Burning Man vehicles caked in mud are reportedly damaging some car washes — and some burners are being refused service altogether

This car is one of dozens that got stuck in the grip of Black Rock City’s muddy desert.

Monique Sady/Associated Press

Burning Man attendees face a new challenge — getting the mud off their cars.
One Reno car wash is turning away burners after caked-on mud and clay damaged its machinery.
Heavy rain caused festival grounds to become muddy, making it difficult to walk and drive.

Burning Man left cars caked in mud. Finding a way to get them clean is proving to be difficult — and annoying some car wash managers in the process.

At this year’s Burning Man festival, rainstorms left burners and their cars soaked and muddy with hazardous driving conditions near the festival grounds at Black Rock City, Nevada. (Look no further than this wild video of a Ram pick-up escaping the mud.) One tow truck driver told the Associated Press that his company towed 50 cars and freed 60 more from the mud. Those who didn’t get stuck in the mud had to endure grueling traffic conditions.

Now, Burners are finally home after a chaotic festival but are reportedly struggling to find a car wash willing to clean their cars. One car wash said it is turning away excessively muddy cars, due to dirt causing damage to the machinery, AP reported. 

Some cars came to the wash covered in a six-inch thick layer of mud and clay, Collyn Skeen, an assistant manager at Sierra Car Wash in Reno, Nevada, told 2 News. Skeen advised that burners coming home with muddied cars spray their vehicles with a hose to clean off the mud before coming to the car wash. 

Burning Man’s website suggests that burners wash the mud off their cars as soon as they can. The high pH of the dust can cause serious damage to cars if they’re left unwashed, according to the organization. The official website recommends burners either go to a car wash or clean the car themselves using water and vinegar, Armor All, and an air compressor to fully clear all the dirt and dust.

Neither Burning Man nor Sierra Car Wash immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment ahead of publication.

Difficulty at the car wash isn’t the only issue that the rain and mud caused burners. Some were so restless from roadway conditions that they abandoned their cars and walked through the mud for six miles. 

The rainfall caused unusually wet and muddy conditions for the 70,000 attendees. The festival is normally a hit with celebrities and influencers, but conditions at this year’s festival had guests stranded in the desert and struggling. Many found their camping supplies were soaked and they were told to ration food. 

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