“Greener” Car Washing
Brittany Hurtado, N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation
Now that spring has sprung it won’t be long before the pollen attacks us. Everything will be covered in a thick layer of yellow dust…including your car. Before you wash it, here are some things to consider that will help preserve the health of your local water systems. People usually want to know which is “greener” - hand washing or using an automatic carwash?
Water from an automatic carwash is required by law to be cleaned and treated before entering any water systems. In addition, it’s estimated that automatic carwashes use less than half the water as opposed to hand washing a car. So paying a little more is worth it to be “green.”
Any water or chemical cleaner that goes down your storm drains goes directly into the ponds and streams, which later collects into larger bodies of water. Therefore, hand washing your car is not the best option. But washing your car on a surface such as grass or gravel, as opposed to the pavement, can filter the dirty water. People should try to wash cars on grass or gravel when possible.
There are “green” car cleaning products (such as “Simple Green” or Gliptones “Wash n Glow”) that are biodegradable and contain fewer pollutants. Or you can simply make your own cleaning product by mixing one cup of liquid dishwashing soap and 3/4 cup of powdered laundry detergent (each should be chlorine- and phosphate-free and non-petroleum-based) with three gallons of water. This concentrate can be used sparingly with water over exterior car surfaces.
If money is a factor, a cheaper solution is to use the self-serve carwash where you put change in and use the water wands to clean your car. Water used after washing is treated before entering a water system.
For more information, go to: http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/car_wash.htm.