With an unrelenting drought hitting the western half of the US, washing the car might seem like a frivolous luxury. However, washing a vehicle is preventative maintenance, and will help keep the resale value high. Plus, it’s been proven a clean vehicle gets slightly better gas mileage than a filthy vehicle. So here are a few tips to get your ride clean, without wasting too much water or losing your green cred.
Use a car wash
Almost all public car washes recycle their water in order to save money. This water reclamation system uses half the water of a homeowner doing it in their driveway. Plus the car wash properly disposes of the dirty/soapy water. That means the most eco-friendly way to clean your ride is at the public car wash. Bring your quarters.
Turn off the water
Okay, so you absolutely have to do it yourself at home? Do it the right way. The steps are: wet car, water off, soap car, rinse car. Basically, anytime you aren’t actively spraying the car, turn the water off. Or use a trigger nozzle that shuts off the water when you let go of it. Be sure the gasket seals properly to the hose so there are no leaks. Just letting a hose run while you are soaping can make washing the car an 80 gallon task. That’s going to be costly.
Wash on the lawn
Sure, the neighbors will think you’ve lost it, but really you are accomplishing two tasks at once. Park on the grass and wash your car like normal. The water will run off to the lawn which will absorb it, rather than running into a storm drain. The bonuses here are that you will have to run the sprinkler less often, and the grass can handle some soap that is better off not going downstream.
Use eco-friendly cleaners
We’ve come a long way since the caveman days of the ‘90s. Today, you can get green cleaning products for every part of your life. Earth Friendly Products, Green Earth Technologies, and Griot’s Garage all offer eco-friendly car wash and wax. These products break down quickly, or are harmless to the ecosystem. Griot’s even offers a water conservation kit that will cut down on the water needed to wash your ride.
Finally, consider washing your car without water. Stay with me here. A wet, soapy mitt is not the only way to knock the grit off your car. The “California style” car duster is essentially a non-scratch microfiber mop designed to be run over a car with light-to-moderate dirt. The duster sweeps away the grime without the need for any water. If your car is a mess, consider a waterless car wash spray. The “spray-on carwash” uses a specific cleaner that does not need any water. Just spray and wipe. If it sounds too good to be true, don’t worry: a popular site selling a name brand spray-on carwash has over 10,000 reviews, and an impressive 4.5 stars out of 5.