Now that summer is here, there are few activities more rewarding than giving your car a good old-fashioned hand wash. Unfortunately, however, this fair-weather tradition needs some serious greening-up.
The typical home car wash uses up to 140 gallons of water, according to the International Carwash Association a tremendous waste. Unless you park your car on the lawn or a gravel driveway, all of that water (and the toxic cleaning chemicals you mixed into it) floats right down the driveway and into storm drains, where it seeps into local bodies of water. Unlike water that goes down sink drains or toilets, storm drain water skips your local treatment facility and goes straight to local lakes, ponds and rivers.
For the most part, car washing is one area where it is actually greener to not do it yourself. While professional car washes still use an awful lot of water, its less than half what the average home car wash wastes and they are required to recycle much of it. Home car washes are not held to any standards, whereas the pros have to comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations for recycling and disposing of the dirty water post-wash.
For those car owners too nostalgic to skip a nice summertime hand car washing, waterless car wash solutions are just the ticket for doing so in an environmentally friendly way. These powerful cleaners break down dirt on a cars surface and are buffed away (without water) to leave cars shiny and clean.
While waterless car washes are a great option for everyone, for some they might be the only option. Cities in California, Florida and Texas have all recently been subjected to restrictions and even bans on home car washing. As droughts deplete local water supplies, it is irresponsible (and now, sometimes, illegal) to waste such a precious resource so frivolously.
Authorities have also regulated home car washing for its other negative effect; toxic run-off. Germany has long recognized the environmental impact of home car washing, and requires anyone wishing to hand wash his car to do so at a designated facility only. This has helped keep excess brake dust, oil and dirt out of local water supplies.
The dirty water that drips off your car contains both the contaminants from the soap you cleaned it with as well as all the grime, sludge and grease you removed from your car. On top of all the toxic chemicals, most soaps used for car washing contain phosphates, which support rampant algae growth. When algae take over a water supply, fish and other creatures are starved of the water's valuable oxygen.
The Daily Green didn't test these products (we're so green we don't even have cars!), but we researched each one and checked out the ingredients. Here's a quick overview:
There are lots of varieties of waterless car washes out there now, but we like the story behind Lucky Earth's. Created by Lisa and Jeff Peri after a futile search for a product that was safe to use around their young daughter who suffered from chemical sensitivities, Lucky Earth is beneficial for both people and the environment. Not only does it save water, but it is also made from natural ingredients such as organic coconut.
Another brand to try is Eco-Touch, which also works to reduce wasteful water usage and the releasing of toxins into local water supplies. They offer a complete line of environmentally conscious car cleaners for everything from the dashboard to the windows to the tires. Eco-Touch waterless car wash is made from filtered water, plant-derived surfactants, polymer emulsion and soda ash.
Freedom waterless car wash, made with carnauba and montan waxes, non-abrasive pumice and coconut-based soaps, is another formula to try.
Dri Wash 'n Guard waterless car wash has more than 50 ingredients, including surfactants and emulsifiers. At least it saves water.
For those green consumers who have already transcended beyond car ownership, waterless car wash also works great for cleaning bicycles. Let us know what waterless car washes youve tried and what you thought of them! Just comment below.
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