4 eco-friendly tips for washing your car

December 17, 2014

Has our harsh Canadian winter left your car a gritty, grimy mess once again?  Here are four great tips for washing your car that minimize waste and harm to the environment.

4 eco-friendly tips for washing your car

1. Go to the car wash

There are lots of ways to be an eco-friendly driver. But even if you own an electric or hybrid car, washing your vehicle poses a lot of risks to the environment: the soap, grease, dirt and debris rinsed off often ends up in our streams, rivers and lakes.

So how can you protect both your car and the environment? You might think it's by washing your car at home. The truth? Commercial car washes are your most eco-friendly option.

  • Federal laws in Canada require commercial car wash facilities to drain their waste water into sewer systems that get treated before they travel to our waterways.
  • Commercial car washes also use less water than the average person washing their car at home.
  • They use computer-controlled systems and high-pressure nozzles and pumps that minimize water usage.
  • Many also recycle and re-use the rinse water.

Self-serve car washes
Another eco-friendly option is to wash your car in a self-serve car wash.

  • You can bring your own eco-friendly car wash products, control the amount of water you use with a pressurized hose, and all the rinse water will get drained into their sewer systems – which are then professionally treated.

2. Choose eco-friendly products

Choose eco-friendly car wash products to clean your vehicle. Look for words like "non-toxic" and "biodegradable" on the label, and make sure there aren’t any ingredients such as phosphates, fragrances, chlorine, or petroleum-based ingredients. You can also:

  • Use peanut butter to get rid of tree sap and tar. Rub it on, wait a few minutes, then wipe it away.
  • Try some vinegar to get rid of bug guts stuck to your car. Just soak a cloth in vinegar and rub them off.
  • Use a non-toxic car wax to protect your car and keep it cleaner, longer. Look for a car wax made of natural Carnauba wax (made from a palm tree). Find the purest form you can without any harsh chemical additives like colour or fragrance.

3. Avoid waste

  • Use reusable cloths or rags rather than disposable paper towels or other products.
  • Turn off the hose when you aren’t rinsing off your car.
  • Wash your car in the shade or on a cloudy day. When your car is sitting directly in the sun the water will evaporate quicker, which will cause you to use a lot more water. Plus, it will leave unsightly water spots on your car's finish if it dries too quickly.

4. Pay heed to dirty rinse water

  • Wash your car on the lawn. This way, the rinse water can be filtered through the grass instead of ending up in our waterways.
  • Don’t pour the water from your bucket onto your driveway, sidewalk or street. Instead, take it inside and pour it down your sink or toilet.

Your best option for giving your car an eco-friendly scrub is at the car wash. If you'd still prefer to do it yourself, then why not consider these four tips.

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