By Travis Galbraith
Eco Friendly Car Wash
It doesn’t matter if you own a brand new car or an outdated and hardly working car, everyone loves sitting in a freshly cleaned car. Whether you’re washing your for a first date or because you haven’t washed it all winter long we all have the need to wash our vehicles it at some point and with millions of cars on the road and in parking spaces across the United States it takes a lot of soap and water to get them looking good, or at least looking better.
Fast Fact: Each at home car wash uses roughly 80 to 140 gallons of water per wash while commercial car washes on average use 45 gallons of water per car.
It can be assumed that washing our vehicles in the driveway is the most wasteful and un-environmentally conscience household chore people take part in. Thankfully commercial car washes provide us with an affordable alternative that uses less water and properly disposes of harmful pollutants that would otherwise pour into our creeks, streams, and rivers.
When vehicles are washed at home a combination of gasoline, oil and residues from exhaust fumes, and car wash detergent goes directly into storm drains funneled to nearby natural water resources. Commercial carwash facilities are required to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, so it get treated before it is discharged back into its natural environment (1972 Clean Water Act).
There is a way to responsibly was the car at home. Environmentally conscience advocates have come up with a few techniques and products that reduce the negative impact of at-home car washes.
Here’s how:Use Biodegradable Car Cleaner: There are many different brands of cleaner that are biodegradable and safe for the environment. Cleaners marked as “Eco-Friendly” are the ones you want to look for, such as Simple Green and Ecover’s Carwash and Wax. These are formulated for automotive parts and work just as well as the other brands that contain harmful chemicals.
Pick a Cooler Time: Washing the car on a hot day or during the warmer part of the day increases the amount of water needed to rinse the car because hot sheet metal surfaces tend to dry the water quicker. The darker the paint color, the hotter it gets. The result is water spotting. Washing when it’s cool eliminates much of the spotting and you’ll conserve water in the process.
Attachments/Buckets: For rinsing, use an inexpensive spray nozzle or electric pressure washer hooked to a garden hose. This will greatly reduce the amount of water used and wasted and the extra pressure takes off the soapy water more quickly. This will significantly save water compared to a constantly running hose. Using buckets of water not only helps you quantify how much water you are using but it also reduces the amount of time you spend having the hose on.
Wash the Car in Quarters: After giving the entire vehicle a quick rinse with the hose, wash a quarter of the vehicle at a time and leave the wheels and tires for last, and do them separately. Start cleaning at either end with soap and rinse the small section as little water possible. Working on smaller sections reduces the amount of soap you have to rinse off effective reducing the time spent with the hose on.