of color.
4. Cut Away!
We found it easiest to measure and cut our PVC pipes after painting. The quickest & easiest way to cut them is with a ratcheting PVC cutter. These are basically awesome giant scissors for PVC. Here are the sizes you’ll need to cut:
- 3- 3′ pieces
- 26- 2.5′ pieces
- 2- 1′ pieces
- 3- 6″ pieces
5. Assembly & Drilling Time
Assemble your PVC parts (preferably where you want it setup, but you can definitely lift & move it with just one person, too). Use the photo or link from step number 1 above for a visual. The 3′ pieces are the horizontal connectors at the top of the frame. The 1′ pieces get capped off, and the joints are used to connect all the 2.5′ pieces together. The remaining two 6″ pieces go at the top of the entry, with caps on them and are used to place pool noodles on them like we did.
6. Power Tools to the Rescue
We recommend only drilling a few holes in all the pipes you want drilled first, then hooking up the hose, and turning on the water to see where your water pressure is at. Our first attempt at this left us with too many holes and no water pressure on the right side, so we had to start over 😦 Make sure you set the drill bit deep in the drill chuck, so that only ~1/2″ is exposed, or it’ll be easy to go through the other side of the PVC, giving you two holes instead of one.
7. Add the Fun Extras and Enjoy!
This is where you can make this your own! I had been so excited about our event, that I used our front room to help me create the layout I wanted before I had even bought the PVC supplies! I had other items setup at the party, like a Strider bike race course, bubble & bubble refill station, chalk art, foam pool, Dartside tent, and Just A Craving food truck
So why a bike wash? My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE going through the real car wash. They think it is so fascinating! The frugal me that I am did some research to find out who had the best deals, the most locations, and the best reviews for purchasing a car wash pass. We ended up going with Mister Car Wash, and I’m so glad we did! There are times we have driven through the car wash twice in the same day, the kids love it so much! We even drove through a car wash in our hometown, and again an hour away after a meal just to hear them giggle. They are actually the largest car wash in the nation and a have a members only-lane so we don’t have to wait in line, which were big selling points to us!
And why did I choose STRIDER bikes? We bought a Strider balance bike before our first born could even walk. I went to a neighborhood play group when he was 12 months old and he was OBSESSED with the all the balance bikes there. So many moms told me STRIDER is the only brand to buy, so we did, before we was even ready to use it! Now, he is literally racing down the street with both legs in the air at 2.5 years old, screaming “WEEE!”! We love it, we love Strider, and I wanted to give some away to my followers, too!