Washing your car the green way
Car owners who like to practice eco-friendly habits may have heard that an automatic carwash is the greenest way to get a car squeaky clean. Commercial carwashes use about half the water that it takes to clean a car at home with a hose, and they recycle and reuse that amount over and over again.
Going through a drive-through style carwash is a bit of a gamble. If brushes and other components aren’t properly maintained, your car could end up damaged. If you want to be green and clean without risking any mysterious scratches or unidentified goo, here are a few tips you should consider for washing your car at home:
Clean green. Instead of relying on whatever inexpensive blend of chemicals the car store sells, check the labels and buy products that are safe for the environment. You can also make your own carwash with vinegar and water, which is safe for cleaning all car surfaces except aluminum alloy. Eco-safe products include reusable rags and sponges. Paper towels are not only wasteful, but they cost money out of your pocket each time you use them. With a small, one-time cost you can purchase a bag of cleaning cloths or a nice squishy sponge like grandpa used to use. For zero cost, use that pile of torn T-shirts and old towels you can’t bring yourself to throw away.
Park smart. Washing a car on the driveway or in the street allows all the dirty runoff, the road tar, oil, gas and other residues to drain into storm sewers which then pollute local water ways. Pull your car onto the lawn or a gravel area instead. The water will drain into the soil instead of the sewer, and you’ll be watering your lawn in the process.
Bucket up. Washing a car with a hose can use between 80 and 140 gallons of water. With practice and a handy bucket you can easily cut that amount in half or less. Fill one 5-gallon bucket with water and the correct amount of green cleanser. Wash the car starting at the cleanest section (probably the roof) and ending at the dirtiest (definitely the tires and wheel wells.) Follow up with a quick rinse from a hose with a sprayer attachment.
Go waterless. If you’re not into mud racing and you wash your vehicle regularly, waterless washing is the greenest way to get the job done. Waterless products are easy to use – spray on and wipe off – and they’re made from environmentally safe products.
One good habit leads to another. When people realize how easy it is to adapt to doing things in ways that are better for the environment – like recycling – they begin looking for new eco-friendly practices, like washing their car without water. Most environmentally conscious practices also make good economic sense. Just think of all the quarters you’ll save by skipping the automatic car wash and polishing your car with a reusable cloth – at least enough to buy that fancy wild-harvest natural sponge you’ve got your eye on.
This is a guest post by Lindsey Harper Mac who is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing about business and technology. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree. You can follow her on Twitter @HarperMac11.