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Clean & Green: Car Washing

Green Car Washing Tips for Eco-Friendly Cleaning

by Jessica Howell

Everyone’s vehicle needs a good suds-up once in a while. Not only does it keep your car sparkling, it keeps your exterior in tip-top shape and helps to maintain the ultra important resale value of your ride.

"Some studies show that washing your car in the driveway can use up to ten times more water than taking your car to a professional wash."

To keep things green, you’ll want to revert to nontoxic, biodegradable soaps and water-saving practices like turning the hose off except when rinsing. In fact, according to Ideal Bite, an eco-conscious website, eco-cleaners forgo ammonia, which degrades rubber and window tint over time. Plus, earth-friendly washes equal cleaner rivers and oceans since chemicals from toxic products aren’t running off and into your neighborhood waterways and storm drains.

Some good examples of healthy cleaners: Biokleen All Purpose Cleaner ($8), which contains non-toxic ingredients like grapefruit seed and orange peel to defeat grease, and Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds ($7), a multipurpose cleaner that does double duty on your vehicle but keeps hands silky soft.

Ideal Bite suggests mixing vinegar and water in a 1:2 ratio to wipe clean your dirty windshields. Using a bucket and hose nozzle sprayer will also help conserve water, saving more than 100 gallons per wash, says the website.

For the ultimate in green clean, try a waterless wash kit like Eco Touch ($20) that’s good for four to eight washes using the non-toxic, biodegradable soap and reusable microfiber towels or No-Wet Waterless Car Wash ($21), an organic solution that cleans, shines and protects in one application.

If you must head to a car wash, make it one that utilizes eco-cleaners. “Professional car washes use an average of 32 gallons of water per vehicle. If this sounds like a lot of water, consider this: Washing your car at home can use up to twice this amount. In fact, some studies show that washing your car in the driveway can use up to ten times more water than taking your car to a professional wash,” claims the International Carwash Association.

While all professional car washes treat sewer-bound water, some recycle their water and use earth-friendly cleaning soaps and products too. To find out if your nearby car wash is on the eco up and up, just ask.

(Source: Ideal Bite; International Carwash Association)