Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How to Wash a Prius (or any other car)

Save money while you save the planet…

You know that cars are a leading contributor to greenhouse gases, and you may also know that washing our cars is also on the list of planet-damaging activities in our daily lives. Most carwash methods are a tremendous waste of treated water and also cause runoff of chemical cleaners into the wastewater system. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

Here is a method of washing your car that uses almost no water, and requires no hoses, no soap, and minimal space. And the car gets cleaner! Here is everything you need to know:

The Method

This unique method of washing cars with no soap and very little water is well-known in Europe and is one of the easiest Green Act ideas you can implement. One person can wash and dry a car in about fifteen minutes if you work quickly and follow the instructions to the letter.

Here are the three simple steps:

1) First, dip a microfiber washcloth in a small bucket containing ONLY water, and wring it out until it is just damp (not dripping wet).

2) Next, wipe one section of the car (for example, a door, the roof, the hood, etc.) clean with the cloth, then flip the cloth over and repeat for a second, fine cleaning.

3) Now, put the washcloth in the bucket and use a dry microfiber towel to dry off the section you just washed. Repeat this until the car is done!

Materials Needed

There are only three items required, but two of them are very important to get right!

- First, a microfiber washing cloth (like these at which you can buy locally or online.

- Second, one or two microfiber towels (you may need an extra towel so you always have a fairly dry towel to work with). We found these at amazon.

- The third item is simply a small bucket to hold the water in. Anything works, but if you are shopping at amazon, these are cheap and good enough…

VERY IMPORTANT: cotton towels won’t work! Microfiber cleaning cloths work without soap, making the carwash faster and more environmental. Microfiber towels absorb more water and absorb it faster than cotton. They also dry five times as fast, and they last much longer. The good news is that these products are very inexpensive if you shop around (if you want a good towel at a great price, we found the products highlighted at, or you can check the automotive section of your local discount superstore).

Have fun and good luck!


Adagios said...

Buying buckets and washcloths from Amazon, and so presumably getting them by mail, doesn't seem all that green...

William said...

Well, he did also suggest buying locally.

Anyway, that's a neat idea. I'll have to try it. A double bonus is that I can wash my car like that in my apartment complex parking lot. :)

Anthony said...

There's also the issue of severely scratching your vehicle by using almost no water, the lubricant, and reusing that dirtied cloth, thus further contaminating your vehicle's finish by spreading the offending scratching particles to other areas.

I'm all for green, but it seems to me if you don't care enough about the appearance of the vehicle, just don't wash it in the first place.

I myself use a non-toxic, biodegradable, all-natural soap & a soft sponge. Frequent rinses of the sponge. Yes it uses more water, but the runoff is non-toxic & all natural, so I don't worry all that much.

And in the long run? if my car stays clean & useable for 15 years because I used more water when I washed it, well I think that balances out having to get it repainted in 7 years or getting a new vehicle in 10 because I didn't take good enough care of the one I had to make it last.

My current vehicle is going on 11 years and still looks new. thats one vehicle, not 2, not 3. That's that many less on the road.

Christopher G said...

If I may, I'm not sure why ordering from Amazon would be necessarily less green than buying them at your local grocery store.

I think it's fairly safe to assume that these towels are not being produced locally in most places. That means they have to be shipped to the store where you'd buy them, probably going through several distribution warehouses as well.

This pretty much matches up with Amazon. However, instead of having every single person drive to the store for their item, amazon puts them on the delivery version of mass transportation. Several items all get loaded onto the one truck and delivered to the customers.

So, in the end, it kind of seems like it, at the very least, just about evens out.

drhowarddrfine said...

Anthony is correct. The purpose of soap is to loosen dirt stuck on the car and the towel that's wiping it. Scratching up your finish will occur without it.

glenn said...

use no water, scratch your paint...scratch your paint, car rusts, toxic micro particles fall off the car and get into the air and water...

just use a nice bio-degradeable soap and take it easy on the water...while you're at it...don't drive so much