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Gleam Car Wash

Supporting IDD Individuals & Keeping Things Green

Our kids and pets sit at the center of our worlds. They widen our smiles, keep us going, and provide endless fulfillment. And as we show our appreciation for our children and furry ones this month, we’re highlighting a local establishment that also puts them first: Gleam Car Wash, on West 38th Avenue in Denver.

Gleam is owned by Emilie Baratta, who built her business to revolve around two things: her staff, which includes employees with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD), and delivering top-notch, eco-friendly car washes and detail services to Denver locals. She doesn’t just lift up individuals on the spectrum through employment; Emilie is as committed to environmentally-friendly practices as she is to her thoughtful employment model.

Emilie’s background is in developing  mid- and high-rise buildings that are conscious of the surrounding environment, which explains Gleam’s focus on green operations. While developing Gleam Car Wash, Emilie was convinced by a former colleague to modify her business model in another unique way: by recruiting individuals who are on the autism spectrum. 

This advice led Emilie to dedicate 20% of her workforce to individuals with IDD who are all ages, backgrounds, and ability – although most are still in their teens and early twenties.  But they blend right in with the rest of the Gleam team, which is composed of high schoolers to college graduates to Spanish-only speakers and more. Gleam Car Wash’s diverse workforce washes well over 100,000 vehicles a year and manages a network of thousands of members, while tremendously improving the lives of their IDD staff members: “We’ve seen individuals go from being nonverbal to directing traffic, vocalizing concerns at staff meetings, and training other employees,” Baratta explained.

Along with their inclusive employment practices, Gleam’s operations are centered around environmental sustainability. The facility is partly powered by a 41kw solar system on the roof and uses clean LED lighting. The team is also committed to daily recycling and composting practices. However, their largest environmental effort comes in the form of water conservation. Rather than draining away the excess water from washing cars, Gleam recycles most of it: “We’re like a mini-water treatment facility, since we recycle, treat and reuse up to 90% of the water used for washing.” 

But this isn’t all Gleam has to offer. Emilie and her crew follow up their mission-driven staffing of IDD individuals and environmental focus with an unexpected offering: an awesome self-serve dog wash!  You can polish your ride and scrub your furry sidekick, all in one fell swoop.   And a dollar of each self-serve pet wash is donated to nonprofits to help our furry friends!

Take a trip to Gleam Car Wash at 4895 West 38th Avenue in Denver, off Wolff Street to clean up your ride and give your pet a much-needed wash! For more information about their car washing services, from interior and exterior washes to detailing, visit their website at