There is one DIY activity whose simplicity and seeming thrift is not as good for the environment as is going with a commercial option, and that is washing your car. That is, if you use water.
Washing a car at home can use between 80 and 140 gallons of water, while a commercial car wash averages less than 45 gallons per car.
And where does that water go, comparatively? If you live in a city or town, water from washing the car in the driveway goes into the storm drain, with the detergent, car grime that can include oil and gas ending up unfiltered in lakes, streams, and rivers. Studies have found heavy metal contamination as one of major concerns with car washing, both by homeowners and commercially.
Water from a car wash by law needs to go through a sewer system and as a result is filtered before it is released back into the environment.
Phew, no feeling guilty about not spending Sunday afternoons washing the car in the driveway.
But wait, I guess we are not off the hook so easily, because even 45 gallons of water to wash one car seems like a waste of this precious resource, especially because that 45 gallons is becoming highly polluted. Besides, how many car washes do you know that use a “green” detergent? The story gets even worse if you choose the waxing option. And how much energy does it take to wash one car? Some in the industry are making strides in using sustainable energy, but such places are still hard to find.
Fun green fund-raisers: Note that high school car washing fund-raisers and such will be breaking the law if the water is not properly disposed of in sewer systems. For this reason sometimes schools hook up with local car washes to raise money. But there is a fun option available that has some cache to boot, and that is to have a “Green” Waterless Car Wash.
Even more fun, make your own waterless DIY formula. I’ve been playing around with some formulas for a few months and I think this one I am going to offer is pretty close, but there is still one pesky problem, and that is that if you don’t polish the car enough the detergent/soap might bubble when it rains.
Please put your creative formula hat on and let me know what you think would work as a stellar waterless car wash formula. Here’s mine:
Winging It Waterless Car Wash
½ to 1½ cup baking soda (non-abrasive cleanser)
½ teaspoon jojoba (liquid wax)
½ teaspoon liquid castile soap or vegetable-based green detergent
2 teaspoons water
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix, adding more baking soda until the consistency is of frosting. With a clean cloth, rub the paste onto the car. Polish and rub until all the paste is gone.
Other ideas? Please share! Give us your DIY formula suggestion in a comment and I’ll try them all out and give you the one I think is the winner.