Worried that cleaning your car will hurt the environment? You’re not alone. Indeed, many eco-conscious drivers would rather let their cars turn what we’d politely call a “natural brown,” with an interior scent to match, than throw countless gallons of water and chemicals at the situation.
But there are actually a number of environmentally friendly steps you can take to keep your car looking and smelling fresh. So unless you prefer that layer of grime for aesthetic reasons as well as ethical ones, check out our Top 6 tips for cleaning your ride in a responsible way.
There’s a tipping point when it comes to cabin odors, and once you’re past it, only industrial-strength cleaners will get the funk out. Fortunately, you don’t have to use commercial air-fresheners to keep those smells at bay. Instead, stash an open box of Mrs. Meyers’ biodegradable dryer sheets
under one of your front seats, or even try stuffing a few into various crevices and pockets. They’re biodegradable, and they smell great because they’re infused with essential oils, not cocktails from chemical factories.
If you’re caught out in a rain or snow shower, or tend to frequent the gym or pool parties, your interior’s going to absorb some moisture on the way home. This isn’t a problem if you remove the wet as soon as possible. If your vehicle is in a secure location, open the windows and let the car breathe overnight. Even leaving the windows down a crack can help keep air flowing through, which reduces the likelihood of mildew buildup. If you spread a few extra dryer sheets around, it might be the only fumigation you’ll ever need.
Most commercial interior-care products get the job done, but they’re plastered with warnings about the dangers of inhalation and skin contact. Window cleaners, for example, typically contain ammonia, while all-purpose cleaners employ a variety of harmful substances that can evaporate into both your lungs and the atmosphere. Fortunately, there’s a greener way: Eco Touch
has a range of interior cleaners that eschew ammonia and use only natural scented oils and cleaning agents, so you can breathe freely and know that you’re neither harming yourself nor the environment. Moreover, your car’s vinyl interior surfaces will appreciate the alcohol-free Dashboard Protect formula.
The avian and insect crowd will inevitably leave deposits of some kind on your paint, and prompt treatment can make a huge difference. However, most people either let these acidic additions eat away at their paint over time, or else admit defeat and head to a commercial car wash.
Don’t be like most people. Go after the trouble spots as soon as possible with a microfiber cloth and a “waterless car wash” such as Eco Touch’s non-toxic, biodegradable formula
. If you get the job done before too many hours have passed, you’ll at once protect your paint and buy yourself more time before your next full wash.
When your car needs the full stem-to-stern treatment, we cautiously recommend tackling the task yourself. Although commercial car washes are good at what they do, it’s no secret why they’re rarely patronized by friends of the earth. For one thing, the cleaners they use generally owe their effectiveness to a who’s-who of harmful chemicals. For another, most estimates peg water usage at between 40 and 50 gallons per car. If you care about the environment, that’s not a price worth paying for making your car look shiny and new.
Here’s the thing: if you use a garden hose at home, you’re likely to go through even more water than the car wash would have used for the same job, believe it or not. Also, toxic runoff from your handiwork can end up trickling into storm drains, which send their contents right back into the ecosystem without treatment. That’s why commercial car washes are usually required to dispose of waste water via sewer drains, where treatment is compulsory.
So while we still think doing it yourself is better for the planet, you have to be careful. First of all, use that garden hose to fill up two small buckets, and then put it away. Period. That’s a few gallons of water, and you won’t need more. Now pick one of the buckets to be the soapy one, and mix in a product like Green Earth Technologies’ “Totally Green”
biodegradable car wash, which will minimize the risk of toxic runoff.
After that, it’s simple. Give your car a sponge bath with the soapy water, and then a sponge rise with the non-soapy water. Complete the job by wiping every surface dry with a microfiber cloth. Voila! You washed your car, and the earth hardly knew the difference.
If you keep these six tips in mind, both the earth and your car will thank you.