Whether you drive a perky hybrid or a well-loved clunker, there’s a greener way to wash your own car. Of course, from a standpoint of water use, commercial car washes are the “eco-friendlier” option (they tend to recycle and reuse the water). But there are steps you can take to lower the environmental impact of a car wash at home. Here’s how to wash a car and come out ahead.
1. Get out of the driveway.
Bring the car from the driveway into the yard. This will help prevent the runoff – and all the gas, oil, tar and other particulates on your vehicle – from draining into your storm sewers. Of course, if you don’t want the chemicals of conventional cleaners seeping into your yard, you’ll want to opt for natural cleaners (some options below).
2. Put away the paper towels.
Washing with paper towels is needlessly wasteful. But there’s no need to buy shop towels or packets of ‘heavy duty’ paper towlettes. Rip up some old t-shirts, use an oversized sea sponge, or repurpose fraying washcloths from your closet. Many old fabrics can be upcycled and used again and again.
3. Step away from the hose.
Leaving the hose on throughout the washing process can waste gallons and gallons of water. Find yourself a couple of good-sized buckets and fill them up—this is all the water you need. If your hose has an automatic shut-off trigger, you can keep it around and gently mist the car to rinse.
4. Consider waterless.
You can put that hose away altogether if you consider a waterless car wash product over a traditional car cleaner. Just apply and wipe off, conserving water and eliminating runoff entirely.
5. Try a greener cleaner.
If waterless isn’t your thing, there are a number of natural car wash products on the market that won’t harm the earth with runoff.
I hope these tips inspire you to spend a day taking care of your car – and the earth – with a green car wash. Spring is the perfect time for keeping clean, and green!